The latest news from Greece is that “actual fascists in actual black shirts are actually marching around Athens waving swastikas and burning torches, and maiming and murdering ethnic minorities” (Laurie Penny, The Independent, August 30th). This is not journalistic sensationalism: major human rights NGOs (HRW, Amnesty International) have documented a sharp increase in racist violence in Greece.
The rise in racist violence is closely correlated with the rise in popularity of the neonazi party “Golden Dawn”. In turn, Golden Dawn’s rise is closely correlated with the financial crisis, as well as the strengthening of Fortress Europe, in the expense (as always) of people of colour (see for example Steve Coll, New Yorker, September 20th).
The neonazis have been employing a two-pronged tactic: violence in the streets, charity in the city squares. In a series of publicity stunts, Golden Dawn has set up blood banks of pure Greek blood(!) and has started distributing food to people who can prove that they are pure Greeks. Even elderly Greek women that don’t look Aryan enough, are turned away.
Since the Greek corporate-owned media is ever-happy to advertise Golden Dawn (Aris Chatzistefanou, The Guardian, September 23rd), these publicity stunts are guaranteed to reach a larger audience. They are therefore well poised to achieve a double aim: to promote the neonazis’ populist image within Greece as well as to mobilize reactionary elements in the Greek diaspora.
And indeed the most backwardly elements of the Greek diaspora have started acting out. During the summer, Golden Dawn established overseas chapters in Melbourne and New York City. Now they have come to Canada as well.
Back in July, (warning: NSFW) a letter appeared in the Golden Dawn website claiming to speak on behalf of a nucleus of 30 Golden Dawn supporters in Toronto and condemning “zionists and freemasons”. However, the first appearance of Golden Dawn wasn’t in Ontario, but in Quebec. On September 18th, Golden Dawn published a news item in their website under the title (warning: NSFW) “Solidarity from Golden Dawn Montreal“. The post contains photos of blackshirts gathering food, toys, etc under the Canadian, Greek and Golden Dawn flags. Addendum: Québec Facho-Watch has an extensive report on the Montreal nucleus (in French).
As silly as it may sound, there are members of the Greek immigrant community in Canada who offer their support to a group that wants to “clean up” Greece from immigrants, refugees and people of color in general. They may not think of themselves as radical as their white supremacist brethren in, say, Edmonton, Alberta or London, Ontario. But it is important to notice that however benign their gathering of aid may seem, it is directly employed by a group that attacks migrants, queer people, Romani people, leftists and trade-unionists to promote their populist image. The “food and toys” of the Montreal blackshirts will be distributed to “pure Greeks only”, buying votes for a bona-fide neonazi party.
Addendum: What can you do? At this point, a few things:
- Sign the Avaaz petition to Investigate Greece´s Golden Dawn neo-Nazi Party and the Montreal-specific petition.
- If you are of Greek descent, be vigilant in your local Greek community. Better still, start a progressive initiative or join an existing one!
- Support progressive immigrant organizations, such as Barrio Nuevo, and help build new ones in communities that don’t have them.
- Support struggles that build capacity against the extreme right in your local community: migrants rights groups such as No One Is Illegal, your local queer community, organizations against regressive economic policies such as OCAP, community newsletters such as BASICS.
- In short: organize, educate, agitate!