Saturday, September 29, 2012

An Exchange of Values

Next week is Bouchercon—a terrific mystery convention that will be hosted by the grand city of Cleveland aka The Rock ‘n’ Roll Capital of the World. 

Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
I know Cleveland well, for I grew up in Pittsburgh rooting for its Steelers against Cleveland’s “despised” Browns.  I didn’t know better then, but in later years when I returned as a lawyer representing companies based in Moses Cleaveland’s namesake city, I felt their pain when the football team’s owner, the late Art Modell, made The Move in 1996 which took the beloved Brownie players and staff to Poe-ville (a teaser for mystery fans), leaving behind empty uniforms, a legendary football team name, and disheartened fans.  But unknowingly, Modell had forever united Cleveland and Pittsburgh fans in one great common cause: to root against Modell’s new team, the [add modifier of your choice] Baltimore Ravens.

But football is not what this is about. And since next week will be a lighter topic for sure, I want to get something serious off my chest. 
Two brief newspaper articles from very different parts of the world caught my eye this week. To me they demonstrated a decidedly different effort at exporting values.  Perhaps that’s a somewhat overblown observation, but hey, it’s my keyboard.
One, from the September 24th issue of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (by Eric Schwartzel), was titled “Reed Smith Announces Alliance With Greek Firm.”  Reed Smith started out as a local Pittsburgh law firm but is now a major player on the international stage. The firm obviously sees opportunity in Greece’s economic turmoil, and plans to work with its new Greek colleagues on projects and transactions expected to come out of the country’s crumbling economic situation—assuming contemplated sweeping reforms to the country's business and government structures actually occur. 
It should be an interesting education for all concerned, not the least of which for Greeks unaccustomed to paying legal fees on the order charged by US firms.  This effort to introduce such sophisticated legal resources to the Greek business community is something not often seen before. I applaud the effort and wish it well.
The second article appeared on September 22nd in Kathimerini, Athens’ newspaper of record, and caught my eye with the headline “Golden Dawn sets up in NYC.”   According to Kathimerini, it’s part of a general drive by Golden Dawn to “promote its ideas” to Greeks abroad and “The party’s NYC website calls on diaspora Greeks to donate food, clothing and medicine to the party’s charity drives, which are limited to Greeks only. The first collection of aid from the New York branch has already reached Greece and was recently distributed in Aspropyrgos, western Athens, party officials told Kathimerini. A similar drive took place in Melbourne and Montreal, they said.”
For those of you unfamiliar with Golden Dawn, I’ve written about it twice before here (Greece Cannot Allow That to Happen and I Will Not Be Silent), and I undoubtedly will again.  Golden Dawn is the neo-fascist Greek political party Chrysi Avgi, that publically glorifies Nazism in its logo, team colors, salute, and hailing of Nazi leaders of the Third Reich in its publications. 
Golden Dawn in Greek Parliament
It also received 7% of the popular vote in Greece’s last parliamentary last election giving it 18 of 300 seats in Parliament and is said in some polls to now rank third among Greece’s political parties were a new election held today.  As Greece is now run by a coalition of three parties sparring with each other over what may or may not lead to financial Armageddon for the country…do the math and shiver.
I’m not sure Greece’s political leaders (for the moment) get it. Golden Dawn is for real.  It’s not sitting back and letting events come to them. They are out there every day, boldly preaching hate in sophisticated ways, learning and adapting their message as they go—and expanding their political base and influence as they do. 
Their foreign efforts reflected in that newspaper headline are undoubtedly part of a well thought out plan intended to expand their power back home. 
Golden Dawn knows that Greeks in the Diaspora can vote in Greek elections if they’re willing to come home to do so.   And what better way to woo potential Greek supporters than dressed as an angel of mercy carrying a Spartan sword.  To those struggling in Greece looking for a scape goat for their lot, Golden Dawn preaches unvarnished hate of immigrants—backed up by highly publicized assaults—but in countries where such conduct would not be tolerated they’re savvy enough to package themselves as messengers of compassion. 
It’s a win-win for Golden Dawn on both sides of the ocean.  To Greeks living abroad looking for some way to help with the struggles of their countrymen back home, Golden Dawn provides the means, and for those in want in Greece they provide what is needed.  Golden Dawn is performing a valuable service for all and incurring debts of gratitude they undoubtedly expect to be expressed in votes at the appropriate time.
Golden Dawn passing out food in return for identity card information
But Golden Dawn is not an angel of mercy.  It is hate spewing, ultra-nationalist organization that can only lead Greece down a path to ruin.  Here’s its message that Kathimerini found posted on Golden Dawn’s website:
“The unholy alliance of the bankers, the media, corrupt politicians and the educational system are vehemently attempting to extinguish all traces of Hellenism -- past, present and future -- through poverty, historical revisionism, media distortions and third world immigration…Golden Dawn is the only party that truly recognizes the problem and has the solution.”
See any familiar buzzwords in there, folks?
There is no doubt in my mind that Golden Dawn will push their agenda as far as the “civilized” world allows them.  And with Greece being the birthplace of our western civilization, let us pray that won’t be very far.


  1. Very disturbing blog this week. The Chrysi Avgi group is spreading its propaganda across the oceans, and Greeks living abroad are falling into the trap they lay. Of course, in New York and elsewhere, many Greek expats are supporters of the former monarchy (since abolished by a vote of the people), as well as the military junta that ruled from 1967-1974. Easy for them to align themselves with an extremist group, while living safely away from the geographical borders of Greece.
    Meanwhile, the fragile coalition that is keeping the country from collapse is unraveling faster than Penelope's burial shroud for Laertes.
    Let's hope for voices of reason to prevail in the coming weeks.

  2. I share your hope for reason to prevail in the coming weeks...and months.

    BTW, as I recall, Penelope wove the shroud during the day and unraveled all of her work at night. Hmm, I think you've hit upon a more astute, succinct description of the current Greek political scene than any other I've heard!

  3. I hope Bouchercon is a joy for you. We need a balance to the disturbing events in Greece, and elsewhere. Those cynics who would use hate to further their own agenda are beyond contempt.

  4. And they cannot be ignored. Though I'll try my best at Bouchercon:)) Thanks, Lil.

  5. Scary stuff, Jeff. I've always been fascinated by the attitudes of their homeland of people who have left and now live elsewhere. Southern Africa has millions of such people (sometimes called When-we's from the common conversation started "When we were in Rhodesia (or South Africa or wherever)", which naturally devolves into a lecture on how much better it was when...

    Looking forward to sharing a Metaxa or two with you next week!