The only thing necessary for the persistence of evil is for enough good people to do nothing

Open Thread 4

I think it’s about time for another Open Thread.
What’s on your mind, people ?
How about the upcoming US election ?
The current financial mess ?
The weather ?

Have a rant. Ask a question. Post a joke. Anything goes, as long as you keep it clean and relatively polite. Comment Policy rules apply.

78 Comments

  1. October 22, 2008    

    .
    .

    What’s on my mind?

    This past week I’ve been in a personal slump and I think a lot about death, sickness and loneliness. I’m not very pleasant to be around.
    .
    .

    About the upcoming US election?

    Hoping the sleeping giant, aka the people of the US of A, will finally rise to the circumstances and vote for change.
    However, even if Obama is elected to office, I don’t believe things on the global war front (Iraq, Afghanistan) will change radically because the US grip will not be readily released, so I don’t think we (the rest of the world) should hold our breath for any REAL change outside the US.
    .
    .

    The current financial mess?

    That Europe and the US are fastly moving into an economic depression that will hit like a tidal wave and leave masses of unemployed and Europe (particularly the developed countries) will become the new economic refugees. So it goes…
    .
    .

    The weather?

    Isn’t it strange that despite global warming we still have seasons?
    This feels like autumn,
    little nippy,
    rainshowers/rainstorms,
    leaves falling off trees.
    Autumn feels good.
    (didn’t want to sign off with a very negative attitude).
    .

    Flubberwinkles last blog post..Public hall wedding

  2. October 22, 2008    

    What I am wondering is where has everybody gone? I mean, only one reply to this post (two if you count mine) after 24 hours? And I observe a similar slowness on my blog. What is everyone doing? Am I missing something?

    ???????? (Diagoras)s last blog post..One of the nicest TEDtalks I’ve seen

  3. October 22, 2008    

    @ Flubberwinkle. I’m sorry that you are feeling so low. I go through cycles of “the blues” which at the time when I’m feeling it, seem endless. Sounds futile to say this, but it will pass I’m sure. I think that your current experience with your friend who is so sick is perhaps triggering your own mood. Not that it’s her fault in any way, but I know very well about living with and being close to someone who is seriously ill.

    On the elections, I agree. I hope for change with Obama but I am pessimistic about the general state of America’s role in the world. The reason we outside the US are following this so closely (closer than any election ever, I think) is because we really want and NEED change. Perhaps even more so than Americans ? Personally, I hate being controlled to a large extent by what happens over there.

    And I like our autumn too !

    @ ???????? (Diagoras). I am wondering too ! What happened to everyone ? Is everyone hibernating ? Obviously there are far more important things happening in people’s lives than our blogs but I do miss the interaction. I hope things will pick up soon.

  4. bfp
    October 22, 2008    

    I thought the slow down thing was just me! It’s been really slow at my place too, I wonder if the global recession thing is cutting people’s internet off? ya know, no money to pay for internet, or times are tight so cut the internet first…

  5. Xenos
    October 23, 2008    

    I am travelling a lot these days, which leaves little time for anything other than work (Spain, UK, Jordan, France, Turkey…). I think most people are struggling with earning money and making ends meet. The pointless strikes in Greece do not help, either.

  6. October 23, 2008    

    welcome back bfp, so good to see you ! Recession or not, it’s good to know you’re here and there. Thanks.

  7. Michael Scowcroft
    October 23, 2008    

    deviousdiva, I have two questions:

    Why do i see more black and asian faces among the fans at football matches in France, Greece and Portugal, than i see among football fans at English football matches?

    How far should this example be an indication that societies in France, Greece and Portugal are more inclusive and less racist than in England?

  8. Michael Scowcroft
    October 23, 2008    

    This has also been on my mind of late:

    “Would there have been a greater outcry among the British public if Jean Charles De Menezes had been a white English electrician instead of a Brazilian illegal immigrant?

    If the answer is yes, then there can be no question that British society is generally xenophobic.

    Also, would the killers of Stephen Lawrence have been caught and convicted much quicker if Stephen Lawrence was white?

    If the answer is yes, then there can be no question that the Metropolitan Police Service is generally racist.

  9. Michael Scowcroft
    October 23, 2008    

    Yes DD, i agree. We must learn from other experiences.

    A clever person learns from his mistakes.
    A genius learns from other peoples’ mistakes.

    That’s why i think we must learn from societies where racism and intolerance is most prevalent, both historically and currently, like England for example.

  10. October 23, 2008    

    Don’t know, Michael Scowcroft. I don’t follow live footie so I can’t really comment about that.

    On “ Jean Charles De Menezes” and Stephen Lawrence

    Also, would the killers of Stephen Lawrence have been caught and convicted much quicker if Stephen Lawrence was white?

    Maybe ? Yes.

    I have no illusions about racism in Britain. It’s rife and horrible. (And worse than here at the moment).

    But…. What I’m trying to say here is that we don’t have to go there. We CAN learn from other experiences. You know ?

  11. October 23, 2008    

    AGREED.

  12. Papa Duck
    October 24, 2008    

    I can tell Michael Scowcroft there are plenty of Asian faces in the crowd at Old Trafford. I have no particular desire to defend England and as a white find it difficult to absolve people of racism. But I can quote Faisal Islam, a British journalist of Asian ancestry:

    ‘And I managed to see the great Manchester United side of 1989 lose to Norwich, and indeed most sides. I saw these matches from the Stretford End terraces – a heaving mass of working-class, testosterone-, alcohol-, and occasionally cannabis-fuelled males.

    ‘My relatives thought I was mad. ‘Didn’t they try to kill you?’ was the response of one uncle, his perception being that all football fans were just waiting for a brown person to attack. But United have a hardcore of left-wing anti-fascist supporters who made me feel at home. ‘

  13. Michael Scowcroft
    October 24, 2008    

    Papa D, i can also see ‘brown faces’ in football crowds in the UK (but the black stewards often outnumber black fans) but we should be careful in using isolated testimonies like the british journalist as a measure of racial inclusivity in UK football crowds.

    You describe the amount as ‘plenty’, but the actual numbers of ethnic monority fans are in no way representive of the UK population. Not even close.

    A recent survey of professional football clubs on issues of community, ethnicity and social inclusion was carried out by the University of Leicester:

    Although, nearly two-thirds (65%) of respondent clubs claim that they already appeal to all members of the community and one-third (33%) of clubs feel they are already ‘successful’ in attracting black and Asian fans to matches, at most clubs, including those situated in areas with significant black and Asian communities, minority ethnic ‘active’ support is probably between 0-2% of the total crowd.

    0-2% of the actual crowd. This is absolutely abysmal for a supposedly civilised country.

    Around 60% of clubs recognise their lack of success in attracting black and Asian fans to matches.

    I lived in France and Portugal for three years and the representation of blacks and asians in the crowds were much more than 0-2%, it was much closer to representing the proportion in the population.

    In fact, our footballing institutions in the UK are the tip of the iceberg.
    Our Police Service is institutionally racist, our schools are institutionally racist, our Armed forces are institutionally racist, even our Church is institutionally racist.

    England. THIS IS MY COUNTRY. A country riddled with racism and xenophobia at all levels, in all fields.

  14. George
    October 24, 2008    

    To: Michael Scowcraft. The difference between Greece and countries like the USA/UK. Sure, there is racism in UK as you’ve pointed out, but as an immigrant if you feel discriminated or attacked, you can alert the authorities and you will receive remedy. Many times, in the USA, specifically, the Prosecutors levy additional charges (i.e., hate crime stature) against attackers of immigrants, etc.

    In Greece, the problem is that if the immigrants are attacked, abuse, etc., and they go to the authorities for help, perception is that nothing happens.

    I think that’s the difference.

    Anyone else agree?

  15. Michael Scowcroft
    October 24, 2008    

    George, there’s not only an inherent racism in UK society (much more than any European country i’ve lived in) but there is racism in the very organisations which purportedly seek to protect people from racism.
    The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, David Wilmot, had openly admitted that his force is institutionally racist after the Stephen Lawrence case.

    So, when you suggest that an immigrant, who has been a victim of racism or any other abuse, can “alert the authorities in the UK”, he/she would be effectively seeking help from an institutionally racist organisation.

    Should a Muslim immigrant feel confident in seeking help from a Police service which is institutionally islamophobic?
    “20 forces blocked an inquiry into discrimination against Muslim officers.”
    http://www.policeoracle.com/news/20-Police-Forces-Block-Race-Audit_16648.html

    Should a gay immigrant feel confident in seeking help from a Police service which is institutionally homophobic?
    “Police detectives investigating murders and violent crimes in the gay community are influenced by institutional homophobia.”
    http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/articles/2005-4379.html

    It’s not only immigrants who are mistreated by the institutionally racist police in the UK, but many minority groups are stopped, harassed and abused on an almost daily basis by the police. These minority groups could testify that the police were racist long before the Stephen Lawrence case findings. The case just confirmed what many ethnic minority groups knew for decades.
    In fact, the police forces in the UK are not only racist towards the public, they are racist towards their own members.
    “Top black police ‘spied on by detectives’”
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article1454695.ece

    So, i’d be a little more hesitant in holding up the British Police as a model for combatting racism and a bastion for addressing the problems encountered by ethnic, religious, and minority groups. The UK police are hardly the best example for other European countries to follow.

    “A married couple from Wales are adamant that they were victims of police racism.”
    http://tsu-doh-nimh.blogspot.com/2006/12/we-were-victims-of-racism-against.html

    I once had dinner with a British Police officer and his family, they were holidaying in Portugal and we discussed the attitudes and culture of the police force, he said to me “I don’t know too much about the Portuguese Police but i wouldn’t trust an officer who openly smoked on duty”. A question immediately sprung to mind: “is smoking a cigarette on duty (which is a cultural thing i think, the police do it in Italy too) an indication on how a policeman would carry out his job? Or are values and moral integrity more important factors? I’d rather have a non-racist Bobby who smoked, rather than an anti-smoking, jackboot-wearing bigot anyday.

    The inherent racism in British institutions is so ingrained that Black police officers are discouraging new recruits from joining Britain’s largest force amid claims of racism.
    http://www.24dash.com/news/Communities/2008-10-06-Black-police-officers-to-discourage-new-recruits-from-joining-racist-Met

    As for the US authorities, ask any Arabic or Muslim immigrant to the US about the treatment they endure under the laws and practices enacted post-911.

    “The “special registration” effort has attracted widespread condemnation from civil rights groups.”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/2644951.stm

    “As many as 700 Middle Eastern immigrants, mainly Iranians, have been detained by US officials.”
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/dec/20/usa.owenbowcott

    “They are planning to reduce the number of Muslims on American soil … discourage Muslim immigration, make our lives difficult.”
    http://www.wsws.org/articles/2003/jun2003/depo-j11.shtml

    And i haven’t even mentioned Rodney King-type incidents and the hundreds of incidents of race-related police brutality this year in the state of LA alone.

  16. George
    October 24, 2008    

    To Michael Scofield: I won’t address the UK issues you mentioned because I don’t know enough of that. However, I do know that in the USA, when cases like those you mentioned are brought to light, the authorities hammer (HARD) those violating them. Many times, as you say, in the USA, Muslims may be discriminated against, but when they bring lawsuits against the authorities, in numerous cases, the judges side with the Muslims and give big settlements.

    I apologize that I don’t have a random website to give you as you do with your examples, but mine is based on experience and reading the paper/news programs in the USA daily.

    The system in the USA protects the immigrant, and although it can’t protect them always initially (because people are people), the system will vindicate them in court. For example, we have a program called “Affirmative Action” which allows some minorities to be hired above non-minorities. This is a nice thing which shows that the authorities are sensitive to minorities.

    In Greece, I will await the day when Albanians will get priority in hiring. Until then…. Jeez…

    Again, this is the difference in Greece.. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t believe I’ve heard of immigrants winning multi-million dollar settlements in Greece as they do in the USA…

  17. Papa Duck
    October 24, 2008    

    Michael, if you start with a casual observation and a frankly ridiculous question, do not expect a Ph D thesis in reply. This ‘racism’ here is better/ worse than racism there mullarkey is getting tiresome. Sorry DD.

  18. Papa Duck
    October 24, 2008    

    Sorry again. I did not intend to put scare quotes around racism.

  19. Michael Scowcroft
    October 25, 2008    

    papa duck,
    I’m sorry that you find my question ‘ridiculous’. Perhaps my question could have been worded better but I believe that the issue of racial inclusivity in all aspects of society (including sports) is an important issue to raise.

    George,
    In the US, there have been numerous deaths in the immigrant detention system. (This is in addition to the over 300 men, women and children which will die as they make a desperate attempt to enter the US every year).

    Documented deaths of migrants in southern Arizona’s so-called “Corridor of Death” have risen sharply.

    “These deaths are a direct consequence of the militarization of the US border,”
    http://www.globalexchange.org/countries/americas/mexico/5278.html

    And I don’t think the US law-makers are handling the problem in the best way possible at all:
    http://tonyherrera.blogspot.com/2006/03/us-to-illegal-immigrants-drop-dead.html

    As for those immigrants who have survived crossing the Arizona desert and scaled the 700 mile fence erected by the US authorities along the Mexico border, and finally made it to the supposed sanctuary of the US, immigrants are dying of gross mis-treatment including medical neglect. And many deaths go unnoticed/unreported.
    http://www.afroarticles.com/article-dashboard/Article/Immigrant-Deaths-in-U-S–Detention–Gulags–Go-Unnoticed/98858

    68 DEATHS IN IMMIGRANT DETENTION
    For a system so concerned about these immigrants’ ability to document their right to live in our country, the government has failed miserably in documenting the circumstances of their deaths.
    http://www.immigrantjustice.org/content/view/509/77/

    In the US detention system, inhumanity is seemingly embedded in the system, more so after the so-called ‘war on terror’ was declared. It is now turning to be a war on immigrants.

    As for the racism question, I can only share my experiences of racism in the places i’ve lived and the people i grew up with, and the communities i’ve lived amongst.
    I believe the majority of British society is racist.
    As an Englishman, I grew up in a society where the ‘brown face’ was generally seen as inferior and unfortunately, the majority of British people still hold these views.

  20. Michael Scowcroft
    October 25, 2008    

    Hi deviousdiva, thanks for your kind comments.

    I didn’t mean to relativise racism, when i say Britain is ‘more’ racist than any country i’ve lived in, i mean ‘more’ racist per capita, ‘more’ history of racism, ‘more’ policies dictated by racism, ‘more’ thoroughly-ingrained racism, ‘more’ hidden racism, ‘more’ insititutional racism etc.. of course if someone is racist, they are racist, there are no levels of racism. (I hope this isn’t even ‘more’ confusing lol).

    George mentions ‘affirmative action’ as if this goes a long way to compensate for the racism prevalent in American society and within government.
    I don’t think that granting ‘affirmative action’ to ethnic minorites is enough to make up for the hundreds of years of slavery and suffering endured by blacks and others in America and Europe.

    It’s high time that the governments who were proponents of the slave trade should be paying REPARATIONS for the disgusting treatment endured by blacks and native Americans.
    Let’s not forget that it’s only been a few years since the segregation and humiliation of American blacks – sitting at the back of buses just because of the colour their skin, how disgusting. And guesthouses in Britain displaying signs of “No Dogs, No Blacks, No Irish” in their windows.
    It’s still within living memory for blacks in America to recollect how members of their family were burned on crosses or strung up on tress. With the US government turning a blind eye to it all.

    Do you know that the the longest-serving member in the US Senate’s history is Robert Byrd. He wrote this in 1944:

    “I shall never fight in the armed forces with a Negro by my side… Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.”
    —Robert C. Byrd, in a letter to Sen. Theodore Bilbo

    He is still serving in the United States Congress today.

    In my opinion, there are 3 things we could do combat racism in society.

    Number one, education.

    Number two, education.

    Number three, education.

    Most racists are fed their bigotry by their parents and the only way to stop children from being racist is to educate the parents, who in turn, will teach their children to value and respect other people, regardless of the colour of their skin. And i hate it when people say we must be ‘tolerant’, as if we should only ‘tolerate’ ethnic minorites instead of affording them value and equality in our society.
    That’s just my opinion. Other more learned contributors may offer something more valuable.

  21. October 25, 2008    

    Michael Scowcroft, thank you very much for your detailed responses and the links you have provided.

    I apologise for not having the time to respond to this thread. I’ve just had too much work !

    On the footie fans issue, I think many people of colour would be quite scared to go to matches still. Although the “Kick racism out of football” campaign has done some good work, football still has the image of being a very racist (and violent) arena.

    Although I don’t think comparing the amount of racism of different countries really helps, I do think it’s useful to discuss what works and doesn’t work in trying to combat it. Obviously, much needs to be done everywhere but there are some valuable lessons to be learned from the mistakes of others. eg the police force in England has a pretty shameful record of racism and I see that Greece is on the same path. What can the police do to change that ? Proper race relations training. Recruiting minority officers. Community outreach. etc etc

    I realise that the above is a terribly simplistic thing to say but I don’t see any other way of dealing with this.

  22. Xenos
    October 25, 2008    

    THe history of racism in Greece is just as endemic as in Britain. For example, if you look at the anti-semitism of UK policies on excluding Jews from immigrating in the late 19th century; or you can look at the anti-semitism of Greece in its early days (1832 to date, effectively). Of course, that is about government policy: for popular racism, look at the anti-black sentiments of the UK in the 1950s onward; or look at the anti-refugee sentiment of Greeks towards the victims of the forced population exchange of 1922. Everywhere, bad governments are ignorant people show strong racist tendencies — whether it be against coloured skin people, white people, Asians, Jewish, Turks, etc etc.

    The point is that there is no way to quantify or compare: so we are confined to looking at individual situations and improving them. This is why there is so much emphasis on Greece in this blog — because most of the contributors live in Greece. It is not because Greece is the most racist country in the world, or whatever.

  23. Xenos
    October 25, 2008    

    My last post should have read “bad governments or ignorant people” towards the end of the first paragraph. If you can correct it, please, DD? (Sorry)

  24. Michael Scowcroft
    October 25, 2008    

    Xenos,

    The sad truth is, most Brits view the non-white as inferior and racism is customary among the British white population.
    This has been borne out in my up-bringing in racist England, my experiences of ex-pats in Portugal, and the evident racism in our institutions (armed services, schools, police service, Church).

    As for quantifying racism, i think we can attempt to quantify the effects of some forms of racism.

    The Holocaust sets a rather macabre benchmark for quantifying human suffering and converting this suffering into monetary recompense for the communities who have suffered.

    The Jews are rightly provided with monetary recompense from Germany for the horrors their ancestors suffered under the eleven years of the Nazi regime. Shouldn’t the governments of the UK and the US provide some type of compensation to the descendants of enslaved black people, in consideration of the labour provided for free over several centuries of persecution?

    The Holocaust, the Slave Trade and the anti-refugee feeling you mentioned all share one thing; they are all the products of fundamentally racist attitudes. But the effect and consequences of the racism in each case is different; the magnitude of loss from the Holocaust and the Slave Trade is massive compared to the effects of anti-refugee sentiment in Greece. (I’m in no way trying to minimise the suffering of Greek refugees).

    Harper’s Magazine has created an estimate that the total of reparations due to black descendants of slaves is over 100 trillion dollars, (based on 222,505,049 hours of forced labour between 1619 and 1865, with a compounded interest of 6%). I haven’t even mentioned the effects of the slave trade on some Caribbean and African countries where the loss of their population had decimated their economies and societies.

    That’s why I believe that the UK is ‘more’ racist than any other country I’ve lived in, both in the historic and contemporary context.

  25. Xenos
    October 26, 2008    

    Michael: the strange thing in Greece (by European racist standards) is that until recently, Greeks paid little attention to skin colour. Racism in Greece was really confined to anti-Balkan and anti-Turkish feelings, with some condescension to Africans and Chinese, amongst others. The historical racism that I referred to, after 1923, has disappeared as all of those people are now fully accepted as Greeks.

    The problem in Britain and the USA is that the racism and exploitation of various differently skin-coloured people continues, and that the visible differences impede full acceptance into those societies. In other words, the refugees of Asia Minor in 1923 did not look so different from Greeks, so they can be accepted; the descendants of slaves (and other coloured people) have a different skin colour in the USA, UK etc and are not so easily accepted. Of course, I agree that reparations are due: but in what form?

    My personal preference is for real equal opportunities, in education, access to employment; at the same time, we need a strong welfare system to protect those families who have fallen onto hard times, often through lack of education as well as money. In principle, the UK should be better than the USA, but I am not sure.

    In GReece, racism takes different forms, and is often more about exclusion (from jobs, housing, legal status, society) than about personally experienced racism. It also affects Europeans in Greece, and has little to do with skin colour. In a way, it is more about the Greek style of corruption, and handing out favours than it is about racial hatred. The exception is the animosity shown to Albanians, which is all the more bizarre as about 30% of the Greek population is of Albanian origin…

  26. George
    October 26, 2008    

    Michael Scofield: I still think that the US govt does correct wrongs and that’s my point. You can come up with a million random links but in the end, I will agree that there is racism in the USA, but that the system does protect immigrants, and other minorities unlike Greece. Immigrants, and minorities have numerous advantages unlike Greece. America is the land of dreams. Just ask any Albanian in Greece… They all think I’m crazy to live in Greece when I could live in my home of America.

    I guess we can agree to disagree on this. You have not convinced me that the USA is more racist than Greece.

    Especially on the eve of the USA having one of the greatest presidents to be elected since John F. Kennedy. I speak of Barak Obama, a man of color.

    When Greece elects a man of color, or an Albanian for President, you can come back and argue your point.

    End of Story!

  27. Papa Duck
    October 26, 2008    

    Despite some contributors’ tendency to go over the top, I think this debate is getting somewhere, largely due to Xenos correcting his earlier excesses. Racism should not be relativised but distinctions should be made between racism and other phenomena which, however unpleasant, do not deserve the term. Take the Greeks. They are not that genetically distinct from other Balkan inhabitants. I do not know whether 30% are Albanian or not (how on earth can you measure this? certainly not by counting the Arvanitic speakers) but I do know that George is wrong. When Greece elects an Albanian President he or she will no longer be Albanian (it may surprise George that there may have already have been one, along with several Prime Ministers – Kountouriotis/ Zervas). Religious or cultural bigotry is unpleasant but it is not racism. Racism is out of bounds because it relates to something that cannot be changed and can lead to the elimination of fellow human beings simply because of what they are, not what they do. I hope we can all agree with this.

  28. Xenos
    October 27, 2008    

    I will ignore the assertion that I have “corrected earlier excesses” since I have not, but welcome Papa Duck’s positive remarks. The whole issue of what is racism, and what might be characterised as other -isms, is interesting and a valid area of debate.

    My estimate of 30% is rather rough, and based on my knowledge of Ottoman and modern Greek history: it is not predicated on Arvanitic speakers, though, whose numbers are much smaller. We might also mention the other ethnic groups that have assimilated into a Greek identity, such as Vlach and Karakatsani, but are not really ethnically Greek. The one impediment to such assimilation has always been religion, which is why so many recent Albanian immigrants change religion or minimise its meaning.

    So, yes, the form of racial or ethnic discrimination in Greece is rather different from that in the USA or UK; still, there is some hardcore racism in Greece alongside a lot of social exclusion, which seems very similar for immigrants. In fact, Greece would benefit greatly from opening up to competition and open access to jobs instead of the corruption which pervades the society. With such open access, foreigners’ perceptions of Greece would greatly improve. Furthermore, the Greek economy and quality of life would overall improve: of course, some useless people would lose their protected employment, being paid for doing next to nothing, badly.

  29. Michael Scowcroft
    October 27, 2008    

    Xenos,

    My personal preference is for real equal opportunities, in education, access to employment; at the same time, we need a strong welfare system to protect those families who have fallen onto hard times, often through lack of education as well as money.

    I may have misunderstood you here, forgive me if I have but what do you mean by ‘as well as money’ at the end of your sentence. Do you mean that money should be provided to descendants of enslaved black people not as a form of ‘reparation’, but as a form of ‘welfare’?

    Why should Jews be provided with money given in the form of compensation for their losses during the 11 years of the Nazi regime but blacks should only be content with money provided as a form of ‘welfare’? Isn’t this clear double standards? I’m slightly disconcerted that you have used the word ‘welfare’ for the blacks as a form of recompense, but you seemingly accept ‘reparations’ for the Jews.

    The exception is the animosity shown to Albanians, which is all the more bizarre as about 30% of the Greek population is of Albanian origin…

    I do not agree that Greek racism or any other racism can be ‘more’ bizarre than any other form of racism. All racism is ‘bizarre’ by definition: judging someone on the basis of skin colour or ethnicity is ‘bizarre’.
    Many Europeans who took part in the slave trade, shared common ancestry with Africans (we’re all descendants from Africa) and therefore European racism can also be said to be ‘all the more bizarre’ as well (exactly like the Greek Albanian racists).
    I don’t think it’s helpful to say this racism is more ‘bizarre’ than that.

    All racism is equally ‘bizarre’, because it’s roots are found in the same prejudice and ignorance, but the effects of the racism in anti-refugee and slave trade racism are not ‘equal’ at all. The effects of the slave trade and the Holocaust cannot be compared to the effects of Greek anti-refugee sentiment or French-Algerian racism, for example.

    The legacy of European racism, prevalent throughout the British Empire, is still alive and kicking in British society today. In fact, i think it’s worse now because we have become much better at hiding our racism in British society. This is the worst form of racism because we can’t marginalise people who we haven’t identified as racists. That’s why i think we have the problems of closet racists in all our insititutions, Church, schools, Armed Forces, police today. Racists are becoming harder to identify and root out.

    In my experience, racism in British society is rife. British society is ‘more’ racist than any other country i’ve lived in.
    Britain’s top criminal prosecutor agrees with me.
    http://www.blaqfair.com/blaqfair/

    George,

    I don’t think it’s constructive to ‘grade’ racism because racism is absolute, it’s either there or it isn’t, but we can grade the ‘effects’ of racism. It can be argued that America is 100 TRILLION dollars ‘more’ racist than any other country in the world, just because of the slave trade.
    And there are many contemporary examples where the effects of racism and islamophobia in the USA show the US to be a ‘more’ racist society than many poorer countries.

    And I think it’s rather spurious of you to hold up Barack Obama as a token of how ‘America-can’t-be racist-because-we’re-electing-a-black-man’. First of all, look at the hopeless opposition of McCain/Palin. Do you honestly believe that Obama would have a chance against a popular, charismatic white candidate? (Obama’s odds of becoming President in April were 66-1, i.e. he was no-hoper because no-one believed that America would vote for a black Presidential candidate).
    If all things were equal between two Presidential candidates, if they were equally experienced, equally charismatic, equally handsome, equally youthful, equally good orators, if all their qualities were equal except skin colour, would white Americans vote for the black or white President? I think if you’re honest in answering this question, your answer will confirm how American racism is alive and well.

    “Racial misgivings of whites an Obama issue”
    http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D93AIV882&show_article=1

    BTW, this is one example of immigrant reality in the ‘land of dreams’:

    Sandra M. Kenley was returning home from her native Barbados in 2005 when she was swept into the United States’ fastest-growing form of incarceration, immigration detention.
    Seven weeks later, Ms. Kenley died in a rural Virginia jail, where she had complained of not receiving medicine for high blood pressure. She was one of 62 immigrants to die in administrative custody since 2004

    And most cases of immigrant brutality go undetected in the US. The onus for detecting cases of immigrant brutality rests largely on NGO’s and other charitable organizations or victims’ families. And when there have been cases which have gone to court, the court throws money at the victims’ family in an attempt to show how America doesn’t tolerate brutality. But with the lack of a humane detention policy, the system remains rotten to the core. (Francisco Castañeda died when his spine snapped after his cancer spread for months without treatment, he was refused treatment in a US detention centre and accused of ‘faking it’. He was 36 years old.).

    Some more ‘random examples’:

    Children confinement in the richest country in the world

    IMPACT OF IMMIGRATION SWEEP ON CHILDREN

    Please excuse me for citing ‘a million random links’ as you call them, but I like to substantiate my opinion with reports, articles and cold hard facts. How many references or articles have you given in support of your opinions?

    Papa Duck,

    What do you consider as ‘over the top’ or ‘ridiculous’ in my arguments?

    Do you believe i went ‘over the top when’ i said that descendants of enslaved black people should be given reparations for the 400 years of forced labour, sexual exploitation and human trafficking?

    http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2008/sgsm11479.doc.htm

    Do you agree that reparations should be paid for this atrocity? Is this too ‘ridiculous’?

  30. Michael Scowcroft
    October 27, 2008    

    dd, it seems that i have misunderstood Xenos’ comments, thanks for your input. Sorry about that Xenos.

    I would be interested to hear all contributor’s views (and your own view dd) regarding the issue of reparations for the descendants of the black slave trade. Do you think reparations should be paid? If not, why not?

    As for the Peace Education model, i think it’s a very good start. Education must be the key to eradicate racism in society but i feel it would take many generations especially in historically racist societies like Britain.
    The UK and US have had many decades to eradicate racism but racism remains a ‘custom’ in these countries.

    It’s interesting to read some comments on the peace Education thread, some of the experiences echo my own views about UK racism:

    “I’ve lived in the UK for most of my life and the 60’s, 70, 80s and recent times of course have been marked by race riots and violence, the same can be said for the US and of course other parts of Europe such as France. I’m sure you have many of those tv images in your head. So far Greece has been spared the angry mob violence and race rioting we have seen in other countries. A group of young immigrants in Greece were interviewed about the recent riots in France. They all said the actions were wrong. These youths are the first generation of immigrants in Greece. They are not Greek citizens but they feel gratitude to the country that has taken them in.”

    Like Portugal, it seems Greece has been spared racist mob violence, whereas the richer countries such as the UK, the USA and France have all had ugly racism spill over into violence.

    Race riots in UK
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/1428239.stm

    Race riots in US
    http://www.gibbsmagazine.com/Rodney King 1.htm

  31. October 27, 2008    

    My personal preference is for real equal opportunities, in education, access to employment; at the same time, we need a strong welfare system to protect those families who have fallen onto hard times, often through lack of education as well as money. In principle, the UK should be better than the USA, but I am not sure.

    I didn’t read this the same way at all. I think that xenos was saying that there should be a strong welfare system for ANYONE who has fallen on hard times though lack of education OR lack of money. I might be wrong, of course. That’s the problem with the written word especially in this format. It’s very easy to misinterpret what others are saying.

    I also do not believe that America would be voting for Barack Obama if there was a white male Republican equivalent. Maybe I’m a pessimist but judging from the amount of people who still think he’s a Muslim (and have a problem with that !) or that he’s a terrorist or that he will get into power and try and do white people down or simply “can’t put their finger on it but…. they don’t quite trust him…”, I don’t think it would happen if McCain and Palin weren’t such a disaster.

    I want to pose a question to you all. Let’s take it as given that institutional and individual racism exists in the US, the UK and in Greece (and pretty much everywhere) and that the systems we have in place are not working. Where do we go from here ? I know, I know. Impossible to answer fully but have any of us got any ideas (however small they might be) ? Otherwise, it seems to me we could just spend the next decades (centuries) arguing over points of order and documenting the brutal and tragic consequences of racism.

    My idea (and it was mentioned above) is education. I had hoped that Greece would adopt the peace education model something like this that I wrote about here: http://deviousdiva.com/2006/05/15/peace-education/ but hey, can’t expect the state to take a leap of faith and do something innovative can we now ?

    Over to you…

  32. George
    October 27, 2008    

    Michael: If I had the time to google, I could find the links you request. In this internet age, with time on your hands, you can find anything to prove your point. I apologize I don’t have more time to spend on this.

    I personally would vote for Obama over a equally qualified white candidate because I like Obama. After hearing him speak several times, I think he’s a good man, and am voting for him based on my perception of him, of course, I agree with his platform.

    I would hope other people in America (less truly racist people) would do the same.

    And, finally, I also have brought up cases of mistreatment against immigrants (by the authorities in Los Angeles) before, but again, I think the response by the authorities against authorities who commit neglect shows that they don’t let things lay.

    Finally, Again, as I said before, we can agree to disagree.

    In the spirit of Diva’s last comment, I won’t post again on this debate about America being racist since the blog is supposed to be about issues in Greece.

  33. Michael Scowcroft
    October 27, 2008    

    Not having the time to search for links is one thing, demeaning others for providing links is another. I don’t think your comments about me giving “a million random links” was necessary.
    The links were not a ‘million’ and they were not ‘random’ either.

    As for you voting for Obama, i wouldn’t expect you to have race issues when voting, since you’re not a racist (posting on an anti-racism blog such as this would indicate that you’re not). But did you know that there have been studies conducted by the University of Chicago indicating that as many as 80% of Americans are racist and they don’t even know it? They exhibit a ‘subconscious racism’, which is an interesting subject in iteslf.

    My comments were directed at white America in general, do you believe white America would vote for a black man if everything else was equal between two candidates? deviousdiva, seems to agree with me, that white America would vote for the white candidate (i have evidence that this indeed would be the case but i’ll refrain from offering yet another ‘random link’) i’m curious to know your thoughts about this, since you’re an American and all.

    Also, what are your thoughts about my “reparations” question above? It would be good to canvass opinion about this issue on this blog.

  34. Oath Taken
    October 27, 2008    

    Since no-one who actually knows what he is talking about (with one possible exception) has come forward to correct Xenos here it goes:
    a) The mother tongue of Karakatsani (Sarakatsani) unlike that of Vlachs is actually a greek dialect. To consider them non-Greek in an ethnological sense would require a redefinition of what an ethnic Greek is to make it so restrictive that Pontic Greeks or Greek Cypriots would not belong to the Greek ethnic group. In that case why stop there: Define as ethnic Greek the variety of Morea and have separate ethnic groups for Rumeliotes, Epirotes, Thessalians, Cretans, Cycladic Islanders, Eptanissians, Macedonians, Thracians, East Aegean Islanders and the Dodecanesseans. I can easily spot significant differences in dances, dialects etc. to make such a point. The silliness of the whole endeavor should be evident to all but Xenos and his ilk.
    b) 30% only? As “Albanian origin” can be just 1/2^n Arvanite I can argue any number between the 15% that Finley give for Arvanites back when they could be more easily distinguished and 90%+ given the extreme level of intermarriage between the constituent ethnic groups as well as regional subgroups of the Greek nation in urban settings. People that can trace a Vlach and an Arvanite grandparent or great grandparent are not rare at all. But the very fact that you find it bizarre shows that even after so many years in Greece you understand very little of how ethnicity is of no importance (hell, the very word ???????????? is a neologism) and nationality (?????????? – inclusion ??? ????? – not citizenship) is paramount. Half of my peasant :-) family is Arvanite and I’m the least anti-Albanian of the lot in that I dislike only the nationalist UCK types (of which we have quite a few in Greece if I’m to judge by the celebrations in city squares on the event of Kossovo’s declaration of independence). Arvanites are not self-haters – they simply do not identify as Albanians because they see them as part of a different nation, In fact (since you would not trust me on this) read up on what your buddy Dimitras has written on the subject: two of the most serious incidents of violence against Albanians in Greece in the 1990s took place in Arvanite villages.
    c) As for having an “Albanian” for a President as George demands, well if we were to call Arvanites Albanians (as they used to be called before the emergence of an Albanian nation) then Greece has had quite a few (and Vlach leading politicians as well). In fact the current president of Greece is from an Arvanite family (as his surname and origin clearly suggest). But to expect people with no citizenship (as the bulk of Albanian immigrants to Greece are) to become presidents is indeed bizarre.
    d) Finally regarding the racism the Asia Minor refugees faced the simplistic treatment given here is shameful: The roots of it were foremost the social upheaval of accommodating such a disproportionately huge number of refugees. Moreover in rural settings there was competition for the land of the departing Muslims (that the locals expected to get – and in many cases may have been cultivating for years anyway – but was given to the refugees as part of the population exchange). In urban settings the main other issue was class/cultural differences between an impoverished but educated urban population whose women would get out of the house and work (in the case of the refugees) and a less educated (given its mostly peasant origins), more conservative but richer as it was already established city population. The true ethnic differences (involving a minority within the refugees of Karamanli and Bafrali native Turkish speakers) were not seriously at play beyond providing ammunition for pejorative terminology such as “????????????”.

  35. Xenos
    October 27, 2008    

    Since Oath Taken insists on a confrontational approach, I shall not thank him for correcting my ignorance of the Sarakatsani language. I will profoundly disagree with the tortuous nonsense written in part (b) — namely, that ethnicity does not matter to Greeks. This was more or less true in the 19th century, but by the time of the Balkan Wars not having Greek ethnicity (or not faking it) was a literal death sentence for the villages of Macedonia and other northern parts of Greece when the Greek army decided to annex the territory. The inclusion of various non-Greek ethnicities into Greek “nationality” was a 20th century process carried out by intimidation and conformist pressure, and has absolutely nothing to do with “birth”. As you well know, the primary criterion for inclusion and exclusion from this Greek identity was religion — basically, following the Ottoman pattern.

    On point (d), you justify racism on the grounds that a lot of people came to Greece. I presume that you have not read any of the recent scholarship on this period, or you would not be regurgitating the conventional line. On second thoughts, I doubt that scholarship interests you, so perhaps you are happy with the standard Greek nationalist propaganda.

  36. Oath taken
    October 28, 2008    

    Xenos admitting to a bit of ignorance! To directly translate from the Greek a bakery has just collapsed! :-)

    On to your “points”:
    Indeed from the formation of the Greek state onwards there has been a slow transition from the multi-ethnic nature of Romiosene (the ideological evolution of the Ottoman Rum milliet) to a mono-ethnic concept of Hellenism much more in line with the racist ideas of Western Europeans. In fact the Greeks have molded their identity (against their own self-definition as Romii) to make it match the racial expectations of their Western patrons. But still, at the time of the Balkan wars, what really mattered was nationality as expressed through ecclesiastical affiliation (Patriarchists being considered Greeks while Exarchists being considered Bulgarians). There was no way to fake Greekness in an ethnic sense in 1912 among villagers who did not speak any Greek other than a few church hymns. Yet among the Christians it was the Exarchists and the RumanoVlachs who were targetted because they were seen as belonging to another nation, namely the Bulgarian and Rumanian ones.

    As for the inclusion of non-Greek ethnicities into the Greek nation (no need for quotation marks unless – as you do – you consider a multiethnic nation a fake one) it happened from day one – the Arvanites were spread throughout Southern Greece and there were also some Vlach settelements there (not to mention the central role Vlachs played in Greek irredentist national ideology). It did not have to wait until the 20th century. What happened in the 20th century was the accelerated fusion of these ethnicities with the dominant Greek one – with the subsequent loss of cultural elements. That was a result of both state policy (intimidation and indirect pressure) as well as personal choice to help in social ascendancy.

    Finally on point (d) I provided (beyond the population pressure aspect) other reasons (discusses in recent scholarship) for the conflict between the refugees and the locals and the attitudes of the latter towards the former. As for my scholarly interests – so far they are reduced to making sure I don’t claim the wrong date for the inclusion of Thessaly in the Greek state:
    “The Greek nation state was first created with a violent revolutionary struggle supported by Albanians, and later the British amongst others, and the state in 1832 stopped just north of Thessaly.”

  37. Oath Taken
    October 28, 2008    

    In that case my 2 cents:

    Integrated education and multi-ethnic curricula in the Anglosaxon world may have managed to stigmatize racism but they have not done away with it – neither has the French assimilationist approach being entirely successful. No panacea around for this problem – and well intended social engineering approaches such as affirmative action tend to backfire in more ways than one. At least in times of relatively evenly spread-out prosperity, racist propaganda (which will always exist – some people will always be bigoted) falls on less receptive ears. LAOS did not become a parliamentary force in the boom years of Simitis in Greece.

    As for reparations I see them as an unjust measure to undo another injustice. Why should the descendant of European or Asian immigrants to the USA that arrived post-slavery or the recent non-African American immigrant be burdened with paying reparations for slaves their families never owned? Hell those of “lesser” European ancestry and those of Chinese or Indian background were victims of racism themselves and in the case of the Chinese in some cases practically reduced to unofficial slavery. If one can get the descendants of the slave owners and traders to pay up that’s fine but somehow I doubt there’s enough money left in their pockets to make up for the vast amounts talked about.

  38. October 28, 2008    

    As it has been said earlier, the solution to racism (or to any human problem, for that matter,) is better education. The trouble with individual racism is that it tends to get handed down from parents to kids, so this education needs to a) include parents, and b) to the extent that parents don’t get it, expose the stereotype of the racist father and yes, alienate their children towards them.

    As for institutional racism, the solution is constant watch and hard punishment, which is something that we have a very poor tradition of, here in Greece.

    I have no formed opinion regarding reparations.

    However, I must say that the greek expression “??????? ??????? ?? ???????????” is better translated as “some oven must have collapsed”. The word “???????” can either mean oven or bakery, but in this case it must refer to an old village style oven built with stones right outside a house. If yours collapses, then you must make amends with your neighbor because you need to ask them to let you use their oven. (Hey, is this is open thread, or isn’t it? C-:= )

    Diagoras of Meloss last blog post..Happy 6012th anniversary of the creation of the universe!

  39. October 28, 2008    

    Let’s not turn this into another one of those “I know more than you do when it comes to history” threads.

    There were two questions asked that I think are worth discussing further. One was about solutions to institutional and individual racism since we have established (I think) that racism exists all over Europe and in the US. Any thoughts ?

    The other was about reparations. Any thoughts ?

    If we could try and keep the discussion more focused it would be more useful and probably, more interesting.

    Thank you.

  40. Michael Scowcroft
    October 28, 2008    

    Whoever doesn’t agree with reparations being paid to the descendants of enslaved black people is a racist and a hypocrite. I’ll give you my reasons in detail later, but for the moment, I’ll leave with these thoughts:

    When 1 Trillion dollars of tax payers money is requested to bail out banks owned by white Anglo-Saxons, most whites have a grudging acceptance of the whole thing:

    “oh well, it wasn’t our fault, the banks caused this crisis but if we have to, we’ll pay for their mistakes and greed using our hard-earned tax dollars”.

    But when a request is made for white America and other Anglo-Saxons to compensate for the suffering of millions of people over 400 years, the reaction is:

    “Oh No, it wasn’t our fault, we had nothing to do with those mistakes, you can’t use our tax dollars for people’s greed and mistakes of the past.”

    The hypocrisy and racism is astounding.

    The racist:
    White-owned Corporations profiting from the legacy of slavery, Hurray! Black Americans wanting their cut of this legacy, Go away!

    The hypocrite:
    Jewish Reparations, OK. Black reparations, No way!

    A country built on the blood and sweat of black slaves, now the richest country in the world, largely on the back of free slave labour, refuses to pay it’s dues to the descendants of these people. White America leaves them in ghettoes, leaves them in the wake of hurricane Katrina, neglects black communities, floods their communities with drugs to keep them subdued and stop them getting too ‘uppity’, offers ‘welfare’ instead of compensation, US military targets poor black communities and recruits young black youth to fight wars for white profit, police brutality against blacks, etc etc etc …

    On a more cheerful note:

  41. Michael Scowcroft
    October 29, 2008    

    Papa Duck and George are strangely quiet on the reparations issue.

    They seem to have disappeared from this thread at about the same time as the alleged plotters to assassinate Obama were caught.

    No, it can’t be?…..can it?

    http://uk.news.yahoo.com/4/20081028/twl-neo-nazis-held-over-obama-plot-41f21e0.html

  42. Michael Scowcroft
    October 29, 2008    

    dd,
    i have re-read my post and i agree with you, i owe papa duck and George an apology. I suppose i wanted to get back at them for their unwarranted attacks on my ‘ridiculous’ questions and ‘a million random links’. But it was a very poor attempt at humour, so i apologise unreservedly.

    About your questions, i think the same questions can be asked about the bank bail outs. Questions arising from using tax-payers money to bail out banks seem to have been out worked without any fuss. The same is true with reparations for families of the Holocaust.
    Why is it that fundamental questions regarding reparations for the Holocaust and bank bail outs can be worked out in a couple of weeks, whereas questions of the slave trade have hardly been addressed at all. It can only be a question of racism.

    We’ve had 134 years since the end of slavery to address these questions and the fact that these questions remain largely unanswered and undebated tells us all we need to know about how racist American and European culture still is.

  43. October 29, 2008    

    @ Michael Scowcroft

    They seem to have disappeared from this thread at about the same time as the alleged plotters to assassinate Obama were caught.

    Your comment is very unnecessary and inflammatory. Let’s try and be sensible even when we are attempting “humour”. Thank you.

    I, like many people here probably, have not formed a coherent opinion about reparations so I have chosen not to comment rather than come up with some half-baked idea. I honestly do not know enough about the issues and arguments to answer. Like… how it would work ? Who will pay who ? How much will be paid ? Will this just cause further resentment and dispute rather than healing ? Will the money be paid and then it’ll be like “well, we paid for our crimes, now shut up and go away ?”. How would paying reparations aid race relations ? Does everything come down to money or are there better ways to ensure that people of colour are honoured and respected equally to white people in American society ?

    I only have questions. But in some ways, I think that’s an answer for now.

  44. Xenos
    October 29, 2008    

    The reason the banks have been bailed out is that they have held the world to ransom: knowing that their activities in the last 25 years were very risky, they chose to do reckless things to make as much profit as possible. It is now the end of that awful Reagan-Thatcher philosophy of “greed is good”, “money is all that matters”, etc. (It is also the fault of the British and American public for accepting this **** from their politicians.)

    I did a rough calculation of the cost in the UK per taxpayer, and it averages out to around 2,000 pounds per person promised to the banks by the UK government. What I would like to see is top people in the banks sacked (without payoff and with reduced pensions) for their greed and incompetence, and overall salaries much reduced. I doubt that that will happen, though.

  45. Xenos
    October 29, 2008    

    AS far as reparations are concerned, I have the same response as DD. Also, I am not sure that it would do much good for the people who might receive them. Apart from being ostracised by the white community (out of jealousy), the recipients might not benefit so much. We have evidence from the cases of people who won enormous or large amounts of money, that a very high proportion of them lose their money (gambling, foolish purchases, etc) and sometimes end up in a worse condition than they were before.

    This is why I advocate better access to education and jobs as the solution — preferably without positive discrimination, as it tends to create resentment. Just give people a chance, or two, and make proper reparations that way. Money is not always the best answer; removing privilege (for the white middle class) from the system is at least a partial solution.

  46. Michael Scowcroft
    October 29, 2008    

    Slavery ended in 1865 but the legacy of slavery still remains:

    Blacks are far more likely to live in segregated neighbourhoods, be refused business and housing loans, be denied promotions in corporations and attend cash-starved, failing public schools than whites. Blacks have a disproportionately high infant mortality rate, below-average life span, and high incarceration rate of African Americans.

    I believe that there should be reparations for the descendants of enslaved blacks. And it should be considerably more than the U.S. government’s first reparations plan: “40 acres and a mule apiece” which was Gen. William Sherman’s promise to former slaves shortly after the Civil War ended in 1865.
    I do not advocate anything more than is deserved: “a check that will give (African-Americans) upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.” Martin Luther King Jr 1963.

    The reason the banks have been bailed out is that they have held the world to ransom: knowing that their activities in the last 25 years were very risky, they chose to do reckless things to make as much profit as possible. It is now the end of that awful Reagan-Thatcher philosophy of “greed is good”, “money is all that matters”, etc. (It is also the fault of the British and American public for accepting this **** from their politicians.)

    Xenos, I wasn’t asking for reasons why the banks were bailed out. My point was that there has been little or no fuss about the fact that we, the tax payers, are paying for the mistakes and greed of others (and we don’t even have the shares in the banks we paid for, which is amazing since our tax money is effectively buying them).
    Do you think there would there be the same passive acceptance if there was a similar commitment by government to pay for the mistakes and greed of American and European slave owners?

    I wonder what the reaction would be if Barack Obama made the announcement: “I will pledge 700 Billion dollars from the US treasury to commit to the black communities, whose ancestors’ free slave labour was the motivating factor in our great country becoming the greatest economy in the world.”

    Forgive me for saying so, but there would be riots and a total media and political witch hunt against Obama if he were to say this.

    There are only two words for this: racism and hypocrisy.

    And I’m sorry, your comments which equate blacks to irresponsible ‘lottery winners’ are highly offensive. The black community would be receiving compensation for the suffering, murder, rape and slave labour that was endured by their ancestors for over 400 years. They would not come to this money through ‘games of luck’ like the lottery, and you cannot be the moral authority on how black people would choose to spend money which they would richly deserve either.

    Your comments remind me of the kind of racism that equates native American Indians with ‘good-for-nothing drunks’. Yeah, commit genocide on the native American community , take their land and force them to live on ‘reserves’ in mobile home parks, give them scant job opportunities, then accuse them of being irresponsible drunks unable to handle the concept of money.

    As for reparations causing ‘resentment among whites’ and ‘harmful effects on race relations’, no one has suggested that whites would be the only ones who would contribute to reparartions. Descendants of slaves would contribute taxes toward reparations along with everyone else. So I don’t know where ‘resentment’ would come from in this regard.

    Also, I would advocate that in addition to taxes, there would be an investigation in illicit slavery-related profits in the pasts of corporations and in the inherited fortunes of people alive today and further contributions made from these sources. I would never advocate a claim that all whites owe a debt to all blacks so any resentment coming from this angle is unfounded.
    Damages should be sought from the federal government and companies that profited from slavery, from insurance companies that sold policies insuring slave owners against the loss of their slave property as well as from taxes.

    I, like many people here probably, have not formed a coherent opinion about reparations so I have chosen not to comment rather than come up with some half-baked idea. I honestly do not know enough about the issues and arguments to answer. Like… how it would work ? Who will pay who ? How much will be paid ? Will this just cause further resentment and dispute rather than healing ? Will the money be paid and then it’ll be like “well, we paid for our crimes, now shut up and go away ?”. How would paying reparations aid race relations ? Does everything come down to money or are there better ways to ensure that people of colour are honoured and respected equally to white people in American society ?

    Following on from my comments in earlier posts, regarding the ‘effects’ of racism, my reparations argument is that almost all descendents of slaves suffer from the economic consequences of slavery and discrimination. The ‘effect’ of racism in America and (Britian) is still being felt more than any other country in the world. And this is disgraceful for the supposedly ‘richest’ countries in the world (slave labour was used to build the U.S. Capitol and the White House for crying out loud).

    No doubt there will be people like George who will say “Look! We’ve abolished slavery, we’re even allowing a black man to become President!”. It would be nice to see Obama elected as president but as we identified earlier, would he stand a chance if the Republicans had a better package than the horror show that is McCain/Palin? I don’t think so.
    It’s nice to be freed after enslavement, and blacks can even be grateful, but it hardly makes up for being enslaved. The fact is that blacks have received a disproportionately small share of the United States’ freedom, prosperity, you name it, and the reparations claim is about claiming blacks’ fair share.

    Regarding the question of race relations, and the danger of creating a ‘perpetual victimhood’ label; I don’t think the label of ‘perpetual victimhood’ has been applied to Jews when they received (and still receive) reparations for the Holocaust. In fact, Jews are seen as confident and successful people, having had their community decimated by the Nazis, they have stood up to their interlocutors, they demanded compensation for their losses and for their slave labour in the concentration camps and they receive $8 billion in reparations from the governments of Germany, France and Austria and from Swiss banks.
    Despite these ‘awards’, they are not seen as ‘perpetual victims’, so I don’t understand how black would blacks be given this label.

    It could be argued that paying reparation to blacks would isolate blacks even further from the American mainstream. white America would ostracise them and their new found prosperity. But blacks have always been fighting to get into, not isolate themselves from, the American mainstream. Indeed, whites have joined blacks in movements to end slavery, to extend voting rights and civil rights, and to achieve some measure of economic justice such as through reparations. Reparations are not an attack on America’s heritage, they are a bid to get blacks into the economic mainstream.

    As for the alternatives to reparations so far being offered, such as positive discrimination or affirmative action, in terms of hiring decisions, treatment in school, treatment as consumers, and just about everything else that matters economically, blacks face discrimination.
    Discrimination continues to cost blacks $10 billion annually.

    I can provide thousands of examples that show discrimination faced by blacks despite the various white ‘conscience soothing’ schemes such as positive discrimination, but I don’t wish to burden an already too long post.. (and George may take offence at more ‘random links’ :) ).

    Affirmative action schemes came in too late to close the enormous income and personal wealth gap that arose between blacks and whites in the segregated economy of the South, where most blacks resided and where earning merely a subsistence living was difficult until the late 1960s. With all the best will in the world invested in positive discrimination schemes, blacks are still playing economic catch-up to their white counterparts – an economic gap that can only be effectively bridged by reparations.

    The United States government has paid reparations to Japanese-Americans interned in World War II, and to several Indian tribes. Holocaust survivors who were used as forced laborers have won reparations from European countries.
    Why are blacks denied the right to be compensated for the same (if not worse) crimes committed against their communities?

    Some people may argue: “But Holocaust survivors are still alive?” That is true, but in 100 years from now, if a great-great-grandson of a Holocaust slave labourer asked for reparations or to recover a loss, a court would be legally obliged to grant damages. So why should it be any different for a descendant of a black slave to claim reparations endured over 400 years of slave labour?

    Perhaps the best reasoning for damages to be paid to descendants of enslaved blacks was given as a principle of justice from the statement of Martin Luther King, given at the beginning of my post. I will humbly offer this:

    When government participates in a crime against humanity, and benefits from it, then that government is, under the law obliged to make the victims whole.

    Oh, and a heartfelt public apology from the US government wouldn’t go amiss either.

  47. Post Disagreement
    October 29, 2008    

    George wrote:

    When Greece elects a man of color, or an Albanian for President, you can come back and argue your point.

    This is retarded George..greece isnot that kind of country. Actually we did have a black representative on the Athens City Council Yvette Jarvis.

    Greece is still mostly Greek so chances are the leadership positons will be held by Greeks.

    Would you accuse Black South Africans of racism against Whites for not voiting for Whites instead?

  48. Michael Scowcroft
    October 29, 2008    

    George thinks that because Obama may be elected President, America isn’t racist.

    Anyway, Obama is half white and he’s still being persecuted by Republicans and their supporters on the basis of his skin colour. Imagine if both Obama’s parents were black. Oh. my. God.

  49. Papa Duck
    October 30, 2008    

    Sorry to disappoint MIchael Scowcroft, I am still free. Before attempting to answer DD’s questions I must point out why I said some people were over the top. I did not wish to upset the author of:

    The sad truth is, most Brits view the non-white as inferior and racism is customary among the British white population.

    But I thought that this was over the top, not necessarily wrong, more an unfounded assertion (or two). If he can link to studies giving scientific evidence on both fronts, I will withdraw my accusation. I only called his question about footie crowds ridiculous after he rubbished my attempt to address the subject at a similar-ish anecdotal level. This I regarded as hypocritical so I pointed out that his question was ridiculous (thereby demeaning my own response to it!). (Incidentally I was also referring to ‘America, land of dreams’ and Xenos’ excess was to equate Greeks v Greek refugees with racism.)

    As for reparations, I do not think them ridiculous. However, as many victims of racism cannot show they are descended from slaves, I think reparations would create unhelpful divisions among the oppressed. It’s not the same thing, but I am disturbed by the use of terms like half-white. Would it make any difference if Obama was the son of two ‘black’ Americans who like many had their colour well-diluted by slave-owner blood? This sort of argument reminds me of Nazi’s measuring people’s noses!

    As for solutions, I would like to applaud English hypocrisy. If the majority of people are racists but are cowed into not expressing it, this makes life more bearable for their potential victims, gives them more confidence to take on the outright bigots and enables them to advance in society. If deep down these ‘closet racists’ would prefer a white candidate for a job over an equally qualified black one then so what? Slight preferences which are not justifiable are inevitable. Many males would give jobs to attractive females, others run scared of them. It’s stupid but it is not sexism. For Michaeal Scowcroft to reduce racism to the level of a very marginal preference for a particular skin colour is to belittle the perniciousness of real racism.

    DD I detect a little bit of anti-intellectualism surfacing. It’s your blog so you are entitled to it. But I think a little more undersatanding of racism and xenophobia and, in particular, the Greek varieties might help. Contributions from both Xenos (in his calmer moments) and Oath Taken (in his less arrogant ones) might help.

  50. October 30, 2008    

    DD I detect a little bit of anti-intellectualism surfacing. It’s your blog so you are entitled to it. But I think a little more undersatanding of racism and xenophobia and, in particular, the Greek varieties might help. Contributions from both Xenos (in his calmer moments) and Oath Taken (in his less arrogant ones) might help.

    I really appreciate your contributions Papa Duck. I think you know that ! I am a little confused by this last paragraph. Can you elaborate because I don’t see any “anti-intellectualism”? I am just seeing that people are feeling quite fired up and passionate (perhaps too much so but we are human after all 😉 ) Perhaps I am being naive or just not reading things in the same way but I am genuinely interested in what you are saying because I think people’s perceptions of the discussions effect the potential benefits. Thank you.

  51. October 30, 2008    

    Regarding the question of race relations, and the danger of creating a ‘perpetual victimhood’ label; I don’t think the label of ‘perpetual victimhood’ has been applied to Jews when they received (and still receive) reparations for the Holocaust. In fact, Jews are seen as confident and successful people, having had their community decimated by the Nazis, they have stood up to their interlocutors, they demanded compensation for their losses and for their slave labour in the concentration camps and they receive $8 billion in reparations from the governments of Germany, France and Austria and from Swiss banks.
    Despite these ‘awards’, they are not seen as ‘perpetual victims’, so I don’t understand how black would blacks be given this label.

    I have to disagree with you here. There are some people who see Jews as playing the “victim card”. I’ve seen it and read about it many times. Maybe you or I don’t but some people do and I think that that’s what some people here are pointing out . That some people, NOT ALL, will see reparations to descendants of slaves as playing “the race/victim/chip on the shoulder” card. That is NOT to say that reparations should not happen for this reason but it is a legitimate concern.

  52. Michael Scowcroft
    October 30, 2008    

    Papa D,
    The only evidence i can provide for my assertion that ‘British society is fundamentally racist’ is the one seen by my own two eyes through my own personal experience living in British society. A few examples:

    Listening to British kids around Dagenham calling the darker-faced kids ‘Pakis’, ‘coons’, ‘cloth-heads’ and ‘nig-nogs’. Brit parents (most of them) not being any better. Brit ‘grown-ups’ complaining about their kids learning different religions and cultures in school, Brit ultra-xenophobia, Brit parents reacting against the teaching of foreign languages like Urdu, Bengali, and Cujorati in their schools, The common British customary saying: ‘I’m not a racist BUT’, going to a countryside pub with a black friend and everyone stops talking and then leaves…..i could go on, but i think you know what i’m talking about…

    Brits abroad: British ex-pats living in the Algarve (most of them) making disparaging remarks about the locals, ‘greasy spics’, ‘hairy degos’ refusing to sample the ‘foreign muck’, generally seeing the Portuguese as ‘inferior’, not even fit for an Englishman to learn their language apart from this: OI, MANUEL! UNOS BEEROS PLEASE-OS!, Brits (most of them) preferring to live in gated communities, away from the ‘inferior Portuguese’ lest they catch some awful foreign disease or they may actually learn how to be more cultured, ex-pats criticising the Portuguese police in the handling of the Maddy Mccann case, the blame for the abduction falling immediately on perverted Portuguese locals who like ‘blonde’ children, union-jack-wearing lads shouting ‘Eng-er-land’ and ‘I’M English’to bemused locals for no apparent reason, ex-pats making no effort to integrate with the locals or culture, these are all experiences of what i’ve seen and heard, i could go on recounting hundreds of other experiences in detail, but i think you’re more than aware about the general feelings of your common Brit towards foreigners and ‘darkies’…

    I think if you were honest with yourself (and with us), you would agree that most Brits are racist.
    But I know it’s hard to make such an admission on an anti-racism blog, so I respect your decision to be ambiguous about your own views. But please feel free to tell us your experiences of non-racist Britain.

    And i am not the only person to suggest that racism is customary in our country. Maybe you should ask more qualified people than me to give ‘evidence’ of the fundamentally racist nature of British society. You should contact the authors of the Macpherson Report, the Arch Bishop of Canterbury, the Head of the Armed Forces, the Head of Dept. for Schools and Education, they all admitted that these Great British institutions are racist.

    Or maybe you should contact the lawyers who experience the racism in the legal world and see cases of racially-motivated crime every day in court. What do they think, i wonder?

    “the whole of British society is racist”
    http://www.blaqfair.com/blaqfair/

    Or perhaps the best people to ask, would be the mutitude of ethnic minorities living in Britain. No doubt, they will offer you the best appraisal of British Society because they have seen racism in a way that we whites can only hope to understand.

    “an overwhelming majority of the white population is racist”
    http://www.newstatesman.com/200207080003

    If the majority of people are racists but are cowed into not expressing it, this makes life more bearable for their potential victims, gives them more confidence to take on the outright bigots and enables them to advance in society.

    Ah, the old ‘it’s-ok-to-tolerate-racists-as-long-as-they-don’t-overtly-display-their-racism’ ploy. Just because Brits are better at hiding our racism, it doesn’t necessarily follow that we’re not a racist society.
    The ‘closet racists’ find it far easier to gain employment in institutions like the Met police than your average overtly racist copper of a bygone era would. Once employed, the ‘closet racist’s’ inherent but hidden racism will influence the way he/she may prosecute a case (see the Macpherson Report). By the way, the majority of British society are closet racists. Even those who don’t admit to being racist show subliminal racism in their decisions at work and private life.

    So, i do not accept your analysis that racism is ‘more bearable for potential victims’ because it’s hidden. Racism very rarely stays hidden.

    DD I detect a little bit of anti-intellectualism surfacing. It’s your blog so you are entitled to it.

    dd, It’s clear that the above line is directed at me. (just like the ‘some people are going over the top’ was a veiled attack on me).

    Papa D, if you have something to say, why don’t you be straight with all of us and say it, there’s no need to be cryptic and ambiguous. We are all adults here and we can share our opinions and have a bit of banter with each other now and then. But let’s be honest and respectful with each other.

    DD I detect a little bit of anti-intellectualism surfacing. It’s your blog so you are entitled to it.

    dd, if you unravel what Papa D is trying to say, i think he means:
    “DD, i detect someone’s rattling my cage. Please ban him.”

    Would it make any difference if Obama was the son of two ‘black’ Americans who like many had their colour well-diluted by slave-owner blood?

    Interesting choice of words. And especially the use of inverted commas.

    As for reparations, I do not think them ridiculous.

    Would you be for or against reparations?
    A simple Yes or No would suffice.
    Let’s say you had to vote ‘for’ or ‘against’ reparations in a referendum.
    What would your choice be?

    I have to disagree with you here. There are some people who see Jews as playing the “victim card”. I’ve seen it and read about it many times. Maybe you or I don’t but some people do and I think that that’s what some people here are pointing out . That some people, NOT ALL, will see reparations to descendants of slaves as playing “the race/victim/chip on the shoulder” card. That is NOT to say that reparations should not happen for this reason but it is a legitimate concern.

    dd, who cares if some people view Jews as playing the ‘victim card’? The Jews have encountered these labels in one form or another for centuries (like blacks have). There will always be people who attach labels like ‘you’ve got a chip on your shoulder’, they almost always have racist views (alot of white Brits use this term) so why attach any value to what they say?
    The question is, should we allow these people’s labels to determine whether reparations should be given to people who deserve it? Holocaust survivors have never allowed the views of anti-semites to affect their rights to reparations, why should blacks be concerned about racists’ views towards their right to reparations?

  53. Michael Scowcroft
    October 30, 2008    

    dd, Brits often accuse blacks about having a ‘chip on their shoulder’ – it’s just another way to covertly express inherent racism, and we shouldn’t allow them to make black people feel guilty about claiming what’s rightfully theirs. But i wholeheartedly agree with you that these labels play an important role in the issue of race relations.

    About the name, don’t worry about using my full name. If you’ve noticed, i often shorten names, i hope people don’t mind.
    I abbreviated Papa Duck’s name to Papa D for ease of use (and also it amuses me that ‘Papa D’ sounds like a rapper’s name, i imagine him in front of his PC busting rhymes about ‘anti-intellectuals’ lol – what are ‘anti-intellectuals’, by the way? lol).

    My name is Papa D,
    THIS IS MY COUNTRY,
    it’s called Blighty,
    so don’t try to blind me

    I’m tapping on my keyboard
    sentence after sentence
    “Britain isn’t racist”
    What a load of nonsense

    Papa D in da house!!!

  54. October 30, 2008    

    [Just a word first, about using your full tag Michael Scowcroft and not the more informal first name. I often have more than one person with the same first name so it is a policy of mine to use the full given name of all people who comment here, no matter how often!]

    dd, who cares if some people view Jews as playing the ‘victim card’? The Jews have encountered these labels in one form or another for centuries (like blacks have). There will always be people who attach labels like ‘you’ve got a chip on your shoulder’, they almost always have racist views (alot of white Brits use this term) so why attach any value to what they say?
    The question is, should we allow these people’s labels to determine whether reparations should be given to people who deserve it? Holocaust survivors have never allowed the views of anti-semites to affect their rights to reparations, why should blacks be concerned about racists’ views towards their right to reparations?

    As I said in my comment, this was NOT a reason against against reparations. Just disagreeing with your assertion that Jews are not seen as victims because of them. Yes, there are some people who would say or think it anyway and perhaps we should not care. But I do care and it horrifies and hurts me to be accused of playing “the race/victim card” and it happens too much for me NOT to give it some thought.

  55. Papa Duck
    October 30, 2008    

    The bit about anti-intellectualism was a reference to DD’s ‘let’s not turn this debate into I know more about history than you do’ (or words along those lines). Nothing more, nothing less. Nothing to do with Micheal Scowcroft.

    I think it would be self-indulgent for me to say much about my own experiences. They prove very little. But I think it might be worthwhile if I revealed that while I was born in Britain, I am not British and that the ethnicity of all of my ancestors was non-British. I refuse to carry a British passport because I despise its associations with imperialism. My name is so foreign I was told by colleagues that they were surprised the secreatary of the head of my department had not simply binned my job application. This is not the only anecdote I can give which runs counter to what I am arguing. But there are others which demonstrate that racism is not the only prejudice that has bedevilled British society. Anti-Catholic and anti-Irish prejudice used to be rife and yet Terry Wogan became the top presenter on TV. When he points out that he cannot think of any other country which would be so welcoming to a foreigner, I have to take note. At the moment there is a lot of talk of Islamophobia (misplaced in my view) but despite the horrific crimes perpetrated in the nanme of Islam, I can easily imagine a person of Pakistani origin being as popular as Terry Wogan in a few years time.

    British society can adapt, partly because it does not take itself too seriously and is secure in itself. Some of this is to do with imperial arrogance/ nonchalence but I think that many black people have and will benefit from this. I think it is laudable that Michael Scowcroft is concerned about the plight of black people in Britain but I fear that his arguments on this blog get in the way of trying to address the problems in Greece.

  56. Michael Scowcroft
    October 31, 2008    

    Papa D,
    According to you,
    British Society isn’t racist because Terry Wogan is popular in the UK.
    keyboard. Coffee. spits. all over.
    You owe me a keyboard.

    I think it is laudable that Michael Scowcroft is concerned about the plight of black people in Britain but I fear that his arguments on this blog get in the way of trying to address the problems in Greece.

    So, now you are patronising me, thanks.
    If you consider my contributions on racism ‘laudable’, why would you consider them to be obstructive in a blog about racism/sexism?

    I think we can all learn from each other but this can only happen if we share experiences and opinions about racism in forums and blogs such as this. If you are a person who is in favour of learning through shared experiences, why would you use the phrase ‘getting in the way’ when describing other peoples’ experiences? This phrase is totally out of place in a discussion about racism because every experience is valuable.

    It’s clear that your ‘getting in the way’ comment is the second cryptic message directed towards dd implying that she should ban me. Why don’t you be honest and just ask her to ban me? The next phase will be for you to ask her to ban me or you’ll leave…i’ve seen it a dozen times, especially when the pseudo-intellectuals’ cages have been well and truly rattled.

    Why do you believe that my arguments ‘get in the way’?
    Why do you believe that my questions are ‘ridiculous’?
    Why do you think that my posts are ‘over the top’?

    Why don’t you allow people to express themselves and share their experiences without fear of being labelled ‘anti-intellectual’, or ‘ridiculous’ or ‘over the top’, and without implying that they be banned?

    People have different experiences and opinions than you, so please allow them to express them freely without demeaning THEIR experience or implying that they should be stopped from expressing THEIR opinion. Don’t try to curtail the freedom to express an opinion on racism, just because you don’t personally agree with it.

    I do not know much about racism in Greece, i can only speak about the racism i’ve experienced but i cannot see how my contributions are ‘getting in the way’ of your discussions of racism in Greece.

    I refer you to read the Comment Policy of dd’s blog and urge you to refrain from trying to dictate what bloggers should be talking about, and stop making snide ad hominem comments please.

    Please allow contributors to CONTRIBUTE their experiences of racism without fear of sanction or without suggesting they confine their experiences to the narrow parameters dictated by you.

    I really would like to avoid this thread turning into a marathon between me and Papa D, so let’s just stick to the subject. Papa D, perhaps you would answer the question below?
    It would be interesting to get a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ from contributors (even if it is a decision based on a principle of justice eluded to by Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr.).

    What would be your choice in a referendum on the reparations issue? Suppose you had to tick one of two boxes. Would you choose ‘yes’ for reparations, or a ‘no’?
    For the record, my answer is ‘yes’.

  57. Michael Scowcroft
    October 31, 2008    

    Well said, dd.

  58. October 31, 2008    

    The bit about anti-intellectualism was a reference to DD’s ‘let’s not turn this debate into I know more about history than you do’ (or words along those lines). Nothing more, nothing less. Nothing to do with Micheal Scowcroft.

    Let me just explain because I was in no way trying to be anti-intellectualism. This blog has often lapsed into debates about history and most of the time that is OK. The reference was to those debates (and I think you know the ones I was referring to, Papa Duck ?) where two or three people call each other stupid and ignorant because of different takes on historical “facts and figures”. I get quite a few emails from people saying that they would like to take part in the discussion but feel intimidated by that kind of “flexing” if you know what I mean? I simply wanted to steer the discussion back to a place where people could still contribute. Sorry if you feel that that is anti-intellectualism but I guess that’s my style so… oh well.

  59. Xenos
    October 31, 2008    

    The accusation of anti-intellectualism is entirely misplaced: on the contrary, DD was inveighing against an irrelevant and distracting habit of one person here to cite something that allegedly I wrote somewhere on this or another blog. In that alleged quotation, it says that “the Greek state stopped in 1832 just north of Thessally”: presumably, the author (if it was I) meant south of Thessally. Instead of correcting this slip, the contributor (like a gutter politician) continues to cite it as evidence that his knowledge of history is superior and therefore cannot be contradicted. DD is right to challenge such behaviour.

    On the point of my alleged excesses, Papa D, I simply disagree with you. It is perhaps a misnomer to call the treatment of Greek refugees in 1923 “racism” — more like “intolerance of difference”. Yet, this is exactly what Greece suffers from now and is very relevant as a cultural descriptor, in my opinion.

    I should also mention that it is not a valid argument to paint someone else’s position as “excessive”: there is no reason why moderate or “common” positions are more correct than others that might be characterised as extreme.

  60. Furby
    November 1, 2008    

    It seems that Michael Scowcroft has a lot of good info on UK and it’s racism problems. Maybe he could start his own blog? I enjoy reading this blog because of it’s dealing with Greek racism. Not much interested in UK because I do not live there.

  61. Oath Taken
    November 1, 2008    

    The accusation of anti-intellectualism is entirely misplaced: on the contrary, DD was inveighing against an irrelevant and distracting habit of one person here to cite something that allegedly I wrote somewhere on this or another blog. In that alleged quotation, it says that “the Greek state stopped in 1832 just north of Thessally”: presumably, the author (if it was I) meant south of Thessally. Instead of correcting this slip, the contributor (like a gutter politician) continues to cite it as evidence that his knowledge of history is superior and therefore cannot be contradicted. DD is right to challenge such behaviour.

    I was not going to comment further on this but you have no shame:
    a) It was you on this blog:
    http://deviousdiva.com/2008/06/03/the-first-gay-marriage-in-greece/#comment-81577
    b) From the rest of your text (that I chose not to reproduce as it shows such visceral contempt of Greeks that it can only serve to further divert any discussion) it is obvious that you did not mean “south of Thessaly” as you refer to Slavs and exchanged Muslims. Well the dividing line between Slavic and Greek speaking populations was not in Thessaly but in the middle of the region of Macedonia and any exchanged Muslims were residents of Epirus and Macedonia. So obviously you could not have been meaning “south of Thessaly” given what you wrote in the rest of your paragraph.
    c) It’s not news that DD takes your side however erroneous (as above) or inaccurate (as when you claimed that the murderers were allowed to walk free without restrictions in the murder of the Australian tourist) or plain racist “there is no hope for a culture which is so determined to lie and cheat even about reality (I won’t mention money etc in this post).”
    It shows her own true biases.
    d) Given that you continue to choose to identify half of my family as Albanian even if they (as the vast majority of Arvanites) have never identified with the Albanian nation my peasant grandparents would have had a two word comment for your shit: hana moun.

  62. Xenos
    November 1, 2008    

    Haha: from a Greek, that “I” have no shame!! The whole of your post shows why DD is right to discourage your sort of argumentation, because crookery is not confined to money and property fraud.

    For the record, I have never identified anyone as having a particular ethnicity: unlike the Greek state and most Greeks, I accept the principle of self-determination. Of course, what you are referring to (with a typical sly trick) is my comment that some 30% of Greeks are of Albanian origin. This cheating with words is very tiresome and unproductive and, in fact, characterises the way Greek people try to manage everything. It is one of the reasons Greece will never solve its problems.

  63. Oath Taken
    November 1, 2008    

    For the record, I have never identified anyone as having a particular ethnicity: unlike the Greek state and most Greeks, I accept the principle of self-determination. Of course, what you are referring to (with a typical sly trick) is my comment that some 30% of Greeks are of Albanian origin. This cheating with words is very tiresome and unproductive and, in fact, characterises the way Greek people try to manage everything. It is one of the reasons Greece will never solve its problems.

    Actually I was referring to this (from the same thread as before):

    Of course, those in the rump Greek state had the opinion [as they still do] that they were the only true Greeks — despite 30-40% being Albanian.

    So no cheating with words – you are clearly identifying the Arvanites as Albanians (and not simply of Albanian origin despite our self-identification). Next time you try and weasel your way out of your own words remember that written text tends to persist. So I’d suggest you look at yourself in a mirror before coming up with yet another grandiose characterization of how Greeks behave. But then again you are so blinded by your dislike of the people you are unfortunately (for them and for yourself) surrounded by that it would be pointless.

  64. Xenos
    November 1, 2008    

    Oath Taken: I cannot be bothered dealing with your stupidities, and deliberate misinterpretations of words. If you have doubts about what someone means, you ask for clarification. Anything else shows a clear agenda.

    I do not (dis)like Greeks any more or any less than I (dis)like my own nationality. I have nothing more to say on your trivialities, other than to note that they reflect an underlying element of racism which you impute to others.

  65. Michael Scowcroft
    November 2, 2008    

    It seems that Michael Scowcroft has a lot of good info on UK and it’s racism problems. Maybe he could start his own blog? I enjoy reading this blog because of it’s dealing with Greek racism. Not much interested in UK because I do not live there.

    Furby, your comments are remarkably similar to Papa D’s comments about my experiences of racism ‘getting in the way’ of racism discussions in this blog. Both your attitudes are hardly conducive to an open and honest discussion of racism. Maybe dd can make a ‘judgement call’ on this (whether i’m ok to share my experiences and opinions on this blog) because it’s getting tiresome to continuously respond to veiled threats of requests to have me banned.

    Fundamentally, racism is the belief that one’s own race is ‘superior’ to an other, and i’ve seen this attitude expressed in the UK more than any other country i’ve lived in.
    Brits in general, view the non-white as ‘inferior’. If you were honest with yourself, you’d agree with this. If you gave the majority of white Brits a truth serum, you’d be surprised at the racist filth which would spew from their gobs.

    Maybe you dislike having to deal with the racism we Brits (and Americans) have been nurtured and conditioned with since a very early age? Maybe you find it easier to to sweep our inherent racist British attitudes under the carpet rather than confront them?
    But i am not like that. I think if we are to truly deal with the racism prevalent in the world, we have to be open and honest with OURSELVES and confront racism which has been pervasive in the communities we grew up in, and has been pervasive in our country for hundreds of years.
    Rather than trying to restrict my right to express myself and share my own experiences and thoughts about racism, I suggest you ‘scroll past’ my posts if you don’t find them useful in the racism discourse.

    It is one of the reasons Greece will never solve its problems.

    This comment reminded me of the attitude of my British ex-pats ‘friends’ in Portugal.
    Most Brit ex-pats think that the reason Portugal is ‘so poor’ in comparison to other European countries, is because of an inherent ‘inferiority’ within their race and culture. The conclusion was reached that the locals were a equivalent to a ‘third world nation’ because they were ‘lower down the evolutionary scale’ to other Europeans. I think they meant white Europeans.
    I can still remember the look of satisfaction on their smug faces after they reached this conclusion.

    Ill-conceived notions of ‘inferiority’ in a group of people were one the justifications of the slave trade and the reason why black people were considered worthless enough to be hung from the neck in front of burning crosses.

  66. Furby
    November 3, 2008    

    Michael, I was not trying to have you banned. I was merely thinking that with your obvious knowledge of British racism, you could do well to start a blog with that info and thus obtain a wider audience than a blog that primarily deals with Greek issues. Feel free to post here (from my perspective) but keep in mind that most here are interested in the Greek human rights issues.

  67. Michael Scowcroft
    November 3, 2008    

    Ok Furby, thanks for the kind comments but i’m not really concerned about ‘obtaining a wider audience’. All i want to do is offer my opinion and share my experience about racism.
    What are your thoughts on the reparations issue?

  68. November 3, 2008    

    Please remember everyone, that this is an “Open Thread” unlike most others that have a specific issue or news item. I will be doing these fairly regularly so that we can have discussions about anything that people would like to bring up whether about Greece or not. Thank you.

  69. Papa Duck
    November 3, 2008    

    DD, reflecting on the basis of further experience of this thread, I can see why you took the stance you did. I am now scratching my head at why used critical terms when discussing your actions. The incivility in this thread is all the more amazing because the authors are not racists (as far as I can tell) in the normal sense of the term. I have had enough of Xenos and Michael Scowcroft and am finding Oath Taken increasingly tiresome. I am sorry that my view that the discussion was getting somewhere was so comprehensively disproved. But not because people disagreed with me. I sometimes think that I am the only person (DD and Furby excepted) who thought (note past tense) they might learn something here.

  70. Xenos
    November 3, 2008    

    Perhaps I have had enough of you too, Papa Duck, but I was polite enough not to say it until now.

  71. Michael Scowcroft
    November 3, 2008    

    DD, reflecting on the basis of further experience of this thread, I can see why you took the stance you did. I am now scratching my head at why used critical terms when discussing your actions. The incivility in this thread is all the more amazing because the authors are not racists (as far as I can tell) in the normal sense of the term. I have had enough of Xenos and Michael Scowcroft and am finding Oath Taken increasingly tiresome. I am sorry that my view that the discussion was getting somewhere was so comprehensively disproved. But not because people disagreed with me. I sometimes think that I am the only person (DD and Furby excepted) who thought (note past tense) they might learn something here.

    If you boil down what Papa D is saying, he basically means this:
    Papa D wants me and Oath Taken banned or he leaves this blog.
    How pathetic. You’ve already made this demand before but dd called your bluff and you didn’t leave. You just came back and made the same ultimatum.

    dd, i don’t know how you normally treat cry babies like Papa D on your blog but if you look at this thread from the beginning, it’s clear that it was Papa D who made unwarranted attacks and snide references to me. I asked a few questions on this Open Thread and i invited people to express their thoughts on the reparations issue. I was almost immediately attacked by Papa D for asking ‘ridiculous questions’ and going ‘over the top’ for expressing my opinions (not the warmest welcome i’ve received to a blog). And he didn’t even say ‘why’ he thought my opinions on racism in football were ‘ridiculous’.
    I think that Papa D is the most obvious example of ‘incivility’ in this thread and his sanctimonious holier-than-thou attitude is certainly more ‘tiresome’ than those he has accused. I don’t think i am the only one who has been on the receivng end of Papa D’s ‘ad hominem’ attacks in this thread (but they can stick up for themselves and i’m sure they will).

    Papa D and Furby, if you consider that you are the only ones who ‘might learn something here’, why are you the only ones who DON’T want to hear other people’s experiences about racism and why do you want to restrict the discussion to the confines of racism in Greece. It doesn’t sound like you want to learn much if you don’t want to hear other’s experiences about racism?
    dd has already told you that this is an open thread. Stop throwing your toys out the pram. Stop trying to use emotional blackmail on dd by insinuating that you’ll leave if dd doesn’t ban people chosen by you.
    Stop trying to diminish dd’s authority by insisting that you-know-best when it comes to the subject matter for HER blog. Stop bleating on about how you ‘comprehensively disproved’ other peoples’ opinions about racism. Everyone has a story to tell, their experiences and thoughts about racism issues are just as valuable as yours.
    Your arrogance offers NOTHING to the questions raised in this thread.

    Stop insulting dd’s intelligence by using pseudo-intellectual clap-trap to convince her of contributors value in HER blog. She is quite capable of using her own noggin to make decisions about her own blog. I think it’s quite insulting for you to constantly suggest what she should do in her own blog and who should be banned and which subjects are acceptable for discussion in HER blog. Your arrogance knows no bounds.

    It would be much easier for contributors if you just stopped trying to hinder an open and honest discussions on this OPEN Thread and just allow people to express themselves and share THEIR experiences…

  72. Papa Duck
    November 4, 2008    

    You never know, Michael Scowcroft might take note of the fact that should be plain to anyone who reads my posts in this thread : I did not try to get him (or anybody else) banned. More probably, casual visitors not wishing to scroll through yards of mudslinging might believe me if I write it. They might actually believe what people write about their own views until they have proof that they are liars.

    I am not sure what is meant by ‘leaving’. I was merely signalling that I had lost interest in this particular thread. To construct something more out of this is….ridiculous.

  73. Michael Scowcroft
    November 4, 2008    

    I am not sure what is meant by ‘leaving’. I was merely signalling that I had lost interest in this particular thread. To construct something more out of this is….ridiculous.

    If you have ‘lost interest’ in this thread why do you keep returning to it? Take your own advice and ‘scroll past’ this thread. Or ignore it altogether. No-one is forcing you to read this thread and the opinions contained within it.
    Your only input to this thread has been to ridicule peoples’ opinions, derail the discussions, demean people who have shared their experiences, and tried to blackmail dd into making decisions about her own blog.
    How about giving something POSITIVE for a change, there’s a good chap.

    By the way, i wanted to say a big WELL DONE to Lewis Hamilton for becoming the youngest ever Formula 1 World Champion. Not bad for a lad from Stevenage.
    And he did it inspite of terrible racism from Spaniards and incredibly, from Brits. No wonder the lad is leaving England and moving to Switzerland.

  74. November 4, 2008    

    My apologies again for not responding earlier on this thread. I am swamped with work. I am not going to respond individually to people here. Anyone who is interested in what has been said can simply read through the comments. I am disappointed that this has disintegrated into an accusatory thread once again. I think I’ve said this before, this is a difficult format for discussion. It is very easy to misunderstand and misinterpret what people write. Differences in style and even cultural references make it sometimes impossible to really “get” what someone is trying to say. I know from personal experience that following a “debate” with Americans for example, is very different from one involving Brits. I put that down to my personal experiences and my own cultural references. I assume that is a similar experience for some of my Greek contributors.

    A few things I would like to say, following the experience here.

    If you are unsure of what someone is trying to say, you can always ASK first before jumping to conclusions. Ask that person to clarify. It’s possible that she/he did not mean what you are reading into it.

    No matter how much we disagree, I think it IS possible to remain civil and respectful of other people.

    Yes. This is my blog and I take responsibility for the way it is run and I care very deeply about the outcome of discussions here. I have no problem with people criticising the way I run it or making suggestions to improve the experience here. I am fairly capable of standing up for myself, as I think most of the contributors here are. If I can only hope for one thing, it would be that we try not to ever use the easy option of attacking other people.

    The “Open Thread” idea is not new on the blogs. I like the idea that there would be one or two threads a month that gave people the opportunity to introduce issues and ideas that were on their mind, not mine. I have been thinking a lot recently about how to make that more productive.

    I have a suggestion.

    Perhaps people write down here some of the issues that they care about and I can use those as a starting point for other “Open Threads”. It would still be an open thread but with a focus, if that makes sense ? I certainly do not want to curtail discussions here but I do want to avoid the kind of disintegration that has occurred on this particular thread.

    I would suggest that we don’t continue with the above “he said this” stuff and move forward. Your ideas for future “Open Threads” are very welcome. Please leave them in the comments here. Thank you.

  75. Papa Duck
    November 4, 2008    

    What about: denial of birth cirtificates to babies born with foreign parents? Might bave been covered before (to some extent) but the international relations/ EU/ historical/ domestic political aspects might not have been. This is something that MUST change. If international organisations and progressive domestic political forces are inactive on this score, there might be little hope for the development of an inclusive society in Greece.

  76. Michael Scowcroft
    November 4, 2008    

    It would be interesting to hear about issues of racial inclusivity in countries such as Greece. For those of us who don’t live in Greece, it would be interesting to learn about these specific issues. Perhaps we can offer our opinions/experiences on issues of racial inclusivity in the countries where we live.

    other possible Open Thread subjects:

    ‘racism in football’ – unfortunately, this subject was derailed from the outset but the racism issues are far from ridiculous (it would be interesting to compare and contrast issues of racial inclusivity in Greek football with the rest of Europe, effectiveness of anti-racism schemes etc..)

    ‘reparations issue’ was also derailed and avoided like the plague by certain contributors..it could be re-visited….and is a subject which deserves to be revisited.

    ‘Why can’t British fans bring themselves to support Lewis Hamilton?’ (examining the issues involved in the shunning of Britain’s Formula 1 World Champion).

    Whichever subject is chosen, I hope EVERYONE will be encouraged to contribute, regardless of whether they live in Greece or not. Those who truly value ‘inclusivity’ shouldn’t have a problem with that, surely.

  77. November 13, 2008    

    I love your thoughts! I normally don\’t even bother to leave comments, but I wanted to let you know that you hit the nail on the head!

  78. ItankvutEntaica
    December 29, 2008    

    fvkvzdbphtrwnpbowell, hi admin adn people nice forum indeed. how’s life? hope it’s introduce branch 😉

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