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

Racist Chanting

Via Kathimerini

RACIST MARCHERS

Coast guard suspends head of special forces over chants

The coast guard yesterday suspended the head its special forces after some of its members were videotaped shouting racist slogans during Thursday’s Independence Day parade in the capital. The coast guard has ordered an internal investigation to determine exactly who was involved in the chanting of slogans such as: “You do not become a Greek, you are born one,” and “We’re going to spill your blood, Albanian pig.” Reacting to the video, which was uploaded onto the Internet, Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis remarked, “No idiot has the right to blacken his service and the celebration of a historic national day with racist slogans of hatred and xenophobia.”

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25 Comments

  1. EllasDevil
    March 28, 2010    

    I saw the footage on the news and it actually stopped me in my tracks. I couldn’t believe it… I will just wait now to see if this is actually dealt with. Not holding my breath for an ‘internal investigation’ being of any use.
    .-= EllasDevil´s last blog ..Spring forward… =-.

  2. Kostas
    March 29, 2010    

    Very disturbing indeed. Do a poll yourself and see many Greeks are racist against Albanians in general. These Coasties were more of the viral ones. EllasDevil is right, probably this will be swept under the rug.

  3. pd
    March 30, 2010    

    likewise many Albanians are racist against Greeks

  4. The Verve
    March 30, 2010    

    Well put, PD. Greeks do not have a monopoly on racism, the feelings expressed by the coast guard special forces are mutual within many of the Albanian community. There is a long standing antipathy between Greeks & Albanians that is so deep-seated that it won’t go away anytime soon. Certainly not in the next 1 or 2 generations providing conditions are peaceful.

    Obviously the chants by the frogmen were aimed more at the government for giving citizenship to immigrants, Albanians being the biggest beneficiaries of this. It’s easy to see why Chrysochoidis would be so livid but there really isn’t all that much he can do but rant. That’s a very specialized segment of the military and you can’t just get anybody to do the job. Whether people like it or not, they help protect Greece.

  5. gurmit
    March 31, 2010    

    PD,

    How are you doing? Hey, I went to the Greek Independence Day parade in Toronto a couple of days ago. It was interesting seeing the different traditional outfits people had on. I didn’t know there were so many different types. Those short, white skirts the men had on, from around when are they? Were these traditional outfits everyday wear or were some of these clothes special event outfits even in older times? Some were so beautiful.

    Anyway, about your comment about Albanians being racist against Greeks too. I’m sure there is some hatred among the two groups for each other, but as far as I understand, the Albanians are less powerful in Greece and as a nation Albania is less powerful than Greece too. I also read one time that some Albanians got killed and wounded in Greece for publicly celebrating an Albanian soccer victory over Greece. That certainly was not right and Greeks are better than that. In such cases as the racist chanting, PD, I don’t think it is right to excuse the actions of people from the more powerful group by saying the less powerful group hates too. I think your government is doing the right thing in condemning these guys and hopefully will take action against people saying such blood thirsty things no matter what job they are doing. Maybe they might even learn something and others could too if these people are disciplined. Maybe it was just mob mentality and really these guys would do nothing but the danger always is they could influence others who can do something nasty. Also Verve, they can protect Greece without such comments or hatred. If it were up to me, one thing that I would do would be to pair up the culprits with Albanian people willing to be volunteers and make them do cooperative tasks together for like six months to a year to highlight the humanity they share . It is no good just suspending, firing, lecturing, fining, or imprisoning people for hate. Unlike some countries on this planet, Greece is not uncivilized (it has not killed hundreds of thousands of anyone even though even one person killed out of racism is one too many. If Greece were genocidal of various groups like some places in the world today my only advice to Albanians would be to flee) and some of these problems of racism can be stopped even if they exist. Some places are just far too gone for people to really be safe. I have to get up in three hours to go to work, so I better shutup.

    Yeia sas

  6. March 31, 2010    

    The story of hate and antipathy between Greeks and Albanians is not so long. Longer is the story of cooperation and good neighboring between us. They are many Albanian patriots who fought for Greece freedom or vice-verso, just to name Marko Bocari for example.

    In the darkness of Balkan archaic nationalism, people like Coast Guard Special Unit, often are considered as “HEROES”. The fact is that this xenophobes and racist (and they are not only Greeks ones to be blamed) have forgered the feelings of antipathy between us.

    The best way to get rid is a firm opposite to them, especially from the country they come from. In this case, the Greek society and especially the Greek government should be the first to act firmly against them. The protests from neighboring nations are understandable but they will be justifiable if the Greek society doesn’t act accordingly.

    It is so bad that this kind of people are members of Greek Army and it is not the first time this story repeat it selves. I can understand that it is very difficult to stop people with weak formations to give that kind of disgusting show but they should be eliminated morally and should not have access in state structures.

    Cheers
    Alban – Kosova
    http://www.kocomm.co.cc

  7. The Verve
    March 31, 2010    

    Gurmit, the government can’t afford to demonize military personnel. Chrysochoidis runs the risk of creating schisms within the military if he takes this too far. Greece is located in a very volatile part of the world and any lack of accord within the army will just play into the hands of certain ‘friendly’ neighbours. The chants were not nice but national security should take precedence.

    You will find there are Greeks & Albanians that get along just fine and have become good friends. This however is not true for everyone and there are indeed plenty of Greeks who want bugger all to do with Albanians both within Greece & the diaspora. Likewise I’ve also met plenty of Italians (predominantly from the diaspora) who also feel the same way about Albanians. Don’t ever get an Italian started on Albanians & Romanians, plenty of expletives are bound to follow. Perhaps if a segment of Albanian immigrants to Greece, Italy & several other EU countries decided to tone down their violent criminal behaviour, surely Albanians as a whole would be more readily accepted in these societies.

  8. gurmit
    April 1, 2010    

    Hello Verve,

    It is always sad when the actions of violent criminals from some groups get far more noticed than the good behaviour of a wider range of people but this seems to be true almost everywhere for the media thrives on sensationalism in every country and a lot of times many people just want to believe bad things about other groups. There is a Sikh writer from the seventeenth century whose words sometimes remind me of this tendancy in people (and I am not saying I am exempt). He wrote something like: Some people are like leeches on a cow’s tit. They can only suck bad blood not the sweet milk even though it is so close. I’m sure there is also some crime by Albanians and maybe even out of proportion with respect to population for poverty and crime are associated, like the smuggling of women from Albania to Greece for prostitution. It probably didn’t go on as much before the financial collapse of the communist states.

    You know Verve, since you often talk of Italian people, in the town I grew up there were a few Italian families, like five maybe out of twenty thousand people or so. We knew one family really well. They had a store with things imported from Italy. They also started getting some stuff from India like steel dishes and stuff after my dad, who is always a busybody, talked them into it and said he would promote their store to people . They always tried to give us free stuff, like they would literally argue for many many minutes and try to push it into our hands and stuff. One time my mom and I were walking home from the doctor’s and she decided to just pop into the store to buy something. It was a nice day and that was why we were walking but the lady made her husband come out from the back and give us a ride home in his truck. They were just so nice it was amazing.

    Anyway Yeia sas

  9. gurmit
    April 1, 2010    

    Hi Verve and tous les autres,

    Ti kaneite; Emai etsi ki etsi.

    I tried posting several hours ago, but it didn’t seem to come through. I wrote something again and it just vanished. Now I am tres, tres fatiguee with it being past one at night but I will try one more time especially as I want to listen to the you tube music I have playing, something that is haunting my soul, a good thing to have your soul haunted. If the other attempt to post magically appear, I will feel like a jackass but I am sure you guys will forgive me even if there are repeated things.

    One time I randomly picked a book in a library and flipped it open to any old page. There was a quote by a Native North American chief. Basically it said there is no use in getting rid of stereotypes the mainstream society has against one’s people for they will just replace them with new ones. I think he is right about new ones being created.

    Another thing that comes to mind is what a Sikh writer, Bhai Gurdas, from 1551-1637, basically wrote: Some people are like a leech on a cow’s tit. They can only suck the bad blood though the sweet milk is so near.
    I think this is true of all groups of people in relation to how they think of other groups. It really doesn’t matter whom on the planet we are talking about. And of course, I am not saying it doesn’t pertain to me. I’m no angel and know what anger and hate are though I seem to be getting more calm and rational with old age galloping quickly towards me.

    Verve, since you often bring up Italian people,I was going to tell you about some Italian people in my hometown but it will have to wait until another time for I am about to keel over with fatigue.

    Heiretay

  10. April 1, 2010    

    Dear “The Verve”, I agree with a lot of things you have posted.

    What you haven’t noticed is that this is a historical stage where different peoples have gone through in vary periods of their history. I’m not going to remind you the history because I will be off topic on this. Beside that, shifting it does not compound a contribution to the argument.

    Balkan is, as you stated, “a very volatile part of the world”. All nations here should be friendly not “friendly”. Only this way we will stop the archaic national “concurrence” and instead of it to find the ways to cooperate for turning this “volatile part of the world” region into a prosperous one.

    Chanting offensive slogans, especially from military forces who operate on the same treaty, aiming the peace and cooperation etc.., it is extremely shameful and disgusting. Take into consideration that that show happened in a special day for your nation and in an solemn official ceremony.

    Your try to shift the argument and to justify them doesn’t have bones and works equally on the same wrong sense.

    Because this kind of dirty show are not only Greek phenomenons, treat it as a chance you have to make an example how should be treated with them and to make new standards.

    This will be an honored apology and a good example for others too.

  11. Oath Taken
    April 1, 2010    

    alban.kcomment I will not disagree with your suggestions but I will disagree with your arguments as in fact they are partly the ones that lead to the antagonism between Albanians and Greeks. At the time of Greek ethnogennesis people of different linguistic backgrounds came together to fight for the emancipation of the Greek nation. That and their participation in the constitutional processes is what made them Greek patriots. That included the people of Suli (like Botsaris) and the islanders of Hydra and Spetses that unfortunately these days Albanians like to claim as “Albanian patriots” even though the respective Albanian ethnogennesis was many many decades in the future at the time. The only thing that you achieve by such appropriations of the past is to antagonize Greeks, including people like myself half of whose family were in the past speaking the medieval ancestor of Tosk Albanian known in Greece as Arvanitika. The fact that in most likelyhood at some point in the past we may have had common ancestors does not make them Albanians as these days this refers to a national label that makes no sense before the advent of the Albanian ethnogennesis.

    The sad truth of the matter is that the Albanian national idea is by construction antithetical with the Greek national idea on both matters of land as well as people (unlike the antithesis between say the Greek and Turkish national ideas which is mainly land-based). Nationalist Albanians consider Greek territory (part or the whole of Epirus) as occupied ethnic Albanian lands and Arvanites (including those of Epirus whom they sometimes call “Orthodox Chams”) as unredeemed and/or brainwashed brothers. Nationalist Greeks consider Albanian territory (part or the whole of Southern Albania depending on the definition of “N. Epirus”) as occupied territory and (in the past, before the massive influx of Albanian economic migrants to Greece) all Orthodox Albanians (Greek, Vlach or Albanian speaking) as unredeemed Greeks. The fact that reality is very far from these concepts is unfortunately irrelevant until these ideas stop being propagated. And until that time, it matters not whether Greece and Albanian are NATO allies (so is Greece and Turkey and that did not stop us from almost going to war 14 years ago and fighting an undeclared air war since 1974 for all intents and purposes). And it is because of these ideas (that I unfortunately see promoted even by Albanians born and raised in Greece among your post 1990s diaspora) that a lot of Greeks are worried about the large Albanian presence in Greece not because they suffer from nationalist delusions of grandeur or racial purity and despite having realized the absurdity of all “terra irredenta” concepts: We fear that a significant part of the Albanian diaspora in Greece have embraced Albanian nationalism and thus that we are allowing a hostile minority to take root among us.

    As for the slogans themselves they are reprehensible and stupid. The fact that the leaders of the group of security forces – this was the Coast Guard’s special forces – thought they could get away with it shows a severe lack of discipline. The reaction of the Greek political world (minus the far right) has been swift and proper.

  12. The Verve
    April 1, 2010    

    Hey there Gurmit,

    It is indeed unfair that people often look more at bad over the good of others. Fortunately the Albanians that I’ve had the fortune to meet are good eggs. And as time goes by and more Albanians get out of the poverty trap and less inclined to do crime I expect things to improve.

    I’ve done business with Italians & also dated several Italian women so I know them pretty well. It’s really amazing how different Italians from the north & south part of Italy are. I guess it’s not much different with Greeks, particularly with the islanders from the Ionian versus those from the Aegean…they have completely different mindset. Guess that’s one of the reasons why we can seldom agree on anything lol.

  13. The Verve
    April 1, 2010    

    Hi Alban,

    It’s nice to get a viewpoint from an Albanian on this, your reply to my comment is appreciated. A military force has mainly two purposes, one to defend it’s country of origin and secondly to invade a foreign country. In Greece’s case the army is used for defense purposes only. I think that is clear for all to see.

    The best, most powerful militaries in the world have mostly been aggressive & brutal. In turn some of the finest military men in world history were never nice guys, many were indeed bloodthirsty misanthropists. End of the day these guys won wars, defended their countries succesfully or took over territory.

    Let’s assume you’ve got some land or property that you want to remain safe & secure. You’re going to stick an electric fence around the periphery, the latest alarm system, cctv and lastly you’re going to get 2-3 vicious rottweilers or dobermans in there to ensure they give any trespasser hell on earth. You can’t get a cute litte poodle to do that.

    Same applies with the military, you need to have guys in there that are vivious rottweilers and not poodles. In case of a war scenario you want your men in green capable of pulling the trigger if need be. Modern day Greece is too decadent and most of the young men that come out of university are too soft, when they go to the army they get trained and indoctrinated to toughen them up.

    I want peace & stability in the Balkans just like the next guy. I don’t want Greece to ever have to go to war with any of it’s neighbours. However at this point in time, Albania, Fyrom/RoM (choose whatever you prefer to call them) and Bulgaria have all got a strategic alliance with Turkey which is definitely not in Greece’s favour. Since this is the case the Greek military needs to always be prepared both physically & mentally. I don’t want our boys going soft.

  14. gurmit
    April 2, 2010    

    Dear people,
    Please check out my posting on Technical Trivia and respond. It is on a totally different though important topic. I figure there is more of a chance of my request being read in the “Racist Chanting” area than the “Technical Trivia” area though I may indeed be wrong.
    Yeia sas

  15. April 3, 2010    

    Dear The Verve,

    I DISAGREE totally with you. From your comments It’s evident that you support those racist chantings.
    Our opinions are purely on the opposite side,not as a Greek or Albanian but as supporter and condemner of such nationalistic and xenophobic behavior.
    I believe that all Balkan peoples have payed a very high cost because of this mentality of war, fear and untrust. All of us are complaining to be in this “very volatile part of the world” and we forget that are us who hail those nationalistic, xenophobic and racist chanters, who make it volatile.

    Dear Oath Taken,

    They are a lot of peoples who have joined an other national cause because it matched to their national cause. This happened with Greek revolution, with Spanish international fighters against Nazism etc. Because this people joined the struggle of an other people for freedom because they had a common enemy, this doesn’t make them different. Suliots fighters are an example to show to everybody that instead to (“fight between us”) oppose each other, instead to hail hateful and shameful nationalistic chanting, would be better and more profitable if we work to build the trust and cooperative environment.

    That is what our politicians don’t understand or don’t want to understand.

    I want to repeat again what I’ve posted earlier that one of the standards of our democracy is measured by our ability to neutralize the voices who chant nationalistic, racist, nationalist and hateful slogans. Such behavior preceded Nacional-socialism in Germany, Fascism in Italy, Slobodan Miloscevic in Serbia etc… . They are so many examples to illustrate this argument. Make a reference to the story and I’m sure you will agree with me.

    The nationalistic arguments are an historical matter and leave those arguments to the people who occupy about the History. We need to prosper and this cannot be done by hatting and hitting each other but by building an profitable cooperative environment where everybody respect and trust each other.

    Cheers to both of you
    Alban

  16. April 3, 2010    

    P.S. to The Verve :)

    Following the previous posts, I agree with The Verve that some Albanians emigrants and other peoples are causing problems (not rarely amplified several times by media). Whatever it is I’ve explained that in this stage have gone through other peoples too. Some of them now are representing themselves as victims, and are forgetting that the real victims or not less than others victims are innocent emigrants who are paying a double cost once from the criminal or irresponsible ones the other from the “host country” who not rarely treat them the equally.

    I wrote in one of my earlier post that I won’t shift the argument and actually I’m not. They are not rare the cases of collective punishments and inadequate treatment some countries have handed the emigrants issues. For that, not rarely they have been criticized by EU. It is not because they are missing standards but very often the people who treat those have a lot of xenophobia and racism complexes.

    I won’t miss that the people who are committing crimes should be punished severely and is needed a multilateral cooperation to have success on this matter. From the country of origin this criminals come from, always is been offered the maximum willing for this cooperation. Treating them under the influence of nationalism, racism or xenophobia, is proven to be a failure and had not rarely bad outcomes.

    This is one more reason why wise people should find the courage to raise their voice and condemn nationalism, racism and xenophobia. This is the reason why I totally disagree with your last your post.

    I don’t want to name it but I’m asking you, how do you call the mania to find an “enemy” everywhere, including places where it is impossible to be?

    I know that Greece does not miss vise people and this is why I’m spending some time in this forum.

    Good luck

  17. Kostas
    April 5, 2010    

    Verve/ or oath , I worry more about Turks because I’ve been to Turkey and Greece and in Turkey the people and by extension seem more intense (word I use) than the Greeks. While Greeks Are grousing over the latest mobile phone and au coteire (?) dress, material pssession to acquire, the Turks do not enjoy such luxuries. Greeks could easily be overwhelmed by a superior, aggressive, poor man Turkish armed forces, when the average Greek soldier is more worried about cell phone reception (Cosmote commercial) and chasing skirts at t

  18. The Verve
    April 7, 2010    

    Alban – I don’t support either nationalists or the left-leaners. Besides both left & right politics will be nothing but a perculiar relic long before the 21st century is over. We’ve already entered the first stages of transhumanism, it’s regarded as a movement by some and a highly dangerous one. Be that as it may the biggest change to humanity will come through technology and not through politics or religion from here on out. The internet is a good example how much of an impact technology has had on us in a relative short space of time.

    Racism, xenophobia and antipathy for the other are all negative traits. Though I’m not convinced politicians can solve much, they’ve become a depreciating asset….in some cases they are a liability. Perhaps this issue with the chants could have been avoided if the goverment sat down & listened to the concerns of the men in uniform beforehand.

    Kostas – Turkey does not have a poor man army, they have one of the most powerful armies in the world. However Greece today has a comaratively strong army for it’s size with a superior navy & on par air force to that of Turkey. Greece would not be a pushover, certainly not if warfare had to take place over the Aegean. Turkey does have the advantage in terms of infantry, over 1 million men who I will agree are more combat ready than we are. Which means that the Greek military should never ever be demolarised by the government at any point in time.

    As i mentioned in an earlier comment, Greeks now live a life of decadence just like many in western countries. This love affair with technology & other material goods are sure signs of this. We should not forget that Turkey is a developing country and they have more opportunity for growth than Greece has. One day the Turks will end up being better off economically than the Greeks and they too will persue consumer goods just as fervently. Btw the Turks are just as big skirt chasers as the Greeks, seems like it’s a Mediterranean thing.

  19. Kostas
    April 7, 2010    

    Verve, OK, I meant actually that the Turks Army soliders are probably poor men as opposed to the Greeks spoiled soldiers. I could be wrong? As far as skirt chasers, maybe that’s a “man” thing is most countries (LOL). No offense to any of the women on the blog as I’m sure the women have terms for the converse as well.

  20. The Verve
    April 7, 2010    

    Kostas – You are probably right about this. Greek soldiers are likely to be more pampered than their Turkish counterparts.

  21. Konstantinos Travlos
    April 12, 2010    

    Depends on the Turkish Army Greek Amry pampering thing.

    I have served in the Greek army (Tripoli, Evros, Proedriki forura) and have talked with Turks that have served in the Turkish army.

    Military service for people who graduate from university is better for Turks then Greeks, as a Turkish BA hodler only serves something like 9-6 months, a MA pr PhD hodler only 6-3 months.

    The army is harder for no university degree holders in Turkey that serve 1 1/2 to 2 years. But things have been going better according to those I have talked with. Beatings have become a thing of the past generally. Service condtions better. The worst place to serve in is Eastern Turkey, which is also were most SPECOPs are deployed. The best service in Turkey is on the Greek Border.

    In the Greek army it depends in which unit you serve in and where. ELDYK or at least one of the two Tagmata is not pampared. In the special forces it depends according to a friend of mine who was a SPECOP officer cadet. SEALs are the toughest, LOK the least. Service in EVROS (not Alexandroupoli were I served) or the Greek-Albanian borders tends to be the toughest although not like ELDYK which is the hardest. In Athens Froura and MLAT/MOFAT(ceremonial and guard units) tend to have higehr discipline then otehr units in Greece (expect for SPECOPs)but less training and more or equal workload. (SPECops get a lot more training less workload)

    A war between Greece and Turkey is highly impropable. I am not saying it is impossible but since 1925 (when modern Turkey came to existence) we only had one war (Cyrpus, compare to Ecuador and Peru that had three wars since 1941). Now Militirised Interstate Disputes are more frequent (28 in the 1922-2001 period). But they are usually managed intelligently by both sides and difused.

    There are also many reasons of why the 1 million man army means nothing (strategic, tactical, technological).

    You can keep military morale up without needing racism. British Units have doen this using unit history,French escript du Corps. Soldeirs seldom need ot hate who they kill. Indeed their job is to be able to kill with no emotion whatsoever.

  22. April 13, 2010    

    I liked Konstantinos Travlos comment. Actually hes vision match perfectly the way things should be. Today the NATO troupes very often are doing common peace keeping tasks and not rarely Turkish, Greek, Albanian and other troupes have been together.

    Someone who hasn’t been in battlefield and has seen the dangerous situations through he’s TV monitor or in cinema doesn’t understand or forget easily that a Turkish soldier would risk he’s life to save the Greek ones or vice verse.

    I’m sure that most of the military people, have accept the modern vision that the best way to solve the conflicts is dialogue otherwise they will be the first to sacrifice their own life.

    Different is the situation for “armchair fighters” (some damn idiot politicians), who are the most secured people. For them it’s easier to gain political support hailing conflictual chantings (especially when they are completely impotent finding an real solution for Greek economical crisis).

    I have to raise come questions:

    1 – How many times in the last years, in the main Greek cities, institutions have been destroyed and burned out?

    2 – Who where the people causing this damages?

    3 – Why did it happen in the main big cities and didn’t in small ones?

    If you give the right answer to those questions you will understand that the real enemy is not the one those racist xenophobic chantings where against. They are just a pretext to distract your attention.

    Condemning them will serve not only to show that the racism and xenophobia should not take place in Greek social mentality but as well to show to the people who want to make credits of them that with those chantings they will not be able to foul you any more.

    Closing my comments I would pay again my sympathy for Konstantinos Travlos.

  23. gurmit
    April 13, 2010    

    Your comments were great, Konstantionos Travlos, and very informative. And my respects to you for serving in the army. I respect all those willing to die for their country unless they are equally courageous pacifists like Quakers and Amish people.

    Gurmit

  24. Konstantinos Travlos
    April 22, 2010    

    Gurmit since military service is compulsory here it really is not a big deal(My Dad served 3 years, most of my uncels 2 years). I don’t know if I could die for my country until I am actually in a situation were I would have to die for it. Outside this saying willing to die for ones country is cheap talk as Americans say. But thanks for the comment.

  25. gurmit
    April 22, 2010    

    Konstantinos,

    I know military service is compulsory in Greece,but I am sure some people still probably try to get out of it. Yes, to some extent saying willing to die for one’s country is cheap talk , but I am a Sikh and we take dying for certain causes very, very seriously, and our history is mainly full of death and dying, and extremely hard death through torture in some cases, and we are very proud of it. There are people who want to go and die even from comfortable places like Canada because there is a certain joy in dying and even being tortured if you don’t cave in by being able to stand against oppressors and oppression.

    Here is a poem I wrote one time. I didn’t keep a written record (though it was published ages ago in a Sikh newspaper), so some things may be changed.

    There was a rose shining snow white
    In shafts of golden light
    Until a barb did prick its heart
    and then all whiteness did depart
    and it was in crimson bathed
    Its petals were cruelly torn and lathed
    On earth it showered rain of blood
    In the heavens it yolk the sun’s light did flood

    Anyway, it is always great to read your comments, Knostantinos. Perhaps, you wouldn’t die for your country but people like you do a lot for it by staying alive for you are clear sighted and just.

    Yeia sas

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