In March 1996, a new politician entered the Australian political scene, her name, Pauline Hanson. Her entry into Federal politics shook the political landscape and she quickly became a person to be reviled for her racist attitudes. She declared that Australia was in danger of being "Swamped by Asians", Aboriginals who suffer from extreme poverty and tragic health problems (Australia a first world country - receives assistance from UN bureaus as if it were a third world country to deal with these conditions), also came under attack from her.
People quickly divided into those who hated her and those who loved her.
For me, her appearance was a welcome one. For years politicians from both sides of the fence would allude similar comments, nothing as overt as Pauline, but still racist. Now for the first time I could say "YOU'RE ALL LIARS, Racism exists and here is the proof." Unfortunately the discussion about racism revolved around her, so when she lost her political seat, everyone showed it as proof that Australians weren't racist.
The truth is more complex. The governing Liberal party quietly adopted most of her policies and actually implemented them. When destitute refugees tried to enter Australia, the Prime Minister John Howard actually said that the refugees were drowning their children to get sympathy so they could enter Australia. He halted the policy of engagement with Asia, which only now is changing thanks to the economic boom of China. But he still sees Australia as the White Western civilised force in Asia. As a result we saw the recent race riots in Sydney and anyone 'foreign' looking, especially middle eastern looking is in danger of being beaten up, being abused in school or the workplace.
Now in Greece I am seeing a repetition. Karatzaferis of the LAOS party looks like he will enter parliament. LAOS is based on racist attitudes, though they are not automatically self evident. To the public he will announce "It is shameful the way Greece treats refugees, they should be treated with more dignity and services need to be put into place to assist them". Now if that's all I heard, I would vote for him. Tune in however to his television channel where he talks to the faithful and he adds something else. "Since we can't treat them with dignity, we can't accept them into the country, let's do what the Netherlands is doing and discuss a cap on immigration"
Listen a bit more and one realises a bigger truth. During the live debate he quoted the Greek Foreign Affairs minister Dora Bakoyianni when she said that the fires were caused by foreigners who do not love Greece. Karatzaferis added, "If this is true then steps need to be taken".
Yes he is a racist, but one person is not the embodiment of all racism. Other people have sown the seeds and extreme racists are just following the logical path that others set. Dora's comments were just as racist, but because she does not belong to LAOS, an 'extreme' right wing party, she can make these comments without scrutiny. Other racist elements also exist in the governing New Democracy party of Greece. The Nomarch of Thessaloniki, Mr Psomiadis, (do I have to give more publicity to this clown?) made a huge issue of the fact that children whose background were not Greek were holding the Greek flag during school parades. He and the rest of the ND party also criticised PASOK for having a Greek-Turkish Muslim on their ballot during the last local elections.
Greece should use LAOS for its own benefit. Now is the time to analyse racism in ALL its forms, and should not do what Australia did and label just one person as racist. Because the fact that extreme racists exist - means that 'moderate' racists have been gaining ground. And isn't moderate racists a stupid word. Racism is racism, there is no Extreme racism - that's only the word used by racists who want to look more civilised, but there is nothing civilised about any of this.