Was only 70 Years Ago . . .
My son, John, and his housemate, Jim, hosted two Antifascist activists from Greece, who were giving a presentation at the Lava Space in Philadelphia on Monday, March 11. John and Jim attend many activist events, and they always invite me to come. I decided to attend this event mostly because of an email I received just a few days ago from a member of my photography class who traveled to the Czech Republic on a family heritage trip. In that email he wrote that he had visited the town of Vrbove and walked the along the streets that were so familiar to his grandmother. He also made a pilgrimage to the town on Lidice, on the outskirts of Prague, to view the memorial there. I hadn’t heard of this town or the Lidice Memorial site so I checked out the details on the web. In 1942 the Nazis marched into Lidice and killed every male over the age of twelve and deported the women and children to the camps. They burned and leveled the village. The Nazis brought on further horrors which I cannot even bear to write about. The Nazis carried out this atrocity as revenge for the assassination of General Heydrich by unknown assailants. This chance intersection with the Lidice Memorial underscored the heroic efforts of the Greek Antifascists.
The Dysfunction of Scapegoating
When elements of fascism raise the specter of blatant racism, blaming targets of their hate for the economic failures while undermining democracy through brute force and suppression, citizens must take note. The Antifascists remind us that we must be aware of fascist propaganda, which scapegoats on immigrants and multiculturalism, taking advantage of economic crises to fuel the fires of discontent in times of austerity. Without vigilance to these seeds of discontent, the horrors of Lidice could revisit the human race again.
Greece: A Case Study of an Economic Meltdown
Austerity measures in Greece, with the goal of paying off astronomical debt, have created nationwide protests. Greece is suffering with unemployment at 27%. The Golden Dawn, described by both the media and scholars as fascist and neo-Nazi, won 7% of the seats in parliament and colluded with police to initiate violence against progressive activists and immigrants.
Golden Dawn is opening branches in towns all over Greece and regularly coming third in national opinion polls. Its black-shirted vigilantes have been beating up immigrants for more than three years, unmolested by the police; lately they’ve taken to attacking Greeks they suspect of being gay or on the left. MPs participate proudly in the violence.
The Greek Antifascist City Tour 2013
Philadelphia was one stop on their scheduled visits to over 25 cities in the US to increase awareness and to raise funds for legal help. Greek activists, Thanasis Xirotsopanos and Vangelis Nanos, spoke to folks at the Lava Space about fascism and resistance in their country. Sofia Papagiannak gave her presentation via the computer as she had to return to Greece. Video footage provided documentation of the Antifascist resistance to the Golden Dawn.
Models of protest activism ~ Thanasis and Vangelis ~ against the most heinous of political movements