April 05, 2013

Giorgos Katidis

Giorgos Katidis

NEW YORK—When Greek democracy was restored back in 1974, some “democratic”-leaning newspapers tried to criminalize my writings—so much so, I was sentenced to 16 months in the pokey for reputedly “anti-Greek” comments. I did not serve the sentence, which was eventually thrown out on appeal. I left for London instead, and the Greek media’s loss became the Spectator’s gain.

Greek authorities do not seem to have changed much since the martyr Taki was given 16 months for writing certain truths. What was thought to be a “Heil Hitler” salute after a game-winning goal has earned a twenty-year-old tattooed Greek footballer a lifetime ban from the Greek national team. (Playing on the national team is where Greek athletes make the money.) Before I go on about Giorgos Katidis, the offending Sieg-Heiler, a few thoughts about biases and stereotypes.

It was Honest Abe Lincoln who said in a debate, “There is a physical difference between the white and black races which will ever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality.” This was back 1n 1858. Two years later, Dishonest Abe got elected, then went on to get more than 600,000 Americans killed over states’ rights—not over slavery. There have been myriad faux pas since—Mel Gibson’s drunken rants about Jews come to mind—and even the good old Speccie is not immune when it comes to PC. Would the Spectator have reviewed Eric Hobsbawm’s book had he been an unreconstructed Nazi rather than a Stalin admirer?

“Many in Europe have nothing left to lose, so they choose freedom of expression.”

There is a tendency to discriminate about which of our prejudices are acceptable, and a Hitler salute is a no-no. But barring a twenty-year-old ignoramus for life is not only over the top, it’s simply unfair. Katidis most likely thought the salute was a Golden Dawn sign, and it had nothing to do with Hitler—if he had even heard of Uncle Adolf.

An American female columnist wrote that it meant the rise of neo-fascist politics amid Europe’s economic tumult. I would take Golden Dawn any day over the Greek government thieves that got us in the current mess. Golden Dawn might act like thugs at times, but they are a reaction to the crooks. They help the poor with soup kitchens, protect old ladies that are regularly mugged by illegal immigrants, and represent a portion of the electorate that feels totally left out from the decision making, mainly the very poor.

Katidis claims he is a stupid kid who didn’t know what he was doing. I am in no position to pass judgment, although he plays for AEK, the club where my father was once president. What bothers me is the severity of the authorities that turned a blind eye when the crooks in parliament cooked the books and now are trying to establish their impeccable EU credentials.

Unfettered speech and gestures are necessary to any free society, the very same “free” society whose future is decided by nameless and unelected Brussels bureaucrats in closed conference rooms often in the middle of the night and invariably couched in impenetrable jargon. (See the Cyprus decision.)


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