Immigrants being detained in central Athens on Sunday. About 6,000 people were held in a police operation over the weekend.
This is the part that kills me and makes me want to kill somebody:
“They complain that the foreign residents are depriving them of jobs and threatening the national identity.”
No fucking Athenian brat — as I’ve said elsewhere — has condescended to do the jobs immigrants do in Greece for at least two generations.
And, I’m sorry… What “national identity?”
My main piece on the issue: Little Rock, Greece:
Epiros, the beautiful but rocky and barren part of Greece readers must by now know that my family is from, is known f0r two kinds of folk songs especially: dirges to be sung at wakes for the dead (or on other occasions too, just for the cathartic pleasure they give, which tells you a lot about the region and its people), and songs of emigration (“xeniteia” — “kurbet” — yes, the Turks have a word for it too). Xeniteia, from “xeno-” strange or foreign, is not so much emigration itself, as it is the state of being in a foreign place, away from your home, your people. For as far back as I know, meaning up to three generations, every man on all sides of my family worked and lived abroad for perhaps the greater chunk of his adult life, in places as diverse as Constantinople, Bucharest, Buenos Aires, New York and Watch Hill, Rhode Island. When my father’s village had around fifteen hundred people, there were around another five hundred Dervitsiotes living in Peabody, Massachusetts, working mostly in that town’s tanneries; they would joke that “Peabody, Mass.” meant “Our Peabody” — “mas” being the first person plural possessive pronoun in Greek. Many of Epiros’ villages were inhabited almost entirely by women, children and old people; it was almost inconceivable that an able-bodied young man would just stay home and not try his luck abroad somewhere.
But Epirotes are not the only Greeks for whom xeniteia constitutes (or did) a deeply embedded chunk of consciousness and identity. There wasn’t a Greek family from any region that didn’t have someone living and working abroad, and the longing and sorrow of that condition was something everyone instinctively felt; it was a collective emotion.
And that’s what makes these outbursts of anti-foreigner violence even more shameful and disgusting. Again, one sees how the loss of diaspora consciousness is one of the things that has so cheapened and impoverished the Neo-Greek soul in the past few decades. Again, I suggest, as I did in a previous post, that we all re-watch Gianni Amelio’s beautiful 1994 Lamerica: “…which is the story of how a cool, smug Young European Sicilian gets stranded in Albania and realizes that he’s only a generation away from being counted among the wretched of the earth himself — and how dangerous it is to forget that.”
National identity… Me chesw…malakes.