What I Learned Growing Up in a Country Where Actual Nazis Held Seats in Parliament

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Thursday, August 22, 2019


The Greek government-debt crisis started in late 2009, and, by 2012, triggered the escalation of deep political turmoil. The austerity measures imposed by the Greek government, along with the European Union, lead to protests, riots, and a general distrust against mainstream political parties and the European Union. People blamed these parties and their leaders for facilitating the debt crisis through reckless spending and corruption. For instance, in the 2012 election, the mainstream center-left Panhellenic Socialist Movement Party, which lead Greece’s government in 2009, only gained 12% of the vote (as opposed to the 44% it had acquired in 2009). However, the result that sent shockwaves across the world was 7% of the vote which was acquired by the fascist and ultra-nationalist Golden Dawn Party.

According to the Counter Extremism Project, Golden Dawn advocates for National Socialism, hardline Euroscepticism, the “cultural superiority” of the Orthodox Greek Nation, and against Zionism and the “Islamification” of Greece. Also, they consider the United States as the “absolute enemy of the nation” while “real friends” are found to be Orthodox Nations such as Russia, Serbia as well as Arab countries “oppressed” by America and Israel. 

Golden Dawn has had a troubling record even before entering public office. For instance, photos of General Secretary Nikos Michaloliakos and Member of Parliament, Christos Pappas, have surfaced in which both members posed in front of swastika flags, preforming Nazi salutes. A couple of weeks before the 2012 election, Elias Kasidiaris, who was on the party’s ticket, physically attacked a female MPs from the Communist Party of Greece while on live television during a heated argument. However, a little more than a year after Golden Dawn took office, anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas aka “Killah P” was stabbed and murdered by a hit squad sent by the party to kill the rapper.

Fortunately, in the 2019 election, Golden Dawn failed to gain more than the minimum 3% required to join the Greek Parliament, and, according to reports, the organization has begun to crumble. Even though Golden Dawn has lost most of its power, certain left-wing pundits and activists continue to try to link anyone right of center to the organization. For instance, the left-wing newspaper I Avgi falsely claimed that the conservative mayor-elect of Athens Kostas Bakogiannis  (who happens to be the nephew of the current Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis) had “far-right friendships.” The article criticized Bakogiannis for being given a tour of a neighborhood with a substantial migrant population by who they deemed a member of Golden Dawn. It turns out the man in question had absolutely nothing to with the fascist organization and sued the publication for slander.

Even though fringe groups like Golden Dawn are not as common in other Western democracies, many members of the mainstream left will not hesitate to label their political opponents as Nazis. After Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party won a plurality of the vote, during the 2019 EU election, the former leader of Plaid Cymru (a Welsh left-wing party) posted a picture on Facebook in which a figure was draped in an EU flag and was arm-wrestling with a Swastika on top of a ballot box. The caption of the picture read “tonight’s results.” Similarly, Labor Party MP David Lammy compared Brexiteer Conservatives to Nazis and advocates of South African apartheid. When asked about his comments, he doubled down and claimed that this comparison “wasn’t strong enough.”

Across the pond in the United States, things do not differ much. Days after the horrendous white supremacists attack in El Paso, Texas, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough accused President Trump’s donors of “Funding White Supremacy.”  Similarly, Beto O’Rourke compared one of Trump’s recent rallies to Nazi Germany. “That’s Nuremberg to me,” O’Rourke said.

Of course, this does not mean that we on the right should remain silent in the face of neo-nazi and white nationalist threats just because they are “anti-left.” The enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend; it could be your enemy as well.  The House GOP and Kevin McCarthy showed tremendous amounts of leadership when Steve King was removed from all his committee assignments over his remarks regarding “white supremacy.”

Having myself lived in all three countries, Greece, the US, and the UK, I can confirm that the threat of white supremacy is real and should be taken seriously. However, everyone in favor of declaring independence from the EU and combating illegal immigration is distinct from the targeting of political opponents through the use of force, and the violation of the freedom of others.

Anastasia is a MSc candidate in Democracy and Comparative Politics at the University College London (UCL) in the United Kingdom. Born and raised in Athens, Greece, to American parents, Anastasia has also lived in the United States and in France. During her free time, she enjoys traveling the world and spending time with her two dogs, Jasper and Charlie.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.


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About Anastasia Kourtis

Anastasia is a MSc candidate in Democracy and Comparative Politics at the University College London (UCL) in the United Kingdom. Born and raised in Athens, Greece, to American parents, Anastasia has also lived in the United States and in France. During her free time, she enjoys traveling the world and spending time with her two dogs, Jasper and Charlie.

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