The Dangers of Golden Dawn – and National Public Radio

by A. Jay Adler on November 13, 2012
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Where do we find the licensing body for the journalistic profession? Who are the determinants of journalistic malpractice?

There are none. Sanction for malpractice can be found only in the response of the audience. What price will National Public Radio pay for the following travesty, aired this morning and, of course, disseminated widely, such as here, on Minnesota Public Radio, where you can listen to the audio version? For it demonstrates gross malpractice by its author, Joanna Kakissis, and the editors and producers who let her reporting on the rise of Greece’s fascist and neo-Nazi party Gold Dawn, pass muster.

Kakissis does not simply report on the rise of Golden Dawn and its growing levels of hateful violence. She does not only describe its fascist character. Just as does The Business Insider to very different effect – as one random, less esteemed counter example – Kakissis and NPR offer an extended and explicit Nazi analogy.

The protesters compared the situation to Nazi Germany’s brutal occupation of Greece during World War II, when more than 400,000 Greeks died. But investigative journalist Dimitris Psarras hears other echoes of the past. “The economic crisis that Greece is facing today is similar to the one faced by Weimar Germany,” he says. “Just as Germany struggled to pay reparations imposed by the victors of World War I, Greece is now struggling to pay off giant debt racked up by its own corrupt political system.” Even Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has used the reference. In Weimar Germany, paramilitaries from the far right and far left fought in the streets. Germans struggled through head-spinning economic and political crises. Then, in 1933, after parliamentary elections that gave the Nazi Party the biggest share of the vote, Adolf Hitler came to power. Now Greece may have its own version of the Nazis, Psarras says, the Golden Dawn Party….

Party On the Rise Golden Dawn members say they are nationalists and strongly reject the Nazi label. But at rallies, party members chant, “Blood and Honor” — a slogan adapted from the Nazis — and they wear black T-shirts with a swastika-like ancient Greek symbol called a meandros. Last month, Golden Dawn supporters also attacked theatergoers before a performance of Corpus Christi, Terrence McNally’s controversial play about a gay Jesus. The leader of the mob, Ilias Panagiotaros, shouted homophobic and xenophobic obscenities at the terrified crowd. Panagiotaros is one of 18 Golden Dawn members elected to Parliament last June. The party won support by promising to kick out illegal immigrants and jail all corrupt politicians. They have also promised to erase household debt for low-wage earners and the unemployed. “Every day we are growing,” Panagiotaros says. “And very soon we’re going to be ruling this country, and laws are going to be enforced.” Indeed, Golden Dawn is rising in opinion surveys and could win as many as 36 seats in the 300-member Parliament, were elections held today.

Do you find any reference curiously missing from so direct a comparison between Weimar Germany and current-day Greece, to the detailing of homophobic and xenophobic attacks? Not to dismiss any of the legion of Nazism’s barbaric dehumanizations, but which is the atrocity for which it is most infamously known? You can search every word of Kakissis’s report and not find the word Jew mentioned once.

Is this because remarkably – what would be, really, historically – we have in Greece and Golden Dawn a neo-Nazi party that, for all the similarities, does not target Jews? Of course not. And it is not as if NPR is unaware of prevailing criticism of its coverage of such issues.

Here is JTA reporting just twelve days ago that “As Golden Dawn gains popularity, Greek Jews strategize on how to combat neo-Nazi party.”

Here is Jewish News One reporting on “Greek Jews tackling Golden Dawn’s anti-Semitism.”

Here is an anti-Semitic hate site supportive of Golden Dawn reacting to that very Jewish News One video above.

Here is Jewish News One, again, reporting just two weeks ago on a Golden Dawn member of the Greek parliament reading aloud before the parliament from the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

An elected politician and spokesperson for the racist Golden Dawn political party has read out an extended passage from the anti-Semitic text the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” in the Greek parliament.

Despite reading a text created as a hoax by anti-Semites to create a destructive image of Jews, the speech by Ilias Kasidiaris shockingly went unchallenged by other members of the parliament.

Here is Golden Dawn’s leader Nikos Michaloliakos, interviewed by Greek journalist Stavros Theodorakis this past May, engaging in Holocaust denial and defense of Adolf Hitler.

Our intellectual dangers are broadly two, what we think and how we think. Of course, the latter shapes the former. The culturally reactionary and science-denying American conservatism put to rout in last week’s presidential election offers a twofer of intellectual misconception, misguided both in what and how it thinks. Neo-Nazis, fascists, and xenophobic racists certainly standout for what they think. And NPR in such an instance? We give it benefit of the doubt on the what. But the how?

At the crossroads of more than one early twenty-first century crisis of thought and international relations is anti-Israel sentiment and the growth of dramatically renewed anti-Semitism barely concealed beneath that political cover. Among the many agents fueling the growth of this crisis is, at worst, the active anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic sentiment of multiple journalistic organs, most prominently left oriented and of which there is no greater example than England’s Guardian. At best – which is very bad, indeed – there is the gross negligence of such reporting as this from NPR, by which the general public is profoundly misinformed and, finally, misled.

By which a whole current culture of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish disinformation and distortion is provided the atmosphere in which to grow and sustain itself, and for which real people pay a price every day.

It is incompetent and irresponsible reporting for which NPR needs to account and that it needs to correct.

AJA

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