(Author: Ioanna Meitani, Analyze Greece, 20/04/2015. Translated by Iraklis Ikonomou)
The upcoming trial of Golden Dawn members is a matter for the whole of society, because the outcome will affect us all. I am not referring, solely, to the conviction of the immediate perpetrators of the crimes – I believe that the judiciary will exercise due rigor and impose the corresponding sentences. I refer, mainly, to the conviction of Golden Dawn’s leadership for instigating the crimes. What message will be conveyed to society if a criminal organization is ‘declassified’, so to speak, and if its leader is declared innocent in relation to the crimes that have been committed? The organization will be legalized –granted a seal of institutional recognition– and will be able to continue its activity, confident that its operational leadership will remain unpunished hereafter. Pappas, Michaloliakos, Kasidiaris, Lagos, Germenis and so many others will cheer. They will feel vindicated. Able to take the tolerance of society for granted, with state power almost neutral towards them, with large sections of the police impregnated by their ideology, and with segments of the church flirting openly with them, the members of Golden Dawn will continue to spew hatred, attack whoever they consider inferior, call for violence and order killings, knowing that they will escape with impunity. Those who will pay the price will be the unfortunate thugs whose hands they will have armed – while they, the arch-Nazis, will remain unscathed.. This will mean, above all, that Greek society tolerates fascism, in the form of organized crime. We will have taken a step further towards our fascistisation.
For all these reasons, I regard the trial as a matter concerning all of society. If we allow a lukewarm outcome, if we do not push for the conviction of the entire organization and the attribution to it of responsibility for these crimes, then we will all face the consequences as a society. And we will also bear a part of that responsibility. We should not leave this enormously important trial in the hands of the judges alone. It is our responsibility to create such a climate among public opinion and the society that the acquittal of the leaders of Golden Dawn will be unthinkable.
Until now, there has been a strange embarrassment with respect to the trial. A large section of the world does not even know when and how Golden Dawn will be tried, while many people have the impression that the trial concerns only the physical perpetrators of the crimes. Even worse, many people think that we will rid ourselves completely of Nazism, fascism and racism once we have sentenced these perpetrators.
It is already evident that Golden Dawn members do whatever they can to present their ‘decent’ face to the public, and they will continue to do so at least for the duration of the trial, and at least as far as the messages of their leadership are concerned (see, for example, the ‘left-friendly’ and ‘de-Nazified’ recent appearances of Michaloliakos). Therefore, it is our duty to remind people of Golden Dawn’s true face: the bayonets they ‘will be sharpening on the sidewalks’, the murders, the pogroms and the hatred. And during the trial, we should ensure that every single detail comes to light, so that the role of the authorities –which, for many years turned a blind eye on the Nazis– is not underestimated.
Dealing with Nazis is not pleasant. It is not easy to deal with issues that require a strong political fist and a readiness to bring about radical changes that might entail a political cost and that will certainly require difficult confrontations, both on the part of governance and on the part of society as a whole. Perhaps, this is why the political elite has thus far been unwilling to address the trial and the existence of pockets of right-wing support within the state. Perhaps this is why SYRIZA does not touch this ‘hot potato’ – or perhaps it is out of fear that they steer clear. It is, therefore, important that we break this fear, armed with out ability to inform the public – a task that we cannot entrust only to the mass media, given its vested interests. There are plenty of arguments available for public distribution: many articles have been written, and others will be written. We have a unique opportunity now, as the leadership of a Nazi organization is placed in the dock. Such an opportunity will not be given again to us easily. Let’s prioritise avoiding their acquittal. Let’s concentrate our energies on this trial because, even though the trial is not the only necessary step on the road to getting rid of Nazism and racism, it is an important step. We want to be able to say after the trial: ‘the Nazis have been sentenced – the antifascist struggle continues’.