Friday, September 02, 2011

Cablegate Analysis: COMBATING EXTREMISM IN GREECE -- Anarchists, Neo-Nazi's, Protests & Civil Liberties

As the floodgates of diplomatic cables has recently been unleashed via Wikileaks, I was inspired to do some fresh perusing of the newly available files. Originally looking for what the cables had to say about anarchists, I stumbled upon the following lines in a document classified as "SECRET" under the subject heading "COMBATING EXTREMISM IN GREECE":
Greek society also views enhanced police capabilities with a jaundiced eye. Greeks are hypersensitive to any perceived limits on personal freedoms; as an example, security cameras around town have been vandalized. Members of Parliament have also inveighed against their use; attempts to pass off the cameras as trafficams have been only partly successful.
While I knew the Greeks were less tolerant than Americans of police abuses (since police collaboration with the Nazi's in WWII), I found the phrasing of these lines to be somewhat interesting. The Greeks aren't described as vigilant about preserving their rights, they are rather described as "hypersensitive." And the author seems to lament that "attempts to pass off the cameras as trafficams have been only partly successful." While this phrasing in itself should be something of an embarrassment, it's somewhat telling in how issues are presented and phrased. And, presumably, Americans have fallen for the tactic of trying to pass off surveillance cameras as trafficams.

Upon further reading... I'd like point out how, in the cited cable, anarchists are conflated and categorized with neo-Nazi's. Similarly, ill-defined "extremist groups" are accused of "targeting" the U.S. embassy:
Above all, the United States is Public Enemy Number One in Greece -- domestic extremist groups regularly target the U.S. embassy to protest against both past history and current "American hegemony."
Now, any group which may protest the U.S. wars or trade policies is also conflated with "extremist groups" like the neo-Nazi's. I suppose one should expect to find Godwin's Law evoked in such a large volume of text like that released in the cables, but this seems particularly cynical to me. Anyway... it seems that when tens of thousands protest the ongoing wars and the militarism of the United States, they are "extremists." Just like the millions of others around the globe who protested the war in Iraq during the biggest day of protest in the history of the world, it is they who who are the extremists and apparently need to be put into check. And protesting at the U.S. embassy isn't just that, it's "targeting" the U.S. embassy. The bias is in the subtle details of the words, and phrases, and conflated associations.

Another example of extremism, anti-semitism even, is described thusly:
At the same time, Greece has longstanding ties to the Palestinian cause and Arafat personally; Greece was the last member of the EU to establish diplomatic relations with Israel (1990). In modern colloquial Greek (as in the modern Arab world) there is often no distinction between "Jewish" and "Israeli." The problem is compounded by almost universal opposition to Israeli policies in the Occupied Territories.
Certainly it's inaccurate to refer to all Jewish people as Israeli's, but if actually used interchangeably that way in the common parlance... I'm not convinced it's worthy of listing such information under a heading of "ANTI-SEMITISM" or proof thereof. Much more to the point, however, is that opposition to Israeli government policies in Palestine certainly does not necessarily imply anti-semitism. Many proud Jewish people, even some Israelis, oppose those policies -- and they are certainly not anti-semitic. To present the aforementioned information as proof of anti-semitism, is intellectual incompetence at best, and intellectual dishonesty at worst.

There will undoubtedly be more to come as the diplomatic cables are examined more thoroughly.

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