The immigrant has always been a scapegoat , particularly, but not exclusively during times of economic crisis.
In the United States ,Republicans are furiously stirring the pot of controversy claiming that President Obama’s recent election was the “fault” of immigrants. Count the ways. In fact, the controversy has gotten so vituperative , so many right wing pundits seem no longer willing to differentiate between illegal or legal immigrants: just point the finger at them. The issue is a complex one and I could never do it the justice it deserves in such limited space; suffice it to say, when something goes wrong , the immigrant will surely get the blame.
The deteriorating economic crisis in the European Union is a serious one. In Greece, for instance, where near desperate attempts are being made to implement further austerity measures. The Economist reports Greece’s unemployment rate as of June 2012 was 24.4 % . Only Spain’s unemployment rate is higher. Further, the jobless rate is 55.4% among young Greeks. A situation like this provides fertile ground for far right movements who can whip people into a frenzy of intimidation and violence by providing a “reason” for the unfortunate situation they find themselves in: the immigrants. In an effort to appease his people, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samsaras promised to “reclaim” Greek cities from the negative influence of the country’s illegal immigrants. As a result migrants were often intimidated and made to provide their legal documents. Far from solving the problem, actions like these only serve to unite extreme anger and extreme fear—an ideal mixture for, eventually (if not before) the perfect storm.
“Golden Dawn” is a neo-Nazi and fascist group, labels that they , not surprisingly reject. They are anti-immigrant, amongst being against many, many other things, but currently their violence is almost singularly aimed at the nations immigrants who they feel are, in a crippled economy with jobs as rare as hen’s teeth, taking jobs they believe should go to native Greeks. Members of Golden Dawn are reported to patrol businesses to make sure that owners are hiring Greeks exclusively. One can imagine the fear and intimidation in Athens, currently a hot bed of increasingly hostile and restless youth, looking for answers that Golden Dawn is more than willing to provide. With their black t-shirts with a symbol similar to a swastika, they are setting up shop in smaller towns, spreading their message like an unstoppable cancer. Strength comes in increased numbers , and with sturdy backup, their intimidation tactics are more bold, more violent, increasing fear in an already difficult and confusing time. Xenophobia is not only alive and well, but is thriving in Greece. And it seemed just a matter of time before Golden Dawn’s influence spread into Italy, though, the Italians, too , have their share of extreme right wing movements.
Alba Dorata (Golden Dawn Italy) has a branch in Trieste. It’s founder is Alessandro Gardossi, who was a former member of Forza Nuova , another neo-fascist party. With the heartbreak of so many lives’ lost in the Mediterranean, and hardship upon hardship, immigrants, migrants and refugees now must contend with a movement that is not only opposed to them in the philosophical sense (Go home immigrant!) but want to intimidate and physically harm them in the most awful of ways. Any weapon will do , and any immigrant fair game.
Greece and Italy are two countries traditionally chosen by immigrants and migrants either as a permanent destination or a stopping place on the way to somewhere else, one can only imagine the possible escalation of violence fueled by chronic anger and disillusionment.
Martin Luther King Jr. a man of peace amidst a time of great turmoil wrote ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ Violence will not deter People will always cross borders. People will always try to seek a better life . People will always take terribly risks in order to attempt to make this happen. Unfortunately, there will always be people who feel deprived of opportunity themselves and who will stop at nothing to make sure that others are deprived too. And if they look different or speak differently, they are not entitled to a damn thing. And that cycle of xenophobia not only goes on and on , but , in desperate times flourishes. And even worse, to the unenlightened, somehow, seems to make sense.