Don’t count on welcome-to-the-neighborhood brownies: the Greek neo-fascist political party Golden Dawn (Chrysi Avgi) has just opened an office in New York City.
They’re hoping to rally support for their far-right cause among Greek-Americans in New York.
Earlier this month, the party held a drive to collect medicines and ship them back to Greece. It has also sent clothes and food, but only ethnic Greeks are able to collect them.
A tip from a reader sent us to the group’s American website, which proclaims:
We stand with the Greek people who have been driven to poverty and despair by the imposition of the genocidal IMF and European Union austerity policies that are decimating the population and turning Greece into a slave state.
The unholy alliance of the bankers, the media, corrupt politicians and the educational system are rabidly attempting to extinguish all traces of Hellenism- past, present and future through poverty, historical revisionism, media distortions and third world immigration.
The Golden Dawn is the only party that truly recognizes the problem and has the solution.
A representative of Golden Dawn in New York has yet to return a telephone call and e-mail asking for comment.
UPDATE: As of 8:00 AM, Sept. 25th, the website appears to have crashed or been removed from the web. A cached version is available here. Buzzfeed is now reporting that the hacker collective Anonymous has taken down the page.
UPDATE: At 4:00 PM, Sept. 25th, Golden Dawn’s NYC website went back up but it appears to be a beta version with none of the original content.
The solution: Greece for the Greeks
In Greece, Golden Dawn says illegal immigrants are responsible for a rise in crime and are taking jobs away from Greek workers. It advocates for their immediate round-up and deportation. Under popular pressure, Greece’s government has been doing just that, despite criticism from human rights groups.
The Wall Street Journal recently described the situation as an “Olympic-sized crisis.”
Since Golden Dawn entered parliament, there has been a sharp rise in the number of attacks on foreigners in Athens, according to the Greek daily Kathimerini. On Saturday, two Pakistani men were stabbed by unknown assailants after participating in an anti-racism rally in Metamorfossi, a suburb of Athens.
Like many other Americans, Greek expatriates are concerned about the influx of undocumented immigrants into the U.S. from Latin America, and might feel some sympathy for the situation in their native land.
But ou would think Golden Dawn’s outrageous antics would make the party unpalatable to most Greek-Americans: its leader, Nikos Michaloliakos, has repeatedly expressed doubts about the severity of the Holocaust, and his top deputy, Ilias Kasidiaris, physically attacked two female politicians on live national television in June.
Other members have conducted violent raids on open-air markets frequented by immigrants and hosted “Greek-only” blood drives.
And yet according to Nick Malkoutzis, a Greek journalist, some members of the Greek diaspora don’t seem to understand what Golden Dawn really stands for.
In an e-mail to Latitude News, Malkoutzis wrote: “Some Greek-Americans . . . . appear to think that rather than being extremist, and therefore dangerous, this party is made up of enthusiastic and well-intentioned nationalists. Golden Dawn is very clever at hiding its real face and I fear that many in the Diaspora have fallen for the idea that they are just enthusiastic patriots hook, line and sinker.
“It is incumbent upon the members of the Diaspora who truly have Greece’s interests at heart – and I am sure there are many – to stand up to this growing fascism.”
One group who expressed unbridled delight at the group’s arrival in America: white nationalists. The far-right American website Stormfront has six pages of comments discussing Golden Dawn’s New York venture, though one poster expressed doubts about its future:
A right-wing Golden Dawn office opening smack dab in the middle of the most left-wing jewish city on earth? I certainly hope it flourishes, but realistically, how long do you think that office will last before it’s shut down under some pretext?
Golden Dawn rising
Despite its extreme message, Golden Dawn managed to ride a wave of disillusionment with the major parties in this year’s election and win 18 out of 300 seats in Greece’s Parliament. Its anti-EU, anti-immigrant rhetoric has struck a chord with some Greeks as their country suffers through a deep recession. A recent poll showed Golden Dawn’s popularity is up ten points since May.
How did it happen?
Nikos Papaconstantinou, press spokesman for the Greek Consulate in New York, explained the situation to Latitude News.
“One of the reasons they were voted in,” he says “is because there is an economic crisis in Europe. Greece is going through adjustments, restructuring, and reforms, and these are very tight economic times. Cut, cut, cut. Everyone’s salaries – cut. It has created a backlash and the Golden Dawn is capitalizing on dissastisfaction with these measures. As in other countries in Europe like Holland and Austria, the ultra-right are the beneficiairies of this situation.”
Papconstantinou stressed that, as a legitimate political party, Golden Dawn has every legal right to maintain outposts in foreign countries, as long as it respects local laws.
The party also has affiliates in Melbourne and Montreal, two cities, like New York, with large Greek immigrant populations.
The New York group has produced a music video which you can watch below. It features some not-so-catchy lyrics like: “We are the gods of the new world order. We are the soldiers, the legions of light.” Let’s just hope their next offering isn’t about Muhammad.
Note: This story has been updated to incorporate the comments of Nick Malkoutzis, which were received after we went to press.