Saturday, March 9, 2013

Changing the Greek American Paradigm

We have all heard of the Ethnika Themata, a series of issues, which concern Greece, ranging from the continued illegal occupation of Northern Cyprus to the ongoing name dispute with FYROM. These issues, which have been imported from the motherland to the United States, have been adopted as key concerns of our community when advocating on behalf of our ancestral homeland.

However, to what extent are they actually our issues? Are our positions truly our own or are they dictated to us from Greece, as part of a botched foreign policy, which has been mismanaged and sometimes even neglected by the government in Athens? Are they issues that concern Greek America and its survival as an ethnic enclave in the United States or have they been cleverly craft as a way to continue taking advantage of Greek Americans, in order to, financially support a dying religious institution?

If one takes the time to look deeper into these Issues and the groups advocating them in the United States certain things become apparent. For starters, these groups are controlled by a closely interconnected circle, made up of business men, who fancy themselves self-appointed ‘leaders’ of our community; retirees that pursue the issues as a hobby; a few young professionals that are trying to develop their own careers within the American political scene; and members of a society of Archons known as the Order of Saint Andrew.

To further exacerbate the situation, this circle, is not made up of free-thinking, activist minded community leaders, but rather a collection of ‘yes-men’ serving two opposing ‘masters’, which compete for control of Greek America, the Greek Government and the Ecumenical Patriarchate. What does this exactly mean? Well it means that our so-called leaders and our positions on the issues are  decided for us by the corrupt and morally bankrupt elite of Athens, and a few frail and easily manipulated clergyman that are only interested in their own survival.

Now I know for most, the above statement will be hard to swallow, but perhaps the time has come for us to approach these issues from a new perspective. The sad reality we must face is that most Greek Politicians that visit the United States are more interested in bargains at outlet stores, and pursuing new professional contacts than developing and nurturing a well-organized and effective grassroots lobby. As a result, our community is left in an eerily similar situation as the motherland, being directed by selfish, incompetent and egotistical individuals, driven by personal agendas rather than passionate convictions, calling the shots and monopolizing leadership roles, which entail leads to continued failure on our issues.

Making matters only worse, the Patriarchate, which holds tremendous sway over Greek America, is held hostage by a hostile government. Thus, presenting itself as a way for the Turkish government to infiltrate and manipulate the Greek Diaspora, via the Patriarchate’s minions. Now, whether or not the Archons are unknowing agents of the Turkish State or merely incompetent buffoons is anyone’s guess, but what is for sure is their ineffective strategies of appeasement have only undermined any serious effort on our issues. For proof, all one must do is look at a fairly recent action taken by the Archons, in which they awarded an openly anti-Greek Turkish minister, Egemen Bagis, a human rights award. No explanation could ever be good enough to warrant such an action, especially when individuals exist inside Turkish society who deserve such praise, like human rights activist Eren Keskin, Pontian Muslim writer Omer Asan, or even the Co-chairman of the Democratic Society Congress Ahment Turk, who recently apologized for the Kurdish role in the Ottoman Genocides.

The fact is, without competent and authentic patriotic leadership at the helm in Athens; Athenian micromanagement of our issues and our positions is a recipe for failure. Like it or not, Orthodoxy is a Christian denomination, not an ancestral or ethnic religion. The Ecumenical Patriarchate is a universal spiritual leader of Christendom, not of Hellenism. His struggle for religious freedom should not be marginalized into a Greek Issue, but rather mainstreamed so that the Christian Right and Left of the United States may adopt his struggle as their own. The time has come for us to break the bonds that bind us, and construct our own National Issues with our own positions separate from Athens and Constantinople. This is the only way we will be able to safeguard our community from cultural assimilation and defend Hellenism globally.

This article  is part of a series of op-eds concerning the Greek American Community and the idea of creating our own unique National Issues, separate from the traditional ones held by Greece, Cyprus, and the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The purpose of these op-eds is to develop a new perspective on the important issues facing Hellenism and the Greek American Community.               Next Article