[Note: the video that shows the incident I am about to describe has gone viral. I won’t link to any of its versions, because most of the comments are literally nauseating. ]
On Wednesday, Hellenic TV station Ant1 held a discussion roundtable with parliamentary members from six of the seven major political parties. Among them were two women: 38-year old Réna Dhoúrou of SYRIZA, the leftist party that came unexpectedly a very close second in the May elections, upsetting the usual cozy arrangements; and 58-year old Liána Kanélli of KKE, the Communist party (the only one in the world that’s still staunchly Stalinist, but that’s another conversation). Kanélli is notorious – an outspoken, spirited, if arrogant firebrand, widely considered to be a lesbian (bear with me, this becomes relevant anon). As a reporter, she was the first woman in many media venues. Also invited to the talk show was 31-year-old Elías Kasidhiáris, deputy of the neo-nazi party Golden Dawn.
For those sequestered in silently running nuclear submarines, Golden Dawn got 7% of the vote in the May elections, gaining seats in the parliament – the first time such a thing has happened since World War II (not counting the junta). Its platform is the standard troglodytic garbage: ethnic purity, “natural” order – which includes the de jure disenfranchisement of women and Others – and bodily violence against those who disagree. Its members regularly assault immigrants, minorities and journalists as well as other “undesirables”, with tolerance (if not cooperation) from the police and portions of the media. Mass murderer Anders Breivik listed Golden Dawn in his diary as the likeliest group to “cleanse” Europe.
It came as no surprise that the vast majority of the half million who voted for Golden Dawn were people craving “law and order” in a country that increasingly lacks the resources to deal effectively and humanely with its flood of illegal immigrants… and policemen. Kasidhiáris himself is on trial for participating in the robbery and stabbing of an academic in 2007 (as is customary with Hellenic justice, the trial has been repeatedly postponed). Yet this did not prevent him from running and getting elected for national office.
To anyone speaking Hellenic, it becomes obvious when you watch the video that Kasidhiáris was as well-informed as Sarah Palin. The two women, Kanélli in particular, let him know this. His response was standard: first he accused them of bringing “personal matters” (namely, his impending trial) into politics. Then, after a brief exchange of verbal insults, he flung a glass of water at Dhoúrou’s face. The three male politicians present sat through this like statues while the talk host made feeble mewling noises. The only one who did something was Kanélli, who went toward Kasidhiáris brandishing a newspaper.
To show that he doesn’t take guff from uppity broads, even ones old enough to be his mother, Kasidhiáris jumped out of his seat and hit Kanélli three times. On the face. The first was a slap. The other two were left-right closed-fist punches.
He then threatened he would “return with reinforcements” and somehow managed to escape from the TV station to “parts unknown” (almost certainly the offices of Golden Dawn) to avoid the automatic arrest warrant for assault which, by a quirk of Hellenic law, expires within 48 hours of its issue. The police, not surprisingly, have been “unable to find him” – even though he issued a lengthy (and presumably traceable) statement from his ultra-secret location, in which he said that Kanélli should be the one to be arrested and face assault charges because she “attacked him first”. The head of his party stuck by him, arguing that the incident had been blown out of proportion and, in any case, the two women are really to blame because, well, they provoked him and what’s a manly man to do except respond (literally) two-fistedly?
Sound familiar? The tactics of cowardly bullies do not change across time and cultures. Yet even more mind-boggling is the enormous number of people who opined anonymously online that “the cunt had it coming” and “finally, someone put the fat ugly dyke in her place.” Kanélli infuriates many people because she won’t shut up or back down; she has been bodily attacked before as a symbol of “corrupt politics”, even though her party has never governed the country (incidentally, I disagree with many of her positions, but that’s irrelevant to this discussion).
So the obvious solution to society’s ills is to beat this outspoken woman until she stops speaking, the traditional “remedy” for termagants who do not exhibit the feminine virtues of compliance and silence. When this happens people cheer gleefully, not realizing that thugs like Kasidhiáris make no distinctions: everything around them gets smashed. Women are just the canaries in this particular mine. They are the first to become non-humans whenever fascism raises its banner, making hatred and fear steeds for its chariot. Kanélli made the point explicitly after the assault: “It happened to be my face,” she said, “but there are many faces that get hit by these people – faces of weak and scared victims that we never see.”
The only good thing about this incident, the latest of many, is that it may act as a wake-up call to all those who thought they were striking a blow against the despised political status quo by voting for Golden Dawn. Democracy has always been wobbly in the land that invented it. My parents lived through repression and persecution; I lived through the colonels’ junta. I don’t want to see my people repeat the horrific mistake of giving power to beasts who wear the skins of humans.
Images: 1st, Liána Kanélli; 2nd, Réna Dhoúrou
Update 1: A representative of the Cypriot equivalent of Golden Dawn was asked on TV, “Do you consider it right to hit a woman?” His response: “Do you consider Kanélli a woman?” Beyond confirming how neo-nazis define “real” women, this particular rabid dog also conveniently elided that being “womanly” has never protected women from getting beaten, raped or killed.
Update 2: The head of Golden Dawn stated that Kasidhiáris didn’t hit Kanélli, he “just kept her at a distance with his hands” — and what’s with this sudden chivalry, don’t bitches claim they want equal treatment? It would be funny if it weren’t chilling.
Update 3: Kasidhiáris, tightly surrounded by half a dozen “companions”, showed up at a police precinct as soon as the 48 hours elapsed to sue Dhoúrou, Kanélli and the TV station, and to demand that the state put taps on the phone of everyone he sued as well as on the phone of the (female) justice who issued his arrest warrant.