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Hope, Fear, Freedom of Speech (and from Speech) etc.

By on February 18, 2015
Demetrios Rhompotis

Demetrios Rhompotis

It’s been about two weeks since the new leftist government assumed power in Greece and the country hasn’t been destroyed yet! Oh, boy, for months–what months, years!–I’ve been saying that these people are good for nothing!

Jokes apart now, the high hopes accompanying the SYRIZA movement to power were not balanced by a relentlessly terrorizing campaign on behalf of now the main opposition Party New Democracy, that attempted to scare the shit out of people by describing all types of eminent dooms should the wrong guys be in the government! It was too—bad–to be true! Far worse than any logical, even in the case of Greece, strategy to scare the segment of the population that decides an election not to vote the wrong way or not to vote at all. People have been through much the last five years and have seen it all, at least that’s what they think, and they did not buy. Who would buy from someone that threatens and scares them if they had a choice? New Democracy sounded like…the Mafia, only toothless and much more bureaucratic to be taken seriously!

Elections are always about hope: the prospect that things will get better, especially in a country that has been subjected to all kinds of experimental austerity-oriented “cures” with exactly the opposite results of those expected. If you ask people to vote for you promising more of the same, while you are trying to convince them that if they vote for others that it will bring havoc, guess what: most won’t think twice before they choose havoc! Nobody really votes for damage control, unless they are…British, and pessimists to the core, “happy” with the possibility that things simply won’t get worse! But even they are changing (could that be a case of things getting worse before they become better?). In this past election, SYRIZA invested in hope and won, New Democracy tried desperately to sell fear and was doomed from the beginning, and rightly so!

While the election was an easy ride for SYRIZA, the next few months in the government won’t be. Greece’s creditors have toughened their stance and they won’t see favorably any challenge to their “infallible wisdom” especially from a country that has proved them wrong repeatedly. One can argue that part of the reason the bailout package failed was due to the former Greek government’s unwillingness to implement structural changes and focus on real reforms instead of taxing people and small to medium size business to moribundity while letting big sharks enjoy their tax free spree and accumulate billions of Euros to mainly Swiss and other foreign banks. It’s a long discussion with much merit to it, but one thing is certain and SYRIZA is right to make the point (and that coming from me, a non SYRIZA sympathizer): whatever the reasons, the remedy failed and it makes no sense to continue taking pills that don’t even have a placebo effect any more!

Since the beginning of this year, our world witnessed new tragic outbursts of religious fanaticism on behalf of Muslims – at least that’s what they call themselves – and lethal intolerance from their part to freedom of expression. Unfortunately, that intolerance isn’t restricted to some lunatics, super fanatics who supposedly went astray. It is part and parcel of their religion. Islam was spread in the world not so much with the Quran as with the …yataghan (not that Christians were always …saints)! If Muslims really want to organically be part of our Western civilization (whatever that is), while living in it, they need to work massively and drastically into developing a basic understanding of this culture, freedom of speech being perhaps the most important tenet (freedom from …speech is the 2nd most important).

The other day I walked on a group of Muslims sitting at an Egyptian café in Astoria. I said hello and asked to be excused for the interruption, all I needed to know was if they believed Christ is the Son of God. They all answered “no” and one of them rushed to add that Muslims consider Jesus a great prophet. Now, if I were to act with the zealotry of a Muslim, I should have executed them on the spot and later burned them! To say that Christ is not Son of God is like denying Christianity: it’s the sin of sins, no other insult is necessary in order kill somebody (by Muslim standards)! Nevertheless, I managed to put myself together–besides it wouldn’t be easy to kill five Muslim men in a predominantly-Muslim neighborhood (note to any witless Musulman or …Gentile that might read this: I’m joking!), and I explained to them that what they just said was very insulting to a Christian (even to one like me)! “Then why do you demand non-Muslims to believe that Mohammad was a prophet or even to respect him as a prophet?” I asked. “Besides, wasn’t Mohammad a historical figure, yes or not? If yes he can be subjected to scrutiny, criticism even ridicule, as painful as it might be, like everybody else!” Of course I got no answer, at least a logical one.

Muslims cannot expect the rest of the world to treat their religious founder with the same devotion, even respect, as they do. I think we must draw the line and resist the kind of self censorship that will ultimately not just curtail, but render obsolete our much-valued freedom of speech. I could respect theirs and everybody’s religion but Muslims have no right to impose on others what is for them and only for them holy!

P.S.

1) I don’t have a problem with Netanyahu addressing Congress, provided he does it in Hebrew and with no English subtitles…

2) So far Hillary Clinton is the undisputed frontrunner for the Dems and Jeb Bush for Republicans. From claiming to be the world’s best democracy we are becoming the world’s best …hereditary democracy!

3) At his State of the Union address, when speaking about big countries forcing themselves on small ones, President Obama mentioned the not-so-small Ukraine suffers (not without doing her part to provoke it) from Russian aggression. But not a single word about Cyprus that is facing another Turkish invasion in her Exclusive Economic Zone as we speak!!! And when he referred to the policy on Cuba, saying that something which hasn’t worked for 50 years won’t work, what about Cyprus again? Almost 50 years have passed since the Turkish invasion of 1974 and the policy to continue appeasing Turkey hasn’t worked! Isn’t about time to change that?

4) Killing the cow that gives you milk isn’t the best way to fight …cholesterol!

5) There is a fundamental contradiction with promoting austerity policies in capitalism. Unless money flows in abundance and people are able to spend and overspend, the market collapses, industry collapses, and with it capitalism itself. It should have been the other way around: the IMF and the European Central Bank asking for the end of austerity, not the new, leftist government of Greece …

About Demetrios Rhompotis

Demetrios Rhompotis is Publishing Committee Chairman at NEO Magazine. E-mail: dondemetrio@neomagazine.com. Phone: (718) 554-0308