Two days after I arrived in Greece, Chios to be exact, there was a black and white flyer under my door. It was written in Greek and I had a feeling it was from the ‘Golden Dawn’, the far-right fascist political party here. The flyer was about a gathering they had nearby, I kind of laughed it off, thinking about the irony of them promoting their event to me, a former refugee from Afghanistan. I joked with a Greek friend saying that I was wondering when I would be exposed to them but that I didn’t think it will be this quick. She responded by saying that she hopes I never get exposed to them. Three days later fascists decided to attack the refugee camp on Chios at night and they did it again the next night.
They threw Molotov cocktails and heavy stones in the middle of the night into the camp where vulnerable people stay. Tents were destroyed, dozens were left on the streets, mothers with babies had to spend the night outside in the cold and the next night a lot of refugees were afraid to go back to their tents. I also read somewhere that a mother pregnant with twins miscarried due to the stress of that night. The picture posted at the beginning of the post shows some of the material damage to the refugee camp on Chios. After the attacks the leader of the Golden Dawn stated that he was proud of the attacks against the refugees during a speech in parliament. Far-right parties and people who preach the same message as them are a threat to society and the values we have created over the years.
Just before I left the Netherlands, Trump got elected and everybody around the globe was shocked. The shock now seems to have made place for the normalization of his words, his followers and other people who sympathize with similar ideas. Some of the main statements I heard this past week were:
– Not everyone who votes for Trump is a racists.
– His voters just want to be heard.
– They want to send a message to the establishment and the system.
Now, in my humble opinion it is quite easy to vote for a man (or a party) with racist, sexist and fascist tendencies when you won’t be the one affected by his actions. When your family won’t be the one needing to watch over their shoulders. When your friends won’t be the ones worrying about the society they are in. When you won’t be the one feeling unwelcome in the country in which you grew up.
For me there is a difference between listening to one another, taking each other’s opinions seriously and normalizing the idea behind voting for people like Trump, Wilders, Le Pen or anything similar. One cannot separate them from the hate and division they are trying to spread, it’s a package deal. Their whole campagne isn’t based only on giving the establishment the finger, it is mostly based on inciting hate and they will spread lies and trick people just as much as other politicians.
If you really feel unheard and want to let the establishment feel that you are unsatisfied, there surely is another way than compromising other people within the same society. Trying to blame everything on the ‘other’ won’t solve the problems you have, excluding others is not the answer you need.
It’s pretty clear that I do not agree with the ‘misunderstood white male/female voter’ narrative at the moment. Primarily because it normalizes the extreme tendencies some members of such parties can have. It gives those members a validation for their racist ideas, we saw how islamophobia and hate related incidents went high after Brexit and the same happened right after Trump got elected.
In my circle of friends we laughed at these extreme parties, we didn’t take them seriously and I think most of us didn’t realize the harm that can be done when their plans start to materialize. This is wrong, we should take these people and their ideas very seriously because they are not joking. For them this is exactly what they want. I do believe in dialogue but within that dialogue we must be firm and not forget that parties with such extreme opinions are a real danger. If you really worry about the society you are in, voting for them won’t solve anything and the situation might even get worse.
Hate is a powerful tool, so please be conscious of your choices when you vote or when you voice your support for such parties. We live in a splendid time where all the information we want is available to us. Research, read, create a clear opinion without being misled by populist movements. But don’t come and tell me that voting for Trump, Wilders, Le Pen or any other similar person/party doesn’t make you a racist. Their whole raison d’être is the racism they preach. If you feel offended by this, imagine how I feel when I see people within my circles voting for parties which are constantly expressing that people like me or with similar background are unwanted and unwelcome.
Of course everyone is entitled to their own opinion and own polical interest but somewhere a line must be drawn. You don’t get to throw me under the bus just because you feel frustrated with something. Please find more constructive ways to fix it.
*The picture of the camp was not taken by me and I unfortunately don’t have a source for it. I saw it somewhere on Twitter.