I AM concerned for Greece.
We're all concerned for Greece. The situation there has gone quite loopy. And it isn't funny. There are nutcases waddling about in black shirts taking baseball bats to immigrants. At the same time, anti-austerity protesters wave Nazi flags, insensitively making a point about Germany. None of it looks good.
First, the fascists. Well, that makes sense in the cradle of democracy, right enough. Looking for rationality in human affairs is the first mistake of many commentators.
I'm not bunging the term "fascist" around willy or even nilly. That's how these fellows see themselves. They've coalesced around an organisation called the Golden Dawn, which really does make you titter.
The name calls to mind the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a unicorn-haunted organisation partially inspired by Madame Blavatsky. She founded theosophy, which combined theology with philosophy and came up with a hatstand.
If your robes are itching at this summation, then I acknowledge that these earnest seekers provided some valuable translations of Hindu scriptures and other bestsellers. But I have before me a photograph of Madame B, and she is sitting beside a man whose beard is bigger than his head. I rest my case.
However, we all love arcane eccentrics who've nothing to do with fascism. We don't love scowling, black-shirted oafs waving baseball bats. How can anyone even contemplate such nonsense?
Even a modicum of historical sensitivity about where that sort of thing can lead ought to prevail in the most meanly proportioned cranial cavity. Particularly in a country that suffered so much from invaders in thrall to such Moon-addled nincompoopery.
The black-shirted Golden Dawners stand armed with baseball bats. We confront them with that most potent of weapons: ridicule. We're reminded of PG Wodehouse's Saviours of England, also known as the Black Shorts and led by Sir Roderick Spode.
Bertie Wooster told him candidly: "The trouble with you, Spode, is that just because you have succeeded in inducing a handful of half-wits to disfigure the London scene by going about in black shorts, you think you're someone. You hear them shouting 'Heil, Spode!' and you imagine it is the Voice of the People. That is where you make your bloomer."
Bertie more accurately discerned the Voice of the People as saying: "Look at that frightful ass Spode swanking about in footer bags!"
Alas, Spode's Greek equivalents in ebony vestments are supported by a quarter of under-25-year-olds. Polls talk of them getting 22% of votes in the next election.
Terrible images of late have featured anti-austerity protesters in Greece waving swastika banners and dressing up in Hitlerite habiliments. There's just too much glibness on all sides.
Greece suffered terribly under the Nazis and is right to be sensitive about economic intervention by Germany. But giving you a loan isn't the same as exterminating entire villages. And Nazi paraphernalia ought not to be indulged frivolously.
Oddly enough, protests against Chancellor Angela Merkel in her own Germany prompted a government party official to denounce demonstrators as "old, frustrated women with messy hair" and "unkempt men who smell of old sweat, shouting all over the place with no decency".
Michael Marquardt, a functionary of junior coalition partners the Free Democratic Party, has since received death threats, mostly to his dog. Remember our earlier point about rationality.
What scares me is when there's a feeling abroad that nobody can stop the madness. It's scary when things slip out of control, and that's what's happening in Greece.
Whatever the financial provocation, all sides there need to get a sense of perspective and, if they must shout, to maintain a sense of decency.
Aeschylus – ken? – said: "God's most lordly gift to man is decency of mind." Swanking around in black shorts or glibly waving swastikas recklessly squanders that gift. As does wearing a beard bigger than your head.
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