Aug 9, 2012

Nikos Deja Vu - Anti-Hellenism (Ανθελληνισμός)


Anti-Hellenism (in Greek: Ανθελληνισμός) is hostility toward the Greek people, culture and country.

Major modern anti-Hellenic movements and phenomena include the KKK which targeted Greek immigrants to the US, pogroms conducted against ethnic Greeks in Turkey such as the 1955 Istanbul Pogrom, and media attacks such as seen in the international press during the run up to the 2004 Olympics. Other modern anti-Hellenic events include the anti-Greek movement in Romania.

Anti-Hellenism has anceint and modern derivations similar to anti-Semitism), although in its contemporary forms is certainly of lower intensity and effect.

Within Greece the term often enters political discourse in ways that may or may not be exaggerations.

Origins of anti-Hellenism

Historically anti-Hellenism derives from a cultural basis quite similar to ancient anti-Semitism).

Anti-Hellenism, to certain people and some international press, seems to lack a racial and cultural basis (unlike anti-Semitism), and appears to be mostly based on geopolitically oriented reasons, as well as diplomatic and strategic interests closely related with the modern state of Greece.

On the other hand, some consider anti-Hellenism to spawn from a purely racial and cultural basis, describing it as the hate or antipathy towards what the Hellenic or Greek civilization represents for a person as a belief system and way of life. People who believe this may assert that the object of hate is independent of residence or ethnicity, much like anti-Semitism, in which hate is directed at all Jews and not only toward the modern state of Israel or its residents.

The latter group often holds that pure racial and cultural hate are the only reasons for direct hate toward Greece instead of considering such feelings to be a reflection of various contemporary diplomatic tensions. Individuals in this group may claim that the Cyprus dispute and especially the Annan Plan for Cyprus are two recent examples of anti-Hellenist behavior.

A famous example of this is an internaτional research paper published in August 2002 before being dropped and ridiculed due to its flawed research. It was devised by FYROM researchers at the Department of Immunology and Molecular Biology in the Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain and claimed that Greeks were shown to have genetic origins in Africa as opposed to Europe. Despite being initially published, the research was finally dismissed in Nature magazine by leading geneticists Neil Risch, Alberto Piazza, and L. Luca Cavalli-Sforza:

The limitations are made evident by the authors' extraordinary observations that Greeks are very similar to Ethiopians and east Africans but very distant from other south Europeans; and that the Japanese are nearly identical to west and south Africans. It is surprising that the authors were not puzzled by these anomalous results, which contradict history, geography, anthropology and all prior population-genetic studies of these groups. Surely the ordinary process of refereeing would have saved the field from this dispute. Nature 415, 115 (10 January 2002) © Macmillan Publishers Ltd.

It is similar aggressive writing and research with no basis which has fueled the belief in anti- Hellenism.

International mass media

Those who assert that anti-Hellenism is present in international mass media maintain that, unlike other kinds of racial or ethnic prejudice, anti-Hellenism is not officially based on a concrete ideology (like Mein Kampf against Jews), nor that it is present in an organized form or society (such as the Ku Klux Klan against African Americans), but that it usually manifests itself under the form of a negative image promoted by a part of the international mass media. This allegation seems to be levelled particularly against some (mainly Anglo-Saxon) journalists.

Such television reporters, journalists, and newspapers are in fact frequently accused of negative propaganda against the modern state of Greece. The Olympic games of Athens 2004 are a prime example, to the point that many of those newspapers and TV broadcasters apologized to Greece for having been too critical of Greece's competence in organising the games and maintaining security. Whether it be claiming Greece's victory at Euro 2004 was a fluke or Greeks in general are a disorganised people, this more than anyother phenomenon fuels the belief in Anti-Hellenism.

The 'true' anti-Hellenists

There are, however, a few declaredly anti-Greek organizations, such as the Turkish Grey Wolves and some extremist Balkans based political parties. The goal of these organizations is declaredly the territorial possession of Greece and of the whole of Cyprus, with no particular racial or cultural ideology behind them. While such stances ostensibly include the desire to rid Greece and Cyprus of Greeks, they apparently do not call for a worldwide 'Greek Holocaust'.

Henry Kissinger as an anti-Hellenist

"The Greek people are anarchic and difficult to tame. For this reason we must strike deep into their cultural roots: perhaps then we can force them to conform. I mean, of course, to strike at their language, their religion, their cultural and historical reserves, so that we can neutralize their ability to develop, to distinguish themselves, or to prevail; thereby removing them as an obstacle to our strategically vital plans in the Balkans, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East."

Anti-Hellenism in UK

The Greeks protest long time ago about the way British historians write Greek history and they understand it as an act of anti-Hellenism. Even if the protests include ancient history too, most is against the way modern Greece and its history is depicted. According to their claims, the British role in the Greek War of Independence is overated, the Pontian Greek Genocide is forgotten and Greece's role as an ally of Britain in the crucial 1940-1941 years is hushed.This is not a new issue, since in the '50s the British historian Arnold Joseph Toynbee had created much controversy and anger in Greece.In recent years the persistent refusal of several British historians to accept the European identity of Greece (like Anthony Pagden) is again considered an extreme act of anti-Hellenism.In later years, the continuous refusal of the British government to return back the stolen Parthenon marbles is again described as anti-hellenic. Greeks who subscribe to anti-Hellenism hold the BBC particulary responsible, whether it be the negative press to the Athens Olympics or the lack of enthusiasm when a Greek athlete/ football team succeeds or indeed commenting negatively on the return of the Elgin Marbles or Cyprus issue.

Does anti-Hellenism really exist?

Anti-Hellenism, as a concept, seems to be controversial in Greece itself but it is not. Some Greek people firmly believe that there is an underground international conspiracy aimed at destroying Greek language and culture. Proponents of this idea believe that this can be seen in international politics toward Greece mainly in the 20th century, the Cyprus dispute being a such a recent example.


Detractors (most of them Greek) of the idea that anti-Hellenism is a real phenomenon, on the other hand, claim that anti-Hellenism is merely a handy excuse and an excellent scapegoat for labelling and demonizing all actual or imaginary "enemies" of the Greek nation or even for justifying insuccesses and failures from national to personal levels, and that in reality Greece and Greeks are regarded as no worse or better than any other democratic country and its citizens. These same people also feel that some facts are exaggerated by the mass media and by some politicians for their own purposes.


Generally, those who label something as 'anti-Hellenic', or feel that there is some major anti-Greek conspiracy behind international and regional political acts are Greeks themselves. This leads some to posit that Greeks who maintain that anti-Hellenist activity exists would suspect anyone opposing Greek interests in any area of being 'anti-Hellenic', a demonization of perceived enemies.

The "Ethnos Anadelfon" concept

Halfway between popular belief and historical reality lies the concept of the Έθνος Ανάδελφον (Ethnos Anadelfon), which translated literally means 'Brotherless Nation'. This probably referred to the historical, linguistical and cultural isolation of Greece from other nations, and also to the large number of wars and conquerors attracted to Greece, due its strategic geographical position in the Mediterranean.

Detractors of anti-Hellenism argue, however, that Ethnos Anadelfon also refers to a "nation whose people are not brotherly to one another," and that the first ones accountable for the problems faced by Greece are the Greeks themselves and their attitude toward one another, traditionally considered to be characterized by a lack of mutual trust.

What is, ultimately, 'anti-Hellenic'?

Although there is no clear definition of what makes something or someone 'anti-Hellenic', there are some possible clues:

*Territorial claims and disputes connected with the modern state of Greece: Maybe the most realistic of all anti-Hellenic fears, since there are actually Turkish and other Balkan extremist groups (such as the Grey Wolves) who claim part or all of Greece's territory.

*Publications and articles which criticize Greece and Greeks to various extent. These include:

** Traveller guides, especially if they broach the existence of terrorism or are perceived to contain too many negative warnings and stereotypes.

** Newspaper articles, especially if they are about the Cyprus dispute, paint the 2004 Olympic Games in a negative light, claim undocumented connections with international terrorism or merely report actual negative statistics and promote stereotypical ideas about Greece. Also, any article showing interest or positively promoting one of Greece's "enemies" may be promptly labelled as anti-Hellenic.

Nikos Deja Vu

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