ΦΑΝΑΤΩΣ ΤΟΥΣ ΠΡΟΒΟΤΕΣ! proclaims a recent comment on a social media post by an Australian-born EΛΛΗΝΑΡΑ. If, Professor Higgins-like one was called upon to geographically place the said patriot by reference to his phonology as attested to by his post, then one would invariably hazard a guess that his place of residence is Northcote, pronounced Norphcote, though the p is generally silent, among those Australian-born hoplites of Hellenism who have particular difficulties with voiceless fricatives.
There is a funny thing about these Ellinarades. Despite the fact that some of them chose to intone the chant “Έξω οι Τούρκοι από την Κύπρο” at the recent Australia-Greece soccer match (and one would wonder why they chose to do so given that the chances of either Ban Ki Moon, Recep Tayyip Erdogan or indeed any other Turk who is fluent in Greek being present and being sufficiently moved by the aforementioned verse in order to do something to end a four-decade long injustice are rather small) they are nowhere to be seen during the annual Justice for Cyprus march organised by the Cypriot community.
Similarly, despite the fact that some of them have become enraged by what they consider to be the racist prohibition of the display of the flag of Vergina at the Australia-Greece soccer match and the ejection from the game of one particular flag-bearer, despite their enthusiastic participation in the “Ελλάς, Ελλάς, Μακεδονία” chant (again it is important to note that neither Skopjan leader Gruevski, nor United Nations negotiator Matthew Nimetz were present at the game, unless the chant was directed at undercover agents of Skopjan name appropriation), said Ellinarades are strangely absent from all of the activities of the Pan-Macedonian Association, the United Villages of Florina, the Aristotelis Association or even the Australian Institute of Macedonian Studies.
In like fashion, at the recent commemoration of the Battle of Crete, the Ellinarades were nowhere to be seen. Indeed, despite some of them chanting: “Τούρκος καλός μόνο νεκρός” at the Australia-Greece soccer match, the Ellinarades were conspicuously absent at the annual events commemorating the Pontian genocide. This is mystifying. If the Ellinarades are so imbued with the love of their motherland and so hurt by other’s abuse of her that they require the slightest opportunity to express their love and air their grievances, (hence the pre-match chanting of “Greece, I love you and I will follow you as long as I live,” by ther Lonsdale Street Ellinarades) it appears illogical that they should choose to ignore an event that protests against the massacre of some 350,000 of their innocent compatriots and/or ancestors. Maybe on that day, they were just hurting on the inside.
You won’t see the Ellinarades at any events that have to do with Greek language preservation or education. In fact, a good many of them, despite the fact that their cup of love for all things ‘Hellenic’ (they reject the word Greek as being unhellenic even though both words, Graecos and Hellenas refer to two ancient tribes in Epirus) runneth over, can hardly speak the language, as can be evidenced by their heavy use of the Google translation function when they seek to render their social posts in the mother tongue in order to display their patriotic credentials to their like-minded contacts in the motherland. When this is pointed out to them, they will often argue that speaking the Greek language is irrelevant to the Greek identity. What is important is to have undying love for Hellas, accept its superiority uncritically, rail against the rest of the world which, recognising that superiority, is involved in a conspiracy to degrade and humiliate the Hellenes, punishing them for their brilliance and rooting out all Helleno-traitors who, being in thrall to the Germanic Zionists (figure that one out), are legion.
Ellinarades are conspicuously absent from fund-raising functions for Greek welfare and aged care facilities such as Fronditha and Agapi, or the various Church-organised philoptochos poor relief endeavours. They do not activate their social media networks for the purposes of cajoling their friends to donate generously for the preservation and assistance of local Greek clubs or dance groups. And yet the funds that some of them expend to purchase their blue and white regalia, or execute their scotch-infused, rose-petal strewn zeimbekiko at the ersatz bouzoukia around town would go a decent way in assistance those groups that really ensure the cohesion of our community.
Some of these Ellinarades are on the dole. Others are on carer’s pensions. Many have attended government funded public schools and many others have graduated from university by availing themselves of the Australian government’s HECS scheme. Most have been born or have lived the vast majority of their lives in Australia. It is therefore perplexing and deeply disquieting that some of them chose, at the recent Australia-Greece soccer match, to boo the national Australian team and the Australian national anthem. In fact, it represents the height of ingratitude both to the country, the community that nurtured them and the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria which lobbied so hard and overcame numerous objections in order to secure the transfer of the match from Newcastle to Melbourne.
As such, the antics of the Ellinarades should not be dismissed as mere youthful exuberance, especially given sections of the broader Australian community have always questioned the commitment of migrants and their Australian-born offspring to this country. As enthusiastic Australian citizens, our communities have achieved a praiseworthy equilibrium between preserving and evolving our ancestral cultures while at the same time integrating ourselves meaningfully within the broader social context. This has been achieved in partnership with government. We can ill afford the antics of the uncouth to disturb that golden mean. Nor can we tolerate those largely disconnected from the Greek community, with a limited and perverted understanding of the Greek tradition imposing upon us their pernicious view of their identity and by corollary, inviting our fellow citizens to view us as cast from the same mould, simply because they lack any other means to “Get their Greek on.”
Granted, simian chest-thumping and jungle-cries are part and parcel of the sporting experience regardless of how much they may make us cringe. Justifying anti-social and illegal behaviour by reference to a deification of anti-social antics in Greece which have nothing to do with tradition and everything to do with a society in the process of disintegration, is quite another. The Ellinara who stated: “Flares are all a part of football. You can take it back centuries, it’s all a part of the atmosphere,” is a case in point and we would all be fascinated to learn whether, in 1816, lighting flares at the soccer was a hallowed tradition in his grandmother’s village.
In the aftermath of the match, sundry Ellinarades are crying racism at the manner in which the Australian media chose to emphasise the actions of the unruly few and exaggerate the disorder they created before and during the match. In his study ‘The Wogs are at it Again’: The Media Reportage of Australian Soccer ‘Riots, ‘John Hughson argues that the Australian soccer stadium has become an arena of contestation, not for rival football teams, but for warring ethnic groups, who use the terraces and playing field as a ‘battleground’ to settle ‘long standing political grievances’. He argues that the commercial media is largely responsible for this perception and that the media treatment of soccer has constituted a form of institutional discrimination that serves to reinforce attitudes hostile to the broader acceptance of multiculturalism, suggesting that the media is not a passive reproducer of social attitude, but, rather, is a producer or co-producer.
Hughson, as well as George Vasilacopoulos and Tina Nicolacopoulou who have in their study From Foreigner to Citizen: Greek Migrants and Social Change in White Australia 1897-2000,” written broadly about the migrant as an eternal subversive element in the eyes of the mainstream are certainly valid points of references in seeking to analyse unsavoury mainstream media motives for focusing on the Ellinarades and yet the same people who deride the Australian mainstream media for doing so, often accept uncritically, the mainstream Greek media’s propensity to act in exactly the same way when portraying the often unsavoury nationalistic antics of ethnic groups within Greece. In this, the Ellinarades mindlessly play into the hands of those whose agenda vis a vis all community groups, is well known.
As a community, we need to explore what are the deep seated cause of our insecurity that compel us, to politicise the most simple of events and make them a cause of controversy and strife or at least, regard them as intrinsic to our ethnic identity. Why do we consider the Star of Vergina (a symbol that, despite its ancient provenance until the nineties appeared on no Greek flag anywhere and is thus not a traditional cultural artefact) or indeed the sickening white supremacist, ultra-right wing flag borne by one Ellinara, appropriate objects to take into a field where a bunch of grown men kick an evolved pig’s bladder to each other? Why do we invest so much emotion and importance in the outcome of such a game as if our collective and individual dignity depended on it? And finally, we need to determine how we can prevent the neanderthal ersatz, hateful and often racists Hellenes from sullying our reputation, community and thus jeopardising our legitimate and vibrant cultural activities. Maybe by demanding that they finally grow up and take their place in our community as responsible and useful constituents.