The cultural appropriation* and commercialization** of Hellenismos in the Western world, in particular by paganism and nationalism, takes on increasingly imperialistic and pathological features. Pagan antiHellenes like YouTuber «Aliakai» deny the Hellenes‘ right to self-determination, deny our right to be ourselves. And now they also deny the Greek genocide.
My mother’s grandmother lost five children to the genocide of the pontic Greeks in the Ottoman empire. Not one. Not two. Five. But she survived. Survived the loss, the abuses, the hunger, the persecution. But according to pagan colonialist «Aliakai» «there’s never been a full-blown Greek genocide.» Even though various people, including the person she talks to in the video, corrected her and sent her educational information about the Greek genocide via Twitter, she continues on her «ignorance as usual» path. So on top of the disinformation of the public, the attacks on the Hellenic community, her ethnocentrism, structural colonialism and cultural appropriation she also adds genocide denial to her growing list of disgraceful behaviours. And «Aliakai» is no exception, but rather an excellent example of pagan anti-Hellenism. This is what pagan anti-Hellenism looks like. This is how pagan colonialists treat other people’s culture, history and ethnic identity.
However, the minimization of atrocities is not a new phenomenon, nor is it limited to anti-Hellenism. For example, the deniers of the Holocaust «either deny that such a genocide took place or minimize its extent» (SPL Center). The Jews know from bitter experience, that the «denial of the Holocaust and genocide take many forms, from simply ignoring obvious facts by manipulating the sources, through minimizing the dimensions of genocide, to trivializing and rationalizing genocide by analogy and claiming that it is an acceptable example of the kinds of things that happen in wartime» (Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau). Of particular interest in this context is the fact that an American pagan adopts the same rhetoric as of those Turkish nationalists who deny or downplay the Greek genocide. Calling other people «folkists» while using and spreading Turkish nationalist propaganda in order to justify the exploitation, cultural appropriation and commercialization of a foreign culture, is the epitome of hypocrisy, but I guess this kind of irony is lost on pagan colonialists, most of whom seem to show a disconcerting affinity to bully and abuse (or at least slander) those who stand between them and the object of their craving.
As understandable as the need or hunger for attention and social feedback may be, there are some red lines that should not be crossed. Genocide denial is one of them. The cultural appropriation of Hellenism, the commercialization of our ethnic religion, the exploitation of our ethnonym and the genocide denial are hostile acts against the Hellenic people, against the remembrance culture of the Hellenic community. It should be obvious by now why we keep such people out of our community, culture and our lives. The Hellenic communities of the Diaspora are not just religious communities but rather safe havens where our people especially our children can safely express their ethno-cultural identity, their Hellenicity, without having to worry about discrimination or others misunderstanding them. They provide places to gather, socialize, play, celebrate, learn, teach, exchange advice, meet members of different tribes, and feel safe and secure in a friendly environment. Therefore colonialists and anti-Hellenes have no business being there.
Over and over again we find ourselves in a position where we have to explain ourselves or justify our ways to outsiders who know nothing about us, where we have to defend our everyday ethos against Western fantasies, the narrative of «Western civilization,» and more fundamentally, the fetishised notions of an undefined «ancient Greece,» that leave out some «smaller» details such as the middle ages, early modern period and the present needs of the Hellenic people. They don’t fit the picture.
It’s ignorance, resilient to facts and logic.
The various ideological and pagan hate groups sometimes remind me of a wild predator which preys on the weakened, ready to tear them into pieces. People have reasons to deny a genocide. People have reasons to deny hostile appropriation. Denying is the road to expropriation.
Thus in order to defend our collective dignity, Hellenes must fight back and put the various types of political, religious, cultural and financial colonial-savages and imposters in their place. One way of achieving this is to respond directly to the «narratives» they spin*** and counter disinformation with fact-checking.****
But how can we distinguish between friend and foe, the well-intended one from the adventurer? The first group respects our boundaries, the second not.
Time is really running out: either Hellenism will have the strength to set boundaries and to defend them, or there will be no such thing as Hellenic sovereignty. Some Hellenes say about these colonialists that they are just a bunch of crazies with lots of spare time; let them have their role-play, they say, at some point it will become boring for them and they will move on to play ancient Egyptians or Romans. Maybe they will, but what if they won’t? Based on the above discussion, «nip it in the bud» is the only appropriate approach here. Consequently, we must defend Hellenism in the Here and Now. Anything else would be negligent. Undutiful towards our ancestors and unconscionable to future generations.
«Cultural appropriation … is not new to us Hellenes … The Christians used the same method to destroy and misuse Hellenismos or parts of the Hellenic tradition for their own needs (for example Platonism) … This ethnocentrism generated by ignorance and their colonialist attitude toward foreign cultures, especially the indigenous ones, is unacceptable since it endangers the revitalization of indigenous cultures. The Hellenes know what cultural expropriation and genocide look like. Therefore, we recognize the signs and know where this can lead.»
Brief extract from an article dated 15 November 2019
* Definition of cultural appropriation:
«the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect this culture.» (Cambridge Dictionary: cultural appropriation)
** The Indigenous peoples of America face the same threat, see: «Declaration of War Against Exploiters of Lakota Spirituality,» link: http://www.thepeoplespaths.net/articles/ladecwar.htm
*** Greek Cultural Appropriation – Molon Labe & Xenia Declaration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-Fnihzi3wY
**** Response to what is the Difference Between Hellenism, Hellenist, Hellenic, Hellene, and Hellenistic?: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWTfUcB9gRY