Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

They Said It Couldn't Happen Again but Greek Extremists Remind Me of Rise of Nazis

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

They Said It Couldn't Happen Again but Greek Extremists Remind Me of Rise of Nazis

Article excerpt


SANDI Toksvig and crew were having a laugh on the News Quiz about the situation in Greece. I don't find it funny. It's not just the Greek economy, although we'll all feel the fall-out when they go down. Golden Dawn, a right-wing extremist party, flickered to life in Greece in the 1990s then disappeared. Most commentators consider it to be both neo-Nazi and fascist. In 2007 it re-emerged. Now it has 21 seats in the Greek parliament.

That means that Golden Dawn has grown from a small and extreme anti-immigration group to a widely-reported political party in just five years. It uses the Nazi salute, its charter puts the leader in total control of the party, and I find it eerily reminiscent of the rise of Hitler and the Nazi party after Germany fell into the financial disarray which now afflicts Greece.

German voters needed a mountain of currency to buy a loaf of bread and followed anyone who promised them something better. Greeks may soon know that same hunger. After the defeat of Hitler, everyone said such a thing could never happen again. Since I watched Golden Dawn strutting its stuff, I'm not so sure.

AT the time of the London riots I wrote of my embarrassment that my young Polish driver was repeatedly phoned by his mother, begging him to come home.

The idea that foreigners should fear for their children while in Britain was upsetting.

Now I'm wondering what American parents will think of the way the attacker of a young American student was treated by a British court.

Accounts manager Claire Stephens, 23, attacked student Rachel Spikula after the pair knocked into each other on the dance floor at a London club. The American national was rushed to hospital after Stephens thrust a broken glass into her neck and severed an artery. If an ambulance hadn't been passing, Rachel might well have died.

She now has three arteries feeding her brain rather than four, suffers from significant loss of concentration and will have to have continuing treatment and angiograms.

In spite of that, describing Stephens as a decent, hardworking young woman, the judge gave her a 10-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered her to pay compensation.

Do decent, hardworking young women use glasses as weapons? Rachel Spikula will suffer the after-effects of her injury for life. I'm sure Stephens is full of contrition now but I doubt American parents, contemplating sending student offspring to Britain, will consider that her punishment fitted the crime.

Contrast it with the sentence handed out last week to student Laura Johnson, 20, who drove looters around London during the riots. She was convicted of taking goods from a Comet store and handling a stolen television from a Curry's outlet. For that offence she received two years in jail and the University of Exeter is considering whether or not she can then resume her studies. …

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