Please find below:
(1) Excerpts from a highly disturbing November 28th opinion-editorial by R. C. Longworth in The Chicago Tribune;
(2) A joint letter of protest from the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) and the American Hellenic Media Project (AHMP) to the Tribune;
(3) Recipients of this distribution are urged to protest by phoning three desks at the Tribune;
(4) An op-ed by AHEPA's Supreme President and AHMP's Executive Director submitted for publication to the Tribune in response to Longworth's editorial; and
(5) The full text of Longworth's op-ed.
(for "fair use" and educational purposes only)
(1) Excerpts from a highly disturbing November 28th opinion-editorial by R. C. Longworth in The Chicago Tribune:
"Greece might be the last truly Balkan nation.. . . the Greeks seem determined to live up, or down, to the worst stereotypes of Balkan emotionalism. . . Greece lives on the southern tip of the Balkan peninsula, where Europe slides into the Islamic Middle East. It is a peasant land . . . its politics, food and music are closer to Istanbul or Damascus than to London or Paris. Passion too often dominates reason, and the Balkan disease--too much history, not enough vision--is endemic. . . a millennium of rule by Byzantine and Ottoman emperors meant that Greece, like Russia, missed all the great events . . . that created the skeptical and cooler Western mind. . . So it was barely 50 years ago that Greece's history diverged from the Balkan norm. For a half-century, it became allied to the West, first through NATO, then through the European Union. Fifty years, apparently, is not enough to shake off the Balkan mind-set--instinctive nationalism, brooding victimization, an obsession with history and a reflexive hostility toward neighbors--that inspired Serbia's assaults on the rest of the former Yugoslavia. . . Greece has been the most inconstant of allies, both within NATO (unlike Turkey, it avoids most military cooperation with its allies) and within the EU (other Europeans admit they are sorry they let the Greeks in) . . . These disputes keep Greeks in a ferment that boils over whenever there is trouble in the region, as there was over Kosovo. Blame is quickly assigned to the cause of this trouble--in this case Clinton and the Muslim Kosovars. Reason takes a holiday and demonstrators take to the streets. . . In a post-Cold War world, Greece could be a luxury the West no longer can afford. There are Balkan countries including Bulgaria and Romania that are eager to join the West, in every sense, and gave NATO much more help in the Kosovo war than did the Greeks. It is legitimate for the West to tell the Greeks that it saved them from Stalin and protected them from Turkey and that it expects more in return than tantrums. . . Most Balkan states, except for Serbia, clearly want to join the West. The Greeks already are there, but only precariously and perhaps temporarily. Poised between Europe and the Middle East, they haven't really decided where they belong. One day, their exasperated allies may settle the issue for them."
-- The Chicago Tribune, "Whose Side are Greeks On, Anyway?", R.C. Longworth, 11/28/99.
(2) A joint letter from the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) and the American Hellenic Media Project (AHMP) to the Tribune:
via fax, post & e-mail
November 30, 1999
Dear Ms. Lipinski [Managing Editor]:
Your senior writer R. C. Longworth's November 28th attack against Greeks "Whose side are the Greeks on anyway?" contained a number of serious errors and misrepresentations of fact.
More alarmingly, we have received a flood of e-mails and calls expressing deep concern about the bigoted nature of Mr. Longworth's editorial. Such ethnic-bating founded upon derogatory stereotypes and ethnic slurs should have no place in a newspaper of The Tribune's standing. Would the Tribune have applied the same derogatory terms against Hispanics, Jews, Italians, African-Americans or other racial or ethnic groups, accusing them of "reflexive hostility", extreme "emotionalism", and "instinctive nationalism"? Would the Tribune have published an editorial that characterized any of these groups as "wildly anti-American", "irresponsible", or as people who have "tantrums" and who are from "a peasant land" where "reason takes a holiday" and where "passion too often dominates reason" in comparison with "the skeptical and cooler Western mind"? If this does not constitute racist stereotyping, then what does?
The Tribune's publication of this piece violated the codes of ethics of the American Journalists Association, the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the International Federation of Journalists, and other basic tenets of responsible journalism (e.g., the ethics code of the Society of Professional Journalists maintains that 'journalists should avoid stereotyping by ethnicity').
Mr. Longworth's editorial was in sum and substance a hostile, anti-hellenic propaganda piece clinging to outdated stereotypes of a nation that has evolved into one of the most progressive in Europe. Moreover, Mr. Longworth evinced little insight into the geopolitical realities of the Balkans, and painted a decidedly misleading picture of modern Greece.
The Tribune owes it to its reputation, its readership, and to those concerned about fairness and ethical conduct by our media to provide some balance on these issues and afford equal space to an intelligent and informative alternative view. To this end we have enclosed a submission for publication that will offer your readers a far more responsible perspective of the important issues so poorly and misleadingly addressed by Mr. Longworth.
Please expect our call early next week as we will also be contacting Messrs. Tyner and Smith to see how this issue can be expeditiously and fairly remedied. Thank you in advance for your consideration and we look forward to discussing this serious matter with you further.
Very truly yours,
George J. Dariotis, Supreme President
American Hellenic Educational Progressive Ass'n
P. D. Spyropoulos, Executive Director
American Hellenic Media Project
cc: Howard Tyner, Scott Smith, R. C. Longworth, Marcia Lythcott
(3) Recipients are urged to protest Mr. Longworth's editorial and demand a comparable opportunity for the publication of an informed alternative view by:
(i) phoning and leaving a message with the following three desks at the Tribune:
Howard Tyner, Editor
Ann Marie Lipinski, Managing Editor
Scott Smith, Publisher
(ii) e-mailing a brief note of protest to:
ChiEd@aol.com; DWycliff@tribune.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; OJim43@aol.com; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; SChapman@tribune.com; DDonovan@tribune.com; ALanier@tribune.com; JMcCarron@tribune.com; CPage@tribune.com; BillPark@aol.com; SRowley@tribune.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Ann Marie Lipinski, Managing Editor
The Chicago Tribune
435 North Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
(iii) and forwarding this protest to three or more friends, colleagues or concerned individuals or organizations.
(4) An op-ed by AHEPA's Supreme President and AHMP's Executive Director submitted for publication to the Tribune:
by George J. Dariotis and P. D. Spyropoulos
U.S. press coverage has largely misconstrued the nature of Greek protests that contributed to President Clinton's decision to shorten his visit to Greece. Characterizations of the protests as anti-American or as stemming from nationalist sentiments are founded upon outdated notions of a country that has in fact matured into among the most progressive, stabilizing and globally-oriented members of the European Union.
Although caricatured by some as reflexively pro-Serb and anti-Albanian, Greece took in more Albanian refugees from Kosovo than any other EU country. While the Greeks were among the most vocal in opposing NATO's use of force against civilian targets in Yugoslavia, they were also among the most outspoken in demanding the return of all Albanian refugees to their homes in Kosovo.
A stalwart NATO and EU member, Greece has served as a valuable bridge between the West and Eastern Europe, and has taken a leadership role in both stabilizing and democratizing its region using a sophisticated mix of economic and diplomatic incentives.
The same humanitarian concerns that underlay Greece's opposition to our bombing of Yugoslavia resulted in the outpouring of support by Greeks for the victims of Turkey's devastating August earthquake -- ushering in the much-heralded seismic thaw in Greco-Turkish relations after Turkey reciprocated by helping Athenian victims of a smaller quake three weeks later. This is not chauvinistic nationalism but forward-thinking globalism.
Which brings us to the crux of what so many in the US media seem to have overlooked: that Greek sentiments have not been so much anti-American as anti-war, opposing an excessive and unnecessary use of force that targeted civilians and razed a neighboring country's infrastructure under the pretext of humanitarian intervention, while utilizing Orwellian disinformation tactics to garner popular support.
Rather than look towards outdated stereotypes of Greeks as anti-American nationalists to explain growing opposition to US policies in the region, a more sober analysis would reveal that many other Europeans, as well as a growing number of Americans, have recognized that our government's Balkan policy is impairing rather than reinforcing humanitarian and democratic ideals there.
Our acquiescence to Turkey's military adventurism in the Aegean Sea, Cyprus and Iraq – while pooh-poohing Turkey's severe human rights abuses against its Kurdish, Orthodox Christian and other minorities as well as against its own dissenting citizens – registers strong disapproval with most Greeks, who see a discrediting double-standard being applied in our foreign policy.
Unlike any of its neighbors, Greece has fought on the side of the US in every major conflict since 1821, when Greeks declared their independence from a brutally repressive Ottoman state.
During World War II, the Greeks paid dearly for their allegiance to the democratic West with hundreds of thousands of lives. Greece delivered the Allies their first victory by repelling Mussolini's invading troops, and the Greeks' tenacious resistance delayed Germany's Russian offensive for months, forcing a winter invasion that devastated the German army and marked the war's most decisive turning point.
Despite their fiery demonstrations, Greeks continue to share a deeply-held allegiance to America and its democratic vision for our world. Current Greek frustration with the US stems from the fact that our foreign policy has increasingly served to undermine this vision for the sake of short-sighted, parochial and decidedly un-American agendas.
This has led to a vocal minority of Greeks exercising one of their most fundamental rights under a democratic system, just as a vocal minority of Americans did during the Vietnam war: their right to dissent. This should not be used as a flog to punish Greece but should be tolerated if not encouraged as a touchstone of a healthy and functioning democracy.
As in any open society, the excesses of a small minority of extremists in Greece who abused their right to free speech by rioting and destroying property is a small price to pay for the freedoms that are guaranteed both American and Greek citizens alike. A look at how authorities in Turkey dealt with peaceful demonstrators during Clinton's visit there should serve as a sobering foil.
While Clinton praised Turkey before its Grand National Assembly for its "commitment to democracy", outside more than 100 protesters were beaten and arrested simply for chanting slogans like "Yankee, go home" and "Get lost Clinton". Indeed, unlike in Greece, there were no large-scale protests. Yet we have to ask ourselves: is this how we want to enforce pro-American sentiment abroad?
Rather than earn the support of kindred democracies the hard way, through consensus-building nurtured by prudent and balanced foreign policies, our dictating compliance through undemocratic governments has served to undermine America's credibility, and thus its ability to take a leadership role into the next millennium. Worse yet, as with our disastrous Iranian, Iraqi and Pakistani foreign policies, this short-sighted strategy will inevitably boomerang to damage vital US interests and help breed virulent anti-American extremists.
However much we may disagree with an opposing view, our tolerance of dissent measures the worth of our own democracy. The same holds true of our commitment to democracy outside our borders.
By dismissing popular Greek and European opposition to our use of force in the Balkans, we are losing out on another important opportunity: to learn from criticism by trusted allies who are as committed to a global vision of democracy as we are.
George J. Dariotis is the Supreme President of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), the largest Hellenic-American fraternal organization with more than 60,000 members throughout North America. AHEPA was founded in 1922 to combat civil rights discrimination and to advance democratic American and Hellenic ideals. AHEPA's mission is to promote the ideals of Hellenism, education, philanthropy, civic responsibility, and family and individual excellence.
P. D. Spyropoulos, Esq. is the Executive Director of the American Hellenic Media Project, a non-profit think-tank created to address bias in the media and encourage independent, ethical and responsible journalism. Letters, commentaries and op-eds by Mr. Spyropoulos have been published in The Baltimore Sun, The Boston Globe, The Christian Science Monitor, The Daily Telegraph, The Dallas Morning News, The Economist, El Nuevo Herald (Miami), Forbes Global, The Fresno Bee, The Irish Times, The Miami Herald, The New Jersey Star-Ledger, New York Newsday, The New York Post, The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, The Orlando Sentinel, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Plain Dealer, The St. Petersburg-Times (Fla.), The Tampa Tribune, The Toronto Sun, U.S.A Today, The Village Voice, The Washington Times, and World Press Review.
American Hellenic Educational Progressive
1909 Q Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
American Hellenic Media Project
PO Box 1150
New York, NY 10028-0008
(5) The full text of Longworth's op-ed:
The Chicago Tribune
November 28, 1999
WHOSE SIDE ARE GREEKS ON, ANYWAY?
By R.C. Longworth.
R.C. Longworth is a Tribune senior writer
Greece might be the last truly Balkan nation.
At a time when the ex-communist nations of the Balkans are trying to move closer to the West, when countries such as Romania and Bulgaria are struggling with democracy and the market, when Albanians are wildly pro-American and even Serbs wonder how they can get rid of Slobodan Milosevic and move out of their Balkan isolation--at a time like this, the Greeks seem determined to live up, or down, to the worst stereotypes of Balkan emotionalism.
That's odd, because Greece is the one Balkan country that never belonged to the Soviet bloc. It is the only Balkan country that belongs to NATO and the European Union, and it is by far the richest and luckiest country in its unlucky region. On top of that, there is a large, prosperous and productive Greek-American community that is a credit to both countries.
So Americans could be forgiven for wondering what was going on when thousands of Greeks took to the streets with flags and firebombs this month to protest President Clinton's visit.
There were threats, which had to be taken seriously because bombing of American targets is a regular feature of Greek life. There were crude graffiti--"Adolf Clinton," "US = Fascism"--and angry editorials in so-called centrist newspapers equating the United States and NATO to the Nazi regime.
Clinton probably was sorry he agreed to go to Athens. But, making the best of a bad situation, he shortened his planned two-day stay to spend just 22 hours there, safe behind the heaviest security of his trip. But like many Americans these days, he probably left Greece wondering, "Whose side are these people on anyway?"
It has been noted that Greece might have invented the West but has never truly belonged to it. At the moment, it seems farther than ever from its allies, both European and American.
During the war over Kosovo, public opinion polls showed 96 percent of Greeks opposed the war and NATO's action there. Bombs exploded at American-owned hotels and offices in Greece. Nightly demonstrations, complete with pro-Serb signs and cotton candy stands, filled Syntagma Square in the heart of Athens. Television stations and every Athens newspaper, all wildly anti-American, covered the demonstrations lavishly, as they did the NATO bombing of Serbia; the Kosovar refugees were all but ignored.
"Your president is a butcher," one young woman in Athens told me during the Kosovo war, and if any Greeks disagreed, they weren't saying so out loud.
Oddly enough, the Greek government voted with the other NATO allies to approve the bombing and, throughout the war, provided steady if passive support for the NATO action.
Odder still, Prime Minister Costas Simitis' pro-NATO attitude was politically popular. You would think any government that pursued a policy opposed by 96 percent of the people would pay a price, but the public approval ratings for Simitis actually went up during the war.
There's a rather cynical method in this oddity, and it tells how far Greece still must travel to leave the Balkans behind.
Greece lives on the southern tip of the Balkan peninsula, where Europe slides into the Islamic Middle East. It is a peasant land with a glorious antiquity, but a more recent past of conquest, loss, bloodshed and bitterness. Its politics, food and music are closer to Istanbul or Damascus than to London or Paris. Passion too often dominates reason, and the Balkan disease--too much history, not enough vision--is endemic.
American author Robert Kaplan, who lived in Greece, wrote that a millennium of rule by Byzantine and Ottoman emperors meant that Greece, like Russia, missed all the great events--the Reformation, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment-- that created the skeptical and cooler Western mind.
In addition, Greece, like other Balkan nations, feels itself the plaything of the great powers, forever contested and abused by nations stronger than itself. Once ruled by Rome, it also spent nearly 400 years under Ottoman rule. Italy and Germany conquered it in World War II. In the civil war that followed, only American aid--the Truman Plan--kept it from becoming, like its northern neighbors, a communist country.
So it was barely 50 years ago that Greece's history diverged from the Balkan norm. For a half-century, it became allied to the West, first through NATO, then through the European Union. Fifty years, apparently, is not enough to shake off the Balkan mind-set--instinctive nationalism, brooding victimization, an obsession with history and a reflexive hostility toward neighbors--that inspired Serbia's assaults on the rest of the former Yugoslavia.
When the civil war ended, the United States became Greece's protector and benefactor and, hence, the focus of its resentments. Greeks are convinced that Washington connived in the 1967 coup by Greek colonels that brought seven years of crude fascism. They are sure that Washington encouraged Turkey in its 1974 invasion of Cyprus, even though that invasion was touched off by a pro-Greek uprising on the island. They see the NATO war against Serbia not as retribution for Serb oppression of the Kosovars, but as another case of great powers beating up on Greece's fellow Eastern Orthodox worshipers in Belgrade.
Washington might not be blameless. It certainly did business with the colonels' regime and could not keep Turkey, another NATO ally, from invading Cyprus. But the conventional wisdom in Greece puts all the blame on the United States and rejects any Greek responsibility for these events.
It is perhaps this refusal to take responsibility for its own affairs, to blame everything on outsiders, that makes Greece the quintessential Balkan nation. It also explains Greece's schizophrenic attitude toward NATO during the Kosovo war.
As many Greek analysts explain, Greece didn't join NATO to help provide for a common Western defense, but to get shelter against Turkey, its great enemy to the east. If both countries weren't in NATO, they probably would have gone to war in the past half-century, and Turkey would have won.
So there is no basic understanding of NATO's greater mission, and no sense of responsibility for strengthening NATO.
If Greece truly objected to NATO bombing of Serbia, it should have quit NATO. This was never even suggested, even by the hotly anti-American Communist Party that still draws 7 percent or 8 percent of the vote. The reason is that this would leave Greece naked before Turkey, and protection from Turkey is Greece's reason for membership.
Simitis balanced all of this by backing NATO strongly enough to keep Washington and Brussels content while enabling his compatriots to rail against NATO, knowing no one took them seriously. Greeks admired this balancing act and so applauded a policy that, in public, 96 percent of them condemned.
Greece has been the most inconstant of allies, both within NATO (unlike Turkey, it avoids most military cooperation with its allies) and within the EU (other Europeans admit they are sorry they let the Greeks in). EU aid accounts for 3 percent of Greek national income, but the Greeks are the only EU nation with an economy too shabby to qualify for membership in the EU's single currency, the euro.
In an odd way, the West's success in protecting Greece from communism has only made things worse. From 1981 to 1989, during communism's dying years, Greece was led by Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou, once an American citizen and Northwestern University economics professor, who coddled terrorists, courted Libya's Moammar Gadhafi and Romania's Nicolae Ceausescu, and called America "the metropolis of imperialism."
When communism fell, Greek citizens traveled north to countries such as Bulgaria and Romania to see what they missed under NATO protection. It was a shock--but not a big enough one to cause any soul-searching.
"They understood that we were lucky to be with the West," said a journalist in Athens who laughed at this attitude while admitting he wouldn't dream of criticizing it in print. "But nobody says publicly that we were lucky. Most people here are left-wing and it's hard to say this."
Greeks often complain they are the only NATO nation whose boundaries are not secure. Like most Balkan nations but unlike the West Europeans, Greece both despises and fears its neighbors. Greece and Turkey have a serious dispute over Aegean islands. But Greece also sees territorial threats from Albania and Macedonia, two economic basket cases that couldn't begin to threaten the Greeks.
These disputes keep Greeks in a ferment that boils over whenever there is trouble in the region, as there was over Kosovo. Blame is quickly assigned to the cause of this trouble--in this case Clinton and the Muslim Kosovars. Reason takes a holiday and demonstrators take to the streets.
In a post-Cold War world, Greece could be a luxury the West no longer can afford. There are Balkan countries including Bulgaria and Romania that are eager to join the West, in every sense, and gave NATO much more help in the Kosovo war than did the Greeks. It is legitimate for the West to tell the Greeks that it saved them from Stalin and protected them from Turkey and that it expects more in return than tantrums.
Most Balkan states, except for Serbia, clearly want to join the West. The Greeks already are there, but only precariously and perhaps temporarily. Poised between Europe and the Middle East, they haven't really decided where they belong. One day, their exasperated allies may settle the issue for them.
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