By Giannis Panousis
Racist attitudes towards immigrants affect (and “color”) the immigration integration policy and legislation. To the ‘from the inside outsiders” (fringes) are added the victims of a peculiar criminalization and repression.
The (racist) attitude/perception of social discrimination and persecution does not only concern the intrahuman relations, but also impinges in political discourse and state laws. Even Justice is not always “racially neutral and colorless”.
Despite the fact that in our country there has not been an established discrimination in the treatment of those belonging to another race in regard to immigration, this does not mean we are ready to recognize to foreigners, civil, social and political rights, and so for this reason we leave them for a long time in a legal and (real) inside/outside situation.
But by refusing to “others” the right to exist, we also accept – among other things – the risks of others not wanting us to exist (either).
Their identity cannot be established with the “renunciation of their past”. Historicity and perspective should coexist . The then, the now and the tomorrow jointly construct the cultural identity.
The absortive power of the open and hospitable greek society as a place of immigrant reception, depends on the occasionally adopted policy. The identification/assimilation as a means of adjustment, must take into account the cultural elements of the immigrants; integration does not expropriate the roots of origin, while multiculturalism presupposes mutual recognition of the right to cultural diversity and difference .
Depending on the immigration policy or the ‘identities of the immigrants’, their legal status is formed, which begins from the minimum rights of those who have entered illegally, to the recognition even of political rights. (especially in the second generation).
It takes positive measures/positive discrimination (affirmative action) for integration. Measures that will not occur through bureaucratic procedures, but from the sincere negotiation with the migrants themselves. Equal opportunities for participation constitute a good start to overcome the racist behavior, even that of the government agencies. The same goes if the Parliament formed a Permanent Committee Against Racism and Discrimination , which would submit annual reports and recommendations. The role of the Ombudsman is positive, but does not contribute to big political decisions.
The nationalist rhetoric and the word of hatred not only highlight a moral mistake, but also a dangerous ignorance of the political and historical conjuncture.
We, therefore, ascertain a crisis of Enlightenment that also lies hidden in the guilty conscience of modern intellectuals and is expressed in the phobic Media, which contribute to an “organized operation of innocence”.
Migrants acquire – usually through the Media – a social and cultural identity, which is usually given a negative meaning, informally but with a crucial communicative force. Identity and diversity are becoming the subject of communicative myths and the creation of validity disorients on occasion/event .
The television “speech” that refers to the immigrants constitute a gray area between reality and ethnocentric rhetoric. The media image of the immigrant is an idol that instead of facilitating the creation of trans- identities, enhances the contrasts and differences or exacerbate the traumatic memories of the past.
The myth-creating nature of the fear of a national group – even in conditions of globalization – towards “others” is reduced only through the legal and political measures that sometimes hide and sometimes reveal the need to be governed by “the law of blood” against all kinds of “barbarians”. To “be”, however, is not the same neither with to “be born’ nor with to “exist”.
It is with democracy, sensitivity, solidarity that we will tackle this phenomenon and not with cries of hatred.
We will respect them and they will respect us.
This will be the new “Mosaic Law” of panhuman ecumenicality.
*Giannis Panousis is a forensics professor in the Department of Communication and Media Studies, in the University of Athens. He has served as director of the Forensic Science Laboratory of Thrace Law School (1985-1997), Dean of the Democritus University of Thrace (1994-1997) and as Secretary General of the Greeks Abroad. He has also published dozens of articles in scientific journals both in Greece and abroad, and frequently writes in the daily and periodical press. He is an MP of the Democratic Left party in the A’ Athens district.