[MGSA-L] Fwd: Golden Dawn Abuse of History: Sparta

DANIEL P. Tompkins pericles at temple.edu
Mon Dec 29 21:54:56 PST 2014

Thanks to Mr. McInerney.  Doing the stratigraphy on this thread, I note
that I'm the person who introduced, and the only one who used, "nasty," in
reference to Alexander Clapp's essay.  I also said it was "fine," which
leaves me in a gridlock of epithets for which I alone am responsible.

I did and do think it was a *fine* essay, a textured, detailed presentation
of the daily activity of Golden Dawn.  "Nasty" was my response to Katsetos'
critique, referring to comments in the Clapp essay like this:

In some parts of the Mani, 50 per cent of the villagers have voted for the
party. 'Maniatika', a section of Piraeus settled by Maniot families in the
1950s, is probably the most Dawn-heavy neighbourhood in the whole of
Greece. No other far-right Greek party - LAOS, Independent Greeks - has a
regional backing of this sort.

I should have said not "nasty" but  "harshly negative," which is
appropriate for the comment above, and somewhat distinguishes it from the
Hodkinson-Cartledge letter.   I apologize for using language carelessly.

I think Mr. Gavrilidis' comment,  that  Golden Dawn's "highest score" was
"in Lakonia (15,48%)," requires attention, because it indicates that *84.52%
of Lakonians did not support the party*, and can't be accused of
subscribing to its ideology (which is presented quite vividly on this video
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ejm-nmOwW9A> -- to which readers can
supply their own epithets).

I have looked for, but not found, a village that gave 50% support to Golden
Dawn.  It would be worthwhile to have a source for that particular claim.

Looking back over the thread, I see many positives:  several people
expertly and correctly pointed out that Golden Dawn falsely claims
connection with ancient Sparta;  Mr. Clapp has shown us Golden Dawn in
action, and pointed to its claimed favored region in Greece, and Mr.
Gavrilidis has backed that up with data, while Mr. Katsetos has warned
 that Lakonia as a whole should not be smeared -- as the 84.52% figure

I've benefited from all of these posts, including Mr. McInerney's, and am
glad to acknowledge my own error, which risks distracting us from the
really important topic of the surge in extreme right-wing groups, some with
troubling international connections
in several European countries.


Dan Tompkins

On Mon, Dec 29, 2014 at 7:15 PM, Jeremy McInerney <jmcinern at sas.upenn.edu>

>  Sir/Madam,
> I am writing to protest the characterization (see below) of Alex Clapp's
> comments regarding the Mani as 'nasty'. His report, which involved
> considerable risk to his person in order to expose the thuggery of a Nazi
> ogranization, had the merit of contextualizing Golden Dawn's appeal to a
> specific setting. Rather than depicting all Greeks as fascists, which they
> clearly are not, he attempted to show that the roots of this murderous,
> xenophobic extemist group are historically grounded in a territory with a
> strong tradition of independence. A comparison might be explaining
> America's abiding problems with gun violence by contextualizing the 2nd
> Amendment in relation to the formative influence of events at the time of
> the American Revolution. Doing so does not amount to saying nasty things
> about America; it amounts to trying to understand a peculiarity of American
> society.
> That the Mani is also home to a great poetic tradition-- a point stressed
> by Alex's critic-- is as relevant to his analysis of the regional roots of
> Golden Dawn as the fact that Nazism was a German ideology and that
> Hölderlin was a German; that is to say, it is irrelevant.
> Alex Clapp is a well educated Hellenophile, who has immersed himself in
> Greek culture and has explored a region known to too few outside Greece. It
> is not coincidental that Alex is fascinated by the late, great Patrick
> Leigh Fermor, another writer who gave some of us our first taste of
> Maniotika. Through his essay, Clapp has permitted many of us to reach a
> deeper understanding of Golden Dawn, a monstrous organization that brings
> discredit to the Greece that we love. He should be thanked for his
> journalism and admired for his courage, rather than criticized by those so
> thin-skinned as to think that anything less than whole-hearted admiration
> of everything Greek is tantamout to betrayal.
> Greece deserves better than Golden Dawn, and Alex Clapp deserves better
> than the carping criticisms of smart-arses who have never stood up to
> fascist thuggery.
> Jeremy McInerney
>   *From:* "DANIEL P. Tompkins" <pericles at temple.edu>
> *Date:* December 26, 2014 at 4:11:32 PM EST
> *To:* "Christos D. Katsetos" <cd_katsetos at yahoo.com>, MGSA MGSA List <
> mgsa-l at uci.edu>, "DANIEL P. TOMPKINS" <pericles at temple.edu>
> *Subject:* *Re: [MGSA-L] Golden Dawn Abuse of History: Sparta*
>   Thanks for this useful comment on Lakonia.  I'm glad to have it.
>  Checking back over the documents at the start of this exchange, I see
> that Cartledge and Hodkinson aren't nasty about the Mani.  That is the work
> of Alexander Clapp <http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n23/alexander-clapp/diary>,
> who gives specifics about Golden Dawn enrollments and reception, e.g. in
> elections.  I've no idea whether these claims are accurate or inaccurate,
> and would welcome further information.
> --
> Jeremy McInerney
> Davidson Kennedy Professor
> Dept of Classical Studies
> University of Pennsylvania
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