Culture Clash

Race Cost Her the Race

July 31, 2012

Multiple Pages
Race Cost Her the Race

Voula Papachristou isn’t all Greek to me.

What I mean is, the triple-jumper’s blonde locks look downright Swedish. My experience with Hellenic femininity begins and ends with Toronto’s Danforth Avenue, where the wide-bodied waitresses toiling beneath Greektown’s blue-and-white café canopies display hair that’s considerably darker (and more, shall we say, widely distributed).

I loathe the Olympics, so I’m only familiar with Papachristou because the Greek athlete was expelled from the Games just before they began for Tweeting this “racist” joke:

With so many Africans in Greece… At least the mosquitoes of West Nile .. will eat home made food!

I’m impressed. Along with being decidedly hirsute, those Doric damsels up on “the Danforth” aren’t renowned for their Delphic outbursts. Voula’s comment therefore comes as a pleasant surprise, cleverly comparing the unloved migrants swarming her homeland to literal bloodsuckers.

It’s pretty rich watching Eurotrash athletic officialdom condemning a lowly member of their EU cohort for racism. After all, this same species of international sports overseers regularly shrugs off such edifying spectacles as “monkey chants,” banana-throwing, and anthem-jeering.

And that’s just some soccer stuff from this year alone.

Papachristou’s supporters countered without success that the poor girl’s joke was directed at a “nationality,” not a “race” at all. Other pedantic appeals cited the very “Olympic Creed” Papachristou had supposedly violated, which says a grand total of nothing about an athlete’s political views.

“Never mind that the Olympics pit nation against nation.”

And make no mistake: It was Voula Papachristou’s voting habits (revealed in earlier Tweets) that ultimately cost her the opportunity to live out her lifelong dream. Almost every news story about her ouster mentioned her alleged support for Greece’s “anti-immigrant” Golden Dawn Party.

Golden Dawn’s hostility toward newcomers supposedly violates the spirit of the Games. Never mind that the Olympics pit nation against nation, and so a patriotic Greek should be forgiven for daring to wonder when Greece will stop being Greece, given the steady influx of those officially referred to as “foreigners.”

Toronto’s Danforth embodied the emigration wave from Greece to Canada that peaked in 1967. Today, Greece is on the receiving end of immigration that includes thousands of African migrant workers. Hence Papachristou’s Tweet.

Wikipedia helpfully provides this list of distinguished “Black African immigrants to Greece”:

• Daniel Batista Lima - Soccer player
• Yvette Jarvis - Former basketball player
• Nestoras Kommatos - professional basketball player
• Sofoklis Schortsanitis - professional basketball player
• Isaias Matiaba - Singer
• Nery Mantey Niangkouara - former swimmer
• MC Yinka - Rapper

In other words, so far these immigrants make the same “contributions” to their new homes that make Black History Month the world over seem three weeks too long.

When asked how best to arrest a nation’s economic meltdown, neither Milton Friedman nor John Maynard Keynes ever prescribed “more rappers and basketball players.”

Golden Dawn is one of those European parties one frequently hears described as “neo-Nazi“ and “extremist.” These labels, reflexively applied for years by panic-stricken elite media liberals, are becoming comically inaccurate. Geert Wilders’s “fringe” Party for Freedom recently became the third biggest in the Dutch Parliament. Another third-place finish, this time for France’s “far right” presidential candidate Marine Le Pen of the National Front, prompted a predictable outbreak of Captain Renault impersonations by Gallic media mavens.

It’s amusing to watch irony-depleted journalists desperately asking each other what makes all these “extreme right-wing fringe” parties so, er, popular. Their anti-immigration platforms aside, these parties sound pretty much like old-timey big-government socialists to North American observers.

Sometimes the amusement stems not so much from the “far right” part than the “fringe” bit. In 1987, Canada’s Stephen Harper helped found the “extreme right wing” Reform Party. Then he became leader of that party’s new iteration, the “far-right fringe” Canadian Alliance. Twenty-five years and one more name change after he started, Harper’s Conservative Party now presides over a majority Parliament.

Given that trajectory, watch for Voula Papachristou to be appointed Minister of Sport in the Greek Parliament in 2036. Then, in her new official capacity, watch her get sent to the Olympics.

That is, if Greece survives that long. When expelling Papachristou, Greek Olympic Committee President Isidoros Kouvelos sniffed haughtily:

She made a mistake and in life we pay for our mistakes.

Except when Germany pays for them.

Then beats you at soccer.

Right, Greece?

As for Toronto’s Greektown, get off at the Pape subway stop and grab a delectable souvlaki while you still can. Every year, restaurant by restaurant, another block’s blue-and-white awnings disappear, replaced by neon signs advertising “HALAL MEAT” (which somehow manages to come off as both a promise and a threat).

The women pushing strollers along that stretch of the Danforth may be blonde, raven-haired, or even bald for all I know. They’re wearing niqabs.


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