file under: don’t you dare think it doesn’t happen in the United States too.
You may have missed this, if you live in the United States. A Greek (male) politician named Ilias Kasidiaris attacked two female rivals on television: He slapped one woman, three times, and threw water in the face of another. Kasidiaris is a spokesperson for the far right Golden Dawn Party, a party which, as the British newspaper The Guardian explains, marches behind a flag that closely resembles the Nazi swastika and features members who regularly greet each other with variations on a Nazi salute. Golden Dawn is, by all indications, a neo-Nazi party and it is on the rise in Greece.
Kasidiaris is the spokesperson for Golden Dawn. And, on live television, he threw a glass of water at one female, left-wing politician and slapped–it seems more accurate to say punched–another female, left-wing politician. And, a week later, his party took just under 7% of the vote in a national election.
In the video below, Kasidiaris–a former army commando–clearly comes across as the schoolyard bully picking on people he perceives as weaker than he is. His victims do not fight back; instead, the show’s host attempts to intervene (nonviolently) and the show quickly cuts to commercial. (Kasidiaris was apparently confined to a room in the studio, and he is missing from the table when the show reconvenes.)
Golden Dawn is a party rife with bullies. And it’s not alone. Here in the United States, far-right parties use their platforms to attack people who can’t or choose not to fight back: Illegal immigrants (who can’t speak up for fear of persecution and prosecution). Legal immigrants whose first language is not English (who can’t speak up because of a language barrier). These parties seek targets they believe will not fight back: Gays (because of a perception that gays–especially gay men, who are portrayed as the biggest threat–are too effeminate to defend themselves). Women (because they’re “the weaker sex”).
If you’re the kind of person who’s predisposed to bullying behavior, it feels good to bully. It feels empowering. It feels like nothing else. Then there are those of us who believe you don’t fight bullying with any form of violence–physical, verbal, or emotional. So we get to feel good about ourselves for doing the “right thing,” while all the bullies see is that nobody’s retaliating.
And this, this is why bullies continue to bully. Because nobody stops them. Nobody tells them to stop being an asshole. It’s as true in the schoolyard as it is in politics.