Tuesday 27 September 2016

Caricaturing of ordinary Greeks in the media is not fair

Published 03/07/2015 | 02:30

A man waits for part of his pension at a bank in Crete yesterday
A man waits for part of his pension at a bank in Crete yesterday

I am writing to various media outlets in the hope that the media onslaught against the Greek people might be looked at and thought about by those who write and report on the situation in Greece.

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I am personally concerned as my son, Nikolas Barr-Milonas, is half-Greek. He runs his own small graphic design business in Piraeus. Like all Greeks I know, he works far longer hours than your average French, German, Irish or UK worker, for far less money, pays more taxes and higher prices for fuel and, like all Greeks, is effectively without social health care or a social welfare safety net.

A good week's earning for 12-to-14-hour days, six days a week, is well below the "dole" in Ireland. Yet the cost of living is not that much cheaper. He is not by nature a "radical leftist" as he values economic stability like most business people. Yet it was he who today used the term "media terrorism" to describe what he sees on the international news channels on television, where huge anti-austerity protests are presented as pro-austerity protests. Most of the banners in these huge gatherings say 'Oxi'. Perhaps the English-speaking reports do not understand that this means 'No' in Greek. Perhaps they think it means 'okay'? Last week, he attended a conference on digital media in Amsterdam.

When he told people he was from Greece, most Dutch people said: "Oh yeah, where you all sit and drink iced coffee all day and don't pay tax." Naturally, he felt angry and shocked. This is a view of Greece constantly reinforced on TV and in the media.

Why are the media afraid to portray the truth about Greece? Is it laziness or something more sinister? Whichever it is, it is not ethical or humane.

Anne Barr

Baltimore, Co Cork


Saying no to mindless austerity

I'm pretty baffled with the European 'Union' at the moment. I find myself wondering what it all really means. We have Jean-Claude Juncker (someone not directly elected by any nation/nations in Europe and a lifelong politician with, as far as I know, no economic training) directly addressing the people of Greece, the birthplace of democracy, saying if they vote No to the bailout, they'd be saying No to "Europe". No they wouldn't, they'd be voting No to mindless austerity.

They're not even flogging a dead horse here, they're flogging a place where a dead horse used to lie.

What? More austerity will fix an economic depression exacerbated, if not caused, by austerity? That makes lots of sense.

Einstein's famous definition of insanity springs to mind.

Rob Sadlier

Rathfarnham, Dublin 16


Martina Devlin hit the nail on the head when she wrote that 'nobody was press-ganged into joining the EU' (July 1). Not even Greece. All members of the EU and the eurozone, Greece included, are there because they made democratic decisions to join. Greece's unsustainable debts were created by the decisions of Greece's own most powerful citizens over many years.

The majority of EU countries made democratic decisions to join the eurozone. Most of these countries kept to the policies which such a loss of control over currency entailed. A small number, Greece included, did not follow such policies. This had the consequence of those countries having to agree a bailout. The bailout funds were contributed to in billions by the taxpayers of other countries, including the poorest.

Greece has refused to keep to the agreement it made at the time of its bailout. Instead, its most powerful citizens blame everyone else for the consequences of their own actions.

Despite having been sitting across the table from the democratic representatives of all the countries who gave them billions, they are now threatening the taxpayers of all these countries with default on repayment.

Apologias for sympathy for the Greeks are all well and good but we should also continue to tell the Greeks the fact that 'nobody was press-ganged into joining the EU'.

A. Leavy

Sutton, Dublin 13


'Epidemic' of cyclists on paths

I commend Liam Collins for his suggestion (July 2) that cyclists be penalised for cycling on footpaths. It is at epidemic levels in Dublin 2 and most of them assume pedestrians will move out of the way for them - and some are annoyed when you don't!

Percy Boland

Ballsbridge, Dublin 4


The best news I ever heard - our Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe says that all cyclists can now cycle on footpaths!

That means we can now get rid of all the cycle lanes and give the roads back to the motorists who pay road tax.

John Coleman

Goatstown, Dublin


We mustn't blame all Muslims

In response to R Healy's claim (June 30) that the West will be forced to "annihilate" Islam to prevent the actions of extremists and jihadists, I would like to relay a story from Egypt in 2010, after an attack that left 21 Christians dead.

When Christians arrived at church for their Christmas Eve services a few days later, they were greeted by thousands of local Muslims who were there not to attack them, but to stand in solidarity with them and offer themselves as human shields for the entirety of the service.

The message was clear; in the words of one brave local, "We either live together, or we die together."

This is not the only example of Christians and Muslims standing together to fight for what is good and just. In Liberia, after nearly two decades of civil war and rule by tyrannical warlords, a woman named Leymah Roberta Gbowee started convincing other women - Muslims and Christians both - to stand up and demand an end to the war. As one voice, these brave women stood up to these bloodthirsty criminals and demanded that they negotiate a truce. In 2003, they succeeded. Liberia held its first democratic elections just two years later. There are countless other examples throughout history which show that, contrary to what many believe, Muslims are not incompatible with today's modern world. The ones who are in need of condemnation are the brutal and savage jihadists, not the ordinary men and women who want nothing to do with their atrocities. Treating the jihadists and warlords as if they speak for all of Islam serves no purpose other than to perpetuate ignorance and fear, two thing that the West can very much do without.

Sean Slattery

Newport, Co Tipperary


For the birds

With the general ban on smoking indoors, did I hear birds coughing recently?

Tom Gilsenan

Beaumont, Dublin

Irish Independent

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