It was only a matter of time
On Tuesday, Manolis Kantaris, 44, was fatally stabbed while preparing to take his pregnant wife to the hospital. The next day, Ioannis Kafkas, 31, was hospitalized in critical condition after suffering serious injuries during an anti-austerity rally in Athens. The slaying of Kantaris, allegedly carried out by three illegal immigrants, and then the beating by members of the MAT riot squad were not random incidents. They were products of their specific circumstances, thus more like accidents waiting to happen. Daily acts of theft, robberies, injuries and rapes are not always reported on television news bulletins, but they are still real and have for quite some time been presaging this week’s serious incidents. Similarly, it was only a matter of time before MAT officers’ violent habits resulted in tragedy. Sadly, while the state has failed to protect the public’s safety in the center of Athens, it did not hesitate to employ excess force to disperse a rather peaceful rally. In fact, the state has suffered a double blow. Of course society did not experience it in this way. In a clear sign that people’s democratic loyalties are in decline, groups from both the far left and the far right readily provided ideological interpretations of these two tragic events. Kantaris’s killing is a blow to the politically correct ideologues who refuse to see the dramatic consequences of mass immigration, particularly on the middle class. Kantaris’s death does not fit into their preordained ideological scheme. Because it can’t turn a blind eye to the killing, the left has taken the death out of context, treating it as an isolated incident which could have happened anywhere at anytime. In contrast, members of the extreme right have exploited the anger prompted by the killing to advance their own racist agenda. They ran after and beat any immigrant they met in their path. If there is evidence that they are responsible for the death yesterday of a Bangladeshi man, then we can talk about a new phase of blind race-motivated conflict – generat- ed by the absence of any official migration policy. The Kafkas beating, meanwhile, has infuriated the left. This group sees his case as vindication of their repeated allegations of state violence. For people on the far right of the political spectrum, the police beating was just collateral damage. Sure, they feel sorry about the incident, but that’s about it. Different perspectives that stem from different ideologies are inevitable in a democratic society. But there are limits. And these have been violated. The fact is that the two dramatic events have inspired two rival protest rallies and conflicts, as if the Kantaris killing was juxtaposed against the Kafkas beating.