My name is Eliza Goroya and I am representing the Greek Helsinki Monitor where I work as an advocate for freedom of speech and freedom of—and from—religion.
[Just a comment on what was previously said: we should oppose ALL religious -or other- extremists – not only Muslim; we should be very careful in phrasing.
And that is why I had prepared a speech about the importance of language in anti-nazi endeavours – and activism in general – but I was informed that it is a priority to report on the situation in Greece. So, please accept my apologies for I will repeat selected parts from my previous report*.]
A few words about language now…
We have gathered once more in order to discuss the revival of neo-nazism, and also in order to self-define and see how we can be of any use as an organisation.
‘International’, ‘Human Rights’, ‘Movement’, ‘World Without Nazism’.
What does anti-nazism mean? What does it include and what does it leave out?
I reckon that dwelling on such semantics will help us find our centre of gravity as an organisation.
I will ask you to intentionally unfamiliarise with the words in order to see their power and connotations.
How is language relevant to activism?
How do minorities re-appropriate previously hurtful words and how is that process helping our cause?
What is someone saying when he or she utters:
‘What are you? A Jew? /A Paki? /A faggot? /A nigger? /A retard? /A tranny? /A gypsy? /A girl?’
What is really the power of words?
Both neo-nazis/racists and anti-nazis / activists speak this dialect of hate; the first in order to target and stigmatise and the second in order to dis-empower, and sometimes re-appropriate.
When it comes to HATE, Greek neo-nazis are very INCLUSIVE: immigrants, Romani, Jewish, L.G.B.T., disabled etc.
And we are called upon to be even more inclusive and unapologetic in our fighting back or preventing social tension.
Language acknowledges and language makes visible.
Language normalises and silence excludes; makes invisible.
When we do not allow to a minority to be visible, be it by not allowing Romani children to get education in integrated schools (sadly, ghetto schools are a reality in Greece) or by not allowing the LGBTQ community to hold a Pride Parade (spasibo Russia!), we do not ease the social tension, we only make minorities even more vulnerable.
We thus participate in the normalisation process of the marginalisation of otherness – which the neo-nazis know very well.
If I have to summarise my call towards inclusion in one word, I will choose: UNAPOLOGETIC.