John Key is not alone in invoking the word “Greece” to attack his political opponents.
The land that invented democracy has achieved a wider bogeyman status in political rhetoric, with Mitt Romney, the next president of the United States (you never know), the most recent to declare that the other lot are leading the country down “the road to Greece”.
And yet, writes Alexis Papachelas in the Athens-based daily Kathimerini, “we have not yet grasped the extent to which Greece has earned a bad name across the world”.
Despite that, and the evidence that “our country has … become internationally associated with financial turmoil, with a chronic problem of failing to solve its problems”, he continues, it is “striking to see that diaspora Greeks are not able, or are simply unwilling, to react to all that.”
The columnist writes:
Up until a few years ago, it would have been unthinkable for an American politician to speak of Greece in such a manner without triggering a strong and effective reaction from the Greek-American community.
Today, the Greek-American lobby lies “dormant”, however, with the community aghast at the way those at home have “managed to kill all those qualities that enable Greeks to excel in the United States, Australia and other foreign countries”.
They are, he says, “fed up with the vacuous talk of Greek politicians”.
Those politicians have little impact on their trips abroad. They “always like to visit New York”, writes Papachelas, “but they’re usually more interested in bargains at the big department stores”.