Yves here. I held off from publishing this Bill Black post yesterday because I didn’t want to double up on Greece-related posts, but with the game of chicken moving into the train wreck phase, more intense coverage seems inevitable.
I saw the New York Times op ed that Black shreds in this post when it first ran and was appalled. It was as close as you can get in the US MSM to the “lazy Greeks” bigotry that is common in the German media. The comments in the New York Times were running roughly 90% against when I took a gander through them. This piece is also part of an outburst of not-very-well disguised hostility towards Greece, apparently for the crime of having had debt levels blow out as a result of the financial crisis, and then having Eurocrats mismanage post-crisis economic policies and engage in extend and pretend, which has led to depression-induced misery in Greece and ire among its creditors. For instance, a more sophisticated version of this sort of piece is “Let the Greeks eat shit and die leave the Eurozone and take their lumps, like a Financial Times op-ed, Greeks chose poverty, let them have their way. Just like the rash of pieces we’ve seen justifying why having the top 1%/01% is just the result of the workings of nature, brace yourself for even more of this sort of thing if Greece does indeed default.
By Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One and an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Jointly published with New Economic Perspectives
“Schadenfreude” is a German word that describes taking a “malicious, gloating pleasure in the suffering of other people.” It is a form of sadism. Roger Cohen has written an extraordinary column describing how much he hates the Greek people. Change the name “Greek” to almost any other group and it is certain that the New York Times would refuse to print such a mass of ethnic slurs. The Greeks are fair game, however, for even the crudest slurs in the NYT.
But what causes Cohen’s June 8, 2015 column attacking the Greek people to reach a new level in hate speech is this paragraph.
The European Union has done its healing work here. There will not be another civil war, come what may. The sun will still shine; a gazillion islands will still delight; Greeks will still curse every form of authority; they will still smoke in every restaurant in defiance of the law; they will still have more money than they appear to have; tables in cheap “tavernas” will still offer views that have no price. A Greek meltdown is not the same as a Slovakian meltdown. Life is not just.
Did you get that last sentence? Cohen despairs that “life is not just” because the Greek people, who he makes clear he despises, are not suffering enough to slake Cohen’s hate – and will not suffer enough for Cohen’s taste even if the troika pushes Greece into its second, post-crisis Great Depression. Cohen takes a malicious, gloating pleasure in the suffering of the Greek people, but he laments that his schadenfreude is incomplete because the Greeks will still have beautiful, sun lit islands. In a “just” world the Greeks would suffer far more, and feed Cohen’s joy.
For the sake of brevity I will simply mention and provide the links to three articles that describe the “healing work” of the EU (the most economically illiterate and vicious member of the troika). “Healing” is a particularly Orwellian word usage by Cohen. The reality is that the troika’s austerity demands are destroying health care in Greece. Cohen would know this if he read the relevant article published by an obscure newspaper entitled the NYT about a week before Cohen’s column. And the Cohen meme, so reminiscent of every ethnic slur, about the happy but shiftless and always complaining Greeks might have been informed by a column in that same obscure paper that explained how Greek suicide rates had surged dramatically as the troika’s austerity demands forced the Greek economy into worse than Great Depression levels of unemployment and greatly increased poverty. Cohen’s concern for smoke in Greece is laudatory. Cohen is a cheerleader and apologist for the troika’s austerity that has led the desperate Greek people to cut down public forests to burn the wood to keep their homes and children warm – causing dangerous pollution and some fatal home fires. The Wall Street Journal article notes:
Such woodcutting was last common in Greece during Germany’s brutal occupation in the 1940s, underscoring how five years of recession and waves of austerity measures have spawned drastic measures.
The EU’s austerity demands are driven most fervently by Germany and its closest allies.
Not that it will do any good, but people who do not take a malicious, gloating pleasure in the pointless suffering of the Greek people through self-destructive austerity can join me in calling on the New York Times to retract Cohen’s exercise in sadism and ethnic slurs. I will not bother asking Cohen to apologize for there is no chance that it would be sincere.