I write this under an Attic sun, its light reflected from the marbles of the Acropolis and into my living room. This was once the center of Western civilization, its stem just hundreds of feet from where I’m standing. Individual liberty and democracy first flourished right here, while 300 Spartans gladly went to their inevitable death against as many as 300,000 Persians for the sake of their sacred homeland.
Because of their sacrifice, and those of many others following their example, 30-some centuries of triumph and tragedy have created a rich historical and cultural heritage that has indelibly stamped its imprint on Greek thinking. No modern state believes so strongly in the continuity of its national existence from the dawn of history to the present.
“Just like in America,” cracked a joker friend of mine with whom I was walking around an Acropolis devoid of tourists. “Yeah, just like in America,” I answered. We were looking at the statues surrounding us and we began to laugh. “God, how I’d love to see some of those so-called protesters in America try and come here and bring down the statues of slaveholders…”
Walking around the Acropolis’ ancient ruins makes the mind reel at the disposability of American culture. Nothing is sacred and everything is replaceable. The consensus among my Greek companions is that America is sick, its leaders groveling to the lowest dregs and denominator, its future a nonstarter.
I was among good men, successful and civilized, and until now very pro-American. They are all Greeks, with Greek values and beliefs based on a shared ethnicity and religion—unlike in America, where values are supposed to be based on a shared story. Because we are Greek, it would be unthinkable for us to turn against our heroes to burn down our neighbors’ homes and businesses, as Americans are now doing.
The bullying and manipulative policies of the illiberal and identity-obsessed American left are nonstarters in Greece. Seventy-five years ago, Communist guerrillas tried, with Stalin’s help, to take over through force of arms, but with British and American aid the Greek Army prevailed and Greece remained free. There have been lots of bumps along the way, Greece’s volatile history being unmatched by any other European country, but one force has helped maintain our language and culture: the Greek Orthodox Church.
Here’s a brief historical background. After the glorious centuries of antiquity, the Greeks became part of the Eastern Roman Empire, with its opulent capital Constantinople founded by Emperor Constantine in A.D. 330. Byzantium, as the empire was known, held parts of Egypt, Syria, Asia Minor, parts of Italy, and most of the Balkans. In this huge area, Greeks and their language prevailed along with their Christian beliefs for a thousand years, until 1453, when it fell to the Turks. Nearly 400 years of Turkish domination followed. Greeks revolted in 1821 and won their independence in 1827.
The Greek language and culture survived under the yoke of Islam because of Greek churchmen. The Greek Church remains the country’s most respected institution, and I cannot recall a single incident of church desecration by a Greek, and I’ve been around for fourscore years.
Which brings me to New York City, where in July three men broke into a historic Bronx church, smashed furniture, and defecated in the foyer. I didn’t bother to tell my friends on the Acropolis about this latest outrage, for Uncle Sam’s sake.
So if Greece is such a great place, why have so many thousands upon thousands of Greeks immigrated to America? Easy. Until now, America lived up to its reputation as land of the free and of opportunity. Greece was a poor country—fruit and olives and some tobacco—situated between East and West and part of the volatile Balkans, influenced by the great powers. America was the land of opportunity, and in many ways it still is. But I know many Greek-Americans who’ve had enough and are returning to their villages. American life has become untenable, especially in big cities where Black Lives Matter thugs run the show.
This scum dares to cast aspersions on Robert E. Lee, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson. The scum in Hollywood dare to make a TV miniseries falsely depicting the great aviator and early “America First” advocate, Charles Lindbergh, as a Nazi sympathizer. And meanwhile cops are ordered to sit on their hands while the dregs of society graffiti churches and wreak havoc on innocent peoples’ lives.
So I come back to my friend’s suggestion: Why don’t these cowardly scumbags come over to Athens, on to Acropolis, where the monumental achievements of Athens and of Pericles are celebrated? Where the left decries the fact that our heroes had retrograde views of women, children, slaves, and foreigners? Let them try to teach us how wrong we are to still celebrate them. Please, God, let them try!
Taki Theodoracopulos is a writer living in New York, London, and Gstaad. In addition to his long-running High Life column in The Spectator, Taki writes Under the Black Flag for each number of Chronicles, and publishes Taki’s Magazine, a webzine.