NEW YORK – The Greek community watched with bated breath the tragic events at the U.S. Capitol, which cost the lives of five people, and left the sacred hall of the American Republic, the Capitol, exposed to violent riots.
"A really dark day in the history of America," as Professor of Economics Vasilis Katsikiotis described it when he spoke to The National Herald, adding that "Donald Trump has violated the rules of democracy, of respect for institutions, of accepting the principle of majority rule. The victory of the Democrats has been reflected in the decisions of 90 judges so far in the USA, through all the efforts of the President to overturn the election result in the various states. Nevertheless, today's [Jan.6] behavior made him a transgressor of what he considered himself, as he called himself a `Law and Order' President. He proved that he is neither the president of the Law, nor the president of Order," noted Prof. Katsikiotis, adding that this is beyond a blow to the Republican Party.
"This is not just a blow to the Republican Party. It's a blow to the country to have someone in the highest office who has denigrated institutions and the popular verdict so much," he said, adding that he hoped it would be the "last act" of Trump's public presence.
"I really hope it was the last act of his term, leaving America smaller, weaker, more divided and in search of its role in the post-pandemic era," the expatriate professor concluded.
George Leventis, one of the most recognized expatriate engineers in New York, expressed similar thoughts in his comment. Leventis, who clarified that he is not motivated by any form of political empathy towards the outgoing president, spoke of "situations that are beyond imagination."
"To put it simply, what we saw was a complete mess. Unacceptable things and very sad. My wife and I have received many messages from Greece, where everyone has been surprised, wondering how it is possible for all this to happen in a country like the United States," Leventis said.
"While I can say that I have voted for candidates from both the Democratic and Republican parties, I have never been a supporter of Trump. I never liked his style. Also, in the past, as a professional, I did not work with a Trump company on purpose. Especially lately, his behavior is worse than unacceptable. I believe that he is also responsible for the defeat of the Republicans in Georgia, while his attempt to overthrow a democratic institution is beyond imagination. I do not think there is anyone who believes that all this is really happening. It is madness,” Leventis concluded.
The Vice President of PSEKA (International Coordinating Committee- Justice for Cyprus) and a close friend of Senator Robert Menendez - Tasos Zambas, spoke of a "sad day for America" adding that "the whole world is watching and ridiculing the U.S.”
"Political differences are resolved through elections. He [Trump] talked about fraud, he had no proof. Request a recount repeatedly. But what do you expect from a man who said before the election that if he loses he will not accept the results? It's like telling you to play football, but if you beat me I will not accept that I lost," said Zambas, estimating that the upheavals within the Republican Party, with its fanatical supporters and those who are clearly now opposed to Trump, will change the party in the near future.
"I know this is the beginning of the end for the Republican Party as we know it. It's not bad to be a Republican. I believe that there are several Republicans in the Senate who have principles and values. These people will split their positions or eventually the President will form a third party and the Republican Party will remain as it is. Trumpists can no longer coexist with traditional Republicans. Trump wants to be something like Erdogan or Putin. He has these as role models," Zambas noted, adding that “over-sharing information evolves into misinformation."
People see things but do not analyze them and in the end all this destroys our democracy," said Zambas, who said he had contacted Senator Menendez immediately to make sure he was safe.
"I texted Senator Menendez to see if he was okay. I am very proud of him, because he is the most philhellene senator and he will be the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. He is worthy of it."
GAEPIS (Greek American Education Public Information System) Foundation President Stelios Taketzis noted that January 6 will be recorded in history not only for the negative aspects, but also for the reflexes shown in the end by the institutional pillars of the Republic.
"I believe that January 6 will go down in history as a day of shame, but also as a day of triumph for democracy. Within a few hours, we saw both sides of America: On the one hand the ugly, the tragic, the doomed side, where vicious elements dared to break the cordon of the police and invade the U.S. Capitol in a wild mood and on the other we saw, in a very short time, that order is restored and that the work of the Republic continues, in order to ratify the election of the new President,” Taketzis told TNH.
"Today, I think, is neither the beginning nor the end of the phenomenon. It is the sign, the proof that there is a part of American society that is made up of extremists and obviously it does not seem to have been created yesterday, nor will it stop acting tomorrow. At every opportunity he will show his ugly face and it depends on the institutions and the Republic how we will deal with it," pointed out Taketzis, adding that the events of the Capitol also overshadowed the historic victory of the two Democratic senators in the run-off elections in Georgia.
Nick Andriotis, Honorary President of the St. Demetrios Astoria School Board, told TNH, "As a Greek immigrant who came to this country very poor but came for a better future, I owe a lot to America, not only me but also many expatriates who came for a better future. The country has given us a lot, we owe it a lot and we and our children will always be grateful for growing up in a democratic country like the U.S. which has offered so much to us poor immigrants.
“I believe that Trump deeply wanted to contribute to America. By mistake or intentionally he showed excessive love for this country but ended up doing harm. I was disappointed with the development of his presidential term.
“I did not expect that we would have these results for the Trump administration. Everything has changed in this country which was the example and continuation of the Greek idea and democracy as Greece taught it to humanity.
“This man eventually overthrew the ideals in the way he ruled America. This country has contributed so much to the whole world, supporting the weak, the poor, the persecuted, the refugees, the sick, and at the moment, because of Trump's administration, it has a bad reputation in all free countries.
“Trump's treatment of other heads of state, and in general his treatment of foreign affairs without consulting anyone and acting unilaterally as if he were America, is not the leader of the world but the tyrant of the world. Greek democracy, on which all free countries are based, and the government of all free democracies do not teach this. Trump never counted on advisors, leaders, emperors or dictators, and he only tried to impose his own plans, making America unpopular around the world. Let history classify him where he should be.”
Manolis Velivasakis, former president of the Pan-Cretan Association of America and the World Council of Cretans said: "January 6 has been a shameful, frightening, disastrous day for the United States of America, its democratically minded citizens, and the Republican Party. The U.S. Capitol is the symbol of democracy and freedom of our country - the seat of Congress, where the elected representatives of the American people gather legally, debate peacefully and legislate freely, was trampled and desecrated for the first time from within!
“To see a multitude of violent terrorists looting the symbol of our Republic, in order to interfere in the normal and fair Presidential elections, was unbelievable, anti-democratic and unacceptable! The ultimate responsibility for this sick situation lies with President Trump himself, who undoubtedly encouraged his blind followers to trespass on the Castle of the American Republic! I cry and lament for our downward spiral, but at the same time I hope the best for the future of our great country, since the bad dream we live in, ends soon!”
Harris Mylonas, Associate Professor of Political Science and International Relations, George Washington University, told TNH, "What is happening in the most economically and militarily powerful country in the world is becoming an example for much of the rest of the planet. I think this explains the direct intervention on social media of leaders from countless democracies and non-democracies who condemned Wednesday's events and President Trump's attitude towards the election results. Whether democracy will come out injured depends on the reaction of U.S. political leaders and their citizens. If we invest in education, overthrow the social inequalities - which have come both from the globalization of trade and from technological developments in the field of production - then we will have created the right conditions to 'resurrect' a single public sphere in the United States. Of course, the next president and vice president of America will initially play a central role in all this, with their words and the policies they will enact.”
Nick Larigakis, American Hellenic Institute President, said: "We are deeply moved by these tragic events. Personally, I have cried twice about something happening in the United States. First was the 9/11 attack when I was at the Pentagon and the plane passed by me. The second time was on Wednesday when I saw the invasion of the Capitol.
“This only happens in Hollywood movies. It was a dramatic day that will go down in history. Democracy bent but did not break, what happened will be the reason for us to move forward more united. The United States has always been a leader in an exemplary way. We were proud to set a good example to the world."
George Horiates, AHEPA Supreme President, said, “Our members are proud that the ancient Greeks forged the concept of Democracy. Violence in the Capitol is frightening and condemnable by all those who respect the ideals of democracy and institutions.”