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Editorial

Fairweather Politicians

We have all seen it before: A politician totally disengaged from the community he swore to serve, instead serving his own national political profile. What many politicians don't understand is that for you to be in a position to advertise yourself on a national cable program or anything of that nature, you have to impress the people in your own neighborhood, your constituents, in order to have the privilege to make your name known. Regardless, nobody should be getting into politics to gain notoriety or to simply fill out their resumes. I am one of the few naive souls that believes that ‘politician’ is not a taboo word, and that a great deal of good can come from the willingness of a person to make unlimited sacrifices and forgo peace of mind to serve his or her country. 

In that vein, I found it deeply disturbing and all too predictable that Greek-American politicians who begged the Greek-American community for their ‘support’ (both financially and with their votes at the ballot box) just days ago during the New York primaries, all astonishingly and conveniently skipped the funeral of George Zapantis. Mr. Zapantis was killed due to police using disproportionate force on a man who suffered from bipolar disorder. He was tasered twice in the chest. It really does beg the question, at a time when Americans of all walks of life and all backgrounds are marching and protesting for Black Lives Matter (and they very much do) why didn’t the Greek-American elected officials throw up their arms and express the same outrage for Mr. Zapantis like they did for people like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor? I say these things knowing that we have an unequal justice system that disproportionately benefits Caucasians, but the point remains, Greek-American politicians bank on the ‘Greek vote’ because they are simply Greek in heritage and offer stunningly little substance. Showing up to a cookout, shaking some hands, speaking some broken Greek and passing through a Greek church every now and again isn’t enough. Those politicians really do need to earn our votes instead asking us to just give them out for free due to nostalgia. As painful as this is to recognize, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who isn’t Greek, and even before chairing her current committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, delivers for our community. Same thing with Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey. Our representatives believe that a tweet or emotionless press release about how Turkey needs to be condemned is adequate. It’s an intellectually lazy exercise despite Turkey posing a daily national threat to Greece.

I was upset that “our” politicians talked a big game about social justice but when it was a Greek person rather than a member of some other demographic that has more votes, they didn’t show up both literally and metaphorically. Let’s hold our leaders accountable, lest they get too comfortable in their chairs. We still demand justice for the wrongful and inexcusable death of George Zapantis.

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