Sometimes, not often, we are brought face to face with an issue that we prefer to hide under the carpet.
One of those issues can be formulated as follows: Should we support all Greek-American candidates for political office independent of who they are or not? And what are the conditions that they have to meet to qualify for our support?
In other words, is it sufficient that one simply has a Greek name or declares himself to be a Greek to be eligible for the automatic support of the Greek-American community, or must we require them to demonstrate their Greek identity in deeds, not just words?
This important question was raised by Endy Zemenides, a prominent Greek-American in Chicago, in his statements to The National Herald about the “civil war” that has broken out in his hometown (see the article in our Greek and English editions).
In a word, Greek-American journalist John Kass accused Zemenides and Maria Pappas of not supporting Paul Vallas’ candidacy for Mayor of Chicago.
Indeed, Kass went as far as to call them “efialtes” traitors of the Community.
Bad odors followed, as our wise ancient ancestors would say…
Zemenides admitted that the answer to the question “did you support Vallas” is indeed, “no,” and explained his reason as follows:
“First of all, I believe he is an ‘a la carte’ Greek. He remembers the Community and his Greek heritage only when he is a candidate. Second, when Greeks run for federal positions, we support the ones that have Greek issues in their agenda.”
If not anything else, Zemenides provided a service by opening up this important issue.
So what should be our position on these issues?
Our opinion is that, as a general rule, we must support each other, on any matter, in any way we can.
Do we do it now?
Yes, we do, but not to the extent that we should.
We must admit that there is room for improvement.
Now, with regard to Greek-Americans who are running for office, regardless of the party to which they belongs, there are a few factors we must examine, such as:
Does the candidate participate in Community activities? Does he / she care about the Community and his Hellenic origins?
If the answer is yes, then we must stand with him/her and support him/her in any way we can.
As for the cases where a Greek-American is uninformed about our issues and Hellenic way of life and has been indifferent to his Greek heritage but is now willing to explore it, to learn about the issues that concern us and to help , then even though it might be the last minute, we must support him/her because we need to give him/her an opportunity to win and to demonstrate him/her he is.
But if the candidate is negative towards our Community, or to him/her origin, or if he/she has committed a crime, or upon information and belief we feel he is a person of bad character, then we owe him nothing.
So, in what of these categoriew does Vallas belong?
He has excelled in the field of Education and has a good name.
He should have being closer to the Community in the past, but during his election campaign he tried to get closer and he sought its support. (The National Herald published a series of articles about him).
Therefore his presence in Chicago City Hall would have been something positive for the Community.