Last week, a player on the Greek National Soccer team, Giorgos Katidis, scored a goal and then preceded to celebrate by giving the Nazi salute (or heiling) for several seconds toward the audience. It was an incredibly stupid, terrible, and offensive decision by him, but the more offensive decision was made today by the Greek National Soccer Team by banning Giorgos from their team for life.
The Holocaust sucked. It was the worst, it was terrible. No one disagrees with that. No one should take it lightly and even after seventy years, the “heil” is offensive and shouldn’t ever be done, but to ban a kid for doing it once in a moment of excitement is stupid and sending the absolute wrong message. .
When Giorgos was asked about his offensive gesture, he pleaded ignorance. He said he saw it in a history book, and he thought it looked cool. He had no idea what it meant to people, so what do we do in this moment? Do we educate? No. We ban him. We don’t teach the kid, we don’t explain to him what’s going on, we take away the thing he loves and has strived to do his whole life, play soccer. Some people think that Giorgos was being disingenuous, that he knew what he meant and he was just trying to rile up people, or as I like to call it just “being a fucking ass hole”, and even if that were true…he shouldn’t be banned from his team FOR LIFE for that. When I was 20, I used to piss out apartment windows for fun all the time ( I mean daily)…should I never be allowed to live in an apartment building again!? No! Cause I’m not a stupid idiot 20 year old anymore, and one day neither will he be.
Giorgos deserved to be punished, there’s no doubt. We can’t start letting people begin to dishonor the Holocaust and all those who died under the Nazi regime, it’s not right, the scars will take longer than 70 years to heal, but there is a bigger issue here. Giorgos is just a warning shot of what’s to come in this world 70 years after the Holocaust. People don’t know about the Holocaust. It’s becoming just another “thing” in history. I work in a public middle school in Chicago and when I saw an 8th grade girl was reading “The Diary of Anne Frank” in her class I asked her what she knew about the Holocaust. She told me that it was a war in Germany between the Nazis and the Jews. A war I said? A war? She said, yeah. They didn’t like each other, so they fought and the Jews hid…I wanted to scream from the rafters…a war!? A war!? It was a fucking extermination! This is what we’re fighting against…we’re fighting against ignorance, we’re fighting against forgetfulness. We’re fighting against the Giorgos of the world, but not because he’s a fucking ass hole, but because he DOESN’T KNOW!
We fucked up folks. We had a chance to set an example on how we’re going to educate ourselves and others and not to punish the ignorance. It’s time to teach our children about Fascism and Nazism, and I have a suggestion for the first lesson The irony of banning someone for life for speech is exactly what the Nazis would do. It’s Fascist. Lesson Learned.