The Greek word "pan" means "all" in English, for example it is used as "Pan-theon" (the all of Gods), "pan-tograph" (an instrument for copying all), etc. It was inevitable that so powerful a word as "pan" would be used by the Christians to praise their God. Thus, they coined the word "pant-eleimon" ("eleimon" meaning "charitable") to denote that their God (and "His" Saints) are "All-charitable", as in God is "Almighty", etc. For example, "He" and the Saints are charitable enough to save people from cancer, floods, war, Guantanamo, etc.
The next step was to build churches dedicated to a "Panteleimon Saint". Thus, in Athens there is a huge Christian "Saint Panteleimon" church. The foundation stone for the church was laid in 1910. The inauguration took place 20 years later, on June 22, 1930. Unfortunately, I was born seven days later, on June 29, 1930, about a mile away from the church, which seems to have affected negatively my relationship to the charitable Christian Saints.
So, the "Saint Panteleimon" church of Athens is considered to be one of the biggest churches in the Balkans and its main characteristic is its huge dome with a diameter of 21 meters (69 feet), made of steel-reinforced concrete. At the time, the 1920s, that was an engineering feat and probably it was the biggest concrete dome in Europe. The engineer who designed it (as a shell) was K…, a German-educated, short, stocky man who did not make it as a professor of "Descriptive Geometry" at the Athens Polytechnic, because an aristocratic (and syphilitic) gentleman, of cosmopolitan demeanor, was preferred to fill the chair. K… became an assistant professor, although he was one of the best "geometrists" that Greece ever had.
Unfortunately, the German-educated K…, during the 1941-1944 Nazi occupation of Greece, had the very bad idea of designing ships made of… steel-reinforced concrete, for the navy of Hitler. Yet, this man, whom I had as a professor at the Polytechnic, was a kind person and one of the best minds of his time.
On one side of the "Saint Panteleimon" church there is a tiny "park", 42 meters by 70 meters (140 by 230 feet), which has been a playground for the children of the middle-class and lower middle-class of the "Saint Pateleimon" neighborhood, a serene and rather attractive place of Athens, at the time.
Then, in 2001, George Walker Bush, the 43rd President of the USA and a very patriotic American, invaded Afghanistan.
From that day on to this day the small park by the church of Saint Panteleimon has been filled with entire families of Afghans who live in the Saint Panteleimon park without food, shelter, toilets etc. Some of them made part of the trek from Afghanistan to Greece, about 3,500 miles away, on foot through Turkey. Their ultimate destination being France or Germany, something Sarkozy and Merkel forbid. Dictating to the Greeks to carry the burden.
As expected, the Greek neo-Nazis, did their patriotic duty and started beating up the Afghan families and any Greek that disagreed with the beating. The only protectors of the Afghans were the anarchists, a part of the Left, and, strangely and unexpectedly, the top clergyman of the "Saint Panteleimon" church.
In December of 2004, a squad of Greek policemen invaded an apartment building, where some Afghans had managed to "graduate" and live away from the park. The brave Greek policemen started beating any Afghan in sight. Finally they took two of them to the local police station for further treatment, that is the routine torture of "bastinado". (Hitting of the soles of the feet with a steel pipe, while the victim is tied on a bench, until he or she passes out. The process is repeated until the victim says: "Stop, I shall talk").
The Afghans appealed to groups that try to protect the immigrants, which resulted in a rare case (worldwide?) of having policemen in court for torturing people. Of the squad only two policemen were chosen by their leadership, for their own reasons, to stand trial.
Yesterday, on December 20, 2011, seven years after the event, the two brave men were condemned to five years in prison. However, they were set free, because the court had converted the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor and they had the right to be set free, after they filed an appeal.
Now, who are these people in the world, the policemen, who do such things to their fellow humans? Also, who are the people who are "using" them?
The answer was given by Rudolf Diels, probably the most knowledgeable person in the world on this matter; the "creator" of Hitler's Gestapo. Here is his "testimony":
"The infliction of physical punishment is not everyman's job, and naturally we [the Gestapo] were only too glad to recruit men who were prepared to show no squeamishness at this task. Unfortunately, we knew nothing about the Freudian side of the business, and it was after a number of instances of unnecessary flogging and meaningless cruelty that I tumbled to the fact that my organization had been attracting all the sadists in Germany and Austria… It had also been attracting unconscious sadists, i.e. men who did not know themselves that they had sadist leanings until they took part in the flogging. And finally it had been actually creating sadists." [Erik Larson, "In the Garden of the Beasts", Random House, 2011, p. 370].
There is no need to try to show the accuracy of the above passage. Any honest adult inhabitant of this planet knows what a policeman's "real" job is. Yet, let us examine the most "illustrious" and very recent case of "Joe" Arpaio, the Arizona Sheriff, if for no other reason, but to increase our anger, a feeling so necessary for our survival.
Arpaio bears proudly the title of "America's Toughest Sheriff". He set up a "Tent City", a "concentration camp", according to the Sheriff himself. The temperature outside the tents during the Arizona summer is around or above 110 *F . The inmates complained that even their shoes were melting from the unbearable heat.
That Arpaio is a "patriotic" American there is no doubt. That, his parents were Italian favors the assumption that he is, also, a good Catholic Christian (of course, not that good as the Greek Orthodox Christians). So, on the basis of both these two attributes he answered the complaints of the inmates about the heat thus:
"It's 120 degrees in Iraq and the soldiers are living in tents, have to wear full body armor, and they didn't commit any crimes, so shut your mouths".
On second thought, including the above information about Arpaio's behavior, in this article, was unnecessary. By now, 2011, most ordinary Americans know what we are talking about in relation to the brutality of the policemen. So let us return to the original question: who are the people who become policemen?
The information and the conclusions offered by Diels, of the Gestapo, are quite enlightening. Yet a couple more examples might add some other sides to the question: "who are these people that become policemen?"
– In my last ZNet Commentary, "The MIT 'Offspring'", of December 10, 2011, I referred to Linda Katechi, Chancellor of the University of California at Davis, and mentioned a fellow-student of hers during the 1973 student uprising at the Athens Polytechnic, whom "probably" she had met "during the decision-making in the general assemblies". That person called me up a few days ago and told me that a friend and former comrade of his, George Kotanidis, an actor, had just published a 523-page book, " All in Unison, Now!", describing the era of the US-induced 1967-1974 military dictatorship in Greece.
On page 341 we read: "Even if you [the Communists] attain power, it is us [the torturers] that you will appoint to protect your regime".
The man talking is the notorious master-torturer Babalis, "philosophizing" with Kotanidis, his victim, after repeated sessions of bastinado. Babalis boasted that he was trained in new torture techniques in the US, which he considered an asset in his curriculum vitae. Do not forget that this boast was uttered in the 1960s, an "aeon" before Guantanamo.
So, here we have a policeman as a professional torturer. Of course, Babalis was executed in the streets of Athens soon after the fall of the military dictatorship.
– About 25 years ago, around 1985, while talking to a young construction equipment operator at a construction site in Athens the conversation turned to politics, the dictatorship,etc. The young man said that he had worked in Saudi Arabia with a Greek construction company and described to me a very interesting incident.
One day he went to the company offices, in Saudi Arabia, to get paid. As he walked in a long corridor he spotted another Greek at the far end of the corridor. When the other Greek understood that the young man had recognized him, he dived into the closest office and locked the door.
The name of the other Greek was Karapanagiotis. He was a colleague and collaborator-in-torture of the above Babalis. His specialty was to "deal" with the students in the Universities.
Karapanagiotis, knowing that his fate would be that of Babalis, found "shelter" in a hospitable construction company owned by Greek elites in Saudi Arabia. Other torturers found shelter in London in the service of Greek shipping magnets, the Onasis-types of Jackie Kennedy fame.
[Note: The name Karapanagiotis is a compound from "kara" (Turkish for "black"), "pan" ("all", as explained at the beginning of this text), and "agios" (the Greek word for "Saint"!). Can a Christian of any color, as an expert, figure it out for us?]
It is not very hard to answer why the elites shelter scum like Karapanagiotis. They are extremely "useful" to the elites. Or better, the elite cannot exist without the "protection" of the police, the torturer, and the soldier.
Of course, the police are not "omnipotent". Their benevolent offer to the elite has a limit. If things get tough with the unwashed masses they retreat and thesoldiers, the "protectors of last resort" for the elite, take over. Then, the poor policemen give a sigh of relief, because if the unwashed masses are really angry, no one knows what bad things might happen [to the police].
Here is an eyewitness example:
The night of the November 17, 1973 massacre in Athens, during the 1967-1973 military dictatorship, as the US-made tanks were moving to attack the students in the Polytechnic, my late wife and I were standing on the sidewalk of the deserted street that the tanks were moving on. All of a sudden, the opposite sidewalk started to fill with about thirty men in civilian cloths. They were the security policemen, from their nearby headquarters, who carried out the most brutal acts at that time, for the benefit of the Greek and the US elite. When the tanks reached the point we were standing, the group of the security policemen started cheering and applauding furiously the moving tanks. But first, they expressed their relief with a characteristic Greek gesture (with both arms stretched downwards and backwards), which meant: "finally you take over!"
Naturally, the "soldier" besides being the ultimate protector of the world elite in the interior of a "nation", for great nations as the US and other arms-producing countries, the "soldier" offers his services to the elite by not only consuming the lethal armaments produced, but, also, by violently protecting the "interests"[?] of these elite in the name of, say, the people of America.
So, we arrive at the second question: "Who are the people who are 'using'" the policeman [and the soldier]?
The Davids, the Nelsons, the Carnegies, etc, are well known to the population. There are books on them, scholarly analyses, skyscrapers that glorify their achievements, and so on. These are the owners of he world. But, there is an entire galaxy of "satellite elites" that are equally "interesting" as the above luminaries: the Cheneys, the Kissingers, the Rumsfelds, the Holbrookes, and on to ConDolcezza.
What is so interesting about all these elites? The answer is rather simple: they are uninteresting people. Or better, they are miserable humans living comfortably in luxury. They know that deep down they are nonentities, that they are assholes and that they are members of what one might call the "asshole-class", who in essence live an empty life.
Take Richard Holbrooke: All his talent consisted of was to pass his entire life by spending the money of the US taxpayers to travel incessantly [and comfortably] around the world murdering people of lower "quality" than he and then going back to his weekend home in Connecticut to impress other, more sedentary but equally miserable, elites with his achievements.
I cannot resist the urge to compare these persons with the happy and interesting lives of lower middle class people in the Athens neighborhood in which I was born , or of the construction laborers that I met on the Greek Island of Naxos, or compare them with the quality of a black American worker that I sat next to on a Greyhound bus, on my way from Toledo to D.C., 40 years ago.
Now, let us examine how Obama, a rather dark-skinned elite, sees his fellow elites, that is "people of means", according to him. He writes: "As a rule they [are] smart, interesting people,…, [who are] not particularly sympathetic to those whose lives [are] upended by the movements of global capital", say the Greeks or the Irish of today. This phrase demands more than "audacity" to utter.
Whether the elite are 1% or 0.1% is irrelevant. What is relevant is that we are about 67% (2/3 of any given population). So, as already mentioned, to "exist" the elite need to have the "policeman" as protector. In other words, we come to the strange conclusion that: what happens to us, the 67%, today, becomes possible only (repeat only) because some people become policemen.
So, if we are the 67%, and if the policeman is the "tool" that keeps the 1% (or the 0.01%) deciding, literally, whether we live or die, is it not logical that we should do something about this "tool"?
What can we do?
At this point in time, we cannot "eliminate" the policeman or solve the problem of criminality in a pareconish way, the way we hope it will be possible in the future. So, now, the least we can do is try to influence the behavior of the policeman.
These people live among us, in our neighborhoods. We know them and their families. One way to let them know that we "know", is to ask them point-blank: "Did you ever pepper-sprayed or tortured people?" Naturally, the protector of the elite (criminals), will deny that he ever did, or pretend he is insulted, or that he is angry, or that he is…a Christian, and so on.
Of course, this will gain us an enemy. Yet, our virtuous neighbor will be left with a big question mark, deep in his mind, which might affect his behavior. Obviously, if the "treatment" is carried out by many neighbors together or even separately it will be more effective.
This is not a game, or funny stuff. We deal with people who leave some of their fellow humans crippled for the rest of their life.
To close this Commentary: are policemen ever punished for the pain they inflict? Rarely, if ever! Proof of that is that the world elite still exist.
Can this change? Yes! The change started in the squares of the world and it is time to spread in the neighborhoods of the world that we live in.