Iran and the Greek American community: Closer than you think …

By March 7, 2016 February 16th, 2018 One Comment

by Demetrios Rhompotis*

About three and a half years ago, maybe more, I started a daily commentary on things that mattered to me mostly and to a lot of other people who don’t see themselves as idiots (from the word “ιδιώτης”, someone who was not interested in the affairs of the city and kept to himself, a “virtue” in our nowadays consumerist democracy). I called this blog NEOhellenika (Modern Greek) and although it was not restricted to things Greek, the idea was and is to provide different takes and provoke the kind of reaction that would finally lead to off the beaten paths discussion about issues the insolubility of which we have come to take for granted and to even consider …sacred!

Of course the blog is in Greek not only because it’s much easier for me to produce it on a regular basis, but also certain things are better to be kept away from the wider public eye since their stupidity, parochialism and narrow mindedness would make the Islamic Republic or Iran …happy! A few weeks ago what’s left of the civilized world was outraged because the Italians covered the nudity of some statues during the Iranian president’s visit. However, our Astoria Greek American community was a pioneer in practicing this kind of violence against aesthetics and common sense.

Some years ago, the statues of Apollo and Poseidon that the Greek Ministry of Culture sent as gifts to the Hellenic Cultural Center of the Archdiocese in Astoria, were covered with mini tunics because ladies were scandalized by their exposed penises! Although my information says they were scandalized because the size wasn’t what they expected, the fact remains that vandalism was committed against Hellenic art in a Hellenic Cultural Center for the same reason similar statues were covered in Rome during the Iranian visit and so many others were destroyed by the Taliban, the ISIS and the rest of the pathetic crooks that get offended with whatever makes their ugliness too visible to bear.

I digress, but that’s the point, anyway. The idea for this blog was somehow rooted in a column that I had in the now defunct, but not entirely defanged Greek American daily “Proini” where I would with generous freedom explore the possibilities of delving into the “deep state” of our community affairs while maintaining a functioning level of sanity. Twenty years and an equal number of anti-depressants after, I took it to a new level because Internet gave me the additional linguistic freedom to call things with their …surreal name!

In the course of the last four years numerous people suggested that I do this in English as well because not everybody can read Greek and the google translation is only an approximation as it misses the metaphors and what makes a text not only interesting but also a pleasure to read (something that many in the writing business tend to forget or ignore, the price to have been schooled in the political correctness of our main stream media).

So, here I am! After giving it much thought (last night in another failed battle with insomnia) I decided to embark on this new adventure and sail to the open seas of the English speaking world! I already have a huge emailing list that receives my blog in Greek and in case that you get this from a friend, send me your email address to and I’ll be happy to include you as well. I’m also on facebook (I haven’t gotten into twitter yet) so please feel free to “friend” me.

I have also to confess that these commentaries are usually produced early in the morning, before sun is out and coffee is served, and they are unedited since I don’t have the means to employ people to do that and my time is limited, I have to make a living after all! So, bear with me and be tolerant when it comes to linguistic or orthographical missteps.

Speaking of linguistic missteps, some who consider themselves liberal, like Matt Taibbi of the Rolling Stone, make fun of the Slavic accent of Trump’s wife Melania when she speaks English. But they don’t do the same with Ariana Huffington… English is an international language as are Spanish and Portuguese, so there should be no “correct” accent or pronunciation.

*Demetrios Rhompotis is a journalist and Secretary General of the Central Committee of NEO magazine, published monthly in New York.

PS: 1) In the Democratic debate last night, Hillary did better. She was more composed and organized. Sanders looked nervous, vague and his super modern suit and tie wouldn’t match his age and his socialist roots and message …

2) In the Republican side, it seems that the only possibility for Trump to come second is to run against himself!

One Comment

  • Prof Asher J Matathias says:

    Just returned from another worthwhile project in the Names Not Numbers series where eighth-grade students in local Yeshivot interview Holocaust survivors to humanize, by giving names to the atrocious loss of Six Million Jews. One would have thought it counterintuitive for non-Jewish pupils in the metropolitan area, especially Greek-Orthodox I depressingly discover ignorant of the subject might have made a dent in the quotient of abject deficit on the subject. Of course, it takes both the empathetic and sensitive to gain the insight that such learning is more useful and necessary for non-Jews, but the argument can be put aside to address again in the near future. Meanwhile, let me stand in line for my turn to applaud my friend in joining me in Anglophone writing, even if it’s periodic! Recall, that I often underscored both the paucity of sagacious thought exegesis of current events, and the employment of our adopted tongue to reach a wider audience. My kudos for this declaration of further columns in English continue to reverberate. Having resolved to continue the stylistic frequency of English, can’t you grapple the issue of sustained discussion of anti-Semitism in Greek society?



Demetrios Rhompotis, Publishing Committee Chairman of NEO Magazine