I’ve been reading a fair bit of academic material in preparation for a long and detailed Commentarium article on Avatar, and while reading about The Vanishing American I suddenly realized something: the recent ranting in the German media (particularly Focus magazine) about how “the modern Greeks are not real Greeks, they’re nothing like the ancient Greeks, not even genetically!” is actually the exact same discourse as what the Native Americans so often get: “but these aren’t real Indians! The real Indians are extinct!”
It makes sense, of course – it’s so much easier to justify destruction and oppression when the people you’re doing it to aren’t the real deal. No, they’re just greedy imitators who have happened to live here for the last few thousand years, and all they want to do is steal your hard-earned money. And they want reparations! Aren’t they ashamed of themselves for pretending to be Greek/Indian? No, we just can’t accept this sort of behaviour. Bloody savages.
(That the ancient Greeks were better-organized than the modern Greeks and that Greek nationalists should STFU about their heritage – not because it’s not their heritage, but because they’re pissing on it – has nothing to do with the issue.)