Saloniki-Greek Press -- July 04, 1935A Letter from the Southwest.
The Hellenism of America has its eyes upon Chicago and will watch the activities of the coming Ahepa convention. Strange as it may seem, this year's national convention of Ahepa is important.
It was on July 26th, 1922, that a group of eight Greeks with faith in God convened in the basement of a church in Atlanta and organized Ahepa. There was need for its existence then. Vicious forces of bigotry, intolerance, and human stupidity, which thrive only in the mire of oppression, necessitated the birth of Ahepa.
And into this society poured the enthusiasm of a fickle race, of a people which is just as ardent in its admiration as it is in its hatreds. The Greeks, a new unit of American life, slowly but surely emerged, organized, threatening, and showing their fists to the bigots, the pseudo-patriots.
George Demeter of New England, the Abraham Lincoln of Ahepa, who served only three months as supreme president of the Order, accomplished one of the greatest 2works ever done for Hellenism. He saved the society from disruption by expelling from it the rascals and the cheap exploiters. And in the leader's chair he established V. I. Chebithes, whose magnetic personality dominated Ahepa for two successive years.
Under the Chebithes regime Ahepa grew, expanded, and became a tower of strength, a threat to intolerance, the protection of a group of people who had learned that in union there is strength. The vicious Kuklux Klan and bigoted organized minorities which at all times believe in disunion for their own benefit became conscious of the strength of the Greek-American element. Thousands of business establishments, employing millions of people, and many more millions depending for their daily bread on the weekly pay check of these "damned Greeks," the "damned foreigners," became one.
A loose minority, once neglected, unimportant, stagnant, considered as lost, rose and imperiously demanded its rights. Ahepa did this. It brought about a spiritual union of the Greeks in America.
To this union many outsiders made bids for its favor. They begged for its 3grace. Under Chebithes, our "Apostle Paul," the truth about Greeks was published all over the land. Conscious of the society's importance, a governor, senators, congressmen, and even Franklin Delano Roosevelt joined us and by ritualistic initiation became our brothers.
According to the tradition of constitutional government a man must not have successive terms of office longer than a stated time. But later, if he gets the votes, he may be reinstated in office. After the two years of the Chebithes regime other men served as officers.
With all due respect to their persons I am forced to admit, for the sake of intellectual honesty, that none have been of the stuff which makes an apostle a good president, a leader. Things went so far that even minor personalities were elevated to the high office of supreme vice-president, bombarding the hallowed walls of the society's headquarters with meaningless verbiage. And if conditions do not improve within the organization, we may even see small men elevated to the supreme lodge.
But I am not so pessimistic as Skoulovois. I believe that even Greeks 4occasionally wake up.
The conditions of 1922 exist today. Intolerance and greed are spreading again.
And when a race of maniacs gets the bug of intolerance, the "damned foreigner" is attacked first. The Nazis have done it in Germany; the Fascists have become established in Italy; England is slowly adopting the system; and the brotherly Christian Americans will again rise to the Christian call and begin to wipe out any whom they do not like. Wherever there is a foreigner of any consequence, he feels the gruesome strength of the insane emotionality of Fascism.
Ahepa's palmy days have disappeared. Brainy men have been thrown into the background. And therein Ahepa has failed in its purpose. Unless some one who has proved his worth is drafted into service, this prophecy will be fulfilled.
There will be no other convention! Ahepa needs leadership! Let this be the slogan of all who share the views expressed above.
Nick John Matsoukas.
III B 4, I C, II D 1
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