Sectarianism In Europe; Fear Of Foreigners


By T.K. McNeil

The Roots of Difference

Fear of others is a problem as old as humanity

Fear of others is a problem as old as humanity

Human beings are tribal. By definition. Whether it is literally in the context of a family, or a tribal group, or a nation, there is always an “in” group.  And as the Newtonian law of opposites tells us, there is also an “out” group. There has always been a fear of foreigners. Also known as xenophobia. Such is a biologically determined certainty.

Persecution  Of “Out” Groups

What is not certain, or even particularly static, are the qualities that separate the “in” groups and the “out” groups. There are some factors common to many situations but no single indicator that determines whether a group is accepted or rejected. Not even what is called “race” or “culture.” There being cases of persecution between groups of similar if not the same, or close cultural and racial backgrounds. On going hostilities have existed for thousands of years.

A Classic Rivalry

Nowhere is this basic fear of foreigners between similar cultures clearer than the history of war between European nations. Something that dates back over 7,000 years. Including noticeable examples such as the adversarial relationship between the city states of Athens and Sparta, which remained snippy even when both were threatened by the full might of the Persian Empire.

White As Snow

Simo Hayha was a snipper responsible for no less than 500 Russian deaths in 3 months

Simo Hayha was a Finnish sniper responsible for no less than 500 Russian deaths in 3 months in early WWII

The fear of foreigners was palpable during the Winter War. The general term for the failed attempt by the Soviet Union to invade Finland at the beginning of World War II. Famous for both its short duration, three months, and the mighty Soviets were soundly beaten despite having nearly three times the troops and equipment of the Fins. During the war,  a single Finnish sniper, Simo Hayha, nicknamed “The White Death” because he dressed in all white camouflage achieved heroic status.  Hayha earned 505 confirmed kills, some sources claim 542 confirmed kills, over the three-month period.

Neighbor Versus Neighbor

Not to mention the xenophobia-stoking door-to-door attempts of the newly liberated Serbians to take over their neighbors after the collapse of Soviet Yugoslavia in the 1990’s. What is now known as the Yugoslav Wars. The last of these being the infamous invasion of Albania in 1999. A major war crime by white Europeans against other white Europeans that saw the leader of the Serbian government, Slobodan Milosevic, ousted by his own military.

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Understanding Brexit, (Or Maybe Not)


By T.K. McNeil and D.S. Mitchell

A Bit Of History

The European Union encompasses 28 countries, covers over 1,500,000 sq miles and has a population of over 515,000,000

The European Union covers over 1,800,000 sq miles and is home to 515,000,000 people.

If Americans are to understand Brexit we need to fill in a bit of history. So, here we go. The European Union is made up of 28 countries, including the UK. It covers over 1,800,000 square miles with a population of over 515,000,000.

Alternative To War

The EU was originally developed as a means to thwart war. As a reminder, the continent had been the powder keg that launched two world wars within 25 years in the early part of the twentieth century. After WWII a consensus developed that if countries worked together and were inter-dependent trading partners there would be less chance of another world war.

From A Small Start

You’re doing great, just hang in there. Because, understanding Brexit will take at least a couple more paragraphs. The European Union (EU) can directly trace its origins to the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Economic Community (EEC/Common Market) formed in 1951 by Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.  It was another 22 years before the UK joined the then European Economic Community on January 1, 1973 with Denmark and Ireland. Since then the European Union has nearly tripled in size, and for the most part flourished.

A Single Market

NAFTA is not the EU.

NAFTA is not like the European Union

In the United States we are familiar with NAFTA. NAFTA is not like the EU. Understanding Brexit is more complicated than what we here in the U.S. are familiar with. Each country choosing to join the EU pays an entry fee. After that first fee there are annual fees based primarily on each country’s national GDP. In return, they become members of a team who gain special advantages by working together. This includes being part of a “single market”. In other words, the countries within the union can trade without tariffs or duties with one another and people can move around freely, as if the “union” was actually just one big country.

Four Principles of Freedom

Whoa. That’s definitely different from what NAFTA does. In fact, the European Union is based on Four Principles of Freedom; the free movement of goods, services, people and money. Interestingly, the EU has its own parliament headquartered in Strasbourg, France. Indeed, laws are passed by its parliament and it has its own currency (the Euro). The UK unlike many of the other member states upon its entrance into the union chose to stick to its own pound and pence monetary system.

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A Different Shade Of Paranoid




by T.K. McNeil

Definition: “Xenophobia means having a PHOBIC ATTITUDE towards strangers or the unknown. It comes from the  Greek words (xenos), meaning foreigner/stranger, and (phobos), meaning fear. This term is widely used to describe the fear of others, or dislike of foreigners, or people who are different to oneself.”

Fear –A Renewable Resource

It used to be the "others" were anyone outside the cave

It used to be the “others” were anyone outside the cave.

Fear of the other is a primal reflex. From the early days of the species, mistrust of “outsiders” has been with us. Except at that time, ‘outside’ referred to the darkness outside the cave. Experts have indicated that the human species have since “evolved” from this early state of fear. But, like the tailbone, remnants of these origins remain to the modern-day.

Fear of the Bomb

It wasn't long before the Soviets had the bomb

It wasn’t long before the Soviets had the bomb

In the 1940’s the fear of others was mobilized to fight Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. In terms of WWII and the Cold War that followed, that innate distrust of outsiders got kicked up a couple notches. . The American propaganda machine ginned up anti-communist rhetoric and kept hatred and fear of others morbidly alive. We of course were being prepped for the expected war against communism. But, OMG, this still hale and hearty Soviet Union showed very quickly that they too could build “the bomb.” And topping that, they could also fire a ballistic missile that would level Washington, D.C. along with Chicago, Seattle, and Denver as starters.

Before the Bomb

Lenin was the leader of the Russian Revolution

Lenin was the leader of the Russian Revolution

While the specter of mutually assured destruction certainly made things worse, fear of a Communist take-over goes back to the Russian Revolution. In fact, much of the anti-communist sentiment had its roots in the anti-union movement of the 1920’s. When teamsters and autoworkers fought to unionize, the Bolshevik’s were blamed. Typical manipulating of fear of others. Fear-mongers spinning increased union activity into an insidious Communist plot. Tapping into fear of others, as well as fear of new ideas has been a tool of politicians right or left since time immemorial. Intensifying hatred, so easy, so convenient, so useful. The drum beat of fear of others, is likely to go unchanged because it seems to work so well.

Cold Shoulder

1960 Khrushchev at the height of the cold war was banging his shoe on the table at the UN

1960 Khrushchev at the height of the cold war was banging his shoe on table at the UN

After the United States and the Soviets started their arms race, the threats were kicked up.  At least in the United States. It is actually difficult to know what the Soviets were saying about America, there being few reliable sources of Russian translation from the time. Though we can assume it was likely not complimentary. We do have film of Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev, at the UN, threatening the destruction of the United States. He slammed his shoe on the table and proclaimed he would bury America. So, it sounds like there were lots of theatrics for the Russian television audience as well as the American.

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