In the last month millions of Ukrainians have fled, seeking refuge where they can. As of the 22nd of March, Krakow is housing 100,000 and Warsaw is housing 300,000. Other cities in Poland are housing over a million more between them. Denmark has agreed to take 10,ooo and many others have gone to Hungary, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Czechia and Germany. This has been a historic feat for Europe.
Some less charitable sorts have noted that countries that are usually less-than-welcoming to those seeking asylum have opened their arms to Ukrainians. Naturally, race and “Islamophobia” are listed as the reasons by the likes of the Guardian and others. The same culprits have also noted that European countries are waving Ukrainians through but refusing admission to visa holders from third countries.
In such situations it’s best to ignore the regular culprits and analyse the situation dispassionately. When looking at Ukrainian refugees, the first thing to note is that they’re actually Ukrainian. They identify themselves using either their Ukrainian passports or their Ukrainian national ID cards. Both are valid for travel in Europe. Ukrainians do not need a visa to travel in the Schengen zone. Already, we can see a major difference. Beyond that, the demographics of those Ukrainians are very different to past waves. Ukrainians entering European countries seeking refuge are women, children and the elderly. None are young, fighting-age adult men.
As you can see, there are profound differences in the nature and character of this wave of humanity as compared to previous ones. Perhaps yet another variable should be pointed out. Due to the speed with which Ukrainian refugees have had to flee, finding housing has been an issue. They have been housed in defunct schools, hotels and resorts. Sometimes they have been housed in cities, sometimes in the countryside. Many have been housed be friends and relatives living elsewhere in Europe. My Russian teacher is currently living with an old friend in Germany. She might stay with another friend who owns a small flat in Sweden if this drags on too long. My therapist who lives in Lombardy told me that many Ukrainians who have been living in northern Italy have welcomed Ukrainian refugees into their homes. Something you don’t hear from them is complaints. There is none of the “What? What do you mean I have to live in a cabin in Norrland? I want to live in Stockholm and I want to know when my new Volvo will arrive”. There is none of the “Hey, this old school in Saxony is drafty and isolated. I want to live in Berlin and why do I have to take the bus? Why can’t I have a Mercedes”? that many in previous waves thought was their due.
They are not asking for handouts and they’re not shopping for countries that give them better benefits. To this point, many have gone to work and have made themselves useful. Those staying near farms often help on the farm to keep their hands and minds occupied. In Denmark, many are signing up to work in care homes to fill critical shortages — especially in the provinces. Although some, especially in Poland which has absorbed two million on its have noted that it has been a challenge. Many have health problems — physical and mental stemming from the conflict. What they’re not complaining about is the people themselves. Well, very few at any rate and Poles are adept at the art of having a moan.
As for those citizens of third countries being turned away at the borders… That tensions were brewing and that a conflict was potentially imminent has been known for some time. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs, the United States Department of State and the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs have all warned their citizens in Ukraine to prepare to evacuate if not to evacuate. It is, ultimately, the responsibility of their own countries to ensure their safe evacuation. Ukrainians are in their own country and they are fleeing because they have little choice. Third country citizens are in Ukraine on their own volition and they have another country to return to. As I explained to my landlady (a good-natured, cheerful and warm-hearted American woman — they do exist), if the United States fell into civil war, she could seek refuge in Canada but I’d have no choice but to head to Europe as I hold a BRD-issued passport and I am ultimately their responsibility.
13 thoughts on “Differences”
What Europe is dealing with at the moment are ‘genuine’ refugees – people fleeing from persecution in their own country.
I, too have looked at the long line of ‘refugees’ from countries with no cultural similarity or sympathy arriving on Europe’s doorstep and wondered where their women and children were and what sort of ‘men’ they were to abandon their vulnerable to the horrors they claim to be fleeing from.
So the Guardian and their ilk want to call it ‘racist’, etc. Maybe it is – but those who are fleeing are not ‘hand-out-refugees’ but those who hope and pray that one day they can go home.
Most humans have an inherent preference for their own kind. I’ve always thought it a hang over from our tribal roots.
They have generally in Europe been intimidated from saying so by threats of hate crimes etc etc. Most would send them home pretty quickly. They certainly don’t want them as neighbours etc. Saw that big time in Birmingham. Not even the council could rent to both black and bd the buggers homerowns in the same block and gave up trying. Made a point of locating them in different parts of the city. Racism is just there, why it has been made a ‘crime’ beats me. Who wouldn’t prefer an Orthodox Christian household living in a civilised manner to a drugs den full of pimps, whores and bongo drums parasitic on society?
Send the buggers home to sort out their own rat holes. We’ll keep the Ukrainians!
Boadicea: There are so many differences. For example, the fact that these are women, children and the elderly seeking refuge as fighting-age men stay home. They are not country-shopping. If they move, it’s because countries like Poland are overwhelmed and others have “agreed” to assist. This is a profound difference to what the case was previously. They don’t loiter around intimidating people, either. One thing I remember from Germany and Sweden is the number of young men of clearly non-European origins simply loitering about. Even if they weren’t actively causing problems, they were still making people very nervous and it was clear that they weren’t doing anything with their lives. As my Russian teacher has said, she will be on the first train back to Ukraine when it’s safe to return. She wants to go home, she wants to be home. She apologised for missing two lessons. Frankly, I didn’t care and I made sure she was paid for those hours as it was obviously beyond her control.
CO: It really depends. Ukrainians, like most Eastern and Central Europeans, are a proud lot and they don’t accept excuses. They work and they support themselves. They value education and they believe in the worth of their own societies, countries and cultures. Having seen the refuse that passes as Western youth, I’d just as soon deport our lot and just keep the Ukrainians!
Of course we have a preference for our own. And it’s quite stupid to think otherwise.
It’s not about skin colour, ethnicity or tribal roots that we determine who we think of as ‘being our own’ – it’s about how people think and behave…
… you’re quite right, Christopher, a lot of what passes for ‘our own’ in our own countries don’t deserve to be treated as ‘our own’.
It’s not about race – it’s all about culture.
At the risk of being controversial, I think race has plenty to do with it. As so often, it boils down to one thing, the desire to ‘procreate’ even if that desire stands little chance being fulfilled. There are substantial differences in physical appearance between races with appearance being an important marker for sexual attraction. I do not think that many would argue that people who are physically attractive, tend to be more popular and have fewer problems in finding a mate, not that their mates are necessarily compatible. Think Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Dating sites like Tinder would appear to support my point, not that I have ever used Tinder, I hasten to add. People watch films with good looking actors because they fantasise about either having a relationship with or actually being one of the stars. Companies often employ good looking sales staff because they tend to be more successful especially when there is face-to-face interaction. Customers are drawn to those they find attractive.
Having spent most of my life in Africa, though also having travelled reasonably extensively, it is obvious to me that different races have different perceptions of beauty. I am frequently amazed by the features of the indigenous people of this part of the world that others of their race find physically attractive. To be blunt about it, I find the negro race to be exceedingly unattractive from a physical perspective. In fact, they are only exceeded in this respect by the aboriginals of Australia and PNG; and no that was not a dig. Despite their obvious fecundity which would indicate they are attracted to each other, Orientals too, fail to cut the mustard, as far as I am concerned. On the other hand, Indian people, the women anyway, strike me as being some of the most beautiful on earth. Yes of course culture, creed and a range of other attributes all play a part, but physical attraction is the most basic of all instincts and that, almost by definition, is governed by race and ethnicity. It is why various races have evolved to look the way they do.
Sipu: Attraction is relative and often based on one’s own background. I admit to not being free of this, either. There are many Africans I find attractive in a comely way — NoViolet Bulaweyo, Zolani Mahola, Adut Akech Bior, among others. It’s a different beauty standard, but I don’t find it less than any other. I also fail to see Europeans as being unusually attractive. Some, of course, are very attractive. But… For example, I have often heard about how attractive Germans are. They’re not. My travels in Denmark and Sweden have led me to believe that they’re not all they’re cracked up to be, either. There are many attractive people there, but there are also many unattractive people there. In general, especially in Sweden, the natural way they carry themselves has more to do with their appeal than raw beauty. The same can be said for France. There is none of this caked-on, war-paint look that you see in some parts of the UK or USA.
East Asia… It really depends. I quite like the Japanese look. There are many not especially appealing Japanese, but there are many naturally beautiful Japanese people. Although Korea is currently in vogue, I prefer Japan. The Korean look is very perfect, at times very striking — but it’s rarely very natural. The bold colours and cosmetics don’t translate well in Japan. Compare a Jun.Q with a Nakagawa Taishi or a Nayeon with a Hamabe Minami. I’ve dated a couple Japanese. I like them as people and I find that they possess more natural grace and dignity than most. They’re also generally speaking very clean and they take care of themselves. That is, perhaps, why I’m so attracted to countries like Japan and Sweden. They’re clean, natural, orderly and civilised.
How very sad that you think all personal interactions are based on the desire to find a ‘mate’ and the urge to ‘procreate’.
I’ll agree that generally the better looking in any society (with whatever criteria is set for good looks in that society) are generally more popular and have a distinct advantage of jobs, etc in that society.
But, human beings are social animals and like people (of whatever race, colour or creed) with whom they can interact comfortably (without ‘sex’ raising its head!)
That has nothing to do with race – but everything to do with culture and personality.
I can’t imagine spending more than a few seconds talking to the most gorgeous-looking English male who is a football hooligan – and never have. But I was very happy to spend time talking to a Chinese guide, an elderly Russian whose insight into his society was so illuminating and many people from other countries.
I do discriminate – and make no bones about it – but it has nothing whatsoever “based on my desire to find a ‘mate’ and the urge to ‘procreate'”.
Hi Christopher. You mention a preference for Japanese over Koreans which reminds me of a question that was asked of me by a client in Seoul. I had been doing fair amount of business travel around the region and he wanted to know whether I could tell the difference between Chinese, Japanese and Koreans based on their looks. After a bit of embarrassed mumbling, I had to admit that I could not. He laughed and replied that nor could he.
I certainly agree that there are other attributes besides looks that make a person appealing, but while I am attracted to the good manners, style and cleanliness of the Japanese it would probably take a long while living amongst them before I could be blind to their differences in appearance.
Further, I recognise that within any race, some are better looking than others, but I think it is often the case that people within that race may have a different perspective of beauty from those who do not belong to it. Beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder.
Boadicea, I remember once when I was in my teens, I heard someone, a man for whom I had a lot of respect, say that when he met a woman for the first time, the first thing that went through his head was, “Would I….?” At first I was a bit shocked, but increasingly I came around to his way of thinking. Not only that, I am convinced that most men feel that way, whether they like to admit it or not. Men instinctively give women the once-over when they first meet them. It is just the way it is.
I cannot speak with confidence about the instincts of women, but the fact that they go to such lengths to beautify themselves indicates that sexual appeal is either consciously or unconsciously a driving force. Men rarely make anything like the same effort with regards to their appearance, though they do behave in other ways that they believe will make them more attractive.
I certainly agree with you that good looking people can cease to be attractive and indeed can even become repellent when they are known to have behaved badly or are simply unpleasant.
No doubt I over simplified matters by saying it all boils down to a desire to ‘procreate’, which was intended as something of a euphemism, but I do believe that there is a lot of truth in the adage about birds of a feather!
Sipu: I have found ways of keeping them apart based on context clues. I can also more often than not determine where in China people come from based on context clues. For example, people from northern China tend to be lighter-skinned and taller. In general, they have somewhat different facial features as well. When they start speaking, it becomes incredibly obvious. Of course, I can tell straight away if they’re speaking Wu, Cantonese, Hokkien, Mandarin, etc. Even when they’re speaking Mandarin, there are distinct differences between Taiwanese Mandarin and Mainland Mandarin. Southern Chinese speak differently than northern Chinese and people from the Jiangnan region have a very distinct accent. I can tell Taiwanese, Chinese, Hong Kongers, Japanese and Koreans apart by how they dress, carry and present themselves. Stereotypes aside, the Japanese tend to dress in dark, mute colours. Their clothing tends to be very conservative, simple and elegant. Koreans tend to wear stylish, somewhat more colourful clothing. Korean hairstyles are different. They walk differently. Taiwanese tend to be the most casual and most expressive. Of course, in countries like Japan there are also very pronounced regional differences. People from Tokyo and Kyoto tend to be very reserved. People from southern and western Japan tend to be far more gregarious and energetic. Northern Japanese are calm, but frank by Japanese standards. That said, without context clues I can’t tell the difference between Spaniards, Portuguese, Italians, Greeks, French, etc. I also can’t easily tell the difference between Dutch, Germans, Danes, Swedes, Finns, Poles, etc. without similar context clues — although many Germans have this idiotic facial expression that makes you want to punch them. Look at Heiko Maas and Wolfgang Schauble to see what I mean.
In general, I can, however, tell the difference between Europeans and Americans just by looking at them. When I lived in San Francisco, I’d often go to Russian markets. When my mother and I would be there, the staff and other customers would speak to us in Russian. They never did that with my father. One look at him and they knew he was American. Likewise, when in Asia, it did not take long for people to recognise that I was from Europe, not the United States. My way of carrying myself, speaking, acting and thinking are not American. So… In short, it’s not only telling Asians apart — it’s telling Westerners apart!
Christopher, I am intrigued as usual by your reply. If you do not mind my asking, just how many languages do you speak? What are they? And what is that you do/teach/study? You may have said so here before, but I did not take it in. I am impressed by the extent of your knowledge.
Sipu: The three languages I use most are English, German, Russian, Japanese and Swedish. On a weekly basis, I also have to speak in Afrikaans, Italian and Castilian for at least an hour. I can also speak conversational French and can read it to an advanced level, but I haven’t had much interest in it of late. My actual education was in history, law and foreign relations. Currently, I make ends meet by working as a waiter/dish washer, taking two night shifts at a hotel and marking papers for a linguistics professor. It’s the conundrum. I absolutely despise cities and would rather work at a hotel or restaurant in the countryside. Of course, having been caught by Boris Johnson’s idiotic madness I’ve had to make due with California until I can find somewhere else to go.
That is certainly impressive. Thanks. I still think you should come out here. One of the many benefits is that we are on the same time zone as much of Europe and that also means no jet lag.
Sipu: I assure you that when I fly back to Europe, I will but a one-way ticket. The USA holds no real charms for me and there is precious little keeping me here. My mum has gone her own way, my da has fallen off the face of the earth and whatever remnants of friends and family I have here are, they’re dispersed. I can’t justify travelling to see them as I’ve found travelling in the US to be so very unsatisfactory and uninteresting — as well as hideously expensive. I’d almost prefer dividing my time between, say, Turkey and Mexico or southern Africa and the British Isles.