Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Stateless Nations of The World Unite !

The European Union reminds me of three little kids who want to be taller than daddy, and don’t want to wait. So they climb on each other’s shoulders and put on their father’s full length overcoat. Together they stand tall, but they sway as they walk down the street, looking like a drunk adult rather than three playful children. No one really believes they are one person. Everyone hears the quarrelling voices underneath the overcoat. It won’t be long before the children get tired and fall into a tired heap and go their separate ways.

In this analogy, the children under the overcoat are the twenty eight countries that have joined the European Union. They all want to create an entity bigger than the US, with an influence in world affairs to counter and nullify that of the US. This awkward administrative monstrosity is an experiment in progress, with member states that have a history of conflict with one another. There is no common language and no common history. Their flag is ugly and nondescript. It is amazing that its member states, once proud independent countries and kingdoms have surrendered their sovereignty to some bland faceless bureaucracy in Brussels.

The French, for instance had some of the prettiest money in the world. Now they have the Euro. Just looking at it puts my feet to sleep. So this wannabe country wants to have a unified voice in world affairs. They want to create a “just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

It is axiomatic that the “Palestinian” people need a homeland. Do they have their own language? No. There are about twenty countries that also speak Arabic, and they are all asking Israel to take in the “Palestinians” when they refuse to do so.

Does every language and ethnic group have its own country ? No ! Spain has Catalonians and Basques, who proudly maintain different languages and traditions. France, the valiant champion of Palestinian statehood has within its borders Brittany, in which a Celtic language is spoken. In addition to Catalonian, Provencal is also spoken. Alsace proudly maintains both German and a dialect that is a mix of French and German. Most famous of France’s languages is Corsican, spoken on Corsica. Many Corsicans would like their own country. From time to time they let the French know that they are miffed by blowing up a post office or spray painting graffiti in Corsican.

Italian is only one of a number of languages spoken in Italy. Piedmontese, Sardinian, Sicilian and a dialect of Albanian are spoken as well as a dialect of Greek. Ethnic Germans in the province of Bolzano want to rejoin Austria. Greeks and Turks used to be geographically enmeshed until their violent population exchange in 1923. Belgium is like a bad marriage with its Flemish and its Walloons speaking what is essentially Dutch and French. Bavaria is a part of Germany with a separate language. Plattdeutsch in the north is far closer to Dutch than it is to German. In Eastern Germany, a Slavic minority known as Sorbians makes any portrayals of Germans as an ethnically pure “master race” highly problematic.

An ethno linguistic map of Europe would have a lot of very small pieces in a multitude of colors. The level of discord among language groups in Europe varies widely. Corsicans and Flemish are quite dissatisfied with their lot. Switzerland prides itself in its four national languages and its multitude of regional languages and dialects.

The Arab world is replete with minorities that enjoy less than full equality. In Algeria and Morocco are the Berbers, whose culture and language are repressed by the ruling Arabs. Egypt of course has its Coptic Christian minority that once spoke the ancient language that was replaced by Arabic. Kuwait has an Arabic speaking minority of stateless individuals known as Bedoons. (not to be confused with Bedouins) Kurds in Iraq and Turkey speak a language separate and distinct from Arabic and Turkish.

Most maps of the world do not show the full range of ethnic and linguistic diversity within each country’s borders. A question that merits study is why some countries such as Switzerland celebrate and foster their diversity while other countries such as Bulgaria deny and repress their ethnic minorities. What ever motivated the Bulgarians to force Slavic names upon its Turkish minority and to ban the use of their language back in the mid 1980’s ?

Watching the breakup of Czechoslovakia in the early nineties was like watching “Scenes From A Marriage” by Ingmar Bergman, during which I fell asleep. (To this day, I don’t know how many of my dreams during that long nap were directed by Bergman and how many I can claim credit for.) I was a young teenager when I saw the Bergman movie. They seemed so emotionally flat. It was like Czechoslovakia splitting.

If you want to see a real doozy of a breakup, look at Yugoslavia. THAT was a knockdown drag out fight. It was not like a Bergman movie. It’s amazing that people who can’t make their marriage work do such a great job of divorcing nicely. For the same price you could make it work. So why not make a go of it?

Why am I talking about marriage in the middle of an article on nations? Is it a foolish digression? No it is not. Because ultimately, the destiny of a nation is dependent upon the choices of individuals. In science we study the atom and molecules and through that make changes that can be seen, heard and felt. Maybe this could guide us in our search for peace among nations. Just like scientists focus on atoms and molecules, maybe we should focus upon improving individuals and families. A person who is going to advise a troubled individual or a fighting couple should be honest with themselves before they offer advice. Someone who forgets their own imperfections and preaches to others is understandably seen as sanctimonious.

Europe and the Arab world are now preaching to Israel about how it should deal with ruthless enemies hell bent on destroying it. They come across as sanctimonious and dishonest. They should clean their own house. Until then,they should be ignored. The song at the bottom of this article is a song for all of the nationalities in Europe that do not have their own country. Any time a European complains about Israel, turn down the volume on your TV and put this song on.

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