Ukraine, empty fields
The Rise of the Soviet Union
In 1917, in the middle of the First World War, the Soviets seized control of Russia. They killed Czar Nicolas, as well as the rest of his family, and started the communist revolution. We may know that communism does not work, that the economic system is a failure, and that the cars in communist Russia were horrible. Yet, there is a part of history far worse than that. The Holodomor.
In the 1930’s the Soviets committed genocide. They tried to eradicate the Ukrainian people, so that they could replace them by ethnic Russians. The event would become known as the Holodomor. It is another instance where a government tries to change the ethnic make up of a country in order to increase its control. The strategy is similar to what the Chinese are doing in Tibet, but what the Soviets did was far more cruel.
The Spartan Army
The Spartan Sacrifice
Everyone knows the story of the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae. Immortalized a few years ago in a movie with the simple title ‘300’. These Spartan warriors fought against the invading Persian army, and died. Persia had decided to invade Greece, so that they could be subjugated and pay tributes to the great Persian empire. A huge army and fleet was sent to attack the Greeks. A small Greek force was sent forward, to Thermopylae, to defend and hold the Persians as long as they could.
Not only Spartans were present at the battle, but their last stance is what legends are made of. They fought until the bitter end. After their weapons had broken or been lost, they continued fighting with tooth and nail. So many arrows rained down upon them, that it blocked out the sun. They were slaughtered. Moreover, they had known from the start that this was a suicide mission. Death was a worthy sacrifice for something greater. Something greater than their own lives, something they considered worth dying for. Freedom.
Two personalities combined into one being. Drawing based on the Fight Club movie.
Two World Wars
Everyone with some level of education is well aware that Germany got itself involved in two world wars during the 20th century. Germany also lost both times, since both wars ended up being more or less everyone against Germany. But how did Germany manage to get itself in a two-front war, not once, but twice within a century?
Loki’s Punishment, by Eckersberg
Who is Loki?
Loki is an odd character. He lives among the Gods in Asgard. Asgard is the realm where the Gods such as Thor and Odin live in Norse mythology. However, Loki stands out for his tricks and treachery. His parents are giants, and at the end of times, during Ragnarok, he will fight on the side of the giants. That’s right, he will fight against the other Gods. So what is Loki’s contribution to the world?
The wickedness and evil in the world, is created by Loki and his offspring. Who are his children? Well, there is Hel, Goddess of the underworld. Yes, Hell is indeed a pagan term absorbed into Christianity. Fenrir is a massive wolf that will fight and kill Odin. And the great serpent that is wrapped around the world – it would appear the Vikings knew very well the world was a globe. There is also Sleipnir, a mythical horse that Odin rode on. This horse is perhaps the only child that is not some representation of evil.
Yet, for all the evil that he did, there is one act that stands out. There is one act, that was unforgivable to the other Gods. One trick that they could not forgive.
The Forgotten European Slaves of North Africa and the Ottomans
Slavery. Images of Africans chained together and pushed into European vessels come to mind. They are boarding the ships on the west coast of Africa, at the start of a long journey across the Atlantic. Many starve to death, die of disease, or perish due to other reasons. It is a horrific episode in human history. To this day, Europeans and Americans alike bear the guilt of our ancestor’s actions.
Approximately 15 million Africans became slaves due to the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Every child learns about this in school, everyone knows about this suffering of the Africans. Yet, today, I’d like to highlight a less known episode of slavery. The slavery of the Europeans in North-Africa.
The Holocaust being of greater horror and death toll than the Armenian genocide, does not mean the Armenian genocide is not worth talking about. Similarly, even though the European slaves amounted to a ‘mere’ one million, it does not mean that therefore it is not worth discussing. Did you know already that there were approximately 1.000.000 European slaves taken to North-Africa?
Thor’s Fight with the Giants, by M.E. Winge 1872
Thor as a Woman?
There are many fascinating stories in the ancient Norse mythology. The one we would like to look at today is the one that has been embraced by the LGBT movement. It is the story about the powerful God of Thunder. Or, as you might know him, Thor. You are free to picture the Thor from the movies, as the mythical Thor is also a strong guy with a hammer. The only thing you would need to add is a beard.
Why does the LGBT movement take such an interest in Thor? Because Thor, at some point, dressed as a woman. Now, we could explain that as the Vikings also rejecting gender-stereotypes. We could believe that the Vikings were in reality very progressive when it comes to transvestites, or even transgenders. However, would that make sense? Let’s have a look at the actual myth and find out what happened there.
Battle of Kircholm, by Wojciech Kossak
Beata Szydlo, Prime Minister of Poland since 16th of November 2016, recently lashed out at the EU. Back in March of this year, she accused the EU of blackmail when they threatened to fine Poland if they did not take a certain number of migrants that have been entering Europe from Africa and the Middle East. Only last month, June 2017, the EU announced to start legal proceedings against Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary, for not wanting to cooperate with the EU relocation plan for migrants. The Polish Prime Minister responded to these threats by saying they would rather face EU sanctions than to change their migrant policy.
The Polish here leads a minority of countries within the EU, which fearlessly retaliates when the EU threatens them. How come the Poles are so willing to accept the wrath of the EU? To understand this question, one must first understand the history of the country.
Rape of the Sabine Women, by Pietro da Cortona
Xenophobia – The Great Danger?
In recent years xenophobia has been a frequently used word in the media and political debates. In 2016 dictionary.com even made it ”word of the year”, with the added comment that we should not feel happy about that. Xenophobia literally means ”fear of strangers”, although Merriam-Webster defines it as ”fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign”.
The word is often used against those that support Brexit or oppose the open border migration policies of the EU.
Yet, is that a fair use of the word? Does that make sense? What did the ancient Greeks mean when speaking about the ‘xenos’?