Welcome to Part II of my discussion of wSieci’s “Islamic Rape of Europe,” where I talk a lot about maps. Part I is all about the racism and white supremacy represented in the cover – check it out before you comment, please!
So aside from being a terrifying expression of the re-emergence of white supremacy in Europe, the wSieci article also brings up one of the major problems with any discussion of protecting Europe from the rest of the world – Europe and European aren’t special categories of people that need to be protected against all other peoples.
To start with, we need to ask, what is Europe? The obvious answer would be “a continent,” but actually even this isn’t really true. A continent is defined in geography as “any of the world’s main continuous expanses of land,” by which definition, Asia is a continent of which Europe is a subregion, same as the Middle East or the Indian subcontinent.
Europe is still considered one of the seven continents, mostly because it was Europeans that designed the maps we all use today. Indeed, since the 15th century, we’ve been literally inflating Europe in our view of the world. Even if we want to accept Europe as a distinct subregion, we run into the same problem as with defining where is the Middle East or where is Central America – we can all make a vague gesture to the right region on a map, but defining the precise borders is much harder. In some ways, it’s ironic that the wSieci cover comes out of Poland, as Eastern and Western Europe have experienced considerably different histories in the last two centuries, and Eastern Europeans actually face considerable zenophobia in Western Europe as not being ‘really’ European. From my own experience living in Britain, I know plenty of British people who would be horrified by the idea of Poland ‘protecting’ what it is to be Europe.
Even if we can define what “Europe” is, we’re faced with another problem in trying to treat “Europeans” as an endangered species. The wonderful irony of Western imperialism is that both Europeans and white people genuinely are going extinct. One of major reasons why Europe should accept the incoming tide of refugees (besides, you know, basic humanity) is that the EU has some of the lowest birth rates in the world, and without either a considerable increase in their birth rate or an intake of new citizens, their population will just continue to decline, dropping by roughly half by 2060. For centuries, white populations have conquered and intermarried on other continents while trying to maintain strict exclusionism for their own countries, the end result of which is that “being white” is dying out.
But that doesn’t make white people an endangered species because race is not the same thing as species. There are plenty of humans in earth, and the distribution of physical characteristics is in constant flux, due in part to their tendency to migrate around the world. Indeed, Eastern Europe has already gone through several centuries of migration from eastern Asia, particularly from the Mongolian plateau. The influx of Mongolian tribes accounts for some of the differences in appearance between Eastern and Western Europeans – people who “look Eastern European,” a facial structure made famous by Mila Kunis and Milla Jovovich, look like the result of centuries of intermixing between Scandinavians, Germanic tribes, and Mongolian tribes.
And those tribes didn’t understand themselves as invading some sacred city on the hill by settling in Europe – in fact, for most of the Middle Ages, Scandinavian, Germanic, and Mongolian tribes were all viewed as equally barbaric by the people of the Mediterranean, both in southern Europe and in North Africa and the Middle East, which had remained the center of culture for a millennium. The idea of Middle Easterners “contaminating” Europe would have made no sense to Europeans in the Middle Ages – although they considered Muslims the enemies of Christianity, they were desperate for the luxury goods and ancient knowledge found in Constantinople and ‘the Orient,’ and parts of what we call Europe today were under Muslim rule throughout the Middle Ages, including Sicily, Cyprus, Spain, Portugal, and at various points, parts of Southern France.
There’s no real scholarly agreement as to when the idea of “Europe” began – there is limited evidence for the use of the term in the 17th and 18th centuries, but it seems to be predominately a post-Napoleonic idea. To put that in perspective, there’s been a United States longer than there’s been a “Europe” as we use the term today. While we’re at it, Tiffany & Co. is older than the united Italy we see on a map today, and there’s only been a united Germany for 99 of the last 150 years. All of this is just to say that while we think of “Europe” as a constant thing that goes back centuries, it really isn’t, and the fact that “European” as an identity is still evolving should not be surprising – it’s always been evolving, and will continue to do so no matter what, either becoming a new hybrid society or dying off and making way for something new, whichever comes first.