Blonde, blue-eyed

There’s some nonsense being circulated as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Much of it coming out of the mouths of journalists and social commentators, attempting futilely to explain that war for civilised Europeans is far more profound than it is for presumably uncivilised Asians and Africans, who should just get used to it.

Some journalists have rightly been called out for their unwitting racism and double-standards. Few seem to have been called out on facts, however. One widely circulated soundbite is the contention that Ukrainians are a blonde-haired, blue-eyed people.

Nobody seems very interested in the fact that only twenty-five percent of Ukraine’s population has blue eyes. Nor do people seem very interested in the fact that blonde hair is common not just in Europe, but through West, Central and East Asia, North Africa and Oceania.

Using the phenotypes of individuals as a marker of social worth is clearly nonsensical. It has been surprising, therefore, hearing these ideas articulated by apparently educated journalists.

The lack of self-awareness amongst some in their coverage of this war — compared to their coverage of other wars in which their own governments took on the role of invading forces — has been astounding.

How sad that we have learnt nothing from the twentieth century, and seem intent on repeating the same mistakes all over again, referencing blonde-haired, blue-eyed peoples as a marker of belonging.

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