News Reports Show How War in Ukraine Exposes the Casual Racism of Europe

By Michele Chadwick

UKRAINE – As the world’s eyes turned to Russia and Ukraine, it became the center of the majority of media coverage. And, as this coverage began, prejudice and blatant racism ingrained within Europe became exposed, according to news reports.

Countless reports noted what appeared to be degrading remarks that imply the superiority of Europe over other countries and regions, particularly the Middle East.

“This isn’t a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan, that has seen conflict raging for decades,” Charlie D’Agata, a senior CBS News correspondent, reported from Kyiv. “You know, this is a relatively civilized, relatively European—I have to choose those words carefully, too—city where you wouldn’t expect that or hope that it’s going to happen.”

D’Agata’s carefully chosen words reflect the underlying belief that Europe is better than third world countries.

Lucy Watson proclaimed for ITV News in Kyiv, “Now the unthinkable has happened to them, and this is not a developing, third world nation; this is Europe.”

Her comments also portray third world developing countries as an inherently lesser country because they are not as advanced. Yet, the reason these countries are developing is the lasting effects of exploitation at the hands of colonialism. This false narrative of superiority is under attack from the Russian-Ukraine war.

On BFM TV, a French commentator’s reality is crumbling because he cannot comprehend this uncivilized behavior from Europeans. “We are in a European city and we have cruise missile fire as though we were in Iraq or Afghanistan, can you imagine,” he said.

This war in Europe is a reality check for the casual racism that is embedded into many countries. Europeans developed this idea of superiority over developing countries and now they must face the reality, said analysts.

Writing for The Telegraph, the British pundit Daniel Hannan penned, “They seem so like us. That is what makes it so shocking. Ukraine is a European country. Its people watch Netflix and have Instagram accounts…War is no longer something visited upon impoverished and remote populations.”

Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov expressed these racist beliefs quite clearly when discussing refugees.

“These are not the refugees we are used to… these people are Europeans,” he said. “These people are intelligent, they are educated people … This is not the refugee wave we have been used to, people we were not sure about their identity, people with unclear pasts, who could have been even terrorists,” he said.

Petkov’s remarks imply that non-European refugees are not these things. And that’s not so.

Europe’s white superiority complex is blatantly apparent in their reaction to Ukraine.

One Ukrainian official on BBC News, unchecked by the reporter, made it clear, “It’s very emotional for me because I see European people with blonde hair, blue eyes being killed, children being killed every day with Putin’s missiles.”

This is affecting non-white Ukraine refugees. At the borders, non-white refugees are being turned away or threatened, according to news reports. Many turned to social media posting in the hopes of raising awareness.

On February 28, the African Union (AU) stated its concerns regarding reports that African citizens in Ukraine are being refused the right to cross borders to safety as they try to flee the conflict in Ukraine.

“Reports that Africans are singled out for unacceptable dissimilar treatment would be shockingly racist and in breach of international law,” AU Chair, Senegal’s President Macky Sall, and Moussa Faki Mahamat head of AU Commission said in a joint statement.

About The Author

Michele is a senior at UC Santa Barbara from Los Angles County.

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  1. Alan Miller

    Europe’s white superiority complex is blatantly apparent in their reaction to Ukraine.

    This is a shockingly inappropriate over-generalization of Europe that serves no purpose — other than to further a simplistic, racist narrative of ‘see? white people are racists‘.

    I have been following the war in depth for quite some time, long before it started.  I have seen many comments/narratives about how modern Ukraine is (especially the cities), how ‘western’ it is, how free it’s people are (were), how much they have tasted freedom in 30 years of sovereignty, how much they want to join the EU and/or NATO.

    I’m not saying there isn’t racism in Europe.  I’m not doubting those statements quoted were made.  I find some of them borderline and others clearly with racist undertones (to the degree they are in context).   The one of blue-eyed, blonde babies is downright Aryan — and I know Ukrainians who have black hair, dark skin, and brown eyes.  But, my issue remains with the statement:

    Europe’s white superiority complex is blatantly apparent in their reaction to Ukraine.

    The whole of Europe?  Complex?  Blantantly?  Their reaction?  You mean the reaction of those quoted?  They are NOT the whole of Europe.  They show the racism in those quoted, and that there are racists, not that Europe has a “white superior complex”.  What percentage are racists?  Well, at least that is up for debate.

    BTW, Ukraine is one of the most tolerant countries (or former countries) on Earth towards Jews, despite Putin’s claims of needing to rid Ukraine of Nazi’s.  Less than 5% of the population surveyed says they would not welcome Jews as fellow citizens.  The Jewish population is about 0.3% of Ukraine, yet the country elected a Jewish President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy.  In contrast, both Romania and Lithuania are much more Jew hating, with nearly a quarter of citizens in those countries stating they would not welcome Jews as fellow citizens.  And Russia slides in at about 15%, so three times worse than Ukraine.

    1. David Greenwald

      It’s interesting, Zelensky’s grandfather was the only survivor in his family from the Nazis.  He’s one of the few Jewish leaders outside of Israel in the world.  GB and France only had one Jewish PM each, and the US none.

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