This article was written a few months ago but its content is even more relevant after the Brexit vote and in the context of 57% increase in racist and hate attacks.

“Was this Britain? Every group of people I passed was speaking Russian. The shops were full of black bread, pickled cucumbers and vodka, the faces were Slavic”.

I could go on but I don’t want to scare you. It is not a work of science fiction either. This is the village of Boston and its green fenlands under ‘the English Heaven’ as described by Peter Hitchens of Daily Mail on 28 June 2013.

Many days have passed since Peter has published his post and he’s written many before and since. He won’t be intimidated by the ‘political correctness’. He goes straight to the point by showing us that whilst immigration had largely been tolerated for many decades – from the moment the migrants started settling in ‘little English Heavens’ – all jokes went out of the window.

But the biggest revelation came in his defence that ‘race’ clearly wasn’t a problem only that “their faces looked Slavic and their culture, language, customs, attitudes and sense of humour were different”- to the point that he felt helpless (“what if they did not understand the word Help if I was drowning”).

Peter knows what he is talking about – he had spent some years working in Moscow and could promptly distinguish the Cyrillic sings on the shops (or so he says) from the Latin alphabet even though he probably could not read it.

A few hypothetical questions left though (for the purposes of the cultural competence training):

  • How many people has he passed that morning and how did he know they all spoke Russian. To a monolingual ear most Slavic languages tend to merge into one.
  • Russian citizens are not coming an masse as EU migrants – am I missing something?
  • Finally – what joke did he tell and to whom to conclude that sense of humour might pose a future integration challenge?

The full article below. Brexit or Noexit – will Britain finally accept that debate on migrants is also a debate on race and economics?

Since this article was published the Balkanist has published an open letter to Washington Post in which the issue of describing ‘Eastern Europe’ and ‘Eastern Europeans’ as a homogenised block with inferior culture. This was in reference to ‘culture of cheating’ at Eastern European educational institutions. See the link here:

An Open Letter to the Editors of the Monkey Cage Blog of the Washington Post Online Edition

Read more:


9 thoughts on “Who’s been sowing the seeds of hatred?

  1. “Under an English Heaven” is a quotation from a poem by Rupert Brooke. Sorry he doesn’t know of it. Boston is a substantial town, not a village. I went there after a resident wrote to me to tell me of what was happening, and offered to guide me round. None of my facts has been challenged in the several years since I wrote it. I can certainly understand Russian shop signs. The Cyrillic alphabet used in Russia is wholly different from the Greek alphabet, and is also different from that used by Serbs, Ukrainians, Belarussians and Ukrainians. I speak an admittedly limited Russian (I lived in Moscow for more than two years, but ahve forgotten much of what I knew during the period 1990-93), and reckon I could distinguish spoken Russian from Czech or Polish. Culture, being alterable, is not the same thing as race, and a concern for it is therefore more or less the opposite of racial discrimination, which insists (stupidly) that people are fundamentally, unalterably different. The expression ‘Slavic face’ is a factual description, and if he doesn’t know what I mean then he must be very unobservant. I had spent some hours walking round the town on the Sunday evening I arrived and the following Monday. I heard nothing but Russian spoken for much of that time. Different cultures have different senses of humour (which are different senses of proportion and importance) . This is not a contentious statement. What he is missing is that many inhabitants of the three Baltic Republics, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, are ethnic Russians. They have EU passports, becase these sgtates have now joined the EU, and can come here freely. Simple if you are knowledgeable. Not so simple if you are ignorant and *think* you are knowledgeable. But an intellectually curious person might have worked it out or looked it up.


    1. I was trying to point to the problem of writing about these people, knowing very little about their stories, or even where they came from, retorting to unconscious bias and generalisations. Even more importantly, the article, whilst focusing on the town of Boston, seemed to want to make a comment on a the issue of migration from the new EU in general terms. I see it on TV as well as in other media. There are only two types of Eastern Europeans -single males with very little English (many of those are described as causing neighbourhood issues) or young students whose life experience is somewhat limited. Where is the more complex view of the world, with families, mothers, cross-horder professionals and where migrant labour – both educated and basic has its place rightly or wrongly in the system we live in? Are we going to just live aside or start talking to each other. Surely, there must be residents old and new even in Boston who ‘sometimes’ interact. That might also be an interesting story to read…


        1. Thank you – you are right – the first article ‘Lincolngrad’ is attempting a wider context. I can’t help but think that it too poses a ‘them and us’ debate, it plays on the Cold War mentality (grey, cold countries, the ending -grad, urinating, emptying bladders) and it uses the term Eastern European in a very wide sense (although I do appreciate that the word immigrant is consciously avoided). It could be viewed as supporting ethnic divisions, rather then the opposite. You are a public personality and have a power to influence some of this stuff. I only have my personal feelings and can’t help but fear how these kinds of stories potentially negatively influence how my ethnic group and those of one my many friends are viewed in the UK. I do not describe myself regularly as an Eastern European – I do not know many people that do – I am, however, aware, that this label is at least as old as the Soviet Block, which is long gone. I would be surprised if Lincolnshire or Boston didn’t have nascent organisations that are building relationships between the locals and the newcomers and I would be also surprised if none of the migrants were integrated. It is also possible that passers-by who did not speak English at the time, were more than capable of speaking it when asked. I feel that a more nuanced, multi-dimensional debate is required.


  2. Wow!
    Me parece muy conseguida tu opinión sobre este esquema.
    Desde hace ya tiempo ando algo rayado con este tema y también intento buscar toda la información que puedo sobre este tema.
    El tributo que has producido me ha parecido muy grata, sin embargo creo que se
    podría hundir un poco más y de igual modo poder desenmarañar
    ciertas dudas que todavía atesoro. De todos modos, mil gracias por tu participación. Estaré alerta
    a similares manifestaciones que realices. Muchas gracias.



  3. Hello. Me ha agradado repasar tu escrito. Me ha parecido una lección muy sugestiva,
    si bien, en determinados temas difiero un poco de tu dictamen. He resuelto que tienes
    más manifestaciones, ofrezco atrapar un lapso para leerlas.
    Ten por cierto que seguiré todas tus ediciones.
    Te alabo por tu sitio web. Un cordial saludo.


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