Useful Notes: Misplaced Nationalism
"Any time I've been to an historical building in Ireland, after five minutes you'll see a plaque on the wall, and it says 'and then the English came and
It's another day on the Internet. Someone mentions a nation in passing, another person mentions something about that nation and how bad it is
. Everyone takes sides, a heated argument
ensues, and the original topic may never be mentioned again
What is this force that divides Message Boards
, derails discussions, and causes otherwise reasonable people to turn into frothing super-patriots?
That's right, it's Misplaced Nationalism
, the division of the Internet along nationalnote
lines even though the Internet supposedly transcends borders and cultures. This generally comes hand in hand with the assumption that even though ''you'' may not agree with everything ''your'' country does
, people from other countries are totally complicit in everything their
country does. Don't like their leader? Insult them for it or, better yet, blame them for supporting that person (even when they didn't
). Have a grudge on their country for something that happened decades or even centuries ago? Bring it up now, and blame the current generation for it
! Hold a nasty prejudice against another country? Rag on them for it! If they insist you're misinformed, tell them they're lying, because you clearly know more about their country than they do.
The typical result is that everyone else in the discussion (who up to that point had been nationless Internet entities) suddenly become flag waving patriots for whatever country they happen to be from (even if they don't actually take sides) or agree with. The argument will usually rage on until a moderator or the involved parties realize that they got along fine before they knew what country everyone was from. Usually, at least one person (often but not always the one who started it) will still be extremely bitter about the whole thing, and these arguments have been known to kill forums that couldn't deal with them.
Although it can be hard to distinguish them from the actual Single Issue Wonks
, these types of arguments are often started by Trolls
looking to rile everyone up. Like with most trolling, the best way to deal with it is to ignore it and hope it goes away.
When Misplaced Nationalism breaks out, it's not uncommon to see bouts of Cultural Cringe
also appear from Boomerang Bigots
, who are all too happy to agree with the vitriol aimed at their countrymen. Others may beg for belligerents to Stop Being Stereotypical
, especially if they're acting out negative stereotypes. Expect to see plenty of Hypocritical Fandom
and No True Scotsman
fallacies in these situations as well.
See also: Patriotic Fervor
, Flame War
, Single-Issue Wonk
, Internet Backdraft
, Cultural Posturing
. Contrast Cargo Cult
and Cultural Cringe
Note: Examples are categorized according to what the "Misplaced Nationalism" is directed at.
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Towards North American Countries
The United States
- Discussion involving the United States of America in general. Just mentioning the USA in some areas has the possibility of igniting a Flame War. "America Is Evil" is a common reaction to a number of things on the Internet, and that's just from Americans. These attitudes turn up in Real Life, as well. An example of this is that on any article/video about some bad American thing, expect a bunch of comments from people who don't live in the USA saying "I'm glad I live in X Country where Y doesn't happen!"
- Displays of American culture or patriotism. For instance, the American sports chant "U-S-A! U-S-A!" is sometimes viewed as an example of inconsiderate Flavor #2 Eaglelandism at its worst, by both non-Americans and Americans who suffer from the Cultural Cringe. It's also a major source of Hypocritical Fandom, as the people who denounce displays of American culture or patriotism will applaud and support similar displays from other countries.
- Even the etymology and use of the word "Yankee" can stir up Misplaced Nationalism. The origins of the word are disputed, although most everyone agrees it comes from Dutch, probably from the time of New Netherland. But the fights are hottest over the meaning. To an American it's someone from a specific part of the United States, although in the South it's in reference to somebody who is from a state that sided with the Union during the Civil War. To other Anglophones, it's anyone from the United States. Thus arguments between Americans from the South denying that they're Yankees and people from other countries angry that they're denying that they're American occasionally spring up. As E. B. White, author of Charlottes Web and a New Yorker who loved New England, put it:
"To foreigners, a Yankee is an American. To Americans, a Yankee is a Northerner. To Northerners, a Yankee is an Easterner. To Easterners, a Yankee is a New Englander. To New Englanders, a Yankee is a Vermonter. And in Vermont, a Yankee is somebody who eats pie for breakfast."
- Similar to the usage of "Yankee" above, there can often be issues over the term "American" itself and who exactly can use the term. Citizens of the United States will often maintain that only citizens of the United States can be termed "Americans" because their country is called the United States of America; which in turn draws the ire of some from Southern and Latin America who view people from the US as haughty by using the phrase. Since, according to them, being simply located in the continent of North or South America qualifies them to identify as American. Americans tend to be rather disgruntled by this, as they see it as Hispanics/Latinos/etc as trying to 'usurp' or 'repudiate' their cultural identity, and will often point out the absurdity and unwieldiness of other monikers: e.g., "What are we suppose to call ourselves? United Statians?" This isn't helped by the fact that in Spanish, "United Statian" actually sounds pretty good (as estadounidense—try saying it, it's fun) and is in common usage; many Latin Americans simply don't get that "United Statian" (like any of the other proffered alternatives) sounds like nails on a chalkboard to an English-speaker, and could just as easily apply to citizens of Estados Unidos Mexicanos (The United States of Mexico). However, another term, "Usonian", used by Frank Lloyd Wright as the name of his style of (then revolutionary) single-story house (which weirdly was a flop at the time), is used sometimes to refer to people from the United States, and in fact, the demonym for someone from the United States in Esperanto is "Usono".
- It should be noted, that although many Americans can and will identify themselves based on their state of origin e.g., Californian/Texan/etc (even outside of the US, though it tends to be more often used in the US) almost everyone from the US will view their state and national identity as complementary and interchangeable.
- Similar to above, the very mention of culture in something that will draw the rage of many in Latin America due to calling the US a cultureless country in contrast with the Latin ones. This is somewhat justified in the fact that the majority of people of Latin America are descended from both the Native Amerindians and the Spaniards that came afterwards note , hence they can claim a continuity of the cultures that existed before in sharp contrast to the US, whose policies towards the Natives are already infamous.
- Any mention of the CIA/Intelligence of the USA is going to be met with the hatred of every person of a country that the US meddled with to implant either puppet presidents or military dictatorships to protect their interests.
- A particularly stupid version of this occurs over the differences in English-language spelling between the U.S. and elsewhere in the world. Typically, people from the Commonwealth claim their spelling is purer or more proper (despite the fact that both systems have evolved pretty much equally since they first split), while Americans claim their spelling is better or more efficient (despite the fact that both systems have equally vast numbers of idiosyncrasies, like most languages).
- Arguments between Black and White Americans on Affirmative Action, Racism in the modern and past USA, colonialism, black nationalism, etc. Given both sides feel victimized things can get nasty, particularly when some third group (Jews, Native Americans) lump the two together as the same oppressors.
- Some non-Americans for some reason tend to get pretty infuriated when an American company licenses a foreign franchise to America.
- This is typically out of concern that the steamroller that is Hollywood will completely Americanize the franchise beyond recognition, making it generic and destroying any cultural connections and/or characters.
- Any discussion on an international forum regarding either the Association or American types of "football", even among people who don't follow sports. Arguments over the names of the sports, arguments over kit, all argument fodder. See the Sports section on Internet Backdraft and the Fans of "That other Football" section on Acceptable Hobby Targets for more.
- Any discussion involving Cuba is likely to devolve into pro- or anti-American flaming, communism vs. capitalism flamewars, Che Guevara bashing/idealising, bickering about free health care, etc.
- Almost any discussion of American Immigration, particularly around topics such as language and employment is doomed to be trolled.
- Non-US residents assuming that the US is the same all over, or that it can be divided into North and South. The Midwest is not to be grouped with the Northeast, ever. And for the love of all that is holy, the South is not Texas!
- The American Civil War / War Between the States / War of Northern Aggression / War of Southern Treason breeds an example of this for a nation that no longer even exists. Which of the aforementioned names you choose for the war is enough to speak volumes about your opinion on it, and what part of the country you grew up in. Was the war about ending slavery, or about preserving states' rights? Was Abraham Lincoln a slave-liberating hero respected and admired worldwide, or a tyrant who trampled on the God-given right of a third of his country's citizens to own and use other people as they saw fit? Was General Sherman a war hero who did what he had to do to pacify Georgia/punish the south for its sins, or should he have been tried for war crimes? Did the Southern states have a legitimate right to secede, or did they betray the US? Was the "Reconstruction" era the final insult by the victorious Union, or a valiant (albeit short-lived) attempt to ensure that the freed slaves didn't get their rights stripped from them by vengeful white ex-Confederates?
- "The Late Unpleasantness" has appeared as an aversion of the above, either jokingly or as characterization.
- Some lively, if reasonably friendly, regional flame wars can get going among Americans about how to cook barbeque. Beef vs pork, best sauce, best smokehouse wood, and timing are all grounds for a spat, the moreso when anyone dares to question which regional recipe is "real" barbeque and which is "grilling". Not to mention gas versus charcoal.
- A strange version takes place in the comments for this video, titled "Portlandia : Dream of the 90s". For the most part it consists of people declaring (with various levels of seriousness, but always generally in favor of Portland) its perfect accuracy. Then along comes one guy saying Portland is just a wannabe Austin. The mockery of Austin that follows more or less fits the tone of previous Portland worship, but the Texan guy still doesn't seem to get the joke.
- Oregon in general is a testy one. From the Oregonian perspective, DON'T say you're from California or you'll be expected to be a spoiled and rude asshole who doesn't know how to drive and doesn't respect the history and culture of the state (in the Portland area this has morphed into a dislike of people from the East Coast over the past few years, thanks to the recent Hipster Invasion, even amongst people who came from the East Coast to Portland but did so years earlier). Also, DO NOT pronounce the last syllable of Oregon like "gone" or they'll never find your body. It's pronounced "gin," with a hard "g." Oregonians are also somewhat annoyed that it seems like the only things non-Oregonians know their state for is The Oregon Trail and Portlandia, instead of its many other accomplishments.
- On the other side, Oregonians (in particular Portlanders, given that Portland is probably the only place in Oregon non-Oregonians have heard of) are thought of as being upjumped hipsters obsessed with their own quirkiness and lazy to a fault, and Portland/Oregon self-evidently being inferior to [[insert commentator's home town/largest major city/home state here]]. The TV show Portlandia has not been helpful in this regard, as it is viewed as being more of a documentary than the work of parody and humor it actually is. This is the reason why the show is unpopular in certain segments of Portland/Oregon society.
- New Yorkers vs. New Jerseyans on the issue of rightful ownership of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The landmarks are technically on New Jersey's side of the Hudson River, and Jersey City uses the Statue of Liberty on official documents and on "Welcome to Jersey City" signs, yet legally, they are exclaves of the State of New York.note The arguments can get quite fierce, especially as one gets closer to the Hudson.
- Likewise, the fact that the New York area's two football teams, the New York Giants and Jets, play in a stadium located in East Rutherford, New Jersey. New Jersey governor Chris Christie even entered this fray by referring to one of the teams as the "Jersey Jets" as a Take That against the team's owners for leaving "New York" in the name.
- Downstate New York (the Big Applesauce, Long Island, and however much of the Hudson Valley one considers to be in New York City's orbit) versus upstate New York (everything else). The former views the latter as a bunch of Rust Belt bumpkins who would be bankrupt if they didn't have the City's tax dollars to mooch off of, while the latter views the former as a bunch of limousine liberals who think that the state of New York ends at White Plains (if not the Bronx), and get an undeserved amount of attention from State legislation. Having people immediately assume "I'm from New York" means the city doesn't help, nor does the commonality of antisemitism in upstate areas combined with NYC demographics. Each side blames the other for whatever problems the state of New York currently faces. Albany is an island unto itself, the Thunderdome where the two sides meet.
- A near-identical dynamic exists in Illinois between Chicagoland and the rest of the state, and in Georgia between Atlanta and the rest of the state. And a similar rift has recently opened up in Colorado, over the issues of gun control and environmental regulation. This also applies to about 13 other states.
- A similar dynamic is also true of Western Massachusetts vs. Boston, where the two have different cultures (though oddly Western Mass is more liberal despite being more rural), and where the former often feels like they get shafted in everything while Boston gets all the resources and attention. As such, anyone from Western Mass will be likely to emphasize the "Western" bit and get annoyed at being confused with Boston. This has all been true since before the US existed proper, resulting in Shay's Rebellion and part of why the Constitution was created. It is a rather one-sided fight, though, in that Western Mass dislikes Boston but Boston barely notices they exist, or already thinks of Western Mass as its own state, if not the moon.
- Pennsylvania is often described as "Philadelphia in the east, Pittsburgh in the west, and Kentucky in the middle," referring to the vast rural area between the two cities, commonly known as "Pennsyltucky" (or "The T" if you're being politenote ), which is every bit as culturally and politically distinct from the urban regions as you can imagine. It can be a bit annoying to Pennsylvanians from Pittsburgh or Philly—or one of the larger cities within the T like Harrisburg, Allentown, or Erie—since if you tell an outsider you're from Pennsylvania, their first thought is Amish Country.
- There's also a bit of state nationalism when it comes to Florida and California. A lot of Californians will point out that Florida is "like California but they replaced the fun with old people." However, Floridians will retort by pointing out that California is basically a desert and can't support a tropical climate like Florida does. This leads to citizens from the two states (usually people from central California vs. people from central Florida) calling each other "wannabes".
- There's also a bit of this between New Hampshire and Massachusetts. As far as NH residents are concerned, MA is a corrupt, ridiculously expensive, overdeveloped shithole full of arrogant [M]assholes who couldn't care less about anyone other than themselves and think that they're the center of the universe, while MA residents think that NH is full of bedroom community dwellers who constantly talk shit about Massachusetts even though they have no problem working there, dumb hicks, and incredibly stupid and clueless libertarians. They have one thing in common, however: each one thinks that the other's motorists are the rudest, most incompetent morons on the planet.
- Just mentioning whether or not states within the U.S. should secede will draw out people that hate the U.S. as it currently is and encourage states (and not necessarily their own states) to detach themselves from the Union, and people that will call anyone supporting a secession a traitor.
- And then of course, there is Texas, known for people who are very vocally proud of their home state, and who like to remind others that their state was a Republic before joining (or annexing, depending on your point of view and degree of tongue-in-cheek) the rest of the United States. It is not part of The South, and the opposite is also true (although Texas did secede and join the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War, and seceded from Mexico over the exact same issue, possibly making Texas Double South).
- Many people from other states, particularly the Western or Northeastern, will be derisive towards Texans for their (perceived or otherwise) overtly conspicuous state patriotism and anti-intellectualism. Often times, Americans will comment that Texas is to the rest of America what American is to the rest of the world (eg, Some Americans blame Texas and sometimes Florida for their poor international reputation).
- The Midwest (states West of the Mississippi river but not on the West Coast) vs. the rest of the country; due to the fact that most of the states in the Midwest are sparsely populated and consists mostly of farmland, the Midwest is often times considered politically irrelevant to the rest of the US (derisively nicknamed "fly-over country" by some, implying that the only important parts of the country are those along the coast). This of course makes Midwesterners feel angry and marginalized by other Americans, especially in the Federal government. Of course, the recent trend of some politicians to appeal to Midwesterners by referring to them as "Real Americans/Real America" (whatever that means) also upsets those on the coast, who feel like these politicians are implying that they're somehow less American than corn.
- Michigan and Ohio "fought" a "war" over Toledo when Michigan was about to become a state (1835-36). (We are aware, in retrospect, that there are fewer things lamer to fight a war over than Toledo.) Neither state has let the other forget about it since: Ohioans have a wonderful ditty that starts "I don't give a damn about the whole State of Michigan..." (to the tune of "The Old Gray Mare"), while Michiganders, as is their tight-lipped quasi-Canadian wont, simply say, "Fuck Ohio."
- Some Brits love to decry the "bastardization" of English by Americans.
- Canada, seemingly unified to other people, is actually extremely fragmented internally. Many provinces, not just Quebec, have a long history of isolationism within the country itself. For a long time after Confederation, the attitude was "British Columbians are British Columbians, Albertans are Albertans, etc." Nobody was Canadian. That attitude still carries over today, especially with the clashing cultures of French Canada and English Canada. All of this misplaced provincial and cultural pride fuels flame wars on a truly horrific scale. The most unifying factor appears to be hatred of Toronto .
- Canadian joke: "There are three things that unite Canada: hockey, health care, and hating Toronto.
- There is some rivalry between Canadians and Americans, mostly due to their geographic proximity. One tends to be the butt of the others' joke when both are referenced. While this is mostly joking in nature, a number of either may take serious offense, or take the jokes too far that they do cause offense. Similarly, mistaking one for the other can cause the mistaken party to take offense, mostly due to perceived negative stereotypes associated with the other.
- Some left-leaning Canadians in particular will often display American-bashing attitudes similar to those of western Europeans, and enjoy criticizing the deficiencies of the American welfare state (particularly in contrast to the much-venerated Canadian health care system) or US foreign policy. In some Canadian circles, it is fashionable to associate all right-wing politics with America, and accuse right-wing Canadians of trying to import foreign, "American-style" ideas. In return, liberal Americans tend to mock the economic policies of Canada's current Conservative Party government (despite the Conservative Party of Canada being very ideologically similar to the US Democratic Party).
- Canada tends to have a longstanding anxiety about American conquest or annexation. The War of 1812 can be a particularly tense/passionate memory for many Canadians, who will, in turn, resent what they perceive to be a lack of American appreciation for how "wrong" American forces were in invading the British-Canadian colonies. The anxiety has modernized to a general fear that Canadian culture and economy is being subsumed by the much more powerful American version. To quote Prime Minister Trudeau, "Living next to [the United States] is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant; no matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I may call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt. Even a friendly nuzzling can sometimes lead to frightening consequences."
- Similar to the above, there's South Park's Blame Canada song, which some Canadians decided to take as "Americans bashing Canadians", despite that it's really satirizing Moral Guardians.
- Along the same vein, some Canadians take offense at Weird Al's Canadian Idiot, a parody of Green Day's American Idiot, that makes fun of American stereotypes of Canadians, more making fun of Americans than Canadians themselves.
- Basically every single video with a social commentary on modern Mexico will result in a massive flame war between Mexicans themselves.
- Many Mexicans love to argue about who is the worst president ever.
- Mexican immigrants to the United States tend to be a sore spot between Mexicans and Americans. A number of Mexicans tend to dislike those that emigrate to America, considering them disloyal to their nation and heritage. In turn, some of these emigrants also express disdain toward those who chose to stay due their grievances with the country. Making things worse, is the amount of Mexican immigrants have illegally entered the country, which has not gone well with many Americans. Figuring out way on how to deal with this problem has been an endless source of debate and ire between Mexicans, Mexican-Americans (both legal and illegal), and other Americans. And then there are the parts of New England that think that Mexican immigrants should speak Portuguese or French Creole like normal Latinos.
- People from Spanish or Portuguese-speaking nations (e.g. Spain, Portugal, Mexico, the countries of South and Central America) can be real Single Issue Wonks toward Americans on the subject of demonyms and etymology, bashing Americans for calling themselves "American." The reason this happens is twofold.
First, people from Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries are taught that the Americas are not two continents, but one (Portuguese kids, from the 90's onwards, have been taught the two continents classification, so the Portuguese don't really have this issue), using the denominations of South America and North America to define subcontinents, even including a third one, Central America. In the United States, Canada, most English speaking countries and Asia, the Americas are referred to as two separate continents and are always called "North America" and "South America." Thus, where people from the former group would refer to people from the American continents as "Americans" in their own language, people from the latter group would say "North Americans" or "South Americans" in theirs.
Second. Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countriesnote often call Americans Estadounidense and Estadunidense (however, the Portuguese people say Estados Unidos), respectively, which literally means "United Stateser," despite Mexico, at least, also being Estados Unidos. Meanwhile, in English and most other languages, Americans are called "American" or a derivation thereof. To further complicate matters, in some of the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries the word Norteamericano is used to mean "citizen of the United States," where the equivalent English word means "person from the North American continent," including Canadians and Mexicans (at a minimum) as well as people from the US.
Third. The legitimacy of the use of the term "American" and which should use it. Most people of Latin America have Amerindian ascendency apart from the Spanish and Africans ones note and have, indeed, built their cultures and national identities over those mixed heritages, therefore, they can claim a continuity of the history of the people that first lived in America. In contrast, the US generally avoided a mixture of races for most of its history, making the foundations of its country the immigrants that came from the British possessions and shunning, and eventually, persecuting the original inhabitants of North America.
This leads some to assume that Americans call themselves American out of ignorance of other countries in the Americas—or out of deliberate arrogance—even though the word's usage had been cemented in the English language well over a century before the United States was founded. In fact, the first known examples of the word "American" being used in English to mean "citizen of the British colonies" are found in The English-American: A New Survey of the West Indies, a book by Thomas Gage written in the 1640s. On the other hand, usage of the term "American" to define someone as "born in the continent of America" in Spanish and Portuguese predates the English definition since the first two arrived to the continent over a century before the English.
- People prone to this tend to badger Americans with the specious platitude "America is a continent, not a country!" and call Americans "USicans" in English, or some derivation thereof. They'll also demand that others do the same—which is another source of Misplaced Nationalism itself.
Towards South American Countries
- Chileans vs. Argentinians/Bolivians/Peruvians debates get really nasty. It doesn't help that Bolivia and Peru have held a grudge against Chile for a long, long time (130 years since the war that caused the animosity and the wounds still haven't healed), while Argentina's relations with Chile are merely on-again/off-again. The fact that Chile has the best economy and living standards in all South America (with the possible exception of Brazil) does not help things, nor does the fact that the poorest of the three lost its access to the ocean to the other to (in a war it started, but still), making productive trade incredibly difficult.
- Who invented pisco? Was it Chile? Was it Peru? You don't know what pisco is? Good! Stay the hell away from discussions about it!
- Many threads or responses on Spanish dubbed clips on Youtube inevitably dissolve into bickering between those who prefer Spanish!Spanish or Latin American!Spanish, generally over which audience it was intended for, and thus how it should be dubbed. Given just how regional the Spanish language can be, depending on which continent the speaker comes from (or often even just country or province), it's understandable, but leads to a lot of unnecessary flame wars over nationality and colonialism.
- There is a thing every Spanish speaker agrees on: That their own dialect/accent is the "purest", "real" and "original" Spanish, and all the rest are nothing but corruptions.
- While Brazilians can have some conflicts with neighbors (particularly Friendly Rival Argentina), they usually indulge in in-fighting, since like the US it's a country of continental proportions. It's usually started by people from São Paulo, the richest and most populous city (and its namesake state; they have a reputation rather like that of New Yorkers), with usual targets being Rio de Janeiro (who have a reputation rather like that of Southern Californians), and the Northeast region.
Towards European Countries
- See above where Americans get angry if Europeans don't know that America isn't one homogenous country? Europeans get just as angry when outsiders assume homogeneity in Europe.
- An unfortunate attitude seems to see the English as the cultural equivalent of a blank screen or white noise. Americans who are 31/32 English and 1/32 Irish will frequently consider themselves "Irish", often because they've been led to believe that there is no such thing as English culture—it's the default against which actual cultures are measured.
- As a whole, the French consider themselves to be one of the few, if not the only civilized country in the world - though they will often make exceptions, varying from people to people, as they may consider anything from history and political system to art, architecture or food as critical factors. For some reason Denmark seems to be the most common one, and countries where religion and politics are mixed the rarest (France prides itself as a secular state).
- Usually they aren't aggressive about this mentality; they'll often view other nationals with a varying mix of pity and contempt, unless they are from one of the few countries they like. Amusingly, some will view any nationalism with contempt, including French ones, and proudly view themselves as better than other nationals for it. But if you talk about Association Football, World War II or, more recently, French military, prepare to be rushed by suddenly-tricolor-wearing-and-rooster-wielding French netizens.
- As for provincial infighting, (almost) all French consider themselves first French; but you'd better not confuse two region, especially if they are close to one another. And God have mercy on your soul if you make the mistake of believing Brittany is British.
- Mistaking a Scotsman, Irishman or Welshmen for an Englishman really annoys some of them. This also goes for using "England" to refer to the whole of the United Kingdom, or, indeed, referring to any British citizen, trait, or product as 'European'.
- Accidentally including 'Ireland' into Great Britain is also bad form.
- Youtube hosts a video flamewar between Brits (mostly English) and French where members make and post very nationalistic videos trying to prove that their country is the best and the other sucks.
- Finns are very sensitive about things that come from Finland. Calling Nokia Japanese may actually make a Finn materialize from thin air to correct you. And for your own sake, never mistake anything Finnish (like The Moomins) for Swedish.
- How do you mistake Finns for Swedes anyway? Finns sound like nobody else on the planet thanks to their Moon Talk.
- Actually, Finnish-speaking Finns sound remarkably like Estonians. However, Finland belonged to Sweden until 1809 and about one-tenth of Finland's population consists of people who speak Swedish. Tove Jansson, the writer and artist of the The Moomins happened to come from this minority and originally wrote the stories in Swedish.
- Because of this, the Finnish school system mandates all Finns to learn Swedish from 7th grade, and because of that, nine tenths hate that one tenth for it. By the way, this one tenth are Fenno-swedes, not Swedes, and certainly not "Swedes in Finland" or some variation thereof.
- Finns also get very upset at people calling them Scandinavians. Everyone in Northern Europe uses the term "the Nordic Countries" to refer to Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland, while Scandinavia is a region made up of only Sweden, Denmark and Norway.
- There are conflicting definitions of "Scandinavia", for some it is just Sweden and Norway, but not Denmark. Also, if you ask a physical geographer, the "Scandinavian Peninsula" excludes Denmark but includes northern Finland. The "Nordic countries" also can include the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland.note
- Naturally, given the history between Ireland and the United Kingdom (but England in particular), it's very easy to rile up tensions between denizens of the two. Similarly, between Ireland and Northern Ireland, which remains a part of the United Kingdom. And Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. And between the different denizens of Northern Ireland, many of whom have very strong opinions on exactly whether they should be part of either Ireland or the United Kingdom.
- This extends into real life, where a lot of (Catholic) Americans, often ex-pats or with Irish ancestors, often took the side of the IRA during the Troubles. Bono of U2, a born-and-bred Dublin lad, was very annoyed at those kind of people, especially after Enniskillen.
- Most 'Irish' anti English sentiment is largely from foreign people of Irish extraction, above all Americans who, from a European viewpoint, seem to be using a fake Irish identity to justify anti-English prejudice. In reality actual English and actual Irish people are usually highly integrated (lots of Irish people live and work in the UK) and get on well with each other, there isn't any real cultural difference between the two countries and pragmatism has usually overcome any historical tensions.
- This also tends to be an accusation leveled at Americans who have an opinion about the Troubles, the IRA, or Anglo-Irish relations in general, that unless you were born in Ireland or England, you need to shut up about your opinions (or even better, not have one). This is despite the fact that opinions regarding other political issues (the US Civil War,note China vs. Taiwan, Palestinian/Israeli conflict, etc.) usually don't require being from the region.
- A lot of countries have grievances against the UK due to the Empire she had in the past. Ethiopia, which Britain liberated from the Italians (who never really managed to take over, but did make everybody miserable and precluded any other effective government), is still pissed the Brits decided to stick around and try to take over instead of going home.
- Suffice it to say, the United Kingdom is like a storm in a teapot. The various territories that make up the UK all have their own prides that clash with each other. Some of the British have developed a knack for self-deprecation humour, suggesting that they're the worst people in at least of all of Europe, and are the most irritating visitors note . Others have pointed out that England, and to a lesser extent, Wales, get the worst of everything within the UK note , paying large sums of money to Scotland and in England's case, not having their own national parliament like Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
- And never confuse Yorkshire with Lancashire!
- Or North of the River Thames with the South, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne with Gateshead (or call anyone south of the Tyne a Geordie), or confuse any of the North-East English cities with one another or you'll get similar reactions. The English can get culturally territorial over mere square miles of land!
- Thanks to Stag parties going abroad to cheap Eastern European cities like Budapest, Prague and Riga you're seeing a new brand of annoyance toward the stereotypical annoying British tourist.
- This results in a bizarre twist of fate wherein it is recommended that Americans visiting Spain make it clear the they're American and not British.
- Special mention goes to the Scotland/England feud, which goes back a long time (people still talk about The Wars of Independence, which started in 1286) but has been given recent fervor by the ongoing independence debate. A lot of Scottish nationalists' rhetoric comes across as less 'pro-independence' and more 'anti-English', whereas the English arguments against independence all too often become rather patronising arguments for why Scotland is rubbish/wouldn't survive on its own. Tempers on all sides are easily inflamed, made even worse by the political divide (the current Prime Minister is Tory, a party with very little support in Scotland, so the mutual animosity there doesn't help).
- Even more special mention goes to the Wales/England feud which goes back even longer than the Scottish/English one but which runs along similar lines. The Welsh tend to feel even more hard-done-by than the Scottish do.
- By now most English people are fed up with all the troubles of Scotland and Wales being laid at their door when they now have their own parliament and can change a lot of their grievances when the English don't have a parliament and pay the most in taxes. Agruably if you had a referendum in England and asked if THEY wanted out of the Union it might just be that they will leave just to hear the end of it.
- If you are Portuguese, any mention of your nationality in a Brazilian website will start a Flame War.
- During and just after the 2008 Olympics, there have been a few Australians that got really mad at Britain purely because they got more medals, when normally it's the other way around.
- Similarly, some Australian sour grapes were noted in 2005 after England defied convention and actually won the Ashes. On the whole, though, Australians are an easy-going and relaxed lot... unless it's sport you're dealing with.
- Sibling rivalry is alive and well with Swedes vs Finns. While sports may occasionally be Serious Business, everything else is taken as a joke. Finns and Russians, on the other hand ...
- And then there's Sweden and Norway. It's playful in most contexts—such as between descendants of Scandinavian immigrants in Midwestern America—but has the potential to turn ugly when World War II comes up. Likewise, smaller flame wars occur when discussing who shot Charles XII. The whole 1814 thing may also stir some resentment on the Swedish side.
- And if Riget is reliable, the Swedes and Danes have their issues. "DANSKJÄVLAAAAAAAAR!!!"
- Sweden and Denmark are the leaders of the "Most wars fought throughout history"-league, beating England/the UK and France by a pretty wide margin. Scania (the southernmost part of Sweden) is particularly sore due to being the heartland of Swedish ultra-nationalism and having a small but Vocal Minority which prefers to identify as Danish.
- Norway has their internal language struggle, with heavy Misplaced Nationalism on both sides. Nice work if you can get it. Never insult a "bokmål" user by telling him he writes "Dano-Norwegian", and likewise, never insult a "nynorsk" user by implying he doesn`t write Norwegian at all.
- Russia, from everything in the general vicinity, especially from Eastern Europeans and Central Asians.
- Don't mistake other Eastern Europeans for Russians unless you really want to see who is first to punch you in the face.
- And don't even think about doing the same with Central Asians.
- Much of Eastern Europe that is not Russia would prefer to be associated as anything OTHER than Eastern Europe. Poles and Hungarians often vehemently claim to be in central Europe. Estonia has few qualms with being clumped with the Nordic countries due to close ties with Finland. Latvia and Lithuania sometimes are considered part of northern Europe despite having been part of the USSR. Just don't tag them as "The East" and they are fine.
- This has gotten to the point that there are popular Nazi marches in various areas and local governments then stop Russophiles from holding marches of Holocaust survivors as a response.
- Feuds between Russia and the United States can be pretty intense in pretty much anything, especially during the 20th century; when it was Communism vs. Capitalism in a nutshell. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, it isn't as frequent, but most jokes seem to be more for laughs at the expense of Russian Reversal jokes and Russian spies for the Americans. For its neighbors, there's several hundred more years of bad history to get over.
- While we are talking about Russia vs USA, DO NOT claim that the Eastern Front of WWII was "Evil Versus Evil". The Wehrmacht's stated aim was to subjugate and later exterminate every Slav on earth (before going on to do that to absolutely everyone else whenever it was convenient); the Red Army's was to defend its people. So "Brutishly Cruel vs. Cruelly Brutish", perhaps. But not Evil Versus Evil; the war wasn't a personal fistfight between Hitler and Stalin.
- Do not call anything Russian "Communist" or "Commie", snap out of that cold war mindset already. Communists are no longer in power or even influential in Russia for more than twenty years, and the current Russian government is closer to the Tsarist one in ideology.
- When you are talking to a Ukrainian person, don't call Ukraine "the Ukraine", unless you want to get your face punched in - 'The Ukraine' implies that 'Ukraine' (no 'the') is Russian territory as it marks the place out as a region rather than a (nation)-state. This is because 'Ukraine' translates to 'at the border' or 'Borderland' - calling it 'the Ukraine' goes towards a title describing a location rather a name of a country that is derived from said location. That said, for most Ukrainians it's just a bit annoying rather than a Berserk Button - it just sounds silly, like calling the USA 'the country-land of the USA' or something.
- Anything regarding Ukraine at all. This country is right now (2014) on the brink of civil war, divided into factions which hate each other's guts, and you are guaranteed to rub someone the wrong way if you say anything of Ukraine at all.
- Also, its a good idea to NEVER EVER say that Lviv/Lwow is a Polish city where anyone can hear you, especially if they are from Western Ukraine, because it will launch a huge Flame War. (For the recond, since the post-WWII ethnic cleansing organised by the USSR it's no longer Polish.)
- Of course, Poles don't deny they conquered it during the Polish-Soviet war and organised some light ethnic cleansing under Joseph Pilsudski's military dictatorship in the '20s and '30s, they simply point out that the whole area was conquered and Polonized in 1356, so some of the people evicted from Lviv in 1945 and their families had been living there for almost 600 years.
- DO NOT say that Ukraine stole all of its culture, language and traditions from Russia, because the person you are talking to will tell you to crack open a history book, and proceed to tell you over and over that it's not true. (It was 'Ruthenia' back then — Russia started as an outlying principality while the very word "Ukraine" is 17th century at best. The debate is largely about who is the true heir to that Early Medieval nation.)
- In fact, don't mention Russia at all. People get upset, people rant and argue, and it gets vey, very messy and political. Here's a famous Russian joke:
1961. Yuri Gagarin has just made the first human spaceflight. A Ukrainian shepherd shouts to his neighbor on the next hill:
Shepherd: Mykola! The Moskalinote have flown into space!
Mykola: All of them?
Shepherd: No, just the one.
Mykola: So why are you bothering me, then?
- Poland has about as much rivalry with its neighbors as Russia. Between the World Wars this was Serious Business as the Russian Empire collapsed and Poland went to war over its old commonwealth territories in what is now Belarus, Ukraine and Lithuania and got into diplomatic spats with Czechoslovakia for good measure. 70 years of tyranny later they can't agree on much, resulting in a collective European Face Palm.
- Poles still don't care for Germans all that much, but the hate for the Russians has come to trump that old hostility for now.
- However, President Obama just learned that the best way to rouse an entire nation to fiery righteous indignation is to call Auschwitz, Sobibor, Treblinka and other Nazi extermination camps "Polish death camps." note When even Donald Tusk, the Polish prime minister, is tweeting about what a yutz you are for saying it, you KNOW you've crossed a line.
- Don't remind Poles and Lithuanians that they have more than a little shared history. The nationalists on both sides STILL get into it over Vilnius/Wilno.
- Polish jokes abound for much of the 20th century in the U.S. Mostly played for laughs, but can cause trouble in heavily Polish cities like Chicago and Pittsburgh.
- Those jokes pretty much ended in 1979 with the advent of two Poles: Lech Walesa, the leader of Solidarity, and Karol Cardinal Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II.
- Poles consider their language to be a thing of art while Czechs speak an odd, drunken form of Polish. Czechs have a similar but reversed opinion on Polish. Everyone else wishes both would learn how to use vowels.
- Hungary versus Slovakia and especially Romania. There is no limit to the number of self-proclaimed patriots in Hungary when someone mentions Romania; same with Slovakia when someone mentions Hungary.
- Serbs, Croats, Bosnians and Kosovar Albanians. Many times, their flame-wars are enough to make you want to Face Palm.
- Slovenes distance themselves far from their South Slavic cousins as result of the mess between the aforementioned groups.
- Flame Wars still do erupt between Slovenes and Croats though (there was a minor territorial dispute several years ago).
- Historically (as in, the 90s) more of Flame Bait wherever the Serbs and Croats were involved.
- After 20 years, the former Yugoslavia is still splintering into factions with Kosovo declaring independence, but not being recognized 100%.
- Kosovo has another problem. Even the names of places is a hot topic.
- Related to the former Yugoslavia, Macedonia gets some flack from Greece, who think the country isn't worthy of using the name of Alexander the Great's homeland.
- It is less a worthiness test and more annoyance that the very name Macedonia implies a territorial claim to part of Greece.
- When they became independent from the USSR, Moldova's nationalists have gone to great lengths to insist they are not Romanians and do NOT speak Romanian despite the fact that Moldovan is largely considered to be Romanian with a different accent.
- Also related to Yugoslavia is Italy vs. Slovenia and/or Croatia (this isn't very common today, but it goes a long way into the past, starting with the expansion of medieval Venice onto the Eastern Shore of the Adriatic).
- Within Belgium there's usually a three-way going on between nationalist Flemish, nationalist Walloons and federalist Belgians.
- There's also the minor "Whole Netherlands" and "All Netherlands" Dutch/Flemish nationalism which wants to join all of Belgium or only the Flemish Parts into one country with the Netherlands.
- Mentioning Belgium to the Congolese tends to get interesting reactions that tend to stem more from the Democratic Republic's first president dieing under mysterious circumstances (with the US, the only other suspect, admitting that it tried and failed to assassinate the guy) and the militias that still plague the country having suspicious start-up funding than the decades of colonial oppression.
- Dutchmen are a bit testy if you compare them to their neighbors, the Germans.
- Never say their language is a dialect of German.
- Similarly, don't say they speak Dutch in Germany simply because the name of that country in its language (Deutsch) is Deutschland.
- A similar reaction can be gotten from many Belgians by comparing their country to the Netherlands.
- Comparable to the "Yankee" caution above, if you're not sure where in the Netherlands they come from, don't refer to them being from "Holland". "Holland" is only acceptable to describe the densely populated coastal area, excluding Zealand of course. And when any Dutch person is cheering on the national team, because the word is easier to chant.
- Many Dutch people, when speaking in English, do refer to their country as Holland. It's sort of like saying America instead of United States, ie not factually accurate, but widely used enough to be seen as normal by most. But it's best not to make this assumption with all Dutch people, and only call it Holland if they do.
- Austrians are not Germans, and the concept of a united Germany and Austria is politically dead in both countries and is often considered to be something of a Neo-Nazi platform. Despite being ethnically German, Austrians have been spending decades cultivating a national identity that isn't considered "German but not in Germany."
- The applies similarly to Switzerland, which has spent centuries cultivating their own "Swiss" identity, despite having origins in French, German, and Italian ethnicity. Switzerland is considered the first (and maybe last) successful multi-ethnic country.
- The Sixteen Lands of Deutschland generally feature a lot of regional nationalism (mostly expressed in German Humour and football riots) to make up for the fact that pan-German nationalism has become something fo a faux-pas. Notable example include:
- The feud between the two great carnival metropolises of Cologne and Mainz; for instance, one city's traditional carneval greeting would be donwright considered an insult in the other.
- The tensions between states from either side of the former inner-German border; East Germans are popularly seen as piss-poor and backward-minded, whereas West Germans are seen as decadent and spineless.
- Bavaria towards everyone else. The Free State of Bavaria is to Germany what Texas is to the US - loud, proud and rather obnoxious. It tends not to consider itself "German" (and will rudely remind anyone who dares to make the mistake), and have some sort of xenophobic attitude going on for any other German-speaking region (such as Baden-Württemberg, its westward neighbour whom it sees as a bunch of rude bullheaded hippies, Berlin, which suffers doubly for being Prussian and the capital city, and Austria, who is Bavaria's direct eastern neighbour and has at different points in history been either its worst foe or its closest ally).
- Montenegrins are not Serbs, or even Bosniaks, although with how recent the breakup of Yugoslavia was, many Montenegrins are still struggling with their own ethnic identity (the number of self described 'Serbs' and 'Bosniaks' continues to fluctuate wildly with each census). The Montenegrin government has officially classified Montenegrin as its own ethnicity as well.
- Anything involving Vatican City. Mentioning the smallest country in the World will easily set off some the biggest berserk buttons. This includes the events leading up to the creation of Vatican City, its religion, its government/administration, and even its dress code. If you can help it, just don't mention it.
- Do NOT call Europe a country within earshot of just about anyone from it (but particularly the British and the French).
- In military circles, American equipment is typically believed to be horrible, useless, and infinitely inferior to its European equivalents (German guns and Russian planes, in particular).
- Calling someone in the Balkans a "Turk" can be a serious insult (this is because the Ottoman Empire conquered most of the Balkans in its heyday).
- Similarly, calling an actual Turk an Arab (due to their relative close appearance) is also insulting.
- Don't mix up Sweden and Switzerland.
- Also, don't mistake Austria for Australia.
- Or Slovenia for Slovakia. Especially confusing since the word for Slovakia in the Slovak language (Slovensko) sounds closer to "Slovenia" than their word for Slovenia (Slovinsko) does. Slovenians have it slightly easier - Slovenija for Slovenia, Slovaška for Slovakia.
- It doesn't help that both come from the same root (the same one as the word "Slav", i.e. "speaking").
- Or confuse the demonym of Denmark (Danes) with The Netherlands (Dutch).
- Any mention of Gibraltar is 100% guaranteed to spark a flame war between Britons and Spaniards.
- A form of Misplaced Nationalism is frequently directed towards Europe from American conservatives, who accuse the US left of turning America into "a European country", which either means "a bit more liberal", "country with a public healthcare system" or "socialist nightmare" depending on how extreme/pissed off the speaker is. This generally infuriates Europeans, who don't appreciate being held up as a negative option and who think their own political consensuses are just fine thank you very much (the British are especially prickly with regard to the National Health Service, especially after the "Stephen Hawking wouldn't be alive if he was British" fiasco). Ann Coulter in particular severely annoyed European commentators when she said Barack Obama would turn America into "some pathetic little Western European country, only without... America to save us". Ignoring the massive internet and historical debates over whether America ever actually has "saved" Europe (and vice-versa, cough Lafayette cough), most European audiences thought that statement crossed the line from ignorance to outright racism. Similarly, Europe is usually held up as a negative option in such circles - the idea that the United States ever has anything to learn from Europe ever is outright blasphemy, as opposed to the European political spectrum, where left-wingers admire the US first amendment (among other things) and right-wingers admire the USA's welfare state (or rather, lack thereof).
- For a new variant, Europeans, again especially Britons, hate it when liberal Americans mock their "expansionary" austerity and the Eurozone, both of which Americans view to be a failed experiment because of all the crushing economic hardship they've caused.
- These people often get in conflict with Americans who hate America and refer to Europe (especially the Scandinavian countries) as if it is a socialist utopia. In both cases, Europe's supposed "socialism" will be heavily exaggerated.
- That said, in most countries in Europe (most meaning 'except some in the former Warsaw pact and former Soviet Union') 'socialist' is an emotionally neutral description of political views, rather than an insult meaning 'not sufficiently American' or short hand for 'The United Federation of Planets, but on Earth'. Europe as a whole is undeniably more socialist than the United States, but not to the extent some internet discussions would have you believe.
- The fastest way to make Finns hate your guts is to claim that Winter War was justified on the USSR's part.
- More common way to achieve the same is by claiming that Continuation War was purely unprovoked aggression from their part, and that Finns were Nazis for fighting alongside the Wehrmacht (Any Finn will immediately tell you that Finland was fighting a war entirely separate from Operation Barbarossa, only allying with the Nazis because they had no other choice), that Finland'sfears of renewed Soviet assault were unreasonable, or anything that isn't "Direct and immediate continuation to Winter War that might have gone a little overboard in grabbing land."
Towards Asian Countries
- Arguments involving China/Korea, Japan and World War II rarely end well.
- This is also true for some Australians, Japan being the only nation to ever attempt invasion of Australia (well, except for Britain), seizing several Australian territories (most prominently New Guinea) and bombing Australia repeatedly, as well as their treatment of Australian POW's.
- The Korean Macross Missile Massacre weapon the Hwacha had received an Internet Backdraft in many places, ranging from claims that it is ineffective (debunked by the MythBusters) to claims that the Chinese really came up with the multiple rocket launcher system first.
- Speaking of weapons, it's not uncommon for people on 4chan and in Historical European Martial Arts to apparently be on a raging crusade to turn Katanas Are Just Better into not just a Discredited Trope, but a flat out Dead Horse Trope. According to these folks, a katana is pretty much the sorriest example of a sword that ever existed, made from simple iron of absolutely horrible quality (partially true, but the steel that was wrested from that iron was perfectly functional) and completely worthless outside of its own element—which is sometimes misrepresented as being purely a ceremonial weapon or dueling weapon throughout its entire history—certainly no match for the longsword of a proper fechtmeister. At the end of the day, it's probably easiest to just say it's the most chronologically modern of swords built to be used, but that it's hard to compare the metallurgical development of an isolationist island with the rest of the world.
- Filipinos. The merest hint of offense and Filipino netizens will often rise up in arms en masse in defense of "Pinoy Pride". Goes double for the territorial disputes with China. Heck, the Philippines itself is riddled with Misplaced Regionalism, with denizens of different provinces all proclaiming their province/region is the best.
- Pretty much anything about China will start a Flame War these days considering the rapid growth of China's economic and political power. Arguments over Human Rights, arguments over Tibet, arguments over their usage of communism, arguments over their usage of capitalism, outsourcing, etc.
- Pakistanis and Indians. Case in point: this episode of Michael Moore's ''The Awful Truth'' (skip to the second half). Hate wars tend to start on news sites even when the article in question is about the two countries co-operating. Can get ugly.
- Malaysians and Indonesians at occasion. The Pendet dance and Suzuki AFC cup "laser beam" controversies are some examples, with the latter managed to get on the top of trends in Twitter for a few days.
- Also related to Indonesians, it might not be best to mention Australia.
- Malaysians and Singaporeans. In Malaysia, this comes with a racial twist as well. While Malaysian Chinese generally admire Singapore's achievements (although that doesn't stop them from making jokes at the Singaporean's expense), Malaysian Malays... not so. Regarding food, however, most Malaysians regardless of race agree that Malaysian cuisine is superior. On the other hand, Singaporeans tend to regard just about everything in Malaysia as inferior (except maybe for cheap goods and food, that is).
- Do not bring up the issue of Tibet in a room full of Indians and Chinese. To say that they have very differing viewpoints on the subject Tibet's possible independence would be a massive understatement.
- "Remember Pearl Harbor" seems to be the standard comment towards anything related to Japan: Japan's rising economy? Pearl Harbor. Major earthquake in Tohoku? Pearl Harbor. Obama's handshake with Emperor Akihito? Pearl Harbor. Pokemon's sudden popularity? Pearl Harbor. Japan winning a soccer match against the United States? Pearl Harbor.
- Reached an extreme after the Japanese tsunami and nuclear disaster in March 2011 (where over 15,000 people died). Some people said that it was karma for Pearl Harbor. Apparently these people forgot that World War 2 (which the Japanese lost thoroughly, by the way) was over sixty years ago.
- Or that Japan had other major earthquakes in-between meaning that "their karma" points have already been used up or something.
- Happened again a few months later, after the U.S. soccer team lost to Japan in the 2011 World Cup, as noted by sites like Japan Probe.
- After the U.S. soccer team beat Japan's during the 2012 Olymics, there was yet another rash of anti-Japanese comments on Twitter and Facebook. It also sparked a backlash of hatred and stereotyping of Americans in response, despite the fact that not all of the people making such ugly remarks were American.
- As a double whammy, bringing up Pearl Harbor as an indescribably unjust national tragedy will inevitably spark the ire of the UK, who sees it as America making a disproportionately huge deal out of the kinds of bombings that were by that point happening to them daily.
- Which will, in turn, attract the French and Russians.
- Speaking of Japan, don't bother explaining why the morality around the atom bomb dropping as being more complex than it sounds. It will be ignored.
- Discussing the Vietnam War as an American failure will not be pretty. It will turn into endless bitching about which side was winning despite the official end result.
- Chinese animation vs anime vs western animation. Usually start with "trope X is used! This work is copying others!" or "this style is copying!" and end (or not end) with World War II, Second Sino-Japanese War, Cold War, racism discussion thrown across the table. If only there was a Chinese/Japanese version of This Very Wiki...
- Whenever North Korea is being discussed on the Internet, expect to see two separate groups turn up: (a) the jingoists who think the U.S. should "nuke those gook bastards" and seem only vaguely aware that North Korea is not China, and (b) the die-hard Marxists who insist North Korea is a workers' paradise and dismiss all evidence to the contrary as "American propaganda". Of course, this all takes place without the involvement of anyone who's actually from North Korea because... well, you know...
- Hong Kongers really don't like being lumped in with China.
- Taiwanese as well. Don't even start on the reunification vs independence issue.
Towards Oceanic Countries
- The Aussies vs Kiwis rivalry is mostly a joke. Both countries are in on it. Nobody else seems to be. Genuine examples do tend to emerge when sport is involved (most infamously the "underarm incident").
- Who Invented Pavlova? (For the uninitiated, Pavlova is a cake-shaped meringue-like dessert topped with whipped cream and fruit popular in both Australia and New Zealand and named after a Russian ballet dancer who did some antipodean tours in the 1920s; it's popular as a holiday treat, associated with the summertime.note ) Don't go there. Just... don't.
- While they don't get much Internet Backdraft compared to the Americans, debate on Football Codes tend to be pretty serious here as well. In Australia, the major sporting divide is between two codes of football: Australian Rules (played mostly in Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and West Australia) and Rugby (played mostly in New South Wales and Queensland). The argument between fans long predates the internet and fans of those sports from outside the country has joined into the mix. The flamewars have gotten worse in recent years, as the national leagues for each code are attempting to move in on the other code's territory. Making things even more worse recently, soccer has a recently gained a foothold in Australia and has recently joined in the debate, which has not went well with fans of the other two codes and has started a bit of a back draft with Australians not embracing it in the international scene.
Towards Middle Eastern and North African Countries
- Kurdish groups are very proud and independent, with a strong desire for a Kurdistan. Unfortunately the land they want to build it on is currently part of Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran so they clash with Turks a lot over independence and autonomy a lot. Iraqi Arabs and Iraqi Kurds don't always get along over the same issue, especially when trying to figure out oil wealth. Syria and Turkey nearly went to war once over Syrian support for the Kurdish militant group called the P.K.K. (and now the P.K.K. has done a deal with the Turks and is opposing the government in Syria's civil war...). Suffice it to say that any mention of the word "Kurd" online or anywhere else is fairly likely to cause an argument; stand particularly far away when an Arab and a Kurd argue about whether only Saladin's Kurdish ethnicity should "count" (since he was undisputedly ethnically Kurdish and considered himself primarily Kurdish) or if he can be considered an honorary Arab, as well (having spent most of his life in Arabic-speaking circles and ruled primarily Arabic-speaking lands).note
- Palestinians (or Arabs)/Pro-Palestinian Westerners and Israelis/Pro-Israel Westerners are, contrary to popular belief, not akin to water and oil. They are the matter and antimatter of animosity.
- Clashing mentalities there include the fact that the West Bank is, according to The Bible, part of the Jewish homeland, and the accompanying belief that Jews thus have a right to settle there; the Muslim belief that losing territory claimed by Islam something that must be corrected; the Jewish fear that without a stronghold and stubborn nature, people are going to wipe them out again; the knowledge of the surrounding countries that, with such a strong army, acting like a terrified oppressed people makes no sense; the question of whether the West Bank was Palestinian or Transjordanian (same with Gaza and Egypt); the belief of the Israelis that the fact that they've lived there for generations now gives them a claim on the land; the belief of the Palestinians that the fact that they've lived there for even more generations gives them a stronger claim on the land; the belief of the Middle Eastern Jews that nobody on either side seems to care that they never left... Each side has such a different way of viewing the conflict that it becomes nearly impossible to fully comprehend the other, much less have a reasonable discussion. It's essentially the Hatfields and Mc Coys on a geopolitical scale.
- Of course, there are plenty of Pro-Israel or Pro-Palestinian Westerners who don't even know anything about the subject. There are pro-Israel people in the US who think that all Palestinians are Islamist terrorist radicals, and there are pro-Palestinian people throughout much of the world who argue that a total boycott and divestment campaign would be a good thing for the world (even though Israel has created major developments in many different fields - total divestment would mean eliminating the Internet and not eating any food grown in California—to say nothing of the fact that divestment would, by making Israelis feel more isolated, embolden the far-right groups who are in favor of annexing the territories and "solving" the problem by kicking the Palestinians out entirely).
- Armenians and Turks. Very dangerous mix. Both sides accuse each other of genocide and genocide denial.
- Also Greeks and Turks, and Bulgarians and Turks, and Russians and Turks, and Georgians and Turks, and Iranians and Turks, and...let's just say that of Turkey's neighbors, the only ones who seem to really like the Turks are the Azeris (which makes sense, given that they're the Shiite Turks who happened to live in the various Iranian empires rather than the Sunnis living in the Ottoman one; Azeri is still mutually intelligible with Turkish). In fairness, the Arabs have been warming up to them of late (on account of skillful Turkish diplomacy and the hottest soap operas the Arab world has yet seen).
- Interestingly, sometimes Kurds and Armenians form an Enemy Mine against Turks, but it's kind of a love-hate relationship. note
- Armenians and Azeris are just as bad of a mix, if not even worse. Though, like the above, genocide accusations are sometimes flung back and forth (but not quite as commonly), the main cause of contention is the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. Nearly two decades of a ceasefire have provided a long time for the animosity to build.
- If you don't want to start a Flame War, do not mention Iraq. Hell, the entire Middle East is a flame war hotbed. And it's not restricted to the internet. It can and often does start real wars too.
- Well, Persians (i.e. Iranians of a certain ethnicity) will not take well to being called Arabs. Or Turks. Or Jews. Or any other thing than Persians, really. A real "us against them" mentality towards pretty much everyone in the world. Except the French. They're cool... See Omid Djalili for hilarious explanation of the phenomenon.
- Special honors go to Britain and Russia, who switched off between trying to split the country between them and fighting the whole thing at least since the Ottomans let the area go.
- Armenians also seem to get a free pass, though.
- Algerians and Moroccans have an odd one going. Algerians understandably have a beef with Morocco, given the 1964 attempt by Morocco to take land along their border just as Algeria won its independence; Morocco, in turn, wanted that land for the entirely legitimate reason that the land had been taken from Morocco and given to Algeria by the French—and Algeria, conveniently enough, was part of France at the time. This whole conflict has in turn created a decades-long animosity that Algerians tend to take a good bit more seriously than Moroccans, but which nevertheless runs strong, particularly when it comes to football. Why they don't both gang up and hate on the French (a lot of Algerians, surprisingly, don't, despite 130 years of frequently-brutal French colonial rule and a war of independence that cost about a million Algerian lives), who started the whole mess, is beyond most people's comprehension.
- Note that it comes out not only when the teams are playing each other, but when they aren't: when Algeria and Egypt had a flap over qualification for the 2010 World Cup, a lot of Moroccans rallied to the Egyptian side, and joined Egypt in celebrating when Algeria (after qualifying) was humiliated in the group stage, losing two of their three games (with the non-loss game being a scoreless draw), as well as failing to score a single goal.
- And of course, there is the most ridiculous and persistent bit of Cultural Posturing the world has ever seen: the Great Eastern Mediterranean Food Fight. Advice to anyone who wishes to keep their head:
- Do not, under any circumstances, call Turkish coffee "Turkish coffee" unless it is written that way on the menu. If there is no menu, play it safe and call it "Greek coffee" in a Greek restaurant, "Arabic coffee" in an Arabic one,note "Armenian coffee" in an Armenian one (unless you're actually in Armenia, where they call it "Turkish coffee"), "Bosnian coffee" in a Bosnian one, and "Turkish coffee" if and only if you are actually in a Turkish restaurant/cafe.note
- Or an Israeli one. Though not an Armenian restaurant in Israel.
- Be careful with Armenian/Turkish/etc. pizza as well. If you feel confident enough to use the term 'lahmajoon' you might be safe (actually an Arabic word meaning "meat dough," but used by most countries formerly part of the Ottoman Empire).
- Do not, under any circumstances, ask who invented baklava around two persons of differing Eastern Mediterranean heritage. There will be blood.
- Same goes for sweet mint tea and the sweet balls of fried dough the Greeks call loukoumades. The only thing that will get people more riled up would be saying, "why, these are just like Indian gulab jamun!"
- Also, do not get between an Egyptian and a Lebanese or Syrian when arguing over who makes better desserts (irrespective of who invented them); the Egyptians prefer smaller pastries with such intensive use of clarified butter that the things practically fry in the oven; Lebanese and Syrians prefer to use less clarified butter (although the quantities are still insane) but also serve larger pieces and drench everything in sugar syrup and honey (which the Egyptians do to a much lesser extent). (Note: Other than falafel and dessert, Egyptians and Lebanese get along pretty well, as to Egyptians and Syrians on a people-to-people level).
- Do not, under any circumstances, suggest to an Egyptian that you prefer Lebanese/Syrian or (Heaven forbid) Israeli falafel. Your head will be bitten off, but not until the Egyptian has a chance to explain, in excruciating detail, why making falafel out of chickpeas rather than fava beans is an abomination and an offense before God.
- Note: Hyperbolically, Arabs will claim that what is original in Israeli cuisine is not good, and what is good in Israeli cuisine is STOLEN! From the Arabs! Israelis, for their part, tend to roll their eyes at these claims (and the snarkier ones tend to point out the numerous dishes the Israeli kitchen "stole" from the European one—particularly schnitzel, of which the Arabs are equally guilty of "stealing", not that the Austrians are complaining about their "stolen" recipe) and are willing to concede that that they did in fact borrow most of their cuisine, and that some of their inventions (e.g. mud coffee) are at best an acquired taste. (On the other hand, suggesting that ptitimnote and me'urav Yerushalminote are in any way bad or non-Israeli is a guaranteed recipenote for an argument.) Additionally, Israelis would likely dispute some of the more absurd Arab culinary claims, and most of the legitimate ones just for fun or in hope of getting away with it.
- Finally: Hummus. It's not a question of who invented it, but how to prepare it (or for many outside the Middle East, why?).
Towards Multiple Countries in Multiple Continents / Other
Pass the Popcorn!