The Story of Brexit, in the style of Mideast reporting

Radical Protestant separatists have rocked the European Union, voting to leave the federation that had tenuously unified Christians belonging to opposed sects. Britain, which adheres to its own idiosyncratic version of the Protestant sect, had only recently reached an uneasy truce in a territorial dispute with its Catholic neighbor, Ireland. It is hoping to join a group of other Protestant countries in Northern Europe who have negotiated trading privileges while keeping their distance from the Catholic-dominated group.

It is a major blow for Germany, which has assumed a leadership role in an EU increasingly riven by sectarian strife. Germany’s relative balance between Protestant and Catholic groups positioned it uniquely to mediate disputes between those two sects, yet left it in an awkward position as it led the effort to bring the Orthodox state of Greece into line with the rest of the Union. While other Orthodox nations have been successfully integrated, it remains the case that the EU’s chief geopolitical rival — and most powerful neighbor — is the overwhelmingly Orthodox Russia.

The European Union was originally conceived as a way to bring an end to sectarian violence on the continent. By uniting all Christians in a single political and economic unit, it was believed that long-simmering disputes over indulgences and the filioque clause could be put aside. The Brexit separatists have shaken this project to its core, leaving some observers wondering whether Europe will ever be able to leave behind its religious strife and join the modern world.

13 thoughts on “The Story of Brexit, in the style of Mideast reporting

  1. Wondering, is this the style of reporting WITHIN the Mideast? Or the style of Western reporting ON the Mideast? Since I don’t read a lot of either.

  2. Is this a thought experiment in estrangement for the westren reader?
    Otherwise, if this is meant to be satirical, I find it inaccurate – surley you must agree that religion and religious identity are more dominant in politics in the middle east than in Europe?

  3. Religion does appear to have a more overt role in Mideast politics, but it is often serving as a proxy for another conflict. Pretending the conflict between Iraq and Iran is about “Sunni vs. Shi’ite” makes about as much sense as claiming that the Troubles were really about Catholic vs. Protestant on the doctrinal level. And the dispute over Ali’s leadership is about as relevant to contemporary politics as indulgences are. Basically, I’m satirizing journalism and commentary’s tendency to fetishize and exaggerate the role of religion in Mideast politics.

  4. To elaborate a bit: I’m thinking specifically of the use of “knowing the difference between Sunni and Shi’ite” as some kind of bare minimum for talking about contemporary Mideast politics. In reality, you just have to know that those two different groups exist and are rivals — knowing the actual theology behind the division is not very important, any more than indulgences were important for understanding Northern Ireland.

  5. Brilliant. My family live in the Middle East and this is spot on. I have found the way the ME is reported on so frustrating over the years. My biggest bugbear is the portrayal of all Palestinians as Muslim, when there is a huge proportion of Christian Arabs (where did it start, folks?) which is purely designed to fit their portrayal as all being terrorists.

  6. I was interested to learn that the Greek Orthodox Church opposes NATO.

    And there is an old Economist cartoon in a special report from 1990 on defence, which, in continuity with Huntington, portrays the world as divided into Islamistan, Hindustan, Sinostan (?). These were separated by water according to how culturally far they were from each other. So far so normal. North America and west Europe were joined together (Euroamerica) with a small gap from Euroasia, which followed the Orthodox-Western divide. Greece on one side, St Petersburg on the other! Orthodox priest on one side, pilgrim father on the other. “Haec tabula vix seria est” said a mock scroll. But I believe otherwise.

  7. I guess you could apply the same satirical approach to Ireland and, what are lightly referred to as The Troubles because, as you say in one answer, the fundamental difference in belief is probably near the bottom of a long list of causes.
    Very nice.

  8. This is a very clever concept; all too often we overgeneralise, which inevitably means the West’s intervention in such conflicts is often flawed at its core.

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