Refugees and migrants versus xenophobic nationalists – who is on the right side of history?

Refugees and migrants versus xenophobic nationalists – who is on the right side of history?

Xenophobic nationalists like to encourage their followers to believe that refugees and migrants are dangerous, criminal, even, and should not be welcome in their country. I will explore examples of refugees and migrants and their xenophobic nationalist counterparts and leave it up to you, the reader, to decide which are on the right side of history.

The refugees and migrants and their descendants

MohGandhiandas Karamchand (“Mahatma”) Gandhi

Passive resistance in an oppressive empire

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in Gujarat and is well known in the history books as the person who brought down British rule over India without firing a single shot. His first act of passive resistance wasn’t in India, however. It was in South Africa, where he worked as a lawyer. Although he had a first class ticket for a train ride, the train attendant forbade him to sit in first class and asked him to move to a different class. As Gandhi did not accept this, having a first class ticket, after all, he was thrown out of the train. Later he attracted attention through many other modes and methods of passive resistance until an entire people united behind his thoughts and ideas and eventually removed British rule in India.

John Fitzgerald KennedyThe Fitzgerald Family (as linked from the JFK Presidential Library)

The Irish Catholic

As all American families, there are immigrants in the line of their inheritance. John Fitzgerald Kennedy is no exception. Some of the Fitzgerald family moved between 1846 and 1855 to the United States to escape the potato famine in Ireland. (JFK Library)
The Fitzgerald and Kennedy families lived and worked in Boston for the economic opportunity. Later on, they became a political family with many members found in different layers of American politics, and JFK became 35th President of the United States.

Aznavour with his mother, Knar, in the 1920s. (Wikipedia)Charles Aznavour

France’s Frank Sinatra

Charles Aznavour is also known as Շահնուր Վարինագ Ազնավուրյան (“Shahnour Varinag Aznavouryan”). He was born to immigrants from Armenia who escaped Izmir. After his parents encouraged him to perform, he was discovered by Édith Piaf and his career took off.

With a long record of singing, writing, acting and diplomacy, he is well known in France and in the world, even dubbed as “France’s Frank Sinatra”.

CherCher (Wikipedia)

“Goddess of Pop”

Cher, or Cherilyn Sarkisian, was born to an Armenian-American truck driver and Jackie Jean Crouch, who claimed Irish, English, German, French, Dutch and Cherokee ancestry. (source) As her mother went into acting, she pulled Cher into acting as well.

Later on, she was inspired to start singing as well, and won many awards, including an Academy Award, a Grammy Award, an Emmy Award, a special CFDA Fashion Award, three Golden Globe Awards and a Cannes Film Festival award. She has sold countless records and has even been dubbed “Goddess of Pop”.

Marco Borsato (Wikipedia)Marco Borsato

The passion of an Italian, and the entrepreneurship of a Dutchman

Marco Roberto Borsato is the son of the Italian Roberto Borsato and the Dutch Mary de Graaf. He started in a restaurant, but after he had participated in a song contest Soundmixshow, where he performed Billy Vera’s “At This Moment”, he instantly became a star.

As his career took of, he sang Italian songs. His career skyrocketed when he started to sing Dutch songs and teamed up with colleagues who inspired him and themselves to create songs that became instant hits in the Netherlands. He collaborated with various other artists and became an embassador for War Child. This also inspired him to produce the film Wit Licht (English title: “The Silent Army”).

Arnold SchwarzeneggerArnold Schwarzenegger (Wikipedia)

I’ll be back

Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger was born in Austria. With a passion for weight training, he gained celebrity status with his role as Conan in the film Conan the Barbarian. After that, obviously, a new wave of success was established through his role in the Terminator.

In 2003, he was elected as governor of California. Since he is not born in the United States of America, he was not able to run for president. Nowadays, he has returned to cinema, among his many other activities.

Marie Skłodowska CurieMarie Curie

First woman to win a Nobel Prize

Marie Skłodowska Curie, born as Maria Salomea Skłodowska in Warsaw, the Kingdom of Poland, studied at Uniwersytet Latający (“the Floating University”, an underground educational enterprise) and moved to Paris when she was 24. This is were she proceeded to pursue her goals and made many achievements in science.

Eventually, with the discovery of radioactivity and many other subsequent discoveries she earned two Nobel Peace Prizes and many other rewards.

Albert EinsteinAlbert Einstein (Wikipedia)


Albert Einstein was born in the German Empire. He started working at a patent office when he did not find a job as a teacher. In 1901 he acquired Swiss citizenship. For his work, he had visited the United States of America several times. In 1933, he finally decided to move to the United States of America, and not a moment too soon, as the nazis were gaining momentum in Germany.

His most famous work is the Theory of Relativity, but he has worked on many other discoveries in science.

Anne FrankAnne Frank (Wikipedia)

Dear Kitty

Annelies Marie “Anne” Frank was born in Germany. She moved with her family to the Netherlands in 1933 when Jewish prosecution was looming. When the Germans occupied the Netherlands, she went into hiding in Amsterdam.

While she was in hiding, she wrote a detailed account of her experiences. Her diary is translated in many different languages and publicized in many parts of the world.

Garry KasparovGarry Kasparov (Wikipedia)

The Grandmaster

Garry Kasparov (born Garik Kimovich Weinstein) was born in Baku, Azerbaijan to a Russian and an Armenian. After his father died, he adopted the surname of his mother, Gasparian and modified it to a Russian version, Kasparov. His passion for chess began when his parents offered him a chess problem where he would find a solution to. He quickly rose to the rank of chess champion. When he began to oppose FIDE, he was ejected and started his own organisation GMA.
In his political life, he was forced to leave Azerbaijan when the pogroms against Armenians occurred and at the same time he left the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. He took part in the creation of the Democratic Party of Russia and took part in the election campaign of Boris Yeltsin. Despite his consecutive successes, the Other Russia he and others envisioned is still to become. He is still a political activist and occasionally writes about politics.

Christiane AmanpourChristiane Amanpour (Wikipedia)

Anchor and Chief International Correspondent

Born in London, Christiane Amanpour attended primary school in Tehran, were she was raised until she was sent to a boarding school in England. She and her family settled in England indefinitely when the Iran-Iraq war broke out, not long after the Islamic Revolution.

After she graduated from New Hall, she continued her studies in the United States. After having worked for several local broadcasting network she was eventually hired by CNN. Currently, she is anchor and chief international and global affairs correspondent for CNN.

The xenophobic nationalists

Adolf Hitler as a child (Wikipedia)Adolf Hitler

Der Führer

Adolf Hitler was born in Austria and lived a tumultuous childhood. In his life between Germany and Austria, he became familiar with German nationalism. He was rejected by the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts and in World War 1, he was temporarily blinded by mustard gas.

After World War 1, he did not have a formal education and no other career prospects, so he remained in the army. This is where he met Anton Drexler and pursued a career in politics. The consequences need not be mentioned.

Joseph StalinJoseph Stalin (Wikipedia)

The General Secretary

Unlike under his predecessor Vladimir Lenin’s rule, Joseph Stalin “Socialism in One Country” instead of continuous international revolutions became the leading concept of the Soviet Union.

Besides being responsible for both an alliance with the nazis as well as defeating them from the east, he was also responsible for various political repressions, oppression and deportations of ethnic groups like the Crimean Tatars, as he saw fit. The consequences of his time may match those of Hitler, if they do not exceed them.

Viktor Orbán (Wikipedia)Viktor Orbán

Any way the wind blows

It seems an unfair representation to indefinitely put Viktor Orbán in this list. Viktor Orbán seems to be a political chameleon, changing his colour any way the wind blows. His political career started off in the Communist Youth Organisation, before he became a founding member of Fidesz. Being a member organisation of Liberal International, he became a vice president of LI. In 2000, Fidesz left LI for the European People’s Party.

With Hungarian nationalists breathing in his neck and keen on winning elections, in recent developments like his treatment of refugees in Hungary, his rhetoric on immigration in general and his relations with Vladimir Putin, it seems like he is using his chameleon skills once again.

Vladimir PutinVladimir Putin (Wikipedia)

The eternal president

With a history in Soviet and Russian secret services, his allegiance to his country is perceived to be undoubted. He rose in the ranks under the Yeltsin administration and took over after Yeltsin resigned. United Russia became a party for Russian nationalism, to replace the Communists’ power, though still retaining the centrist character, because the ideology relies on strong rulers and national ideals.

Under his watch, Crimea was annexed by (or reunited with, according to some) the Russian Federation, national conservatism gained popularity in Europe and a passenger plane was shot from the air (although who exactly shot it is still under investigation and it remains to be seen whether he will allow a fair and legitimate trial, after the Russian Federation vetoed a resolution to install an International Tribunal to prosecute any suspect that may be involved in the crime).

Benito MussoliniBenito Mussolini (Wikipedia)

Il Duce

Benito Mussolini was born in Romagna. In his young years, he would help his father in his smithy, but his father also influenced his political leanings toward Italian nationalists. He would also combine authoritarian and anarchistic ideas. He became a political journalist and became active for the Socialist Party.

With the outbreak of World War 1, the Socialist Party was divided on its allegiance. As Mussolini promoted neutrality at first and gradually promoted intervention, and criticized those within the party who supported pacifism, he was expelled from the Socialist Party. During World War 1, this caused him to shift his ideas towards revolutionary nationalism and join the fascist cause. A course of events led him to power and brought a shaky alliance with Hitler. As they were losing the war, Mussolini’s Italy backed out.

Geert Wilders

Templar against Islam

Geert Wilders entered the political scene through his election as MP in the VVD. He left the VVD as they crossed opinions about Turkey’s prospect to EU membership and the VVD’s opinion towards muslims and the Islam.

He founded his own movement PVV as the sole member of the party. His party gained momentum as there was a rising discontent among the population of the Netherlands on how the EU influenced Dutch politics (or the other way around), how subsequent events had influenced public opinion about muslims and Islam and a discontent on politics in general.

Nowadays, it seems his only mission is to stop mosques from being built, tearing qurans and blaming everything on muslims and Islam, or left-wing politicians.

Donald Trump

You’re fired

Donald Trump, as of this moment, seems to be a leading candidate for the GOP for the presidential election in 2016. His statements about immigrants have been all but ambigious.
He made his fortune in real estate and television. One of his most famous statements is “You’re Fired” in the NBC show “The Apprentice”. Will he stay in this row? History will tell.


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