Phi Beta Cons

Countering Multiculturalism with Nostalgia

In Belgium, as reported in a captivating piece in The New York Times, departments of medieval history studies are brimming over with students and Ph.D. candidates, and ordinary citizens are re-enacting events and mores from the Middle Ages (such as playing duchess in a tower and drinking hippocras, a cloves-spiced 14th century wine).
Why this new national pastime, or what one such hobbyist calls a “passion”? According to this same person, the nation yearns for more “’glorious’” and “’less stressful’” times.
Others posit more doleful sources of this nostalgia, namely, anxiety about national unity in current-day Belgium, a reaction against the prevailing multicultural orthodoxy, and, in particular, the strength of Muslim immigration. Herman Konings, a Belgian behavioral scientist who analyzes national trends, sums up the phenomenon: “Throughout our history, we have been attacked by everyone…The late Middle Ages was a time when we were mastering the world. So at a time of national doubt, they provide a great escape as well as a sense of security.”
More evidence of the identity crisis in the West, some might say. Pass the hippocras.


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