Except, if you take a step back, it's not really all that great. I mean, Western Europe had stopped wearing armor hundreds of years earlier when sword technology became light and sharp. Plus, they had started using these things called guns and cannons and were taking to seas. No, what the Lithuanians and Poles thought was impressive was actually archaic. Those slow moving armored hulks would be absolute sitting ducks. It was no wonder that the Prussians, Austro-Hungarians and Russians destroyed them consistantly after their peak and subjugated them for the next three hundred years..
I do have a point. Stay with me.
I was sitting in a bar on my third pint when I befriended three Lithuanians who one would think would never be friends. They grew up together, though, and were bonded in that childhood-friend-I-love-you-like-a-brother-and-would-kill-for-you kind of way. The first was a closeted gamer nerd, the second was a party boy type who spent some time in LA and the third was a very conservative racist asshole. I will say, to his credit, it was a conservative racist asshole who invited me to go drinking with them in the first place. Anyway, over the course of about fifteen drinks, this conversation happened between the conservative Lithuanian and me (add drunk slurring to the dialog if you like):
"Why did you come to Vilnius?" I was asked.
"I was on vacation in Poland and decided to see what Lithuania was like."
"What do think of Polish people?"
"They were really friendly and welcoming for the most part."
"I fucking hate Polish people. They're fucking nationalistic and just keep breeding. There's more of them outside Poland than in Poland. They're like rats."
At this point, his two friends were looking pretty embarassed.
"And Jews. What do you think of Jews?"
"Uh, there are good Jews and bad Jews. People are diverse."
"I hate Jews. They are also like rats."
Now, I don't exactly get how he hated Jews when Lithuania has like four Jews left after the holocaust, but whatever. He then went on a rant about the European Union and how the Germans are using it to conquer Europe.
The point of this little story is that this conservative Lithuanian's opinion on Poles and Jews was not just mean spirited, but useless and archaic. We live in a world with Poles and Jews. They're not going anywhere. The days of genocide or even national isolation are past. We're not going to go back to those days. It's a multiethnic global society. Deal with it. Like that suit of armor and that broad sword, feelings of Lithuanian patriotism (or whatever is driving his xenophobia) may at first appear admirable, but at second glance are completely without function in today's world.
It's all the same as anyone who tries to exploit the charm of "being old-fashioned." I had a prof in grad school who still used only a typewriter. I'm sure he thought himself charming. The cosmetic charm of that typewriter wore off the second the students asked how they were to e-mail him. It was a fully-armored Pole against some quick moving Prussians.
And, of course, this applies to Egypt as well. They're never going to get anywhere until they accept rights for women, rights for minorities and embrace religious freedom, but everyone wants to be old-fashioned. They think its charming, but its really incredibly impracticle