Xenophobia is an intense dislike and/or fear of people from other countries. It comes from the Greek words ξένος (xenos), meaning “foreigner,” “stranger,” and φόβος (phobos), meaning “fear.” The term is typically used to describe a fear or dislike of foreigners or of people significantly different from oneself.
The past few years have really made for a reflective period for many, in which the very certainties that have for so long been taken for granted are now unexpectedly up for grabs. Someone has taken a shiny pin and popped the balloon. Wages are stagnant, unemployment remains high, home ownership is down. It’s a gut check, if you will (even if you won’t). It’s a time where folks are being tossed for a bumpy ride. Many are using and will continue to use this period of instability to rile up emotions, to seek convenient scapegoats, and to pin collective fears on something tangible.
This is not new. We should come to expect that xenophopia and human susceptibility to xenophobia rises in proportion to adversity. Logic, compassion, and level-headed discourse of any type are often the first victims of a lot of vitriolic knee-jerking and gum-flapping. This is as it should be. Discard the group hug mentality and start finding which racial, ethnic, or religious group is the cause of your sorrows.
When in doubt, create a twister type spinner and let fate decide the reason you were laid off and you’re upside down on your mortgage. Is it the Jews? The blacks? The gays? Invading hordes of sinister foreigners are always a popular choice. Try it on, see how it fits.
So, for the love of all that is holy, and even all that is not…. for the sake of our collective sanity, let us at least keep our xenophobia. Fight the urge to feel a collective unity during these troubling times. You might feel a slight sting. That’s knee jerk compassion and empathy trying to peak through. The last thing we need is that stuff getting in the way. Let us hold on to our fears of those different from ourselves and let that drive our decision-making. Ask yourself, “What group is to blame?”
We need stability at times like this and xenophobia is where it’s at. (Didn’t see that one coming, did you?) This hatred of outsiders has been sitting like an anchor in the national psyche for a long time, keeping this country right where it needs to be. If we don’t define others as the problem, how can we be define ourselves as the solution?
As is usually the case, we sometimes need someone stronger, just plain better than ourselves to model that courage and fortitude, so that we can then emulate and stay the course. Who are we if not a people who can blame all our issues on other people, people unlike us? Let us not lose our way. Keep that finger pointed elsewhere. Look to the shining beacons of hope that are the GOP presidential hopefuls. These men take tough stands and spread xenophobia like they spread butter on their rolls – generously.
Xenophobia is the key to weathering this storm. Love it or leave it, cabron.
Your handsome and humble servant-
[photo by Carlos Latuff]