I wonder if any of you have met Xenophobia? She is very, very old, probably as old as humankind itself. And she is very, very ugly. She has many faces and many followers. Whole political parties and religions have been created in homage to her.
Sometimes she is blatantly obvious, such as in concentration camps created by the ever-organised Germans to annihilate whole sectors of the population. Sometimes less so, as in the Japanese detainment camps created by Americans during WWII to contain people whose race they feared.
And fear is what feeds Xenophobia. Hatred too, but that's really just a by-product of fear. When people want to deport all foreigners because they believe they are the root cause of all that's wrong with society, Xenophobia is there, laughing her hideous laugh. Xenophobia travels the world spreading her gospel, and many embrace it. Even some so-called liberal thinkers who would never think to infringe on the rights of others. They might be the most insidious of Xenophobia's followers because they lie and deny their true feelings, but those feelings come out in the least expected places.
What has compelled me to write about Xenophobia is a response (actually several) written on Snuffleupagus's blog by a fellow who calls himself british national party member. He is a great follower of Xenophobia, but at least he is honest about it. Unlike, say, Turkey, which denies to this day the genocidal killing of Armenians and threatens to withdraw its military support when urged to admit it by Americans.
Ah, yes, America -- home of the brave, land of the free. Xenophobia doesn't exist there, or does she? Was she not there when Irish and Italian immigrants were badly treated? Or in those Japanese detainment camps? Or when Native Americans were forced off their ancestral lands? Or at just about every point in its past and present?
The British look down their noses at the Americans for they can see clearly that Xenophobia is alive and well in America. But they don't see that she's in their own country too. There are too many Eastern Europeans coming over and partaking of our benefits system and robbing our people of jobs, they say. Send them back. Close the borders. Keep out all the pestilence and disease and crime brought to our pristine shores by these foreigners. As if that would really be a solution. Politicians use Xenophobia's wiles to gain votes from her followers, but their victory is society's loss.
Xenophobia robs us all of tolerance, understanding, growth. Yet somehow humankind continues in all its variations. Xenophobia has not won yet, and hopefully never will.