A to Z: Xenophobia
Posted By Evy on April 28, 2014
Uncertainty and fear and ignorance about immigrants, about people who are different, has a history as old as our Nation.
This quote has no x words in it, but it carries the idea behind this post: xenophobia. Relatively few English words start with X—only 120 are in current use, according to Oxford Dictionaries; 400, if you include rare and obsolete words. Defined by Merriam-Webster, this word refers to “fear or hatred of strangers or foreigners.”
In much of the Western world, who would actually admit now, except perhaps with intimates or in private thoughts, having this kind of fear or hatred? It’s so uncool. You would risk being feared or even hated yourself.
I once saw a documentary on Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s principal spokesperson and, possibly the source of many Nazi principles. Having watched enough movies and documentaries of Nazi atrocities, I wasn’t shocked that he was spouting so much hate rhetoric. Evil is fascinating and I am curious what motivates people to do evil things.
What struck me about this particular film is how freely Goebbels could and did dispense with his ideas. He had great zeal, some flair, and passionate delivery. Still. To have swayed millions to his xenophobic ideas, he had to have a receptive audience to whom his message had profound meaning because it reflected their own feelings and wishes.
That mass hatred, shown in stark reality, is what shocked me. It is what has made the murder of a people possible. I believe, behind the hate, is fear of a perceived threat or of the unknown. But understanding doesn’t diminish the shock. Nor the horror of the crime.
It chills me to the bone that a whole country could so hate a race/tribe/group as to annihilate them. I live in a time and a place in which that kind of mass hatred is not allowed. Woefully, it still exists in countries where, as recent as this century, they have carried out genocide.
I have had to cope with prejudice myself so I could also attest that it is not dead, just not so widespread or openly expressed. In this age, prejudice goes both ways. One other thing is sure. Contrary to Mr. Guttierez’s assertion, prejudice is much older than this nation.
- Analysis: The ugly truth behind SAs xenophobic violence (dailymaverick.co.za)
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