Saturday, June 10, 2006

Xenophobia

The epithet "xenophobe" is often used in a manner that suggests that any fear of foreigners is irrational. Such a proposition would require foreigners to differ only in superficial characteristics--diet, skin color, height, body type, taste in music and so forth. Surely fearing foreigners because they like different music or spicey cuisine falls within the realm of irrational or overblown fear, and is therefore properly described as xenophobic. But not every difference between cultures is superficial. Send one of the "Queer Eye" guys to Iran or Saudi Arabia and tell him not to be xenophobic. He has nothing to fear, right? Of course he does. Reverse the scenario, this time the Muslims move to Paris or NYC where there are many openly gay individuals. Should the gay community not fear the flood of fundamentalist Muslims into their country? Should they all quell their concern despite every rational reason not to?

Update: 62% of the Dutch believe Islam is incompatible with European life. Most of the left here in America, and a large portion of the right, would consider this statement xenophobic.

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