Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A World Without Fear


Xenophobia?

What's that?

Recently there were some widely publicized outbreaks of violence in South Africa which were directed at foreigners living in the country, particularly illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Somalia. The term xenophobia was applied to these acts of violence, and many have taken it to mean only this sort of attack on foreign nationals living among the local population - attacks fueled by differences of nationality only. Sorry to burst this little nationalistic bubble - but that's not all there is to xenophobia.

Some very biased and obviously prejudiced people who represent South Africa at the UN and also in other offices of government have recently asserted that racism and xenophobia are far more "important" issues to address than homophobia. Comparing homophobia to racism, they say, is an insult to the victims of racism. Hmm. This appears to be one group having been marginalized and persecuted, recently liberated, and now looking for somebody else to be "better" than and to explore its new-found "superiority" over.

Are you hated? Are you marginalized or persecuted for something which you cannot help being, or for something that is as natural to you as breathing? Congratulations - that makes you another equal victim of xenophobia!

While racism indeed still remains a nasty aspect to modern life, homophobia is just as much a part of modern society, and just as nasty and every bit as unjust, cruel and inexcusable. In fact, those who now decry racism and xenophobia as their new war cries, while pooh-poohing the dangers faced by people they themselves are intolerant of under the terms homophobia and transphobia - by doing so only show their true colors all too easily. which colors you may ask? The colors of hypocrisy and prejudice.

The dictionary definition of the term "xenophobia" is:

"xenophobia [(zen-uh- foh -bee-uh, zee-nuh- foh -bee-uh)] An unreasonable fear, distrust, or hatred of strangers, foreigners, or anything perceived as foreign or different. – noun an unreasonable fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange. xen·o·phobe (zěn'ə-fōb', zē'nə-) n. A person unduly fearful or contemptuous of that which is foreign, especially of strangers or foreign peoples."

It doesn't take a genius I.Q. to realize that racism and homophobia - and any other "ism" or "phobia" that targets people for inherent differences and diversity, tries to separate people on the basis of their diversity, or persecute them for their differences - form a vital and integral part of xenophobia.
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The Time Saving Agency” by Christina Engela
The TSA liked having fresh agents on the job with a clear mind and steady hand.  Time travel wasn’t for the faint of heart.  The pay was good enough, but as Scrooby had decided long ago, that even if he didn’t get paid for it, the thrill alone was payment enough.  Then again, the TSA realized they couldn’t afford to have disgruntled employees with the power of God at their fingertips, so the pay was very, very good.

Things happen at a certain time in a certain way, which in a sense, is what it’s all about.  If it didn’t, then things would be completely different. Johnathan Scrooby was extremely tense. His job at the Time Saving Agency was a tough one.  Billions of lives depended on him not screwing up.  Once, he’d screwed up in only a small way and people wore those little yellow smiley faces on t-shirts for decades afterwards.  And that was just a small screw up.

A week ago, the American War of Independence was fought in Mexico. Yesterday Napoleon managed to dig a tunnel across the English Channel, invaded London and everybody at the Agency ended up speaking French for a while. Sorting that out had been… well, challenging. Mon dieu.

Something smelled funny in the Anals of History.  Things were not as they were supposed to be. Someone somewhere was tinkering with the works. Somehow, he had to go back and fix it or who knows what might happen this time.

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And quite honestly, anyone who indulges in xenophobia, whether it be racist or homophobic - obviously has no clue what it is like to be persecuted, objectified, hated or ostracized for something so basic as their race, ethnicity, gender or sexuality. If they did, they would do the decent thing and live and let live. If they did, and still persecuted others - well, let's just politely say they are quite probably not very nice people.

If you're lucky enough to not be a part of some social or racial group which is not hated by somebody, then you're either very, very lucky - or from another planet, or possibly both.

Anyone who is curious enough to want to know how it feels to be hated should go onto the internet and look for a website belonging to a group that makes a business of hating some particular group. The best way to realize what it feels like to be hated is to go and look for a group or site that targets people like you for hate. That will be an eye-opener, I guarantee you.

If you're black, then maybe you should pop in at a skinhead or neo-nazi website to check out their policies page, where they will tell how "dirty" people like you are, and how dangerous it is to let you and your relatives live next door to them in peace because of how you spoil everything for them - or if you're gay perhaps you should drop in at a homophobic Christian group website, where they will explain to you ad nausea um how evil you are for "choosing a dangerous lifestyle" and "threatening" civilization, "the family" and their religion.

Yes, racism, homophobia, transphobia... xenophobia - HURTS, doesn't it?

After reading a few pages, I am sure you will know what it is to be hated, and experience the taste of intolerance for yourself. Actually by that time, I think you will probably even know exactly what is meant by the term "propaganda".

Yes, this is all propaganda, espousing and promoting the idea that a particular group, usually a minority, is somehow a danger or a threat to whatever social group the body or website is claiming to represent. Quite often, these views, even violent ones - are defended under laws protecting freedom of religion with the excuse that it is on the basis of personal religious beliefs that such hatred is promoted.

We all know that religious freedom is protected under the Constitution. Well, so is the dignity and human rights of all people and groups - including those who may or may not form a part of any religious group which happens to get its jollies from persecuting other groups.

The irony is that people's personal beliefs are supposed to be personal - not other people's business - which means all those folks concerned about who you're in love with, or what's on your mind (breasts, or cock or not), should be ashamed of themselves - about as much as those arrogant people that go out into the streets trying to "convert" people to their religion... If people are interested in buying a crutch, they will go to the store - they don't need some snake-oil salesman to annoy and intimidate them in a public space or try to shame them for not believing whatever it is they are trying so hard to convince themselves of.

At the end of the day, xenophobia, racism, homophobia, transphobia - they are all words for ignorance, intolerance, fear, anger and cruelty. The antidote to this poison infecting our world?

The opposite of the above - education, tolerance, confidence, love. At the end of the day, it rests with us to change things, to make a better world, to make a place where differences are respected and even admired - or at least tolerated. A world without fear.

2 comments:

  1. Excellent post!! As a white Protestant male growing up in the United States I didn't realize what xenophobia was until I came out of the closet. Since then, I have had to reexamine my life to see if, in some unknown way, I encouraged prejudice against others. I think that only when you "become" a minority, can you truly understand and appreciate the evils of xenophobia, whether it takes a racist or homophobic form.

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