Xenophobia means a native’s dislike of or hatred for people from another country or region. Normally if you encounter a stranger when you are alone, it arouses in you a feeling of curiosity or insecurity. You tend to be cautious, suspicious and defensive. Yet you wish to appear confident and reassured. If you are an introvert you would wait for the other guy to say hello first. If you are the outgoing type you seize the initiative and try to reach up to him. Confrontation is unlikely. Group dynamics are altogether another cup of tea. If a group runs into a stranger, they like to strike an aggressive or intimidating posture, expecting the other chap to be on the defensive. They try to be bossy. In colleges this is called ragging by seniors. Rowdy Ragging can be traumatic and even lead to commitment of suicide by the freshman. It is banned and yet clandestine ragging is quite common. One excuse is that it is meant to remove shyness and to unearth talent. Perhaps I am digressing from the prescribed topic.
I believe that the origin of Xenophobia is the attitude of a large group to one or a small number of strangers among them. The group tends to view a stranger with suspicion especially if he cannot speak the local language fluently or displays superior or inferior skills or wears another kind of attire or has other strange habits which the group is not familiar with. This generates hostility in the group. The differences are seen as an invasion on their tradition and norms of culture, that could eventually translate into prejudice and hatred. Describing their attitude as intolerance is the easy way of dismissing their behaviour. The US is seeing the ugly side of hatred by the privileged group who think that the country only belongs to them, although history shows they they cannot claim that legitimacy. They are an example of what is described below.
Very often in history, foreigners have entered countries in very small numbers (accidentally or intentionally) and then gone on to commit genocide, drive away the locals or enslave them, destroying their culture, imposition of a new language, resorting to religious conversion by deceit, bribe and denigration of the local customs and plundering their wealth to become their masters. The final aim was plunder of local resources. In the execution of these atrocities they struck alliances with a few locals to get under the skin of the general public.
The civilised name for this was colonisation. Thankfully that chapter of world history is over, but a new chapter called neo-colonisation has now begun. That would be a topic for another blog.
Xenophobia is not necessarily towards a person from another country. It could also be towards a person from another region of the same country. It is not necessarily open hatred. It has many nuances. In many Hindi and regional films a character is portrayed as a crude character hailing from another region and his language, and habits are made fun of, in the name of humour. His mannerism is exaggerated to poke fun. Nasty comments are made on the colour of his skin. The watching crowd giggles in appreciation. Could this be be dismissed as innocent antics to provoke laughter or is there a xenophobia here? The jury is out on that one.
This is my take on this week’s Friday 5 On 1 blog post topic..suggested by Sanjanah. The other four bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Shackman, Conrad, Ramana, Sanjanaah and Padmini.
Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they write about this topic.