So. According to that great source of reliable information, Wikipedia, xenophobia is described as follows:
Xenophobia comes from the Greek words ξένος (xenos), meaning "strange," "foreigner," and φόβος (phobos), meaning "fear."
Xenophobia can manifest itself in many ways involving the relations and perceptions of an ingroup towards an outgroup, including a fear of losing identity, suspicion of its activities, aggression, and desire to eliminate its presence to secure a presumed purity. Xenophobia can also be exhibited in the form of an "uncritical exaltation of another culture" in which a culture is ascribed "an unreal, stereotyped and exotic quality".Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action urges all governments to take immediate measures and to develop strong policies to prevent and combat all forms and manifestations of racism, xenophobia or related intolerance, where necessary by enactment of appropriate legislation including penal measure.
Dictionary definitions of xenophobia include: deep-rooted, irrational hatred towards foreigners (Oxford English Dictionary; OED), unreasonable fear or hatred of the unfamiliar (Webster's).
The first is a population group present within a society that is not considered part of that society. Often they are recent immigrants, but xenophobia may be directed against a group which has been present for centuries, or became part of this society through conquest and territorial expansion. This form of xenophobia can elicit or facilitate hostile and violent reactions, such as mass expulsion of immigrants,pogroms or in other cases, genocide.
The second form of xenophobia is primarily cultural, and the objects of the phobia are cultural elements which are considered alien. All cultures are subject to external influences, but cultural xenophobia is often narrowly directed, for instance, at foreign loan words in a national language. It rarely leads to aggression against individual persons, but can result in political campaigns for cultural or linguistic purification. In addition, entirely xenophobic societies tend not to be open to interactions from anything "outside" themselves, resulting in isolationism that can further increase xenophobia.
The following are ways one would develop a general and more often a specific type of Xenophobia:[original research?]
- A physically or economicly negative experience with a particular group which is then over-generalized to all members of that group.
- An emotional experience with other groups or specific alien populist group.
- Rational or analytical reasons for the revulsion.
- Classical conditioning, that is when someone is conditioned to having a fear or repulse from aliens generally, or, from specific group. Ways to instill it would be Dehumanization, mostly by propaganda, for example: a video containing group members shown distorted, erroneous, and in proportional phases of horror sounding.
- Imitating others, mainly these that are close to the individual, or, in many cases, societal norms of a nation
The difference with racism (and this is me, now, not Wikipedia) is that whilst xenophobia implies a fear of others (those perceived as foreign in some way), racism implies a feeling of superiority of one's own race over others.
France is a country that has recently elected members of the extreme far right party, the Front National (FN), to local office in twelve (essentially small) towns, and has supported the election of a couple of others, including the election of the new mayor of Béziers, a town very near to Montpellier.
Many accuse the FN of racism. That may be true in certain cases - Marine Le Pen, seems to honestly believe that the "native" French people are superior to anyone of any kind of foreign origin, particularly those with a different skin colour. But I think there's a lot of xenophobia around too.
People are wary of other races-peoples-cultures because they are afraid of them, feel threatened by them, and this is particularly true of people who are muslim - the French feel very threatened by the muslim faith, they must believe their catholicism is at risk or something...
Y has taught me a great deal about what Arab means (and, more specifically, doesn't mean - it only applies to people from the Arabian peninsular, such as Saudis for example. Iranians, Lebanese, Turks, Algerians, Egyptians, Moroccans, etc. are probably muslim, but are most definitely not Arabs), what the governments of these countries are trying to do, about the muslim faith, etc.
There is no need for fear. These are mostly normal people, going about their normal lives, just like you and I. The few who are terrorists are a minority, and this type of minority is found in all races, peoples and cultures.
We must fight xenophobia just as we must fight racism.
Peoples, races, cultures other than our own enrich us, teach us new things, bring new things into our lives. We should rejoice in the opportunity they give us.