The "Xenophobia" part of my previous waaaaaaaay too long post
A word to know, an attitude to avoid: Xenophobia!
| the definition & etymology from the wiktionary.|
I liked the responses and thought generated by my earlier post, but I'd like to introduce you to a word / concept which may help you see my point in comparing the treatment of the Japanese Americans in WWII to people of the Islamic faith or Middle Eastern descent today.
While Germany and the the Nazis were demonized during WWII, German-Americans were not (not generally.) The worst that happened to my Volk is that "sauerkraut" got renamed "liberty cabbage"- an appellation which stuck about as well as our renaming of "French fries" to "American Fries" now.
Why is that, when Germany had by far the superior military, and was routinely committing the worst of atrocities? Because the Germans looked and acted just like most other Americans, and indeed, made up a huge percentage of the populace. Even today, about 30% of Americans have some German ancestry, and if you limit it to just Caucasian Americans, the percentage is naturally much higher.
What happened to the Japanese and is sadly happening to people of Middle Eastern descent and the Islamic Faith in America can only happen when two conditions are met:
- They are a minority, preferably an economically insignificant one.
- The have physical or behavioral characteristics which are easily and readily identified.
If you look at the course of American history, you'll see that the most egregious acts of intolerance and hatred have occurred against groups which fit both these criteria.
Indeed, it is argued that sexual minorities (the "rainbow folk" as I call them, or the GLBTQ community ) are getting LESS harassment as their cultural distinction from the wider community is lessened both by people of those communities acting more "main stream" and by the wider community becoming gradually more explorative and imaginative in its own pursuits. (The vast "white bread" / "vanilla" world still has a long way to go though... give me a 7 grain or pumpernickel any day!)
Even so... in areas where GLBTQ people are not commonly "out", to be "out" is to put oneself at personal physical risk. And those groups within that community... especially the leather folk and the gender benders/blenders- whose visual appearance and behavior still and of necessity sticks out- are still subject to immense approbation and are often victims of hate crimes. (I heard once the percentage of out "T-folk" who had been physically attacked, beaten, etc... its some astoundingly high percentage.)
|So our word of the day: |
the fear of the other, the stranger.
|It is reasonable to identify evil behaviors and evil men and attack them. You'll notice I'm not taking issue with the anti-Nazi propaganda because... the Nazis had it coming, and more so.|
But the Japanese Americans then, as the Islamic Americans now, did not "have it coming," did not deserve the blow back, and our treatment of these groups was/is abominable and is as much a desecration of our constitution as if were to use it for toilet paper.
This isn't fighting the enemy, its fearing the stranger, and making him the source of all your problems. Demagogues and propagandists have done this for time immemorial.
xenophobia (plural xenophobias)
So now that you know the word and the concept... what do you think of our treatment of...
- The Japanese Americans in WWII
- Sexual minorities
- Middle Eastern-Americans and people of the Islamic faith?