The word “xenophobia” has ties to the Greek words “xenos,” which means “stranger or “guest,” and “phobos,” which means “fear” or “flight.” It makes sense that today we define “xenophobia” as a fear or hatred of strangers or foreigners. Xenophobia has always existed, but the world has experienced a surge in recent years. The essays described in this article provide examples of xenophobia, its ties to anti-immigration and nationalism, and how diseases like COVID-19 trigger prejudice.
Abdi Latif Dahir | Quartz Africa
Between March 29-April 2 in 2019, violence broke out in a South African municipality. Foreign nationals were targeted. Even though people were killed and businesses looted and destroyed, the police didn’t make any arrests. This represents a pattern of violence against foreigners who are mostly migrants from other places in Africa. Reporter Abdi Latif Dahir explains that these recent attacks are based on a belief that migrants cause South Africa’s economic and social problems. In this article from Quartz Africa, he outlines what people are blaming migrants for. As an example, while politicians claim that migrants are burdening the country, the data shows that migrants make up a very small percentage of the country.
Abdi Latif Dahir reports for Quartz Africa and speaks multiple languages. He also holds a master’s of arts degree in political journalism from Columbia University.
Raveena Chaudhari | The Red and Black
Nationalism is on the rise in many countries around the world, including the US. The election of Donald Trump signaled a resurgence in nationalism, including white nationalism. In her essay, Raveena Chaudhari explains that far-right politics have been gaining steam in Western Europe since the 1980s. The US is just following the trend. She also uses the terms “patriotism,” which is an important part of the American identity, and “nativism,” which is closely linked to a fear of immigrants and diversity. Xenophobia easily emerges from these ideas. Minorities feel the consequences of a rise in nationalism most keenly. Raveena Chaudhari is a junior accounting major and staff writer for The Red and Black, a nonprofit corporation that circulates the largest college newspaper in Georgia. For 87 years, it operated under the University of Georgia but is now independent of the college.
Daniel Denvir | Jacobin
In this essay, author Daniel Denvir digs into the background of President Trump’s anti-immigration policies. At the time of this piece’s writing, the Supreme Court had allowed the administration to exclude certain groups from entering the United States. The travel ban has been labeled the “Muslim ban.” Where did these anti-immigrant views come from? They aren’t original to Donald Trump. Denvir outlines the history of racist and xenophobic policies that paint immigrants as a threat to America. Knowing that these views are ingrained in American society is important if we want change.
Daniel Denvir is the host of “The Dig” on Jacobin Radio and the author of All-American Nativism, a critique of nativists and moderate Democrats.
Jeffrey Friedman | Niskanen Center
If you’re unsure what the difference is between nationalism and xenophobia, this essay can help clarify things. Written in 2017, this piece starts by examining surveys and studies measuring how xenophobic Trump supporters are. They also explore the reasons why people oppose illegal/legal immigration. The core of the essay, though, takes a look at nationalism vs. xenophobia. While different, Friedman argues that they are both irrational. The distinction is important as it reveals common ground between Trump supporters and Trump opponents. What does this mean?
Jeffrey Friedman is a visiting scholar in the Charles and Louise Tarver Department of Political Science at the University of California. He’s also an editor and author.
Xenophobia ‘Is A Pre-Existing Condition.’ How Harmful Stereotypes and Racism are Spreading Around the Coronavirus
Jasmine Aguilera | Time
As COVID-19 spreads throughout the world, there’s been a surge in racism against people of Asian descent. In her essay, Jasmine Aguilera relates examples of this discrimination, as well as responses as people take to social media to combat xenophobia. Reacting with racism to a disease is not a new phenomenon. It’s happened in the past with SARS, Ebola, and H1N1. Society always looks for a scapegoat and minorities usually suffer. This has an impact on a population’s health, livelihood, and safety.
Jasmine Aguilera is a contributor to Time Magazine. She has written several articles about COVID-19 for the publication.