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Writing & Research: Aaron M. Weis

Xenophobia – hatred or fear of foreigners or strangers or their politics and cultures. This prejudicial terminology is one that is almost synonymous with the anthropological notion of what is known as ethnocentricity, which is the belief that one’s culture is superior to that of another, and sadly the American zeitgeist, or spirit, of our current epoch in human history is essentially one that is a living personification of these sentiments.

As a writer, there is perhaps nothing more that sickens me than the way that news articles are not so much factual, or even empirical for that matter, than they are spun or slanted in such a way to favor the beliefs and opinions of a particular demographic to the extent that we now live in the terrifying objective or subjective reality where there is such a thing as fake news, where we actually discredit any and all information that we don’t particularly agree with as such. However, as much as this disheartens me, there is one thing that appalls me far more, and it is the degree in which both hatred and prejudice has spread throughout our country in the years of late, circulating throughout the media like some kind of contagious wildfire that, creating for the greatest sense of polarization or division since the Civil War.

The truth is like poetry and everyone hates poetry. Now while that citation is not my own, but a quote from, The Big Short, it speaks to the inalienable truth that, as I look around myself, to the best capacity in which my own sense of reason can discern, that this is not the great American melting pot that I was brought up in with the likes of School House Rock and morning National Anthems that taught me as much. No, far from it, nor has that sense of greatness to as far as I can observe been restored as part of an unfulfilled promise, and what could be viewed as yet another false claim or propagated lie.

For the purpose of research and as a means of coming up with ideas to write about, by default, the homepages on all of my computers are set to various news media sites, and accordingly, my social media accounts are set to show me what is trending on a day to day basis.

Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States disgust that resonates within my being as stories pertaining to racism pour through these various sources like a sizeable flood pouring itself into a bottomless void, but it has been the story for the last four years or so, and one that, depending on various factors, can be expected to be carried into the future; that is, it is the current trajectory that we are on.

The most painstakingly obvious exemplification of this in days past can be found in the case of the rally that was held in North Carolina just last Wednesday. It was here that the type of hostile and hate-fueled environment that have almost become a constant theme in these kinds of events held by the Trump Administration, where the chants of, “Send her back,” echoed throughout the hallways from Trumps supporters in regard to Rep. Ilhan Omar, which where irrevocably intensified by the racist tweets that have been a relatively consistent them for our current POTUS. The tweet in question that initiated whirlwind of hate was one if which Trump noted that Omar and three other congresswomen should, “Go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came,” which isn’t really surprising or anything new for that matter coming from our current entrepreneur turned president. We’ve seen this all throughout his campaign, whether it has been his remarks about President Obama’s unsubstantiated claims as a U.S. citizen, or his statement that all Mexicans were rapists, not to mention asserting that the U.S was going to call for, “a complete shutdown of Muslims entering the country. In response, Fox News host Chris Wallace commented that there is no denying that the POTUS is stoking racial divisions.

However, the most soul-crippling evidence of this fact is found in what the entire Trump Administration’s platform has been primarily focused on, and it is that of the issue of immigration. I understand that overall, the issue of immigration regulation is one that is a national concern, as far as things like sanctuary cities are involved or things of that nature,” but the extent in which it has gotten if far-removed from simply being out of hand, with one of his initial executive orders, namely that of 13769, entitled, Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, or the Muslim Ban as just one exemplification; it is also worth mentioning that said order was welcome by a great backlash from the general populace with major tech companies and other such organizations such as Starbucks publicly criticizing the move in many different ways.

And, as a citizen of the United States, I think the most recent development, that is not only the hardest to swallow, but that is the most revolting, is the news surrounding the immigrant detention camps, like the one in Texas that are, let’s be honest and call them for what they are, concentration camps, where children have actually died because of the conditions of such places. This fact alone would have our founding fathers and millions of other soldiers rolling in their graves, because it is a flagrant injustice against a number of wars that we have fought, and the very principles we were founded upon in the inception of our country.

However, this issue of immigration is only the very tip of the iceberg in terms of the xenophobia, the ethnocentricity, and the great divide or polarization that we see inherent in today’s society.

It is perhaps the most perplexing paradox that I can fathom, in that it is through one of America’s most characterizing qualities, which is that of our sense of rebellious individuality, that acts as the primary catalyst for enabling this to happen. Comparatively, the United States is more of an individualist country, then that of the majority which has a more collective identity. We see this in our current sort of f-you, almost nihilistic disposition that we see, where people don’t really care about the feelings of the other, and to maintain our capitalistic identity, where we are shamed for reaching out for help, and are expected to pull things up by your bootstraps soldier, and do it on your own.

Nonetheless, it is interesting to see that collectively we are known for this since of individualization, in that we are all similar through the capacity that we are all different. Yet, on a daily basis, we so judgmentally categorize everyone and their dog in these little boxes. The most overarching in terms of sociopolitical standards is the great divide between Republican and Democratic.

But from there, we ostensibly subcategorize and place each other in all these different individual boxes, further dividing ourselves from the other. In our culture, we meet a person, and we automatically, as if by nature, start assessing whether or not they are Christian or Catholic, and God forbid they’ve started looking into the philosophies of the East such as Buddhism or Taoism, but still that wouldn’t be as bad as being a Muslim, and no that is not my personal disposition, not do I in any way support or believe in that notion.

In the same way, we go to the doctor or other such institutions, and unconsciously categorize our ethnicity, as to whether we are Caucasian, African-American, Native American, and so on and so forth, and, the ways that we further categorize and subcategorize seem to go on in this way into Infinitum, in that it seems never-ending. What is such and such’s place of occupation, how much do they make a year, what is their socioeconomic status, what college did they go to, what if any mental illnesses do they have, what physical ailments do they have, and by now the reader gets the general idea.

So, it is a point of great fascination to me that while this we greatly pride ourselves in our sense of individualism, or our independence, that it is through this very means where we begin this process of xenophobia. Almost intrinsically, we begin assessing the other in terms of how they differ from us, when we already know that we are all similar in that we are all different, as if all the boxes that we have ever checked in our lives are imprinted in our minds eye, to which we examine how other individuals differ from that of our own, pushing us farther away from each other, and creating for a much greater divide that that of racial division alone. In this way, we have on a certain level, lost a sense of what could be defined as the otherness. That is recognizing one’s self in another, as opposed to listing all the ways that they differ. A process that includes not viewing the other as a separate entity, but as a part of a collective whole, and recognizing that like you, they have their own hopes, dreams, aspirations, desires, fears, insecurities, vulnerabilities, need for love and acceptance, and everything else that is included in the full gamut of being a human being.

It is for this reason that it is imperative that we make a conscious effort to return to a place of collectivity, oneness, togetherness, or whatever you may call it because the grim truth is that the further divided that we become, the weaker we become as a people.