DECONSTRUCTING XENOPHOBIA

South African Miners during a demonstration some time last year (courtesy rt.com)

South African Miners during a demonstration some time last year (courtesy rt.com)

Going by what has been happening in South Africa in most current times, many may be led to believe that xenophobia, popularly known as “the fear of foreigners”, is the root of all evils meted out by some South Africans against outsiders especially of African origin.

In fact most at the moment are feeling that xenophobia is a really deplorable attitude. Whether I agree or disagree is a matter left for you to determine in the analysis that follows.

I will begin by asking the following critical questions: At what point or when is xenophobia a despicable attitude? When it involves and African ‘hating on’/ intensely fearing another African? Or when it involves an African hating on another race? Or when it involves a person hating on another person from another country? Or when it involves a person hating on another person from another community, village, clan, family? Incidentally for no apparent reason or with a reason?

The answer is, whether one is xenophobic with or without a reason, that attitude in human terms is forgivable. But to follow through that fear or hate with violence, interestingly, is what is evil about xenophobia. But fearing alone is not.

Hence from the above example, there are, apparently, ‘good’ xenophobes and bad ones; ‘hard’ and soft ones; high(er) and low degree, and so on.

But a xenophobe is but a xenophobe and violence is not xenophobia. Eventually Xenophobia does not ’cause’ violence. Before I proceed to prove that claim,we need to deconstruct another term often used as an excuse to mistreat others. It is the term ‘foreigner’.

Who is a foreigner? A kenyan versus an unfamiliar Ugandan? A zimbawean Vs a South African? A person Vs another person they are not quite familiar with? Yet if that is true, are you therefore warranted to ‘attack’? No. But most, unfortunately, do that.

In clear terms, being foreign is not the issue. Mistreating a foreigner is. In addition, any reason for misbehaving towards foreigners is questionable.

Hence my refutation of violence in the name of xenophobia properly begins here: First we need to remember that xenophobia is but an active fear of foreigners in their various categories(as we have seen above), whether in low or high degree,

Consequently, I disassociate xenophobia with violence, with murder- evil, because to reason thus is downright fallacious:

“He/she is a foreigner. Therefore, I must hurt him or her.”

“He/she is a foreigner. Therefore I just don’t like him/her.”

Also, “I don’t like him/her because he/she is better than me” strictly does not follow.

Also, “I hate him just because I hate him” is extremely pathetic thinking.

However, to reason that “I hate him/her because they have offended me” is somewhat acceptable. But even then, where is self-control?

Eventually, why some South Africans are committing acts of aggression against those they consider foreigners, the conclusion reached from my analysis is, I know not what. We may recourse to theology next time since pure reason has failed us.

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