Wednesday, December 9, 2015

On Racism and Xenophobia

The thing about racism, xenophobia and ethnic cleasing that most people don't understand is that while it usually starts out with abstractions which make large groups of people "the enemy" it ultimately comes down to what happens to your neighbor, your co worker, the student in your class,or the owner of a business you frequent who is a member of the unfortunate group being demonized. Will they be harassed, publicly humiliated, deprived of work, placed in camps and detention centers, even killed? Because that is where mass demonization of groups often heads- crosses burned, yellow stars sown on jackets, windows of businesses smashed, people taken off to camps or murdered before your eyes. Do not think it cannot happen here. It DID happen here- to African Americans, Chinese Americans and Japanese Americans- and it is happening to religious and ethnic minorities in many parts of the world now. What I hope for is that people think long and hard about what it would mean for their community and their networks of friends and neighbors if a group of people are singled out by race or religion or national origin as a danger to the safety of everyone else. There is no place I know of in the world where that doesn't turn ugly really fast and present people with moral choices they never imagined when they started down that path.