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Jon Kofas – Western Xenophobia, Islam And The Third World

Xenophobia has been on the rise in the last two decades in the Western World and it has influenced the political arena not just of conservative parties moving toward a more right wing course, but even centrist ones under pressure to “protect” the nation from perceived external threats. Is rising xenophobia a reflection of rising nationalism and conservatism in the age of globalization, or is it a reaction to a tangible threat posed by non-whites from the Third World, some who are Muslims, trying to settle in the West and diluting the “purity” of white Judeo-Christian society? Would the Western media, politicians and xenophobes of our era react the same way if instead of Muslim refugees and undocumented Mexican workers the migrants were from the Scandinavian countries?
Because they come from the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America, Western xenophobia assumes racist characteristics, while humanitarianism is tossed aside no matter what the Vatican and the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees have to say on the matter. In other words, it is not the immigrant and refugee to which many in the Western World object, but that “outsiders” are perceived as a threat to the “purity of the native culture” diluted with influx of people with different skin color, culture and in many cases religion.

Many European analysts have been warning that the influx of immigrants, especially Muslim refugees fleeing war-torn Syria and Iraq, could tear apart the European Union as one after another member is becoming more nationalistic and tries to protect its national borders and its economic and cultural integrity. Just as many Europeans are concerned about the immigrants undercutting the continental bloc that has taken decades to build, many US analysts agree with politicians from both the Republican and Democrat party contending that illegal immigration from Mexico and Central America undermines security and takes away jobs from American citizens. Anti immigration arguments on either side of the Atlantic have become part of the political arena. Right wing populist politicians embrace positions not much different than one would expect from neo-Nazis, thus moving the xenophobia debate issue into the core of what would be otherwise mainstream politics.

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