Xenophobia Makes a Comeback

May 22nd, 2010

Here are three recent headlines from the mainline media:
US Rep Backs Deport of Illegal Immigrants’ US KidsAssociated Press, April 29, 2010
Of Values, Veils and Mistresses - International Herald Tribune, April 30-May 2, 2010
Anger over Ariz. Immigration Law Drives US RalliesAssociated Press, May 2, 2010
Each of these articles underscores the pronounced movement from tolerance of “the stranger” in western industrialized society to its polar opposite, bigotry and xenophobia. The second piece is especially interesting, as it is a column by Alan Cowell addressing the social divisions in France stemming from an incident involving a 31-year-old woman wearing a niqab, a form of headdress with only a narrow slit for the eyes. French police officers levied a 22-Euro fine on the woman for driving while wearing a veil, presumably because they were worried about safety on the highway. But the action sparked off a huge debate in France over what it means to be French and what it means to be French and Muslim.
From the socionomics perspective, this is precisely the type of event that we can expect to see repeatedly in coming years as the social mood moves deeper into the negative. As people’s fear of the future accelerates, there is a heightened sense of a hard-to-pin-down threat to both personal security and identity. This feeling of threat then translates into a society developing a kind of “bunker mentality”, of which the sorts of xenophobia expressed above are but surface manifestations of a deeper sense of something being lost. We can confidently foresee much more of this type of behavior to come, especially in Europe where the immigrant “problem” is most acute due to the tension between declining birth rates and decades of overly-generous social welfare programs that are increasingly difficult to finance without a major influx of young workers into the system.

Here are three recent headlines from the mainline media:US Rep Backs Deport of Illegal Immigrants’ US Kids ? Associated Press, April 29, 2010Of Values, Veils and Mistresses – International Herald Tribune, April 30-May 2, 2010Anger over Ariz. Immigration Law Drives US Rallies ? Associated Press, May 2, 2010Each of these articles underscores the pronounced movement from tolerance of “the stranger” in western industrialized society to its polar opposite, bigotry and xenophobia. The second piece is especially interesting, as it is a column by Alan Cowell addressing the social divisions in France stemming from an incident involving a 31-year-old woman wearing a niqab, a form of headdress with only a narrow slit for the eyes. French police officers levied a 22-Euro fine on the woman for driving while wearing a veil, presumably because they were worried about safety on the highway. But the action sparked off a huge debate in France over what it means to be French and what it means to be French and Muslim.From the socionomics perspective, this is precisely the type of event that we can expect to see repeatedly in coming years as the social mood moves deeper into the negative. As people’s fear of the future accelerates, there is a heightened sense of a hard-to-pin-down threat to both personal security and identity. This feeling of threat then translates into a society developing a kind of “bunker mentality”, of which the sorts of xenophobia expressed above are but surface manifestations of a deeper sense of something being lost. We can confidently foresee much more of this type of behavior to come, especially in Europe where the immigrant “problem” is most acute due to the tension between declining birth rates and decades of overly-generous social welfare programs that are increasingly difficult to finance without a major influx of young workers into the system.

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