Xenophobia is an intense and/or irrational dislike and sometimes fear of people from other countries. It comes from the Greek words ξένος (xenos), meaning "foreigner," "stranger," and φόβος (phobos), meaning "fear." The term is typically used to describe a fear or dislike of foreigners or of people significantly different from oneself.
For xenophobia there are two main objects of the phobia. The first is a population group present within a society that is not considered part of that society. Often they are recent immigrants, but xenophobia may be directed against a group which has been present for centuries. This form of xenophobia can elicit or facilitate hostile and violent reactions, such as mass expulsion of immigrants, pogroms, or in the worst case, genocide.
The second form of xenophobia is primarily cultural, and the objects of the phobia are cultural elements which are considered alien. All cultures are subject to external influences, but cultural xenophobia is often narrowly directed, for instance at foreign loan words in a national language. It rarely leads to aggression against individual persons, but can result in political campaigns for cultural or linguistic purification. Isolationism, a general aversion of foreign affairs, is not accurately described as xenophobia.
Colonial authorities and some of the more affluent settlers attempted to target Asian immigrants, and some anti Chinese laws were passed in the 1850s. Chinese people were feared because some felt that they could possibly colonise Australia themselves, and they were for the most part, not christians. Chinese labourers also undermined wages for European labourers as they were willing to accept worse working conditions and pay. There was also a racial element. One of the earliest voices raised against the Chinese was William Westgarth, a founder of the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce. Westgarth rose in Victoria's parliament in 1853 to ask "whether it was the intention of the Government to adopt any measure for the exclusion of such population", and to ensure that they "or any other inferior race" were not "chargeable to the state". Anti Chinese feeling culminated in a massacre of Chinese gold miners who had raped some European women.WW
At the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, a racial equality clause was brought forward by Japan. Australia's Prime minister Billy Hughes was opposed to this, even making threats to leave the conference if it was included. Hughes feared the impact that Japanese immigration may have in the likely event that Australian and Japan were to go to war, and one of the ramifications of the recognition would allow mass Japanese immigration to Australia.
A policy known as the White Australia policy was introduced. As the name stated, it was intended at restricting all non-white (Especially Asiatic) populations from existing inside Australia. Non-White populations were not included in the census, or permitted to vote, although persons with mixed white-aboriginal ancestry were included as part of the white population. In 1925, Prime Minister Stanley Bruce said:
From the early 1860s until 1969 thousands of Aboriginal children were taken by force by missionaries, church officials, police and various government authorities under an official policy to "protect" these children, a policy that would become known as the Stolen Generation. The motivation behind these removals was primarily to "Breed Out" the aboriginal characteristics in mixed race children, in order to preserve "White Purity". Australian politicians were scared that coloured populations would end in dividing Australia in the same manner that led to the American Civil War, and men that masterminded the white Australia immigration policy, such as Arthur Calwell reckoned that populations that consisted of different peoples would inevitably fail, often citing the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire as an example. It should be noted that small amounts of Asiatic persons were allowed to stay in Australia after world war 2, whilst others were forced out as undesirable citizens.
During the mid seventies, the government of Gough Whitlam removed the White Australia policy. Ironically Whitlam would also display signs of xenophobia in rejecting Vietnamese boat people who fled the communist victory.
In contemporary Australia, many university professors and other literati often argue that former prime minister John Howard politically exploited xenophobia during the Tampa incident. Others see the Cronulla riots as an example of xenophobia. Others still, on the other wing of politics, would argue that those incidents involved advertising resolve for the rule of law and provocation by the Islamic population in Sydney in terms of not condemning gang rapes of British and Irish Australian women by Islamic immigrants that often hid behind Islam and gang activities in Cronulla by Islamic youth. The issues behind xenophobia still remain controversial in Australia today.
In Canada's western-most province of British Columbia, there has been a history of xenophobia towards people of Asian descent living there. In the late 19th century to the mid 20th century, people of Asian descent were considered savage and uncivilized people and racial violence occurred against members of the Chinese, Japanese, and Sikh communities during that time. For some time in Canada in the early twentieth century, a Chinese Head Tax existed, which was a discriminatory policy which forced Chinese immigrants to pay a fee in order to enter the country, which other immigrants did not have to do. In World War II, both Canada and the United States interned citizens of Japanese-descent as Japan was associated with the Axis Powers. Japanese were displayed as a vile and dangerous people in government propaganda. Japanese-American and Japanese-Canadian property was confiscated and not returned by U.S. and American authorities.
The aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks by the militant Islamic fundamentalist organization Al Qaeda have led to increased suspicion and xenophobia towards people of Middle Eastern descent or Islamic religious backgrounds. The result has been a number of arrests of wrongly accused people of Islamic descent on charges of terrorism.
The worst era of xenophobia in this area and in Europe as a whole was during the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler in Germany which committed mass-persecution and genocide of Jews, Roma, Slavs, homosexuals, and various other minorities as well as political opponents. By the Nuremberg Laws, German born persons of Jewish faith were no longer able to retain German citizenship and were forced to fly flags representing their Jewish identity. Over six million Jews, most of whom were from countries outside of Germany, were deliberately murdered in a pre-meditated attempt to destroy the Jewish race. During the Nazi invasion of Russia, over twenty million Russian Slavs also died, representing a pitiless attitude to those that the Nazi doctrine deemed as only worthy of existing as German slaves.
During the past fifty years, most Northern European countries have experienced both European and non European immigration to an extent that in France today, only about half of the population is descended from its 19th century sires, with the trend existing to a lesser effect in other countries like Britain and Germany, causing some displacement to the indigenous inhabitants. This has resulted in a resurgence of xenophobic nationalism at the political level in countries like Germany and France towards minorities which both countrys' governments have set out to oppose. In Germany, xenophobia and neo-nazism has risen in response to increased immigration to Germany by among others, Turkish immigrants. In France, a history of xenophobia towards France's Muslim population, almost all of whom are either first or second generation immigrants, has existed for sometime, with political parties like the National Front campaigning on xenophobic views towards Muslim people in France.
A new phenomenon in South Africa has been increasing xenophobia towards foreigners by South Africa's black majority. A series of attacks against foreigners in South African townships in May 2008. The attacks originated in the township of Alexandra, an impoverished suburb of Johannesburg. An influx of foreigners in recent years, most notably 2–4 million Zimbabweans (roughly a quarter of the population of Zimbabwe), has led to social tension. Poor local residents believe foreigners are in direct competition for jobs and living space, and many incidents of crime are also blamed on these foreigners. More than 60 foreigners were reportedly killed in the attacks with roads barricaded and police battling with the protesters. Former South African President Thabo Mbeki has since called on the South African National Defence Force to help the SAPS (South African Police Service) to prevent any further killings of immigrants. Xenophobic violence also spread to the Western Cape in Du Noon in Milnerton with hundreds of terrified foreigners forced to run for their lives.
The effects of xenophobia (dislike against the genetically dissimilar out-group and nepotistic favoritism towards the genetically similar in-group) are analyzed by many sociobiological researchers. Some see it as an innate biological response on the part of the evolved human organism in inter-group competition. In his famous book, The Ethnic Phenomenon, Pierre L. van den Berghe, anthropological professor of the University of Washington, discusses the concepts of kin selection, ethnic nepotism, and the biologically-rooted tendency of people that are more similar genetically to behave more generously toward each other. In Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing, author James Waller argues that all human beings "have an innate, evolution-produced tendency to seek proximity to familiar faces because what is unfamiliar is probably dangerous and should be avoided. More than two hundred social psychological experiments have confirmed the intimate connection between familiarity and fondness. This universal human tendency is the foundation for the behavioral expressions of ethnocentrism and xenophobia" (Oxford University Press, USA, 2002, p. 156). Frank Salter, an ethological researcher of the Max Planck Institute, deals with similar "taboo" topics in his controversial book, On Genetic Interests: Family, Ethnicity and Humanity in An Age of Mass Migration; this work has been praised by well-known sociobiology innovator E.O. Wilson as "a fresh and deep contribution to the sociobiology of humans." Salter posits an "innate group-descent module" in the human mind to explain the universal occurrence of ethnic nepotism. In Salter's view, favoritism towards one's own ethnicity is an evolutionarily-based "objective" value and, from a political science perspective, Salter proposes a "universal nationalism", in which all planetary ethnic-based communities or nations have the right to preserve their own heritage and distinctiveness.