I have touched on this subject before but I am beginning to think that Xenophobia is the explanation of what has happened in Somerton, particularly with regard to the actions of Somerton Town Council between August 2008 and October 2009. The following is the Wikipedia entry for 'Xenophobia':
Xenophobia is defined as "an unreasonable fear of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange." It comes from the Greek words ξένος (xenos), meaning "stranger," "foreigner" and φόβος (phobos), meaning "fear."
Xenophobia can manifest itself in many ways involving the relations and perceptions of an ingroup towards an outgroup, including a fear of losing identity, suspicion of its activities, aggression, and desire to eliminate its presence to secure a presumed purity. Xenophobia can also be exhibited in the form of an "uncritical exaltation of another culture" in which a culture is ascribed "an unreal, stereotyped and exotic quality".
Dictionary definitions of xenophobia include: deep-rooted antipathy towards foreigners (Oxford English Dictionary; OED), unreasonable fear or hatred of the unfamiliar, especially people of other races (Webster's)
The Dictionary of Psychology defines it as "a fear of strangers". As defined by the OED, it can mean a fear of or aversion to, not only people from other countries, but other cultures, subcultures and subsets of belief systems; in short, anyone who meets any list of criteria about their origin, religion, personal beliefs, habits, language, orientations, or any other criteria. While some will state that the "target" group is a set of persons not accepted by the society, in reality only the phobic person need hold the belief that the target group is not (or should not be) accepted by society. While the phobic person is aware of the aversion (even hatred) of the target group, they may not identify it or accept it as a fear.
A clinical definition is: An irrational fear of members of a certain race foreign to one's own, often adjunct and secondary to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Also: One of the attitude groupings characteristic of The Authoritarian Personality.
A xenophobic person has to genuinely think or believe at some level that the target is in fact a foreigner. This arguably separates xenophobia from racism and ordinary prejudice in that someone of a different race does not necessarily have to be of a different nationality. In various contexts, the terms "xenophobia" and "racism" seem to be used interchangeably, though they can have wholly different meanings (xenophobia can be based on various aspects, racism being based solely on race, ethnicity, and ancestry). Xenophobia can also be directed simply to anyone outside a culture, not necessarily one particular race or people.
I hope to develop this thread in future entries.
Till next time, I'm still Niall Connolly