Week three of the alphabet backwards brings me to the letter "X" and the word xenophobia. Merriam Webster defines xenophobia as fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign.
Unfortunately, we seem to be living in a time of hate and fear. After the events of 9/11/2001, there was a brief moment when I felt there was hope for a collective re-thinking on the part of the people of the world. I don't think it was my imagination. It was there. And then George Bush killed it. Oh, he said politically correct things about how all Muslims aren't terrorists, but at the same time he told us via military invasions, color-coded terror alerts, and a constant, steady drip of "be afraid" messages - that have been used to justify eroding our rights, our sense of decency as a people and our economy - that he didn't mean it. I guess it was a three for one sale. We could be destroyed from within while blaming it on those nasty foreign terrorists.
Mix massive doses of fear with profound financial uncertainty and you have created a xenophobe's paradise. Can't pay your bills? It's because those terrible foreign people have stolen your jobs. The fact that this isn't really quite true is irrelevant. We need someone to blame and immigrants are easy targets. It requires less effort than thinking through complicated truths like the fact that the so-called "tax breaks" - those acts of pretend largesse to the poor aren't actually "breaks" at all. They not only line the pockets of the rich, but steal basic services from the poor and sink them and the nation ever deeper into the abyss. The pennies given back to the poor don't help their real problems and the uncollected money from those who could/should have paid in aren't there to fund things like Head Start, Food Stamps, Unemployment, or work on the Infrastructure (which also creates jobs).
I don't know why it's easier to hate than to think. Maybe it's the bully syndrome that exists in all of us somewhere. Illegal immigrants are even further down the food chain than the poor (well they are part of the poor but with less access to what help exists), so they are easy to target. Could it be that politicians like focusing our attention on the problem of illegal immigrants as a good way to distract us from the fact that it's really them picking our pockets? And as a way of distracting us from young men and women giving their lives in an unjustified and unjustifiable war.
And of course the xenophobia attached to the war - a war on terrorism, which can be anything, anyone, anywhere, any time - is to keep people frightened of Arab terrorists so that we aren't mortified that our own and other people's children are giving their lives so Bush and the oil barons of this world can wrack up a little more money and hold onto their power. It is obscene and it infuriates me.
Alas, I could rant on and on, but it's almost 4 pm and I haven't posted this. I now officially hate my Monday Alphabet Backwards brainchild. My last Alphabet backwards (yearning) was also an angst-ridden exercise in self torment. I suppose I could have picked some other topic - like xerox or xylophones or so maybe the problem isn't the idea but my penchant for making myself miserable.
Next week's letter is "W" and hopefully it will inspire some happy gambol-through-the-flowers word to present itself to me. Meanwhile, I apologize for today - not so much for the rant - this stuff makes me really angry - but for the half-baked incompleteness of it. If I got out all I want to say, though, I'd still be writing at this time next week. This will have to do.
One last thing - a little bit of vanity... I was living in Arizona when the 9/11 attacks happened and I had my weekly agoraphobia column. This is what I wrote. I'm still kind of proud of it.
And I still pray for a world in which the voice of love becomes stronger than the twisted whispers of fear and hate-mongers. I think that potential is in us waiting to blossom. I hope so.
So much for the letter X. Whew. I'm out of here.