August 13, 2006
The Cost of Xenophobia

Once again, a selection from Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer (1951), a work praised by Dwight Eisenhower. The author was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Ronald Reagan in 1983. It also happens to be the one book Mrs. Batard has recommended to friends more than any other (not that she’s a fan of either Reagan or Eisenhower).

...An American’s hatred for a fellow American (for Hoover or Roosevelt) is far more virulent than any antipathy he can work up against foreigners. It is of interest that the backward South shows more xenophobia than the rest of the country. Should Americans begin to hate foreigners wholeheartedly, it will be an indication that they have lost confidence in their way of life.

....

Fanatic Christianity puts its imprint upon the ancient world both by gaining adherents and by evoking in its pagan opponents a strange fervor and a new ruthlessness. Hitler imposed himself upon the world by promoting Nazism and by forcing the democracies to become zealous, intolerant and ruthless. Communist Russia shapes both its adherents and its opponents in its own image.

Thus, though hatred is a convenient instrument for mobilizing a community for defense, it does not, in the long run, come cheap. We pay for it by losing all of the values we set out to defend.

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Posted by Buck Batard at August 13, 2006 08:45 PM
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