Xenophobia

DEFINITION

Irrational fear or hatred of anything foreign or unfamiliar; different. Currently rampant xenophobias include the fear of social or foreign (ethnic) groups; racism, sexism, homophobia, and religious intolerance.People tend to fear or distrust those who are not like themselves. When we convince ourselves that our way is the "right" way, we are more likely to strike out at those people or ideas that are different. Intolerance of differences can result in prejudices, segregation, jingoism, colonial subjugation, exploitation, vandalism, persecution, and ultimately genocide (aka "ethnic cleansing"). Xenophobia is indeed one of the principal causes of violence around the world.Xenophobia has increased with the growth of various fundamentalist religious movements; notably within every major monotheistic religion, each of which has been frustrated that it has failed to fill the huge spiritual void of modernity; one that Jean-Paul Sartre called "a God-shaped hole."A xenophobe is a person who is unduly fearful or contemptuous of anything foreign, such as of strangers or foreign peoples.A xenophobia specific to the art world is sometimes seen in a viewer's off-hand dismissal of art, art not immediately understood. Although such intolerance might otherwise reveal common laziness, such refusal to attempt to understand art can arise from an incapacity to tolerate deviation from a perceived norm. There is a long history to intolerance directed toward art and artists.Examples: The original "iconoclasts" among Christians of the Byzantine Empire. When iconoclasm was at its height, especially in the eighth and ninth centuries, the iconoclasts destroyed countless works of art; religious images were the focus of this controversy. During the French Revolution of 1789-1795, the stone saints at Notre Dame de Paris were beheaded in the name of "the people," who mistook the statues for portraits of royalty. In the last century, the rise of modernism witnessed a powerful backlash from those who saw works of each avant-garde art movement as tasteless or ugly or bad art, as insulting the public, as mean jokes, as radical political propaganda, etc.

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