Unfortunately, human beings also have the tendency to see change as the enemy, as a threat to their identity and their survival, and they rail against it. With the twenty-first century, the world has witnessed a rise in fear on all sides of the globe, one that pits humans against humans, country against country, and religion against religion. From a NATO perspective, the Cold War has given way to the War on Terror. Today, developed countries fear terrorist attacks from Islamic fundamentalists, while many in the Middle East fear amoral, mindless consumerism and even bellicose, forcible take-overs spawned from developed countries.
So it is the same old story that has been told and retold for centuries. It is the same story, reframed in new terms, using new verbiage, yet the message and meaning are the same. Yesterday's racism becomes today's supposedly "legitimate" concerns about the financial liability of the poor immigrant, the unpredictability and potential danger of the deranged religious fanatics, and the threat of pervasive immorality. Although this is a multi-faceted and complex issue, for the purposes of this paper, the Western xeno-racist perspective will be defined and addressed in the context of the war on terror, and its usage as a basis for justification for xeno-racist policies on the part of Western governments, especially in regard to Muslim people, will be analysed.
At the heart of racism lie the instinctive fears and desires of human beings. Whatever excuses people might use to explain their racist remarks and attitudes, the crux of the matter is that they fear that a foreign people coming into their land might somehow threaten their survival. This fear is intensified by the basic human desire to create order, which is projected into national identities and societal structures. These structures and identities are threatened by change, represented by the foreigner. Furthermore, these self-definitions are maintained by the ability of people to define themselves as different and distinct from "the other", the stranger. When these strangers desire to move across national borders or otherwise impact a country and its people, fear is often the result. It is the fear of change, the threat to national identity, and the potential fear of being overtaken by the foreigners that drives people to reject immigrants and to deny them entrance2.
Science has proven that there is no such thing as multiple races, yet the belief in race persists. "Race", being a social construct, "has no inherent or fixed meaning. What "race" is emerges within specific historical, economic, and political situations and is whatever racists have the social power to define it as. It is an open-ended political category constituted out of struggle3. Indeed, it is one of the great ironies of modern life that while race is a complete fiction, it continues to drive social structure and political action4. Furthermore, although it is no longer socially acceptable to be outright racist, claiming that a person of a certain color or country of origin is automatically inferior, human beings have not altogether discarded the boundaries they have built around themselves. Likewise, it is no longer considered rational to be afraid of a stranger simply because they are unknown, a condition referred to as xenophobia, and yet the human fear of the other and the human desire to create national identity and order has not succumbed to science and rationality so easily. So, in the place of xenophobia and