Are educated people xenophobic

More and more people from the middle-class and educated camp openly show a right-wing attitude or even xenophobia. This is not only reflected in the election successes of the AfD. It was particularly evident in the demonstrations in East Germany, where the extreme right and neo-Nazis were accompanied by a number of bourgeois fellow travelers - who even then did not distance themselves when, for example, the Hitler salute could be seen.

A rift is opening up in Germany. On the other hand, xenophobia appears monstrous to liberal citizens. But there are no monsters there who finally show their true colors behind the bourgeois mask. These people think they have good reasons for their belief. They consider their concerns to be justified and their motives to be honest. These "concerned citizens" do not change their minds ashamed if one demonstrates against them, calls them right-wing and Nazis and declares them dangerous and stupid.

The majority of Germans reject xenophobia - and this is now clearly shown. This is the reaction to those "angry citizens" and even neo-Nazis who are now apparently convinced that they are speaking for a very large but silent section of the population. Herein lies the real meaning of the demonstrations "#wirsindmehr" and we are #indivisible:

The majority of German society still stands for tolerance and diversity. In fact, the proportion of those who are assessed as xenophobic, anti-Semitic, xenophobic or hostile to Muslims on the basis of surveys has not increased in recent years. He was and is relatively big.

But what has changed: More and more people are devaluing asylum seekers and saying that because of the Muslims they feel like strangers in their own country. And that part of the population is getting louder and more aggressive.

How should society deal with it? Taking a stance against the right is important, "but 'argument' is probably the more productive recipe," writes time-Editor Ijoma Mangold. Arguing doesn't just mean speaking with rights. Above all, it means dealing with the causes of right-wing, xenophobic attitudes. That does not mean relativizing or even justifying them. It's about understanding what you're dealing with.

However, many intellectuals have left this discourse because they are not ready to look at the actual subject at hand: man and his nature.

The current development finds its origin in two archaic human tendencies: to distrust strangers and the need to join together in groups.

Where do distrust and fear come from

  • "Man is a wolf to man." (Thomas Hobbes, English philosopher. Originally: "A wolf is man to man, not man, as long as he doesn't know what the other is like." Plautus, ancient Roman poet)
  • "Me against my brother. My brother and I against the family. My family and I against the clan. My clan and I against my country. My country and I against the world."(Somali proverb)
  • "I have nothing against strangers. Some of my best friends are strangers. But these strangers are not from here. "(Methusalix in" Asterix "volume 21)

These quotes can be used to summarize what social scientists, but above all behavioral and sociobiologists, have been proving for decades: The way people interact with one another is characterized by curiosity, open-mindedness, cooperation and even affection. But it is also determined by caution, rejection, fear and preparedness.

That sits deep in our bones. Because among our ancestors, those who were too often rather than too little careful survived more often. Mistrust of strangers is an evolutionary adjustment. And it's ubiquitous. That is why people around the world have developed rituals that make it easier for strangers to make contact.

This can be done with simple greetings, shaking hands, bowing or, in some cultures, even touching one's noses. We are signaling that we accept the presence of others and have peaceful intentions ourselves. Polite manners make sense. (Of course there are also welcoming rituals between confidants to maintain or intensify the feeling of togetherness.)

Because "foreign" can indicate a possible threat, our perception falls back on a trick for a first quick assessment: The more a person resembles us, the more we feel that we know what we are dealing with. A familiar appearance is predictable. On the other hand, the less someone resembles us - the stranger they are to us - the more insecure we are. The tricky thing is that the classification is not only conscious, but more quickly unconscious. Accordingly, it can be irrational. This applies to the reaction to skin color or gender, for example. Many people who are not racists also unconsciously show a tendency to have more negative associations with people of different skin color. Psychologists speak of "implicit bias".