Why is xenophobia a bad word

"Xenophobia"? The problem is called racism

The car attacks on New Year's Eve in Bottrop and Essen were not caused by »xenophobia«. The problem is called and should be named racism. The media coverage is also partly racist.

The "MDR" reported on Twitter, the Minister of the Interior of North Rhine-Westphalia, Herbert Reul, saying that the perpetrator "developed hatred of strangers out of personal concern." It almost sounds as if the people the 50-year-old tried to kill with his car were their own fault, because other "strangers" had behaved badly towards the perpetrator in the past. Whatever this "personal concern" may have looked like, nothing justifies such an act - least of all the supposed behavior of a group to which the victims von Bottrop and Essen are ascribed.

What exactly do you mean by "foreign"? The perpetrators presumably had "xenophobic" motives throughout the reports. In addition, Reul is quoted again and again as saying that the perpetrator had "the clear intention of killing foreigners." Certainly, however, the man had not asked anyone about his or her nationality before his attack, and he apparently did not have it on either white Swiss people apart. When foreigners are mentioned in the German media, they almost always refer to people with dark skin, dark hair, hijab or other external characteristics that they in some way recognize whitedifferentiate between German "majority society". They are often referred to as foreigners even if they have a German passport or were born in Germany. In addition, they seem to fall into the "foreign" category more quickly than, for example, the white Tourist from the USA. This common practice of using the term in the German media is strongly reminiscent of racial thinking under National Socialism: only those who are blond and blue-eyed really belong to the German nation.

An alternative is the term People of Color: According to the online portal »Courage against Rights Violence«, a self-designation by people »who are viewed as non-white in the majority society« and who experience racism based on external characteristics or ascriptions. Because attacks like the one in Bottrop are not about foreign origins or nationality. It is about a separation between an imagined "we" and the supposed "other" based on external characteristics. And it is about the distribution of resources: According to »Tagesspiegel«, the unemployed attacker found it »unjust that unemployed foreigners also receive money from the state«. This is racism. And with the media use of words such as "xenophobia", the racist separation into "we" and "the others" is continued.

nd journalism from the left thrives on the commitment of its readers

In view of the experience of the corona pandemic, we have decided to make our journalism permanently freely accessible on our website and thus make it available to everyone who is interested.

As with our print and epaper editions, our work as an author, editor, technician or publishing employee is part of every published article. It is what makes this journalism possible.

Volunteer now with just a few clicks!