Now that ‘xenophobia’ is the word of the year, will liberals start using it correctly?

Now that ‘xenophobia’ is the word of the year, will liberals start using it correctly?
Image: Tupungato/Shutterstock

First the non-news. Dictionary.com released a statement this morning noting that its 2016 Word of the Year was xenophobia, which it helpfully explains “finds its roots in two Greek words, xénos meaning “stranger, guest,” and phóbos meaning “fear, panic.” Examples of xenophobia, the press release further indicates, are Brexit (the UK vote to leave the European Union as the result of a much-debated referendum) and “hate crimes” in general — which seems to contract the website’s own definition: While hate and fear might be grouped together as negative emotions, the words mean radically different things. (As an illustration consider the two sentences “I hate spinach” and “I fear spinach.”)

Now that this word has become more prominent than ever, maybe the Left — which fancies itself to be more cerebral than the Right — can learn the actual meaning. The problem is illustrated in an another release, this one by The Leadership Conference titled “Hate Knows No Borders.”

Here’s the opening paragraph:

Bias-motivated violence has been on the rise in many countries across Europe, the former Soviet Union, and North America — in some cases more than doubling in the last five years. Racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, anti-Muslim and anti-Roma bias, religious intolerance, disability bias, and homophobia are among the prejudices that have fueled hate crimes in those countries. That trend toward rising violence continued in 2007 and 2008 for several types of hate crime, including anti-Semitic, racist, and homophobic attacks. Although official data is available only for a minority of countries — mostly on racist violence alone — there were moderate to high rises in the officially recorded numbers of such attacks in 2006 and 2007 in Finland, Ireland, the Slovak Republic, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

Notice that two -isms, racism and anti-Semitism, are lumped together with a number of phobias: xenophobia, homophobia, and the implied by unstated Islamophobia. They have been erroneously conflated here — and most famously by presidential contender Hillary Clinton in her “basket of deplorables” remark — with forms of hatred.

The terms are silly twice over— first because they are often used without substantiation to condemn people for the crime of simply disagreeing with one’s viewpoint, and second because liberals are second to none in their expressions of hatred for those who dare to opinions that differ from theirs.

But by abusing the root phobia, they add a third level of inanity to their petulant name-calling. Maybe this will award encourage them to study harder.

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy has written for The Blaze, HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.


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