Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Xenophobia / Racism and Prejudice Scale

The Xeno-scale. How will they treat you? The subject of xenophobia and racism is rarely discussed on all the exciting expat message boards and sites. Shiny books about travel, retirement and culture shocks or language CD covers with smiling local people or any other literature that has to do with living and traveling internationally does not like to breach the subject and pretends that it does not exist. Sometimes they mention funny stereotyping- oh, in such and such a country the locals think that all Americans drink coffee three times a day, hee-hee-hee, ha-ha-ha. How funny! They do not mention that in some countries being an American can get you killed. Yes, siree. So, I have devised a scale by which you can measure the level of xenophobia, racism, sexism and other types of isms against your kind. I urge international travelers to evaluate countries based on this measurement. I shall from now on call in the Xeno-scale and we will use a point system from 1 to 10. Here we go: Point 1 on the Xeno-scale. The country treats you pretty much like a local. You can easily make friends, marry into local families and the people are either welcoming to you or indifferent. There is no hostility at all. Legally you are allowed to work and can rent and buy property. An example would be say, a Dutch man who goes to the Dutch speaking part of Belgium. He will have virtually no obstacles integrating and assimilating into the local society. Or a Uruguyan who goes to Argentina, possibly. Point 2 on the Xeno-scale. The country treats you with no surprises, the immigration is nice but you cannot work without a permit. Dating and friendship are generally no problem. Some people make jokes about you and tease you. Some say half -jokingly that you guys take away local jobs. Some mean it. An example would be a Canadian from say, Toronto moving to Michigan. Or a Costa Rican moving to Mexico. Point 3 on the Xeno-scale: Locals treat you politely but with suspicion. Not all but quite a few do. You go to stores and some people sulk at you. You try and make friends but it takes time. Many people do not trust you. They are courteous but you are feeling out of place. Dating and friendship is a bit of a problem as local people tell you that they need to get to know you better and that they have never met a person from your country before. Neighbors stare but don’t say hello, some just ignore you. After a year in one place they see that you are all-right and they begin to accept you. Usually they speak a language different from yours. They rent you an apartment but somehow you do not feel too welcome for a long time. Some jobs are for locals only. Point 4 on the Xeno scale: You do not feel welcome, but more like tolerated. You are not assaulted or anything and people do not hate you but they feel uncomfortable with you. Even if you learn the local language, the still do not treat you 100% well. Local women prefer either local men or men from a similar culture. Local men may like you if you are a woman but still , neighbors may talk and you just feel that you will never fit in. But with great effort people will begin showing some acceptance later on and you will be able to make some friends and even date but with great difficulty. An example- a white man in Thailand or maybe a man from Asia anywhere in small town USA. Point 5 on the Xeno-scale: People do not like for you to be there but you are an unwanted necessity because they need you either for work or for tourism. Some maybe polite to you but they want you to move on as soon as you can. You can sometimes make a friend but the friend is insincere and not very helpful; and as far as dating, only those who are rebels or those whom no local wants would date you. Getting a place to live will also be a problem as quite a few people do not want you to move into the neighborhood. An example would be a white man moving to Japan. Also, there are all kinds of laws to make sure you do not stay in the country and you can only do some jobs as most are for locals, not foreigners. There is still no crime against you but people do not want to sit next to you on public transportation and many turn faces away when you want to talk to them. Some show hospitality but only as long as you know when to go home. Point 6 on the Xeno-scale. There is marked resentment and people clearly let you know that you are not welcome. Stone- cold faces surround you and only some very poor people talk to you asking for money or to cheat you. Some locals walk up to you and tell you to go back to your country/place. Some show tolerance. Some businesses do not want to serve you. Most places will not rent to you. Maybe you can stay at a hotel but apartments are out of the question. Friendship with locals is out of the question and dating is impossible. There are no jobs and no housing for you. Just get out as soon as you can. An example would probably be an Israeli in a rural village in some Arab country or an Arab in the USA after some terrorist attack. Or a Black person in rural white South in the 1930ies. Point 7 on the Xeno-scale: The locals are openly hostile, many businesses do not want to let you in. You get yelled at from passing cars. Forget about working, dating or anything. You are simply not wanted. Virtually no one will rent to you and no dating or friendship or even talking with the locals. An example maybe would be a German in Poland right after the war. An Israeli who decides to be a tourist on the West Bank? Point 8: You can barely get the visa or get rejected for the visa. On the social front, even if you are let in, you can get beat up or shot for being what you are. Most of the time, it is just hateful looks but attacks are frequent. You are advises to stay indoors and leave at the first opportunity. Few countries are like that, but maybe, being an American in Somalia in 1992 would be something like this? Do not go. Point 9. You will most certainly be hated and attacked just for showing your face or speaking your language or practicing your religion. There are marches on the streets calling for death to your kind. If you want to survive, you have to pretend to be someone else which is not always possible. Dating? Jobs? Apartments? Don’t make me laugh. Point 10. People like you are shot or arrested and tortured just for being there. On a civil front, a mob can attack you and tear you to pieces and most probably will That is exactly what happened in Iran to a Russian ambassador in the 1800's. He was torn to pieces and stomped by the mob because of a war between Russia and Iran. You are advised to not even think of traveling to any of such places. The above scale is not complete, and there are many variations on the theme. Some countries may have great governments and very liberal visa regimes but very hostile civilian populations. Some may be vice-versa- great people, but it is impossible to get visas to live there. Most countries are kind of hard to pigeonhole into a specific point and may be assessed on several “fronts”- visa-wise, friendship-wise, dating wise, and also whether you are rich or poor, whether you are there as a visitor or a tourist and other such factors. But it is a beginning, and I would like you to help me by adding more examples and more criteria. However, the Xeno-scale, although not perfect, has been created and you can now start measuring countries by how they will treat you and your kind as well as attaching points to the next country you will visit when you recommend it to others.

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