A study finds – surprise! – that hostility toward immigration and racial integration is correlated psychologically with levels of fear:
The research indicates a strong correlation between social fear and anti-immigration, pro-segregation attitudes. While those individuals with higher levels of social fear exhibited the strongest negative out-group attitudes, even the lowest amount of social phobia was related to substantially less positive out-group attitudes.
We all fear the other. It’s ingrained in our genes. But if I were asked why I think America is an exceptional nation, I’d answer is that it has often contained more fear and cultural panic for longer than most countries – what else was persisting in the evil of slavery? – but that I know nowhere else where that fear has been more baldly and bloodily confronted. The greatest presidents have confronted it the most directly. But the real conquerers have been Americans themselves, overcoming one fear at a time.
It’s not a linear process because we are not linear creatures, but it is real. And it’s why I want to live here.