Why Do Republicans Hate Foreigners?

The biggest surprise about Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's vile remarks against foreigners is that Mr. Trump's popularity with Republicans surged as a result.

This means that there are a whole lot of people out there in our very own society who agree with these anti-foreigner sentiments. Yikes.

But why? Why do some people hate foreigners?

Foreigners are simply human beings, just like us. Just like everyone. The only difference with foreigners is that they just so happened to have been born in a location different from us. That's all.

So why would one human being hate another human being?

Well, unfortunately, there are some pretty good reasons to dislike another person. A good measure of a person is how this person treats other people. If a person is mean and cruel to other people, well, then, it makes perfect sense to dislike this person. Another reason for disliking someone is if the person insults or belittles other people. Or if a person is selfish or greedy, and is always on the lookout for an opportunity to benefit themselves at the expense of others. It is understandable to dislike these people.

But what about a person who is good and kind, and genuinely cares about other people? Indeed, this is a person who is likeable and who would make an excellent friend and an outstanding citizen.

So what about a person who is a foreigner? Should this person be liked or disliked?

Is being a foreigner enough information to determine whether to like or dislike a person? Well, without knowing a single stitch of additional information, a whole lot of people will hate this person right off the bat.

Maybe the reason is because this person comes from a foreign place.

But, upon reflection, it does not really seem to be such a great reason to hate another human being merely because they happen to have been born on the other side of an arbitrary boundary line.

If we cross that boundary line, should they hate us? And while we're over there, should we hate ourselves?

The distance of the foreigner from us doesn't even seem to matter. Someone in Texas is supposed to hate someone in Mexico who is just down the road and with whom they may share much in common, but yet not hate someone in New York who is two thousand miles away and with whom they may have absolutely nothing in common.

Maybe the boundary lines for hate should be closer. Maybe we should hate people who are not from our own state, or our own city or town. Or maybe we should hate people on the other side of the street.

It just doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to hate people based upon their location.

Well, perhaps people hate foreigners not based upon their location, but because the foreigners look different, speak a different language, wear funny clothes, and have a different culture.

Aha! Maybe we're onto something here. After all, it can be quite inconvenient to try to communicate and get along with someone who does not speak our same language, does not understand our sports, and does not even know who is on Dancing With the Stars.

But it does seem a little flimsy to hate foreigners just for that.

Let's not forget about crime here. It would indeed be understandable to harbor discontent toward people who commit crimes, and especially violent crimes.

But the problem here is that the statistics simply do not support the assertion that foreigners are any more likely to commit crimes than locals. As with other biases, it is common for those who possess the bias to be completely oblivious of their own bias and instead insist that they are merely observing the truth. This is exactly the case with Mr. Trump. He claims to have no bias yet he insists that, c'mon, everyone knows that Mexicans are rapists and murderers, it's obvious. This is a classic text book case of bias.

The statistics reveal a reality inconsistent with Mr. Trump's personal beliefs. The data indicates that foreigners commit crimes at the same rate as locals. And this actually makes a lot of sense. After all, since we are all human beings, it stands to reason that the same proportion of us would be susceptible to committing crimes regardless of where we happened to have been born.

Perhaps the reason some people hate foreigners has more to do with jobs. As the theory goes, foreigners steal jobs away from locals because foreigners are willing to perform the labor for wages that are far below a reasonable standard of living and thus are unacceptably low to locals.

Assuming this is true (even though the data is inconclusive), the erosion of living wages would indeed be a justifiable reason for locals to be discontent. The problem, however, is that the ire of locals should not be directed at the foreigners. It is not their fault. The foreigners are merely working for wages that are acceptable to them under a free-market system of bargaining.

Now, if the free-market system is being undermined by employers enriching themselves through exploiting foreign labor by paying below-market wages, then the solution to this problem would be to enact regulation in order to correct this imbalance in the market. The locals should be directing their energy toward their politicians, not toward the foreigners.

So as it turns out, it is difficult to see any sort of a justification for hating other human beings simply because they happen to be foreigners.

But yet, this hatred of foreigners is a very real phenomenon that occurs in human beings all around the world. This suggests that perhaps an evolutionary component is a factor here, and that some people have brains that are susceptible to immediately hating foreigners without any rational justification.

Well, it just so happens that chimpanzees, our close evolutionary species, possess this characteristic in spades. Chimps are extremely territorial, and when they encounter "foreign" chimps from different groups, they immediately become violent without provocation and attack each other viciously.

Human beings, however, are far more advanced than chimps and have evolved the ability to form relationships with each other that are more complex than a simple binary perception of others as being either entirely friend or foe. We have developed the complex perception that even a foreigner might be a good person and our friend, while a local from within our own group might in fact be a bad person and our enemy.

As individuals, however, our brains are highly variable and have evolved or not evolved to greatly varying extents. Perhaps those who tend to be more extreme and immediately perceive foreigners as universal enemies have brains that are less evolved in this particular respect. Come to think of it, the prospect that the evolutionary development of Mr. Trump's brain may be closer to that of a chimpanzee would seem to explain quite a bit.

The good news for human beings is that this tendency in some people to hate foreigners can be diminished through shared experiences and enhanced awareness. As people spend time together and actually get to know each other, they realize that, hey, this foreigner is actually a pretty nice person. And as people become more aware of their own biases, they tend to take measures to overcome them.

This is great news because foreigners have a lot to offer by providing us with a rich cultural diversity and an enhanced appreciation of the world. Plus, it's just neat to know people from different cultures. And with the increasing trend toward globalization and the dissolving of borders, now is not a time for isolation and exclusion. This is an age for inclusion.

With only a tiny bit of mutual understanding, it seems that we can all just get along.