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6.05.2010

Xenophobia in South Africa and the U.S.

South Africa has had a problem with outbreaks of violence against foreigners in the last few years. This is especially distressing given the nation's legacy of oppressing groups based on their backgrounds. These developments also pose real challenges to the nation's hopeful and progressive constitution. Unfortunately, there are rumors that some in the governing party may be playing a role here, and also that the violence will escalate after the World Cup. Let's hope that escalation doesn't happen.

Yet none of the above justifies a May 25 U.S. State Department Travel Alert for South Africa directed at U.S. citizens. Essentially the Alert warns that the World Cup could be risky to attend. This warning happens at a time when World Cup anticipated attendance is down and hotel bookings are weak. Yet the Alert also says the following in part: "the U.S. Government has no information on any specific, credible threat of attack that any individual or group is planning to coincide with the tournament." So the question is why issue an Alert that could cause further economic problems for the tournament based on no evidence. This only adds to the perception that the U.S. is sometimes afraid of foreigners. And of course, this is nothing compared to the Arizona immigration law.

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