Ethnocentrism is the superior belief of oneself and one’s ethnic community. For most of the Americans there has always been that feeling of personal supremacy as compared to citizens from other nations. There is also an underlying belief that America as a country is better than other countries. Such notions are particularly more pronounced following the terrorist attack on the U. S. soil on September 11, 2001. It is this feeling of superiority that drove many Americans to support the retaliatory attacks on Iraq by President Bush’s regime in total disregard of the possible casualties that the war was likely to claim. Several years down the line, reports continue to emerge of the death of thousands of civilians as a result of the U. S. military operations in Iraq. Most people were distraught by the deaths of innocent American civilians during the 9/11 attacks in Washington DC and in New York, however people do not share the same feeling when they hear of the number of innocent deaths caused by the American troops in Iraq or elsewhere in the world.
Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, Americans have become more and more suspicious of the people who are considered outsiders especially people who originate from the Middle East regions. There is a continued comparison of cultural norms from the American society and those of foreigners. This behavior continues to create stereotypes and the tendency to make contemptuous generalizations against those considered outsiders in every aspect of life. Ethnocentricity within the American society is particularly rife in social networks where Americans continually write and/or post things which are offensive to the cultures from other nations while preferring their own cultures (Andersen 67). Such demonization of other societal cultures only serves the ends of the government, some media, and some corporate desires. Ethnocentrism in the Native American societies has led to invention of words such as aliens that signify foreign persons.
America is popularly regarded as the land of opportunities. As such, every person outside America believe that America is the land of milk and honey. Due to this well-founded notion, America attracts many foreigners to its borders as people move to America to seek employment and in due course better living standards. As a result of the continued movement of people in America, those people who believe themselves to be the true and original Americans have become more uncomfortable and distrustful with immigrants making them more and more ethnocentric.
Just like the Americans after the September 11 terrorist attack, the Athens of the fifth century BCE was very appealing to the people in parts of Asia and the people around the Mediterranean. As such there was an increase in the number of people migrating to Athens. Consequently, those people who were original Athenians grew increasingly uncomfortable with the foreigners and became more and more defensive. The original Athenians considered themselves inherently superior to everyone else. For instance, they believed that their religion was greater and that it was the only true religion true religions. As such, the Athenians understood their religious practices to be right and natural while they considered religious beliefs of the outsiders to be wrong and deviant.
The Athenians of the fifth century BCE became so ethnocentric that they coined the word ‘ barbarians’ to mock the people who spoke different languages other than the original Athenian languages (Soccio 63). As such, the Athenians began to mimic the war the immigrants sounded ‘ bar, bar, bar’. These sounds were aimed at mimicking foreigners by stating that languages from other ethnic groups sounded like noise or nonsense. Though the Athenians denounced the foreigners and even treated them as the lesser humans. The so called barbarians were mainly entrepreneurs who were working very hard in a bid to achieve more within the Athenians society. As such, they hired the Sophists to assist themselves and their generations to achieve better prospects for their imminent futures.
As the Greek civilization became more and more refined and cultured, there was the emergence of a new crop of thinkers regarded to as the Sophos which was the Greek word that meant ‘ wise’ (Hammond 936). These Sophos lived and communicated in ways that required interpretation. This aspect forms an example of the manner in which the Sophos disregarded reality, conventional values. This eventually set them apart from the ordinary people who were experiencing ‘ normal’ lives. The Sophos were more of the prophets, therapists and priests while philosophers were depicted as the thinkers and people who were in search of truth. The characteristics of sophistry have become the foundations of the modern thinking that is characterized by superficially acceptable yet fallacious reasoning about other people’s cultures by the Native American society.
With regard to the foregoing, the American society after the September 11, 2001 attack and the Athens of the fifth century BCE has close similarities in respect of their perception of foreigners. The Athens of the fifth century BCE looked down upon the immigrants and their cultures. This also applies to the contemporary American perception of people from other societies.
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Andersen, Margaret L. and Howard Francis Taylor. Sociology: Understanding a Diverse
Society. Wadsworth, 2006, p. 67.
Hammond, Ross. A. and Axelrod Robert. ” The Evolution of Ethnocentrism”. Journal of Conflict
Resolution 50. 6 (2006): 926–936.
Soccio, Douglas J. Archetypes of Wisdom: An Introduction to Philosophy. Cengage Learning,
2009, p. 63.
Jaquith, Mark. Justifying American Ethnocentrism. Tempus Fugit 19 April, 2004. Web. 21 Nov.