This LTE sounds authoritative without being authoritative. It focuses on the subject of xenophobia as it relates to my friend Dr. John Palmer.

The LTE opens by saying “Xenophobia is the fear of anything this is “alien” to, or different from what’s ‘normal’ for a person. What’s normal for a white German Catholic from Stearns County is likely not normal for a Muslim from Somalia. That doesn’t make one person’s ‘normal’ better or worse, just different. In the case of John Palmer and his group, what they fear isn’t brown Somali immigrants, as much as it is people who are DIFFERENT from white German Catholics.”

It’s worth noting that the man who wrote the LTE has never met Dr. Palmer, which renders the entire LTE worthless. It’s worthless because it’s based on suppositions rather than anything verifiable. The ‘foundation’ for the premise is that xenophobia is a real word that’s been around centuries. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, that isn’t true:

Xenophobia—”fear or hatred of strangers or foreigners”—has the look and feel of a word that has been in the English language for hundreds of years, borne of the tumultuous political climates of the Renaissance and the penchant that many writers back then had for fashioning fancy new words from Latin and Greek. It is not that old.

Let’s entertain another possibility. Let’s entertain the possibility that the people getting called xenophobic are simply people who disagree with a philosophy or religion. For instance, isn’t it possible that Roman Catholics (or Baptists or evangelical Christians) aren’t afraid of people who are different but rather, are highly principled people who simply disagree with people of other religious or governing beliefs?

Let’s also dig into the word phobia a little.’s definition of phobia is:

a persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that leads to a compelling desire to avoid it.

What proof does the person who wrote this LTE have that Dr. Palmer or others in C-Cubed have an irrational fear of anything? Just from a technical standpoint, how would this person determine what Dr. Palmer or others in his group think of anyone? Frankly, from a technical standpoint, this LTE sounds like a big pile of opinionizing.

That’s fine but it shouldn’t be treated like an authoritative writing. Rather, it should be seen, I’d argue, as the opinions of a mediocre (at best) researcher.

Finally, let’s ponder the possibility that Dr. Palmer’s religious beliefs are right. The presumption of the LTE appears to be that Dr. Palmer’s religious beliefs aren’t legitimate or, at minimum, the product of an irrational way of thinking. Again, where’s the proof that Dr. Palmer’s thinking is irrational or illegitimate?

3 Responses to “Questioning untested theories”

  • John Palmer says:

    For the record, I’m not German but I am Christian worshipping under the Roman tradition. A few minutes ago during Mass I recited the Nicene Creed and that commits me to a non negotiable set of beliefs. In fact those beliefs are irreconcilable with Islam. As a follower of the one true Lord and Savior, my fears are not related to this earthly life and my Savior desires that I love the sinner and hate the sin. Therefore it is not possible for me to be xenophobic. I neither fear or hate, but I am called to evangelize as a follower of Jesus Christ. It is my obligation as a Christian to bring people to Christ, the one true gate to heaven. By the way, I am English/Irish and an outsider to Stearns, Co.

  • Gretchen L Leisen says:

    Thank you, Gary, for your oped on this subject which refers back to the New York Times article which in turn was publicized by our city council and the St. Cloud Times. The conclusions of the author of the article were not well based, and resulted in a dishonest conclusion that a group of local Catholics were ‘haters’. My observation was that the group was merely asking questions and not getting answers to the potential numbers of more immigrants and the cost to our local society. I always thought that opinions expressed and questions asked were a basic right of citizens in our great republic, but apparently according to some folks, that is not so. In the meantime, John Palmer and his group have nothing to be ashamed of.

  • Gary Gross says:

    Gretchen, I’m glad you published that comment because it touches on an important point that can’t be overemphasized. When you said “I always thought that opinions expressed and questions asked were a basic right of citizens in our great republic, but apparently according to some folks, that is not so”, it highlighted a strategy that Democrats frequently employ. This authoritative-sounding pile of leftist gobbledygook is intended to stifle debate. The proper reaction to that type of BS is to speak up while making a fact-filled compelling argument.

    I’ve long said that ‘when spin collides with reality, reality wins consistently.’ That’s what I’d recommend in this situation.

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