Once a xenophobe showed up in the nation’s blood supply. Being a single-idea organism and thus quite small, the xenophobe passed undetected when first transmitted from host to host, allowing it to multiply rapidly within its unwitting victims. Soon its noisome spread could be observed from one extremity to another and from the heart all the way deep into the brain. The initial indication that something might be amiss took the form of a mild but persistent fever. Within a short period of time, however, the fever would grow more virulent and be accompanied by a steady swelling of the head. The sufferer began to have trouble seeing straight and typically spoke in a rambling or incoherent fashion. Subdued by paramedics one day while holding up traffic and abusing drivers if they didn’t repeat faithfully some daft tirade or other about “alien hordes,” the hapless victim would be rushed to the emergency room of the nearest hospital. The prognosis was never good. By this point, the xenophobe would have so exploited every vulnerability of its host that the prospects for a full return to health seemed remote. Prone to fits of violent rage and paranoid delusions, the sufferer often complicated matters by jerking free of all restraints and attacking medical personnel who appeared in any way different or foreign. Shouts of “Get away from me, you *****, and go back wherever you came from!” were hurled in every direction, although the words could be rendered nearly unintelligible by a thick layer of foam covering the mouth. Then, just as suddenly as it had begun, the crisis might pass. From being a hopeless case, convulsed by pathological outbursts one moment and seemingly brain dead the next, the sufferer would appear to make a miraculous recovery. With astonishing speed, the fever broke, the paranoia faded, and the raving gibberish steadily gave way to more recognizable forms of expression. The victim returned home to a hearty welcome and resumed daily activities as if nothing had happened. Relatives, friends, and colleagues avoided any mention of the xenophobe, fearful of triggering a possible relapse. It was thought better to act as though the whole unpleasant episode was no more than a false scare. In addition to sparing everybody any potential unpleasantness, this politic approach also allowed the community at large to feel reassured that the xenophobe was no longer of serious concern. By all appearances, its victim seemed cured. So why not just assume all was well once again?
Copyright © 2003-2004, revised 2007, by Geoffrey Grosshans