[TW for xenophobia.]

Sometimes, I make the cardinal internet mistake of reading comments.

This mistake is compounded when I read comments on Yahoo news articles, which somehow turn political and full of any number of -isms no matter the article's topic. If you ever want to learn real-life applications of those fallacies you learned about in high school English, Yahoo News comment threads are an excellent place to start.

For example, there is today's article on an Austrian national swim team member who managed to get himself buried to the neck and nearly crushed by sand on a Miami beach. The story itself wasn't too exciting - he was digging a big hole, hopped into it for a laugh and it collapsed around him. 60 people took two hours to get him out again, and he's okay. A simple human interest story, I suppose. Comments on this story couldn't be that bad, right?

Oh, wait, it's Yahoo we're talking about. The very first comment: "This @#$% foreigner wasted our tax dollars in rescue personnel all because he's a @#$%. Let's charge him for it, we can't be wasting our dollars on 60 people to dig 1 person out." The same commenter further argues: "he's never paid anything into the American system! We can't have dumbasses coming here and wasting our tax dollars! They can stay in their own countrys[sic] where they have free health care."

Clearly, because this man is Austrian, he's not worth saving so long as he's on our pure, 100% American (lol) soil unless he can first show proof of insurance, or at the very least sign paperwork that ensures he will foot the rescue bill. Nevermind that USians don't pay for their own rescue if something goes wrong (rescue != health care). Nevermind that, as a tourist, the Austrian man was paying plenty of money - including taxes and the cost of a visa - just to be here and eat and have shelter.

Y'know, I wouldn't typically waste a blog entry on some piddly comment thread, except that this stuff doesn't happen in a void. It affects treatment of "foreign" (i.e., those who are not white and English-speaking) people; they are treated as other, and therefore less. As bad as this racism and xenophobia is when done baldly, it's worse when it's gussied up and done in the name of patriotism.

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