Intercultural interaction is much more complicated now. We have globalized. But the idea of xenophobia comes from the age old in-group/ out-group protection mechanism. Basically, you mistrust what you don't know, because interaction with people with directly opposed values doesn't tend to turn out well.
Ages past, if you weren't xenophobic, wary of other cultures, protective of your in-group, your tribe would die out.
Is it relevant today? Perhaps in some ways...
As a person who comes from a different culture, I have noticed this behavior even in my own personal life. Xenophobia is when we are afraid of the unknown, like when immigrants arrive in this country and find themselves embedded in a culture that is totally different and apart of their former culture. Some forms of xenophobia are unacceptable, like xenophobia placed upon a culture or group of people as a result of territorial expansion.
I have done a lot of travel and have met a lot of people all around the world, but still find myself being illogical xenopbobic from time to time. It happens with groups of people, cities, countries etc. I think this is just part of our evolution and at one point protected us from enemies.
Xenophobia is to nationalism as schizophrenia is to caution. The first is a crippling or even violent psychosis that prevents a person from functioning within a normal society. The second is just a general feeling that is learned from direct experience. Xenophobes do not see foreigners as people. They are things to be feared and cast out like wild animals in a house. To the xenophobe, foreigners destroy everything they come in contact with. This is not rational or normal behavior.
No, the fear of foreign people is not normal. I do not have any problem with foreign people coming in the country or being around me. People who have this have a serious problem and need to go to a mental doctor. There is something wrong in the brain to cause this.
It is never normal to fear or hate someone strictly based upon the fact that they are foreigners or strangers. I believe today's society has fostered this type of belief. We are exposed to news that shows people hurting and killing others. We are told to be cautious when walking through a parking lot, entering a building or boarding a plane. So xenophobia is something that could be a result of that, but it is not normal.
One day I was watching The.....GOD DAMN NIGGER FARTS.....Sorry i have computer turetz.So anyway, I was hugging my Arnold schwarzennegger doll and my stalone barbie and realized these JEWS i mean alien things were so danged SCAR MY ASSHOLE......I mean scary. Xenophobia is a real deal............But it ain't normal..........CHICKEN LITTLE ACORNS.