Is edelgard a racist and/or xenophobic? In the context that roughly 90% of the cast is? Yeah. Of course. Tbh I wasn’t aware people really focused in on this aspect of her character until recently. It’s an issue that is prevalent in the cast but for edelgard it’s more in the peripherals of her story arc
Fodlan is isolationist. It has been isolationist for as long as its people can remember. That has created a mindset that is very distinct amongst people born and raised there. Them vs us. If you are not for us, you are other. Something else. Unacceptably different. That logic applies to broad political topics such as race and to more personal issues as well.
That kind of thinking? That’s the norm of fodlan and edelgard is not immune to systematic racism. Few in the cast are. We see it in lorenz with his blatant distaste of outsiders. We see it in ingrid with her assumption that people who are different are the enemy, guilty without any proof and guilty to each and every person. We even see it in people like hilda and sylvain, who harbor no ill will but simply don’t think too hard about their actions or attitudes towards sreng or almyra. We see it in how people treat petra like an interesting commodity, dedue like a danger to society, cyril like mud beneath their shoes, and claude like a violent interloper. This is the environment edelgard fits into. That’s not an excuse by any means, but it does provide a certain context for the scale of the issue. The problem isn’t that it’s rare, the problem is that it’s the norm. Xenophobia so ingrained that even people that might be decent otherwise don’t see the system as wrong
Now, if we are comparing, amongst the lords edelgard is definitely the most ignorant of this issue and, arguably, doesn’t always pay problems outside of the crest system the attention they might deserve. On this front especially, she can’t compare to dimitri who has seen the aftereffects of such hatred firsthand. And neither of them will ever know how it is for claude to live it every day of his life. Edelgard is more or less on par with hilda or sylvain. She holds no malice towards people from outside of fodlan and is open to seeing them as allies and friends. She’s even willing to consider opening peace talks with almyra. She just… doesn’t think too hard about the nuances and her own position of power. The best example of this? Petra.
Edelgard treats petra like a friend and equal but, at no point, does she ever really seek to understand petra’s situation. In her letter to petra before the timeskip, she reminds petra so easily that Brigid is under imperial rule and, in the same breath, tells petra to make her own way and choose for herself. That’s where the disconnect comes into play. Edelgard likely meant that message from the bottom of her heart but factoring in their situations? It’s downright disrespectful at best and a threat at worst. Edelgard never asked petra what her opinions of the empire are, about her situation, about her aspirations except to compare them to her own, or about brigid at all. Again, their interactions held no malice but it also lacked the appropriate consideration. It’s not that edelgard was being cruel but she didn’t understand nor did she ask
Then there’s her words to claude in verdant wind and to byleth her paralogue. The irony of criticizing almyra for its invasion when she invaded another sovereign state just last month is not lost on me. And her words to claude in verdant wind? Honestly even if she had never said it out loud, her attitude towards claude throughout the entire game more than spoke to her mindset on that front. But I think people latch onto it too much as a sign that edelgard is extraordinarily racist when I feel she was meant to represent a norm in those moments. “You can’t possibly be good for fodlan you weren’t raised here,” is an unfair assessment which implies a lot of unsavory things about immigrants—I’m aware that claude spent at least seven years intensively studying fodlan’s history, customs, and people and that he’s proven himself as a leader. I’m not implying edelgard’s right, don’t misunderstand, but comparatively? Comparatively, edelgard’s opinion is downright tame. That moment wasn’t meant to be about how outrageously awful edelgard is. Rather, it was meant to show us what the depressing norm for claude is. Her words are nothing he hadn’t heard a million times over from friends and enemies alike. To have someone as change-oriented as edelgard say such a thing was meant to showcase how deeply intolerance was ingrained, not to single out edelgard as a nasty outlier
Now, there is ofc one other thing that can’t be overlooked when talking about this topic: edelgard’s view of the nabateans. A million things can be said about that. Perhaps the agarthans whispered lies to her that she believed. Perhaps her hatred for rhea blinded her. We know for a fact she at least never knew the whole story. Whatever the reason, edelgard undeniably views nabateans as Other. They are not human, not like “us”. She heavily implies that they do not deserve to participate in fodlan’s future in part because of rhea’s mistakes, but also in part because they are not human. That they have been on this earth just as long as the current human race has doesn’t seem to factor in, only how they are related to rhea matters
If you say you hate edelgard for that, that’s honestly fair. In my own opinion, her questionable takes on the nabateans are as likely to be due to xenophobia as it is a mixture of righteous anger, her perception of rhea, the empire’s history, and TWSITD’s influence on her. However, whatever the case, there’s no avoiding that this is edelgard’s mindset towards a whole group of people. To me, it’s another aspect of her character that plays well into her story and all-or-nothing viewpoints. As for the rest of it though? If you dislike her for buying into fodlan’s crap about outsiders that’s also fair, but don’t forget that her degree of ignorance is hardly the exception. It is very much the norm and, yes, that statement probably includes some (or a lot) of your faves