Saturday, September 30, 2006

THE SELF-REFUTING IDEA OF "MULTICULTURALISM"

In light of the response to my previous post, and because I attend a university that is constantly pushing "multiculturalism," I think that this post is appropriate.

The idea of "multiculturalism" is simply that we should celebrate and tolerate all cultures as equally valid or as having some "truth" to them (whatever "truth" is nowadays in our postmodern society).

Let me say something. Even if we take religion out of the picture (all would agree that religion is part of culture), it is impossible to be multicultural. I'll give you an example.

In my most recent class, which tried to push the idea of "tolerance" and "diversity," we discussed how the Japanese culture has a low view of women. In fact, it is common for them to think of women as stupid and lesser.

An example was given of a conference that took place, where a Japanese woman was seated, and a man came in. The woman (yes, the woman) had to get up and give him her seat!

In my class I immediately said, "I don't like that at all!". Thankfully, the class agreed.

But how, then, can we truly be "multicultural"?

A handout was given that suggested ways we could make our classroom "multicultural." We are supposed to have pictures of women doing construction work (oops--I mean women acting like men), Mexican workers wearing American outfits, Indians wearing CEO outfits, etc. (Sounds more like Americanization rather than multiculturalism.)

One thing they forgot to tell us to put on our walls to be "multicultural" were pictures of Japanese men calling their wives stupid, or of Muslims beating their wives in honor of the Qu'ran.

Let's be consistent, then, if we're going to celebrate "tolerance" and "diversity" and "multiculturalism."

11 comments:

Vile Blasphemer said...

You miss the point- to be multiculturally minded does not mean to be accepting of violent or derogatory behavior. If your teacher didn't stress that, then he/she misses the point also.

Josh Brisby said...

V.B.,

If that is so, then what part(s) of the various cultures are we to accept and be tolerant of? How do you pick and choose? By what standard?

olly said...

@Josh: "If that is so, then what part(s) of the various cultures are we to accept and be tolerant of? How do you pick and choose? By what standard?"

Easy, those that don't violate morality... morality trumps tolerance, I don't think anyone except a freakin' relativist would argue that.

-olly

Josh's Loving Wife, aka Angela Brisby said...

So, Olly, What is morality in your worldview?

And based upon what standard do you define morality?

olly said...

@Angela:

Morality in my worldview is based on an evolutionary perspective of individuality as defined through property rights (self-ownership) and non-coercion.

I don't expect you to agree with me at all ;) (just as you don'te expect me to agree with you), but if you'd like to read an explanation of my morality, you can go here.

It's a post I wrote on my blog to show that yes, in fact, many atheists don't like relitavists either ;), and that we too have universal morality.

-olly

Josh Brisby said...

Olly,

Since your worldview is based on an evolutionary perspective of individuality, then why would it not be wrong to kill a human for tomorrow's dinner? After all, you eat steak, right? What makes humans of more value than a cow?

I don't mean the above questin in a silly way. I am honestly asking how you can justify morality in an evolutionary schema.

--Josh

olly said...

"Since your worldview is based on an evolutionary perspective of individuality, then why would it not be wrong to kill a human for tomorrow's dinner? After all, you eat steak, right? What makes humans of more value than a cow?

I don't mean the above questin in a silly way. I am honestly asking how you can justify morality in an evolutionary schema."

Morality is based upon a respect for the individual, i.e. the individual has sole self-ownership of themselves (individuality, the ability to define "I" vs. "Them", is something that humans have evolved). There is no evidence that a cow has a sense of individuality: without that sense of individuality, their is no possible way for them to have self-ownership, thus nothing to base morality on.

-olly

olly said...

By the way, Josh, to avoid me having to type out everything here in comments, why don't you go ahead and read the link that I provided to Angela earlier, that may help you to understand where I'm coming from.

-olly

Josh Brisby said...

Olly,

Let's take this idea of self-awareness. Granted, a cow does not seem to have a sense of self-awareness. But a couple of questions:

(1) How would you prove that a cow has no sense of self-awareness--even if I agree that it does not?

(2) Does a mentally handicapped person have self-awareness? What about an unborn baby?

BlakeC said...

I know this isn't directly on point but it is still a great quote concerning multiculturism, which I've seen around the web lately:

Two hundred years ago, in a more culturally confident age, the British in India were faced with the practice of Sati-that's the tradition of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husband. General Sir Charles Napier was impeccably multicultural. He said: 'You say that it's your custom to burn widows, very well. We also have a custom. When men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their neck and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it my carpenters will build a gallows; you may follow your custom, then we will follow ours.'

Josh Brisby said...

Blake,

Welcome to The Reformed Oasis! That was an awesome quote! Sounds like he was just trying to be "consistently multicultural"!