So, an academic topic I really enjoy is cultural anthropology. I find it extremely fascinating to study what makes up elements of culture, and the cultural variation around the globe. Perhaps the most fascinating thing to me, and I’m sure many anthropologists is the idea that an idea or concept in our worldview, can seem so “normal” we take it completely for granted and feel it’s just the way the world works, not culturally bound. For example, our idea of time as linear, we can go forward in time, but not back to most, including me is just another law of the universe. However, some cultures see time as cyclical, which to many of us in the West, is a completely foreign concept! Even things such as a shared word meaning between two languages that can be translated the same, can have different definitions to different cultures! Confused??? The word in each language would be translated the same such as “bara” in Ancient Hebrew, is “to create” in English, but in the West, we think of creation as “ex-nihilo”, out of nothing, you create something by putting materials together for instance, whereas in the Ancient Hebrew conception of creating, it really meant more in the sense of everything is there, but they reorganize it all to bring order from chaos. Think of this analogy: We can “create” a closet out of wood and plaster, or we could “create” order within the closet by rearranging all our misplaced junk inside of it! Point is, much of what is true in people’s worldviews are relative, not always the same objective way of thinking. I love studying these cool differences, and appreciate the wide variety of thought within the human species! It would be quite boring if we were all the same!
However, issues do arise when cultural differences are more of a moral and ethical nature. Values we reject as deeply unjust and unfair do not sit well with our cultural view of the matter. It’s hard to be the objective anthropologist when you’re morally offended! Therefore, they came up with the principle of cultural relativism, which basically is the idea we should’t judge other cultures for their way of life, nor feel ours is “superior” and we’re above the rest of the world. This is all fine and dandy, within scholarship and objective study, but what about when cultural clashes happen in our own lives???
Many cultures coming over to this country are in opposition to many of our values, such as a more egalitarian, democratic society. They are more hierarchical and rigid, whereas we want more social mobility and equality. They want to treat women as property, and we strive for a more egalitarian view of them as fellow humans, endowed with the same rights as we have and ought to have the same autonomy. They don’t want a sense of cultural relativism, and feel theirs is the only “right” way of doing things. We try to embrace more differences between peoples. They want unquestioned authority, whereas we want the ability to hold our leaders accountable. They want only one faith, while we enshrined separation of church and state. They want to speak their native language, yet demand we accommodate them instead of learning ours too to integrate with us. They want only to have their own ways, never thinking they could embrace both our ways and their own. They want to use brute force and fear, rather than diplomacy to settle disputes. They want to treat their children as property as well, while we want to nurture them into becoming autonomous adults. This isn’t the whole of the matter, but many examples of how Western values and other values don’t quite mix as well… Many speak of a “culture war” between the West and many other 3rd world countries, and its true, we want one thing, they want another.
The defenders of such 3rd world values say, but, isn’t much of this culturally relative? Who’s to say who has the “better” values? Aren’t we just being bigoted when we impose our ways onto others? Those points would be valid, except that our way HAS shown to be more beneficial in objective, not just moralistic or culturally dependent terms. Think of it: more 3rd world immigrants come to the West, not their own fellow 3rd world countries. People have given up the culture and language they were born into, lost everything just to come over to the West! Why??? What would make us take such a drastic leap of faith? Our science has lead to technologies, medical care, and progress that has decreased mortality rates across the board at all ages! We now can treat disease and illness. People have a much higher standard of living over here. Compared to countries where slavery is still around, ethnic and cultural minorities and women are 3rd class citizens, a disease can kill you, infant mortality is sky high, people are slain for being “heretics”, dictators rule with an iron fist over the helpless people, corruption is rife, and so on and so on, Western values of democracy and equality and more technology to better people’s lives sounds a lot better for everyone! The data is in, and shows a thriving culture based on Western values here and abroad! This isn’t merely a moral argument on how things should be because I said so, but based on human quality of life supported by data!
The radical left, however, is not swayed. They still want to drudge up some of our more unflattering past of being imperialist and intolerant ourselves towards other cultures, but that has PAST! We’re far more tolerant and aware of being culturally relativist now more than ever! They want to claim that we must be “tolerant” of these 3rd world cultures coming into the West, but create a double standard when it is applied to our own culture! Think of it:
- We’re not allowed to say we want our culture to remain governed by our values, yet the people coming here from the 3rd world are allowed to live by theirs over here!
- We are not allowed to proselytize our values over in THEIR country, yet they are free to do so in OURS!
- We can’t impose our morality on them, yet they can on us when it’s convenient!
- They can live by their own laws, in their own insular communities, and be governed by their own values, but when we demand that too, we’re “white supremacists”…
- They can worship their own faith exclusively without criticism in their community, yet we’re held to the higher principle freedom of religion for all, yet they are exempt!
- We must accept that cultural differences do exist, and are equally valid as ours, yet they are allowed to degrade ours!
- Even a more innocuous example, other cultures all over the world are allowed their own standards of beauty for men and women, yet we are criticized for having our own cultural ideal of beauty because that’s not “body positive”!
- They can think freely whatever they want, and be defended by “cultural relativism” while our cultural ideas are scrutinized and nit picked to the max!
- When they treat others, women, minorities, those of lower social status, etc… as 3rd class citizens and property over here, we are supposed to shut up and accept that as “their way’, yet if we ever tried to pull a stunt like that, we’d have to answer for it!
- The “West” is intolerant, rigid, and moralistic, yet other Non-Western cultures are put on a pedestal of resistance to the West and portrayed by the Left dare I say, as “noble savages” (which is ironic since that’s an imperialist stereotype in itself!)
- Western medicine and science is devalued for more “natural” cures from 3rd world places which have no scientific basis!
When do we get our share of cultural relativism??? The principle goes BOTH ways, people! If we have to tolerate them, and all we disagree with culturally of theirs, why aren’t the same arguments made in our defense too when we’re criticized? Overall, the radical liberal snowflakes only have “tolerance” and relativism for what they pick and choose! Our culture is a-okay to bash, degrade and deride! It’s also amazing, I’ll add as my final point, that many 3rd world values are exactly what the Left accuses us of having that is immoral, which for rabid liberals, is quite the irony!!! 😉