Thinking on Multiculturalism

Japanese "Red seal ships" were used ...

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I’m a big fan of other cultures, in particular those of the Philippines, Japan, and India, all of which I feel are the homelands of some of the most beautiful women in the world — Hey, I’m single, what can I say?

Anyhoo…

I’ve been doing a little thinking on the idea of multiculturalism, and though I think it is the start of a good idea, except for the cultural relativism associated with it, I think we have to move beyond that to something better.

As many of you know by now, I’m not a big fan of relativism, particularly of the cognitive and moral sort, but make no error, I’m as far from an absolutist as I am from a relativist.

My main beef with cultural relativism, and this is painfully obvious when it’s your culture to which it is applied, is that it’s annoyingly condescending and self-righteous in tone, and few people like being talked down to by someone trying to “help” them by uncritically endorsing their views on the mere fact that their culture holds them, and not whether these views result in harm to or the oppression of others.

Tolerance is good, but giving antisocial, even dangerous, behavior or other violations of human rights a free pass because these actions are an outgrowth of a culture’s beliefs and values is going too far.

We should be intolerant of such intolerance, especially when uncritical acceptance of it leads to human suffering, subjugation, or death.

Where do we go from here? What comes after multiculturalism? I don’t know, but whatever it turns out to be, a newer and better tolerance that maximizes human flourishing, happiness, and fulfillment, while minimizing the converse to whatever degree is possible is needed.

In a world as interconnected as ours is, we cannot afford to maintain our bigotry, our hatreds, our petty rivalries with those ‘other peeps not like us,’ because these, despite being natural tendencies, are not good merely because they are natural.

They are as Carl Sagan put it, “dangerous evolutionary baggage,” a darker nature that we need to overcome lest we destroy ourselves.

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2 thoughts on “Thinking on Multiculturalism

  1. I agree. I’m all for acceptance of other’s culture and differing world views. But I also draw the line where it oppresses or violates basic human rights. I think that we all have a long way to go with round table, rational dialogue before we can progress.
    I also feel the “us” and “them” approach does a lot of damage to international relationships, where governments fail to see that their version of “right” or “moral” may be a cultural construct and that philosophies and world views are not necessarily wrong just because it’s different to what we know.

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    • It’s kind of unfortunate that often peeps have either an absolutist or relativist view of morals, which no room for anything in between, no room for anything truly objective, anything that really transcends one’s own culture to embrace all of us.

      That, and ethnic or nationalist hatreds can and do lead to a lot of strife and suffering, and I just don’t see the point of it.

      After all what does hate and distrust breed but more of the same?

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