At last it seems that the fad of multiculturalism is beginning to lose respect. Britain’s government is reclaiming the right to expel aliens who preach violence against the West, and who want to impose their own religion on others by force. And this morning I read this article Cultures Not Equal that says that since the London bombing, more writers are speaking up against the multicultural approach. Goodie!
“Multiculturalism”, as I understand it, is not the same thing as pluralism. Pluralism is a condition of acceptance of various races, cultures, and religions joining together in one nation, in one varied culture , with each group bringing something of its own to that culture. All are welcome, so long as they abide by the laws of the land.
But those who do not respect the rights of their fellow human beings, those who hate the pluralism and freedom that characterizes a free country, and who threaten or do violence to others, allgedly as part of their own ‘culture’, are not welcome in a pluralistic society. They are, in fact criminals.
If that criminality is actually part of their culture, then their ‘culture’ is not welcome as part of the pluralism that reigns among the civilized. Make those enemies of humanity go back to where they came from and stay away until their ‘culture’ grows up!
But in multiculturalism, we are supposed to view every culture as morally equal except – as it turns out in practice – we are to view Western culture as inferior, even evil and imperialistic. Is this because Western culture tends to – by it’s nature, even without war – spread outside of its borders and peacefully threaten to be accepted by some members of other cultures in other lands?
Or is this because Westerners have not always lived up to the best in their culture? There has been slavery, for example. Slavery goes against the principles upheld in the Declarationof Independence – a very Western document – that holds these truths to be self-evident: “…that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” (And please don’t tell me that the Declaration is sexist. “All men” in this context means “mankind” or “humankind”. It is not referring to just the one gender.)
You will not find a nation on earth that has consistently abided by the right ethics. But some nations do have better principles than others, and have written those principles into documents aimed at making them the law of the land, and at maintaining those principles as the core of the ethical culture.
However, if the people of free nations begin to tolerate the demeaning of those principles, if they allow laws to be made that undermine those principles, if they welcome people from other countries who despise those principles and aim to wipe them from the world by preaching violence against their hosts, then the welcomers betray not only their own culture, but humanity itself, because the best — and yes, there is such a thing as the best — of humanity wants to be free to think.
They want to be free to make their own choices according to the judgements of their honest minds, free to change their minds should they discover an error. And the best of mankind recognizes that all other human beings, as beings defined by their rational and moral capacities, by nature need the same freedom as themselves.
Not all people do keep honest minds, and there has probably never been a person born who hasn’t slipped up in that task at least once or twice, but we all need to be free to keep an honest mind and free express our honesty, whether we live up to that capacity or not.
It is the job of those who understand and appreciate the principles of liberty to see to it that they remain the law of the land, and that those who preach violence against freedom will be ousted to a place where such preachings are acceptable. A place where such nasty people belong (if they belong anywhere), and where they will not directly endanger a free people with their murderous threats.
But multiculturalism seems to imply that there is no such thing as an objective right and wrong (except when a free country wants to defend itself against preachers that want to destroy it. Then the free country is WRONG). The ethical idea that an individual has an inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is just another way to look at things. Being free from the initiation of physical force or its sneaky non-violent corollary, fraud, is considered to be no better than the (anti-) ethical idea that members of a particular religion have a right to murder anyone who says bad things about its prophets. Who are we to judge that our idea of morality is somehow more rational, more true, more MORAL than theirs? It’s just different, is all.
Well, I agree that some cultural things are just different. Say, apple pie is just different from curry pie. A miniskirt is just different from a burka (well… maybe not), Elvis Presley’s music is just different from traditional Japanese music.
But the ethical premise of freedom of religion and philosophy is not “just different” from a religion or philosophy that demands that all people must submit to it or else become second class citizens, or dead.
A philosophy or religion that encourages every person to live by reason, seek the truth, keep an honest mind, live free from the initiation of force and fraud, and respect the right of others to do the same is not morally equivalent to a religion or philosophy that demands that all people put aside their minds, accept dogma on faith, and submit to the dictates of the leaders without questions or doubts.
The latter is not merely inferior to the former, it is morally wrong.
And if that morally wrong religion or philosophy backs up its demand for blind obedience to dogma by threatening violence against disbelievers, it is just plain evil.
When the exponents of that evil viewpoint spew their murderous ideas in public, pursuading others to do violence against dissenters and non-believers, they become enemies of all peaceful, rights-respecting people. They deserve to be expelled beyond their host country’s borders, back to a land that shares their evil premises.
And, it should be noted, that the country that happily accepts them as one of its own deserves also to be regarded as just was evil as the child it welcomes back to its embrace. That country should not be regarded as an equal among the nations of the world, but as a country with a backward, destructive kind of culture and an illegitimate government that does not respect the rights of its own citizens to think for themselves.
So, am I culturally tolerant? I am as tolerant as a reasonable, just, honest, rights-loving human being should be. And I am as intolerant as such a person should be, as well.
You have a right to think. You have a right to seek to keep your mind honest and to grasp the facts of reality to the best of your ability. You have the right to make errors, to discover those errors, to change your mind, to change religions, to become an atheist, or to deactivate your mind and believe whatever you feel, so long as you understand that everyone else has a right to do the same without being threatened with physical violence or cheated by deliberate fraud.
That’s the morality of rights.
Personal morality is that one should keep an honest mind, seek to grasp the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and if you depart from this honest path, you should get back to it as soon as you’ve realized that you’ve cheated. Because you need to know the truth in order to make the best, most constructive, happy choices in life. And the job of getting all the facts in their full context and reasoning them out accurately is hard enough without sabotaging yourself (and others) by deliberate evasions of reality here and there.
Multiculturalism has led to tolerance of preachers of violence against liberty and life that should not have been tolerated, and I hope that that tolerance is a fad whose time has gone.
A few links on the subject of multiculturalism:
Why Tolerate the Hate? by Irshad Manji. I disagree with her way of distinguishing “Individualism” from “individuality” – primarily in her view of what individualism is. But otherwise the article is a good one.
Muslim Refusenik – the website of Irshad Manji
Culture and Multiculturalism – The Ayn Rand Institute – a whole list of op-eds on the subject.
The Absurdities Underlying Multiculturalism by Walter Williams
Fanaticism in Fiction by Salil Tripathi