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  • Friday, September 01, 2006

     

    Don't even get him started on his bris

    Great gobs o'Godlstein:

    Societies that have accepted and embraced the tenets of multiculturalism—a noble-sounding social philosophy based around an idea of deference and tolerance that is at bottom dangerously superficial—are those societies that will have the most difficulty reconciling their disapproval of acts like “honor killings” logically with their self-satisfied and “enlightened” multicultural ideals. And the reason is simple: it is precisely at the point of something like “honor killings” where multiculturalism takes its force, because it is the belief in the validity of such practices—far more so than the exotic Otherness of burkas or stone-baked breads with chick pea toppings—that is what separates cultures on the level of fundamental ideas about human agency, freedom, autonomy, and man’s place within a given social and philosophical worldview.

    The boutique multiculturalism that the West has dabbled in with such self-satisfaction, then, is dangerous insofar as it appears to promote the principles of a multicultural worldview that, when push comes to shove, it cannot—and should not—actually support. That is to say, by promoting the idea that individual cultures are the province of those who belong to them, rendering outside judgments about the beliefs and practices in those cultures at best presumptuous and at worst colonialistic (after all, in a world where “truth” is contingent upon the consensus of given interpretive communities, there are no immutable laws beyond those made by fallible man), Western culture has set the stage for its own inevitable hypocrisy when it is forced to draw the line at a point where Otherness is truly, rather than superficially, defined.

    Honor killings are one such point. Female circumcisions are another. And both, in my estimation, show up the folly of building a social organization around a principle that must, at some point, be arbitrarily subverted by those who have claimed all along to promote it—else the host culture be forced to surrender to the cultures it has claimed selflessly to accomodate. At which point boutique multiculturalism is replaced by strong multiculturalism, which is the only multiculturalism that carries any real force to begin with.

    And strong multiculturalism is, in certain respects, very much akin to the will to power I’ve talked about in terms of interpretive communities and identity politics: for instance, once sharia law is “accepted,” that ascendency would snuff out the rights of those who don’t wish to practice it and would then set itself up as the dominant social narrative. Which is why the Pandora’s Box of strong multiculturalism should never be opened—and why people like myself are wary whenever we see boutique multiculturalists playing around with the latch.

    Uhhh.... Yeah. That's great. Now can I have those extra ketchup packets for my fries?


     

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