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← “It’s Part of their Culture” - Reading Nick Cohen in the light of the Jaipur affair [Also in Polish]

Opisthokont's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by Opisthokont

I feel a bit silly posting just to say "me too", but that was an amazing piece. Thank you, Richard: every thinking person needs to read this.

In the interest of redeeming myself, let me point out that multiculturalism should not be, and in some cases is not, the sort of postmodernist enshrining and enabling of 'culture' above human rights that seems to have taken hold in Europe. Many New World cities seem to have done it pretty well: consider the number of cities with a Chinatown. The truly ideal examples are places like Vancouver, BC, in which people who have lived there for generations are a minority -- the thing most people have in common with most others there is that they all came from somewhere else!

Where the idea of multiculturalism becomes a problem, I think, is if one regards human rights as merely an aspect of our own culture. Certainly the concept of human rights is championed by the West, and perhaps more importantly, Western culture incorporates human rights more than many others. There are no aspects of our culture today that are as utterly wrong as 'honour' killings, or child 'witches', or female genital mutilation. And of course even if we did have those sorts of contemptible practices in our own culture, our recognising of the conflict between them and human rights would not persuade anyone else that human rights are any more universal. People of other ethnicities may see an imposition of human rights as cultural imperialism -- and if that is the case, so be it. Nobody can help being shaped by their culture, but nobody should be threatened by it either.

Thu, 02 Feb 2012 02:39:06 UTC | #913669