Sunday, February 20, 2011

David Round: Multiculturalism and Diversity - part 5

I finished last time by mentioning a tolerant civilised young person whose belief in tolerance prevented her even from criticising Hitler. In a couple of senses, anyway, this is not at all an uncommon position; it could even be argued that it is the common one among postmodernist defenders of diversity. I do not mean by this that it is common for post-modern intellectuals to defend Hitler. Quite the contrary ~ Hitler and the Nazis are very regularly, indeed prominently, the subject of condemnation. (Our student was not actually defending Hitler either, of course, merely saying that she did not feel entitled to condemn him.)

But our student’s attitude is the common position in two senses. One sense is this ~ that although our post-modernists may not defend Hitler, their favourite whipping boy, they are certainly quite prepared to defend plenty of other monsters. We still hear defences of Stalin and Mao Tse Tung, murderous tyrants though they were, and although no-one quite dares to defend Pol Pot, one occasionally senses private sympathies. Keith Locke, of course, initially welcomed his regime in Cambodia as a triumph for human rights. (And when do we ever hear any figure on the left condemning the North Korean regime, surely one of the most dreadful currently defiling the world?) Not only do we not hear criticisms of the monsters of the Islamic world, or of practically any third world country, we can often hear voices raised in their defence, explaining that their appalling practices are actually their culture (which we may not judge on our terms but only on their own) or explaining that it is actually our own attitudes and policies ~ certainly those of the United States, that arch-enemy of mankind ~ that have forced this poor little country to behave in this way.(One well-known elderly Christchurch leftist still regularly defends North Korea, blaming all problems on the South and the USA.)

So, although Hitler may be condemned, plenty of other equally bad regimes are not, and are in fact defended. Look no further than the alliance of many in the European left with murderous Islamists.

The other sense in which our young student’s attitude is typical is this; that although, mercifully, she considered Hitler to be wrong, she considered also that her duty in tolerance prevented her from even telling him that he was wrong. Tolerance, in her view, meant that she had to keep silence. Tolerance meant the abandonment of her freedom of speech ~ but not, of course, of Hitler’s. Tolerance, to her, meant not an equality of cultures, but the suppression of her own. Tolerance, in fact, was surrender.

This is, all too often, the multicultural path. Every year we hear stories from the United Kingdom, for example, about how decorations and public celebrations of Christmas are suppressed, because their expression would be offensive to Hindus and Muslims ~ Hindus and Muslims who are of course free to practice their own religious celebrations publicly, and would of course vehemently object if they were not allowed to. Now leaving entirely to one side the question of who chose to come to someone else’s country, the simple fact is that the suppression of Christmas is not actually multiculturalism at all. Multiculturalism would be all religions celebrating their own festivals, and all tolerating everyone else’s. But to suppress the long-established ancient religion of the country while allowing the celebrations of other religions is not coexistence at all, but annihilation and replacement. It is not multiculturalism; it is the replacement of one culture by another.

It is this double standard which so enrages many decent people. They are not racist; they just object, and absolutely reasonably, to the way in which there is one rule for our culture, and another for everyone else’s. We must suppress our own culture; members of other cultures are under no such obligation. Our culture may be, indeed must be, criticised; but one must never criticise theirs. We can find many examples in New Zealand. The ‘Virgin in the Condom’ springs at once to mind, but it is only the most notorious of many. A touring exhibition of modern British art several years ago was on display at Te Papa ~ ‘our place’, as it sarcastically calls itself. One of these alleged art works was a little mass-produced plastic statue of Mary, the mother of our Redeemer, stuffed inside a condom. The seventeen year old ‘artist’ considered this to be a statement about the Catholic Church’s attitude to birth control. Political statements from the left evidently count as art nowadays. Despite widespread protests, and not just from Catholics (for all Christians of course recognise Mary as the Mother of the Incarnate God, and venerate her accordingly) and despite the fact that this particular exhibit had been withheld from public exhibition in quite a few places overseas ~ despite all of this, Te Papa insisted that it be put on display here. Fine ~ artistic freedom, and to hell with sensitivity. But Te Papa would never dream of doing anything to offend any other culture. Its Maori exhibits are treated so reverently that fresh fronds of greenery are regularly placed on the display cabinets. Its sensitivity to Maori can lead it even to deception, as when its otherwise good exhibition on the Moriori of the Chathams did not make any mention at all of how the Moriori came to their end, under the clubs of invading North Island Maori in 1835. One rule for us, another for them.

We have a state system of secular education. It would be unthinkable that Christian chapels be allowed in state schools; yet Muslim prayer rooms may be. Newspapers regularly contain vicious attacks on aspects of Christian teaching, but try to attack Islam, even saying entirely justifiable things, and see how far you get. Our schools and news media treat the Maori language with the greatest of care while they mangle English. It would be unthinkable that a priest should be sent overseas at our expense to exorcise a new embassy building (previously occupied by Australians, as it happens), but Maori elders are. Long prayers are said in Maori at many meetings of the public and public bodies, without anyone raising a murmur of protest; if Christian prayers were said in English how many furious complaints would there be from enlightened liberals about ramming someone else’s religion down their throats! It is not unknown for speeches in Maori at public assemblies to go on for an inordinate length of time; just imagine if some learned person spoke for half an hour or an hour in Greek or Latin….

The double standard undoubtedly exists. All too often ‘multiculturalism’ means not just the tolerance, nor even an embracing of other cultures by someone secure in his or her own, but rather a surrender to other cultures by those ignorant of and hating their own; and hating themselves as well. It is a pathological condition, and a morbid one. It is one of the diseases of an advanced and decadent civilisation, and it is a death wish.

(To be continued)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How absolutely true.
The left has two concomitants, these being double standards and selective morality.

Christopher Miles.
Waihi. 3610