It appears to me that the academic world and the world of the mainstream media are now dominated by a sort of elitist liberal philosophy of extreme moral relativism.
This is the philosophy that is called "political correctness"; it goes beyond an agreed upon idea of justice where "all people are created equal" (everyone should have the same opportunities) to practically claim that all human lifestyles, ideas, customs, cultures, and practices are equally correct and "equal" according to some set of morals, and so therefore, we, as a society, should accept them all (or at least most of them).
A couple problems with this:
-In a college anthropology or history class, it might be taught that in culture a
, citizens participate or participated in a practice of sacrificing humans. Of course the students will be instructed not to label these people as "uncivilized" or "savage" because of their acts; this would be an "ethnocentric" viewpoint, and hence a wrong viewpoint to have. Immediately, any real discussion that could be had on moral concepts of "right" and "wrong" is finished. To argue that this practice is wrong is to be politically incorrect.
How about the fact that in most islamic cultures, women are treated as second-class citizens? They are usually forbidden to receive proper education, they perform the chores of the home with no other career option, and they are forced to wear certain clothes which cover their bodies, sometimes in entirety. Now of course all of these things do not hold true for all islamic groups, but women are still treated as second-class citizens in the majority of these. Why should I not be allowed to argue, without being labelled a "racist" or "ethnocentrist", that this practice is 100% wrong?
And I am not targeting Islam here; the fact is that there is clear injustice being done within many groups, some worse than others. Slavery still exists in parts of Africa. Am I really so wrong to denounce these cultures for being "bad", or unjust cultures? Is this type of language really inexcusable to allow in debate, even though the culture promotes slavery? How about forced genital mutilation? The practice is widespread in both Africa and the United States, committed against women and men, respectively. Is it "incorrect" for me to make the argument that something is wrong with a culture that allows such practices to take place?
If I were to argue against circumcision in the US, because I am a member of this culture, my argument would be seen as valid and worthy of response. If I were to argue against female genital mutilation in Africa, my argument would be seen as ethnocentric, in that I do not "understand" the culture of Africa where this practice is accepted (certainly not happily by everyone).
There is a problem in our society when everyone is taught to think in purely relativistic terms. Surely we do acknowledge that opinions are relative, but any society with laws recognizes that we cannot view all cultures and practices as being OK and acceptable based on a doctrine of moral relativism. I do not think we should be afraid of hurting some feelings or offending some groups of people if it helps people to look at, and hopefully rout, injustice wherever it may stand. Calling people "savages" of course really just amounts to name-calling, but criticizing another culture due to its accepted practices, in my opinion, is a good thing. What is everybody so afraid of? Hurting feelings and ruffling feathers?
We try to avoid arguments in grade school so kids don't run home to their parents crying, but is this type of attitude one that should be allowed in college and in the media? Is it not a violation of my liberty to censor my thoughts in a public institution because they may run the risk of being "discriminatory"? And since when did commenting on the negative effects of certain cultures
or societal values
If I look at your culture and conclude "there is something inherently wrong with your culture, which condones this type of behavior", I am not making a judgment as to your worth as a human being (though you might falsely take it this way). Humans are created equal, but contrary to what you may learn in grade school, ideas are not, and certainly the actions that come from them are not. The manson cult believed that their actions were completely right and just, and they had no qualms about committing murder. Yet we realize that this was a BAD culture. After they committed murder, no one really cared about hurting their feelings. And why should I care about hurting your feelings if I tell you your culture is bad for promoting mistreatment of women or children?
So what do you all think about 'political correctness' in our society, and is it being promoted by a faction of the academic liberal elite, or by society as a whole?
SOCRATES: When you have come to a decision in your own mind about something, and declare your opinion to me, this opinion is, according to his doctrine, true to you; let us grant that; but may not the rest of us sit in judgement on your decision, or do we always judge that your opinion is true? Do not myriads of men on each occasion oppose their opinions to yours, believing that your judgement and belief are false?
[170e] THEODORUS: Yes, by Zeus, Socrates, countless myriads in truth, as Homer says, and they give me all the trouble in the world.
SOCRATES: Well then, shall we say that in such a case your opinion is true to you but false to the myriads?
THEODORUS: That seems to be the inevitable deduction.
SOCRATES: And what of Protagoras himself? If neither he himself thought, nor people in general think, as indeed they do not, that man is the measure of all things, is it not inevitable that the "truth" which he wrote is true to no one? But if he himself thought it was true, [171a] and people in general do not agree with him, in the first place you know that it is just so much more false than true as the number of those who do not believe it is greater than the number of those who do.
THEODORUS: Necessarily, if it is to be true or false according to each individual opinion.
SOCRATES: Secondly, it involves this, which is a very pretty result; he concedes about his own opinion the truth of the opinion of those who disagree with him and think that his opinion is false, since he grants that the opinions of all men are true.
[171b] SOCRATES: Then would he not be conceding that his own opinion is false, if he grants that the opinion of those who think he is in error is true?
SOCRATES: But the others do not concede that they are in error, do they?
THEODORUS: No, they do not.
SOCRATES: And he, in turn, according to his writings, grants that this opinion also is true.
SOCRATES: Then all men, beginning with Protagoras, will dispute -- or rather, he will grant, after he once concedes that the opinion of the man who holds the opposite view is true -- even Protagoras himself, I say, [171c] will concede that neither a dog nor any casual man is a measure of anything whatsoever that he has not learned. Is not that the case?
SOCRATES: Then since the "truth" of Protagoras is disputed by all, it would be true to nobody, neither to anyone else nor to him.