10
   

Bigot? Racist? Something Else?

 
 
Foofie
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Jun, 2017 01:24 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

Actually Snood is correct. The American Left is full of moral absolutism. I am a political liberal... but you may have noticed that I am at least as much a critic of the left as I am of the right. And liberal absolutists on this site are not exactly my biggest fans.

You are behind the discussion a bit. Why are Americans more worried about violence against young girls than they are about similar violence against young boys? Of course, the idea that violence against females is worse than equivalent violence against males has been part of the core of Western Culture for centuries.

This type of cultural bias would get in the way of any rational attempt to find absolute truth (even if there were such a thing).


It was all so much easier when the concerns were how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.
0 Replies
 
Foofie
 
  0  
Reply Fri 30 Jun, 2017 01:27 pm
@Olivier5,
Olivier5 wrote:

Quote:
does male circumcision destroy a male's pleasure during intercourse? 

It reduces it. That's why it's done, i suspect, just like female genital mutilation. Agreed that it's less intrusive and damaging than FGM but yes, it is immoral to cut babies genital, however limited the mutilation is.

I think it is done to be able to see who on a battlefield is American or other. Americans now get circumcised, unless it is specifically requested not to, I believe.
0 Replies
 
Foofie
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Jun, 2017 01:29 pm
@Olivier5,
Olivier5 wrote:

Any society foolish enough to "vanquish the sex drive" of men and women would collapse demographically, so nobody wants that.

The foreskin is a highly exitable organ with much innervation, and it protects the gland skin which has even more nervous connections, so it stands to reason that cutting it out reduces the victim's capacity to enjoy sex.


It might also be the breeding ground for carcinogins that cause cancer in women.
0 Replies
 
Foofie
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Jun, 2017 01:47 pm
What might be totally ignored is that monotheistic religions, not including Judaism, do believe that their faith should eventually be adopted by the rest of the world, or at least pay homage to it. That would include respective morality. So, societal morality is just not going to be relativistic, since billions of people believe their respective version of morality is f*cking absolutist correct.

Max might just be funning with us?
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Fri 30 Jun, 2017 05:23 pm
@saab,
saab wrote:

We would have slaves and galley slaves, unfair payments, official beatings,head chopped off, children working in mines and factories.


This is rather unfortunate Saab. You are a White woman arguing that certain traditional customs of indigenous African cultures should be stamped out. Do you really think that this particular line of argument is appropriate?

You are comparing slavery, a crime inflicted on Africa by White colonial policies, to the traditional practices of indigenous African cultures. That is historically insensitive at best.

The issue is whether the Western Culture can dictate to indigenous Africans which of their traditional practices are appropriate within their own culture. I am not saying that this is an easy issue. But, the arguments you are making to suggest that Africans should subject themselves to Western cultural norms are not reasonable.

maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Fri 30 Jun, 2017 06:00 pm
@Sturgis,
Quote:
Over the centuries different groups have ruled over different regions. As a matter of fact, even what you like to refer to as Western Culture was in no small part crafted by invasive forces from other places.

A human persons culture needs to grow, sometimes it is met with resistance and succumbs. Other times the growth process flourishes. All of it comes together in the final product found in the Petrie dish we call Earth.


Sturgis, your short post represents the greatest intellectual challenge to my argument.

If I may rephrase the "Petri Dish" metaphor (please correct me if I am misrepresenting what you said); the challenge is that humanity is advancing. What am calling "Modern Western culture" has a better understanding of morality than the cultures that came before it.

Do you feel I am stating this fairly (I would for us to agree on the metaphor)?

There are a few ways I would question this idea. One is simply the historical narrative... how did we get to a modern world that favors Western ideas and people. White people today control the majority of the World's resources.

History hasn't favored morality as I understand morality. Guns and Steel were behind Colonialism that brought Western ideas to most of the world, and it is hard to argue that morality was behind Western expansion. You are correct that there were other conquerors. I would like to hear how this changes the basic argument.

The real question is what would have happened had the period of European colonization never happened. If African and American indigenous cultures been allowed to develop on their own would they have converged on the system of morality we have in Western Countries today?

I rather doubt it. Part of the reason is because the system of morality we have today isn't very logical... even in a mathematical sense. We have property ownership, national borders, capitalism... all of these are European inventions that to this day favor Western countries leaving cultures and communities forever locked out. And we fixate on certain practices (such as female circumcision) and accept others (such as poverty and starvation) as a matter of course, it is hard to imagine that people whose children are dying of starvation would care more about eliminating circumcision of any sort.

Modern Western Culture comes with a set of biases that many people confuse with absolute truth. These biases favor a group of people and cause hardship to other humans.

The Petri dish is working fine for those of us living in privilege in Western countries. There are many people for whom it isn't going so well. We should be asking the question; why is the petri dish the way it is? who does it benefit? whom does it hurt or leave out?



TomTomBinks
 
  2  
Reply Fri 30 Jun, 2017 10:05 pm
@maxdancona,
So if Western Culture had not dominated the world and another had (aboriginal American or Polynesian or one of the African cultures) we would still be having this discussion only with the details rearranged. No better or worse one way or another. One culture has to be dominant, why not this one?
Glennn
 
  4  
Reply Fri 30 Jun, 2017 10:14 pm
@maxdancona,
Quote:
And we fixate on certain practices (such as female circumcision) and accept others (such as poverty and starvation)

You have misspoken. I doubt others here accept poverty and starvation. You cannot speak for them, but you did anyway. Besides that, you are trying to minimize the barbarity of cutting off the clitoris of girls by comparing it to poverty and starvation. The fact that you felt the need to bring such a comparison into the equation should tell you something about the nature of the thing you are supporting. The condition of poverty and starvation does not change the barbarity of the act of cutting the clitoris off of girls; how could it?
Quote:
it is hard to imagine that people whose children are dying of starvation would care more about eliminating circumcision of any sort.

And here you are attempting to minimize the barbarity of female genital mutilation by proposing how a parent whose child is starving to death would rate the barbarity of it. Such a parent would rate most forms of nonlethal violence as less offensive than the starving of their child.
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Fri 30 Jun, 2017 10:44 pm
@Glennn,
You missed my point Glenn. I am criticizing Western Cultural bias which is often driven by emotion and outrage rather than reason or logic. There are certain narratives that we respond to, there are other issues that cause more suffering yet we ignore.

There are mothers who have experienced female circumcision, and want it for their daughters. I can't understand this any more than you can... it seems unthinkable. And, yet it happens. I don't know of any mother who chose starvation for their children.... and yet somehow starvation produces far less outrage in Western countries.

It is also true that the people with political power make the rules and set the narrative. We already noted that male circumcision in the US/Jewish sense is fully acceptable, and the more brutal male circumcision that happens in cultures like the Masai generate almost no outrage (and barely are ever discussed). We mentioned bullfighting and foie gras.

Who gets to judge right and wrong? Who decides what we should be outraged about? Who has the political power to set the narrative? Who can convince us that they should be accepted?

This is only an argument against the claim that Western outrage is logical in any objective sense. It should not surprise you that the people you are most outraged about have almost zero political or economic clout.



Sturgis
 
  2  
Reply Fri 30 Jun, 2017 10:56 pm
@maxdancona,
One place I will directly counter you in your post would be your statement:

Quote:
What am calling "Modern Western culture" has a better understanding of morality than the cultures that came before it.


Better? Who says it really is better? From our perspective as individuals of a Western cultural heritage and teachings, we perceive it as better, that doesn't mean it is.

I'd feel the correct word would be "different". Yes, a different understanding. And, even this may not gel with what those in Bangladesh or elsewhere might be thinking.

As to your questioning of what would have happened without European colonization, it's impossible to know exactly what would have occurred. Clearly it would have been different.

Apart from that, your read on the petri dish is quite accurate (or in synch with my take).

0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Fri 30 Jun, 2017 11:01 pm
@TomTomBinks,
Exactly TomTom, I am open to the pragmatic stance... that the world is as it is and that we need to live with the moral hegemony we have. In a practical sense, that is how I live my life.

This thread started with a discussion of whether the dominant culture can be "bigoted", or whether the moral views of the dominant culture should be considered a truth. I believe that the dominant culture comes with its own mythology, its own set of narratives and its own biases. These are often treated as truth, but they don't represent an absolute truth. So yes, I assert that the dominant culture is bigoted when it acts as if its moral views or cultural perspective is superior to that of indigenous cultures.

I have no problem dealing with Western problems in Western cultural context. I agree with Glennn on most issues (including her favorite issue of genital mutilation) with the implicit understanding that these judgments are based on shared cultural values.

The complication comes when we are confronted with indigenous cultures that don't share our cultural values. Without these shared values and understanding, there will be wildly different judgments made.

The question we are asking is whether the dominant culture can judge traditional practices of indigenous cultures with any sense of objective morality. I doubt strongly that this is the case.
0 Replies
 
saab
 
  2  
Reply Sat 1 Jul, 2017 03:06 am
Quote:
We would have slaves and galley slaves, unfair payments, official beatings,head chopped off, children working in mines and factories.


Quote:
You are comparing slavery, a crime inflicted on Africa by White colonial policies, to the traditional practices of indigenous African cultures. That is historically insensitive at best.

I am not comparing the traditional practices of indigenous African cultures with a crime inflicted by Whites.
I wanted to tell how it would look like in our Western World with people like you having had the say. Childwork, discrimination, death penalties, official beatings etc etc
Also having slaves, it has unfortunately always existed and still does. Sad to say
that there are thousands of young women kept as sex slaves in Europe. But you
would probably say they do it on a volountary basis.
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Sat 1 Jul, 2017 03:15 am
@maxdancona,
Quote:
The issue is whether the Western Culture can dictate to indigenous Africans which of their traditional practices are appropriate within their own culture. I am not saying that this is an easy issue. 

If that's the issue, it's a fairly easy one, and the answer is no they can't. I don't see how they possibly could, given that colonization times are over, by and large.

But I don't think that's the real issue. Nowadays colonisation is internalised. It's more of a national thing: in Africa or elsewhere, regimes (often funded by ex-colonial powers) consider that certain traditions -- that may be practiced by the whole population or just by certain ethnic groups -- are passé and should be forbidden. For instance, Habib Bourguiba outlawing polygamy in Muslim Tunisia in the 60s (?) or the (timid) efforts of Mauritania to forbid slavery. Anything going against Islam is particularly hard to implement. But the point is: it's up to these nations to decide, not the "West". It's their responsibility to evolve or not, and decide at what speed they do so.

Much more tricky is the question of ethnic minorities and indigenous people living within the boundaries of a modern / modernist state, eg hunter-gatherer in the Amazon. Should the modern states around them force them through public education, mandatory vaccinations, a ban on child marriage, etc? I wish they would be left alone, but of course they aren't.
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Sat 1 Jul, 2017 07:14 am
@saab,
Quote:
I wanted to tell how it would look like in our Western World with people like you having had the say. Childwork, discrimination, death penalties, official beatings etc etc


People like me oppose the death penalty pretty strongly, work to help refugees and immigrants get settled and recently testified on a State Senate panel in favor of a law to protect immigrants in Massachusetts. I realize you are just lashing out randomly... but I do want to help you get the facts straight.

I do insist that my preteen daughter cleans her room (so you might have a point about child work).

0 Replies
 
Glennn
 
  2  
Reply Sat 1 Jul, 2017 07:56 am
@maxdancona,
Quote:
You missed my point Glenn. I am criticizing Western Cultural bias which is often driven by emotion and outrage rather than reason or logic.

I understand your point completely. You are criticizing Western culture for its bias which you claim is driven by other than reason and logic, while at the same time you fail to criticize the cultural practice of female genital mutilation even though it is neither reasonable nor logical. For all intents and purposes, this is a double standard, and this has been your position from the beginning.

maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Sat 1 Jul, 2017 08:57 am
@Glennn,
You are misusing the term "double standard". I am arguing against the moral superiority of Western Culture. Every culture is driven by its own mythology and narratives. No culture is based on logic and reason.

Western culture is based on a set of core beliefs and values that can't be proven... ironically the culture spread and gaining power through a history that doesn't even live up to them. I am not saying that our culture is any worse than other cultures... but I don't think it is particularly better either.

You are not an objective judge of right or wrong; particularly when it comes to indigenous cultures. You grew up in privilege with a culture that gave you economic power and opportunity (that much of the world is excluded from). This culture taught you its rules, gave you a set of values, provided a narrative and an identity, told you a history... all these thing influence how we think and what we believe. Just like any culture, we all grow up with a strongly cultural bias; a mythology.

Yes you are correct that the weakness in my argument is that I can't say that things we now understand to be "barbaric" (your term) are are not immoral in any absolute sense. If I am challenging you to see things from another perspective, one of those perspectives is female circumcision. That is why you keep bringing up "female genital mutilation" incessantly ignoring almost every other issue.

But you are being one-sided. The weakness in your argument is that you, a member of the dominant culture, are putting yourself in a position to protect indigenous women from their own culture. Cultural supremacy is an uncomfortable position to hold too. You seem to be implying that this is an easy issue that can be addressed in a simplistic way.

It isn't.

glitterbag
 
  3  
Reply Sat 1 Jul, 2017 10:07 am
@Glennn,
So, I think I'm missing something......if female mutilation is simply a custom that makes some people happy.......how about honor killings????? Or am I being overly sensitive because I was born into a Western culture which closes my mind over a custom that urges girls to be obedient and not buck the system?
saab
 
  2  
Reply Sat 1 Jul, 2017 10:21 am
@glitterbag,
I think it is the position of max.
I wonder too about honour killings, some of the sharia laws like stoning.
A raped woman can get stoned or beated as she was unfaithful to her husband.
Read this article. There are some of that which max has been after, why do women do this.
Luckily it seems to disappear slowly. And that we westerns should do support with our medical knowledge and help for those who do not want FGM
https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/04/female-genital-mutilation-cutting-anthropologist/389640/
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Sat 1 Jul, 2017 10:25 am
@glitterbag,
Yes, what you are missing the the fact that you are human. You are not superior to indigenous cultures. Just as they have, you have been indoctrinated into a culture that provides you with a narrative, a history.

You are going through a laundry list. You are cherry picking the most egregious(*) practices of indigenous cultures as a way of showing that your judgement about morality is superior to indigenous cultures in general.

What you are missing is that indigenous cultures, had they the political and economic privilege you have, would come up with equal laundry lists. They would feel equally strong about things that do damage to humans that you accept as a normal part of life (property ownership is an interesting example of this).

You are in a position of judgment because of the economic and political privilege you have, not because of your moral superiority. Yes, indigenous tribes have practices, such as female circumcision, that are deeply troubling... that doesn't change the argument.


0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Sat 1 Jul, 2017 10:31 am
@saab,
That is an amazing article, Saab. Did you read it? It is the first article that I have read that actually gives a respectful voice to women in these cultures. And there balance here... the Westerner has an opinion, but listens and respects the indigenous women and their culture too.

I have a lot of respect for this woman. This is what multiculturalism should look like.
 

 
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