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Racism and Culturalism

New -- 11 November 2010

Rampant in the world today... not to mention throughout history (and in virtually every corner of the globe)... is an attribute called racism. In brief, and according to Wikipedia, racism argues that:

“...the genetic factors which constitute race are a primary determinant of human traits and capabilities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.” [1]

A more comprehensive definition is given by Dictionary.com: [2]

rac·ism [rey-siz-uhm] –noun
1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine.
3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.

Curiously, the principal human races were thought... at one point in time... to be defined by such ethnographic maps as that from Meyes Konversationslexikon (1885-90), which listed the Caucasian races (Aryans, Hamites, Semites), Mongolian races (northern Mongolian, Chinese and Indo-Chinese, Japanese and Korean, Tibetan, Malayan, Polynesian, Maori, Micronesian, Eskimo, American Indian), and Negroid races (African, Hottentots, Melanesians/Papua, "Negrito", Australian Aborigine, Dravidians, Sinhalese). [3]

(The Glutonians and Klingons were inexcusably not included.)

In other words, there were... on Earth... only Caucasians, Mongoloids, and Negroids... albeit with all of their respective sub-races. Life was in fact so much simpler back in these... allegedly good old days.

Now, however, reason has raised its skeptical (but still ugly) head. Worse yet, anthropologists and scientists have rushed to the fore of science claiming that such limiting features as a mere one in three chance to be “superior”, can no longer be condoned. (This is in lieu of modern, enlightened times when one can be accorded the more popular, one in a hundred status, merely for believing in the right religious sect -- see, for example, Oh, Ye of One Little Faith.) Furthermore...

“...many anthropologists consider race, with respect to how individuals in society interact with each other, to be a cultural construct independent of biological or genetic variation.” [3]

No kidding: genetics are no longer the basis for rampant bigotry they once were. (It's sometimes sad what rational science can occasionally eliminate from our lives.) One might even make the argument so nicely described by Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen (aided and abetted by Terry Pratchett) [4] wherein the intercommunications within a species and any interactions with external intelligences can greatly accelerate the evolution of that same species -- if only because such changes can occur far more rapidly than alternative changes arising from genetics. Another way to phrase this is that intercourse can be a quicker means of achieving change than generational changes brought about by genetics. (Sometimes, the intercourse bit can be all-together too quick to involve major changes.)

In fact, based in part on such anthropological considerations, the United Nations no longer recognizes any distinction between the terms racial discrimination and ethnicity discrimination. In this regard, the UN is now officially opposed to racial discrimination as defined by:

...the term "racial discrimination" shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life. [5]

Wow! That’s pretty clear... even if one needs to take a breath a couple of times in the process of reading it. In addition, the definition is something that might even stand up in court (provided, of course, that the court was even remotely fair and predicated upon the idea of some vague form of justice. The latter would probably preclude several of the members of SCOTUS.)

Meanwhile, the reason racism, racial discrimination, and related bigotry (i.e., “exhibiting intolerance, irrationality, animosity toward opposing views and genetics”)... the reason that such things are no longer politically correct and/or thought to be nice... is that it’s very difficult to intelligently... emphasis on the word, intelligently... discriminate on the basis of race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin. Not that it cannot be done... even as simply as claiming a genealogical descent from kings, emperors, et al. But it’s intellectually difficult to claim superiority over others on such a basis. Admittedly, one might be able to show quantifiable superiority in certain very specific and limited fields of endeavor... but a general superiority... that's a bit of a stretch. I may be vastly superior to you in quantum psychokinesis, for example... but that’s primarily because I just made up the term and I can bloody well define it how I like... if only to ensure my superiority. (You’d be surprised how often this particular technique is used in life.)

However... the idea that the RCDNE (aka CREND) distinctions can lead to overall superiority by those of different R, C, D, N, and/or E (CREND) origins... that idea is considered to be highly problematic for someone who even occasionally flirts with intellectual honesty. The problem is that occasionally, claims are put forth that appear to actually be based upon real science... including science that is unencumbered with bias, bigotry, and racial or ethnic discrimination.

One such niggling problem that might be legitimately lodged against any religion or ethnicity which engages in practices that in the long term ignore science and its legitimate findings... is that they tend to be... well... dishonest. This is particularly true in the case of genetics. For example, Europe News reports that any culture that routinely and over the long term practices intermarriage among siblings and/or first cousins... is very likely to encourage: 1) serious health problems from deformities to blood diseases and increased stillbirths, 2) decreased intelligence and sanity (including schizophrenic disorders), and 3) seriously degraded economic opportunities.

A very serious problem can arise when, according to this scientific theory, a whole culture takes genetic intermarriage to extremes. One such culture, as described by the above link, is Islamic. There is obviously, a priori, no reason to assume that anyone belonging to the Islamic religion is automatically afflicted in some such genetic manner... such a conclusion would be racist or bigoted.

However, if in the case of many Moslems... who may ALSO be descended from a long line of incestuous sexual relationships and marriages -- may therefore be suffering from the results of such incest. Thus, an otherwise unbiased discrimination against such a culture that is, by its own cultural standards, ultimately self-defeating... cannot be ruled out. Very importantly, we might thus conclude that:

...objecting to any culture that willingly encourages what amounts to a degradation in genetics over hundreds of years... such an objection is not racist... it is culturist.

[Curiously, the problem of genetics that arises herein is a problem that could not have been anticipated without the growth of knowledge in the last millennia or so. This implies that unchanging and absolute truths from the ancient past... can in the long run be very detrimental to those concerned... or as they say, such orthodox views may have come around to bite one in the... backside parts.]

The fact that this problem (as discovered and theorized by modern science) is culturally based in the Islamic world can be evidenced in part by several factors. The most obvious are the allegedly much higher percentages of health problems among Moslems... as opposed to non-Moslems. Statistics on lower IQs is also telling... although the nature of IQ tests can be challenged as being culturally biased. One can also suggest a lowering of social skills (e.g., not easily interacting with very different cultures). In this case, many Muslims may be more inclined to follow unscrupulous (or less intelligent) authorities, and in fact, not interact with non-Muslims in a positive manner.

Again, of course, such a lack of camaraderie might be attributed to cultural bias as well. But there is also the rather astounding (from one point of view) suggestion that the number of books translated into Arabic during the last 1,200 years is about 100,000... which is roughly equivalent to the number of books translated into Spanish in a single year.  That is perhaps one of the most damning statistics yet encountered... but it is also based upon an Islamic culture that does NOT delight in new ideas, new concepts, and unlimited inter-communications. For any culture bound and determined to reduce new ideas, new thoughts, and cling to an unchanging and carved in stone theology... then from that culture's point of view, there's not a problem. As noted elsewhere, the statement that:

“...rigid cultural fundamentalism isn’t going to get us anywhere.” [6]

is not necessarily a problem for a culture that very much wants to go nowhere. For many, many people -- including non-Moslems -- going nowhere is much the preferred direction in their lives. And accordingly, discrimination against anyone preferring such a philosophy still falls under the UN prohibition.

There are, of course, a couple of notable loopholes in the UN Declarations. One is that it’s okay to discriminate against Neo Nazis (including the storm troopers marching down your street)... provided that the discrimination is not arising solely because of their race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin. In fact, in general, one can say that it’s okay to discriminate against those are threatening to enslave or kill you, without violating this particular UN Declaration. (This might not be exactly a loophole... but it’s important to distinguish different scenarios.)

Another problem with the UN Declarations, is that they have been subjected for many years to being watered down by demands from certain religions... specifically those religions that are hyper-sensitive to criticism. See, for example, this YouTube address by a European and directed toward Americans.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjSjpNe1-Vc&feature=related

(And if you liked that one, try:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nI5WoXpmPiM&NR=1)

Or... if you think these were bad (i.e., less than tolerant), consider the... shall we say... somewhat more mainstream concern (as of May 2, 2009):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQbPYxTL9D4&feature=related

[OR... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNtDrUhcKyQ&NR=1 -- which really puts things in perspective!]

On the flip side, another interesting loophole in the original UN Declaration concerning racism is that religious and cultural discrimination is not specifically banned. This is important for many reasons... and particularly because there is very often a clear and abiding connection between the two... that is to say that fervent religiosity tends strongly to dictate cultural mores and values. One can, therefore, technically, and on the basis of this particular UN Declaration, discriminate against anyone whose religious or cultural values are sufficiently different as to be abhorrent to you... AND at the same time, you can avoid being a racist! In fact, discrimination can sometimes be a really good attribute to exhibit.

This does not imply or even suggest that it’s okay to be ignorant and intolerant of those who simply have a different world view. In fact, the degree of which most people in the world are wholly ignorant of other religions is a serious problem. [See, for example, A Whimsical View. No kidding.]

But... if their world view is to deny you your equal rights, including your beliefs, freedom of expression, and so forth... then attempting to deny them the ability to take away your rights is not just a matter of discrimination, but rather a matter of survival. It is also the protection of one’s self, family, community, and/or nation.

When it comes to different cultures, culturism can, therefore, not be equated with racism, and/or given the same blanket of negative endorsements. Being a racist is a bad thing... but one is entirely within their rights to be a culturist... provided only that the culture one is biased against is not just different, but is in fact threatening one’s equal rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In this case, culturism is simply self defense. And that’s a whole new ball of wax.

Culturism is therefore very, very different from any charges of racism.

Take an example (and perhaps take it outdoors to the garbage). The predominance of Roman Catholics in a country such as Mexico tends to greatly influence the cultural values of Mexicans. And... as it turns out, a consistent pattern among Mexicans -- whether living in Mexico, the United States, or elsewhere -- is that as a group they tend toward closely knit families, a degree of male chauvinism, and a darker skin.

Now... the darker skin obviously falls within the UN Declaration... so bigotry on the basis of a darker skin is simply stupid and intellectually insupportable... not to mention extraordinarily unfriendly.

On the other hand, the UN Declaration does not include the fact that a woman might not feel as valued (however she defines her value) in such a male-dominated, albeit family society. That is to say, there is no rule against gender discrimination in the UN’s Declaration.

The reason for this deficit, possibly, is that in 1966, no one was about to raise this controversial issue... and inasmuch as the various nations that routinely and aggressively practiced the most extreme forms of gender (and/or sexual orientation) discrimination might have been unwilling to buy into that particular package. Even as a K-Mart, Blue-Light Special, it likely would have failed. The UN in 1966 (and now!) had yet to grow up in that respect.

In general, the issue is that in dealing with any group that is strongly exclusive or who discriminates against outsiders, an excluded individual might legitimately object to such discrimination. Such an individual might suffer losses based on a group that was doing the excluding of that same individual from the group’s family and its implied benefits. As it turns out, the emphasis on Mexican family life, does not typically lend itself to inclusive behaviors.

Now... to ensure that we’re offending everyone... one might also note that the Jewish people can also be a bit... family oriented... even to the extent that “You Won't Succeed on Broadway (if you don't have any Jews)." The general assumption is that the predominance of Jews in show business is unlikely to be due entirely to some genetic superiority in their heritage. Instead, it just might be more of who you know, than what you can do... and importantly, whether or not you have the same religious or ethnic background of those in charge. Again, this would constitute an example of exclusion by virtue of not being in the same religion or from a similar ethnic background.

Accordingly, anyone losing out on an audition by virtue of not being Jewish is not going to like this particular cultural... and/or familial... attribute of Jewish families.

Then there are the Europeans. (Oh, yes, we're definitely out to offend everyone!) It has been said that:

“Heaven is where the English are the policemen, the Germans are the auto mechanics, the French are the chefs, the Italians are the lovers, and the Swiss are in charge overall. Hell, on the other hand, is where the English are the cooks, the Germans are the policemen, the French are the auto mechanics, the Swiss are the lovers, and the Italians are in charge overall.”

One might assume that the above paragraph might imply racism in the ethnicity style... but to what degree does it ring true? Better yet... where would you prefer to live? Perhaps, it's just culturism.

Also... it’s very important to understand that virtually NONE of the attributes described in the above paragraphs are particularly horrific... or which must be avoided like the plague... such that anyone can legitimately prefer to live according to the ways of the English, French, Mexican, Jewish, Italian, Swiss, German... or even the residents of Bhutan (where they have a Gross National Happiness Product). There is also no reason that these people and their cultures cannot be tolerated (or even celebrated for their differences). Even an Australian’s speech, tendency to carry very large knives, and overwhelming fondness for beer... can be accepted... if not enjoyed.

Accordingly, everything is pretty simple on such matters... until it comes to those of one culture finding themselves having to live side-by-side with those of a radically different (and adversarial) culture.

Ah yes... then it's a matter of the Perils of Immigration.

 

_______________________________

References:

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racism

[2] http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/racism

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_%28classification_of_human_beings%29

[4] Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart & Jack Cohen, The Science of Discworld II; The Globe, Edbury Press, 2002.

[5] http://www.hri.org/docs/ICERD66.html

[6] Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart & Jack Cohen, The Science of Discworld, Edbury Press, 1999, page 293

 

Oh, God

A Whimsical View

Comparative Religions         Chronicles of Earth

Sumerian         Enki and Enlil         Anunnaki

Forward to:

The Milgram Effect

Freedom of Religion        Holy War        The Rules of Holy War

Multiculturalism         Perils of Immigration

Free Speech         The (9) Supremes         The Halls of SCOTUS

An American Third Party         A Third Party That Knows How to Party

 

 

 

               

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