""
-
March 14th, 2009 by Edward Miller

This post is a rebuttal to all the right-wingers who get their world news from frontpagemag.com.

I find no inherent value in diversity. I only value it as a tool for achieving real progress and social justice. Being a humanist, I’m much more interested in celebrating our similarities than differences. This website’s slogan, “Embrace Unity,” is supposed to be a counter-point to the sometimes overzealous multi-culti people who like to “Embrace Diversity,” but let me state that I am not opposed to embracing diversity.

Usually embracing diversity is pretty harmless, like Black History Month, or La Raza’s latino themed cultural events on college campuses. There was a trend of liberal jews sporting keffiyehs in solidarity with Palestinians, and then it spread to wider “hipster” culture becoming a fashion statement and losing most of its meaning in the process, as fads tend to do generally. Those things are very cutesy and can promote tolerance and so anyone who scoffs at Multi-Culturalism must obviously be some sort of hard-hearted meanie.

Yet, it can also lead down more sinister roads, and certainly presents many double standards. La Raza means “The Race” in Spanish. It would not be tolerable to start a white appreciation group on campus called The Race, so why should it be acceptable for anyone else? It has been argued that it is acceptable though because they have been marginalized and are in need of pride. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Pride is one of the seven deadly sins. Plenty of extreme nationalist movements started out as small groups of excluded people banding together… like the Hutus of Rwanda, who went on to commit unspeakable acts even worse than those perpetrated upon them. Now, I’m not arguing that this will certainly be the outcome of La Raza or any other group, but it is simply a fact that nationalism has a very dark history.

To understand why Multi-Culturalism exists, one must understand how ideas spread generally. Memes are a very strong force in culture. The concept of a “meme” was coined by a very lovable inflammatory thinker named Richard Dawkins. It is simply a prima facie argument that ideas go through a sort of natural selection process. The ideas which hold characteristics which mandate their spreading are going to become predominant. Dawkins uses this idea often to explain how religions sprout up.

Why is the Roman Catholic Church the biggest church in the world? According to memetics, it is because it has characteristics which make it reproduce itself quickly. It is documented that medieval priests quickly recognized that the threat of Hell really boosted church attendance, and thus we saw more fire and brimstone rhetoric. The religion speaks of the need to save peoples’ immortal souls to ensure then Infinite Salvation instead of Infinite Damnation. Thus, we got Catholic missionaries taking trips to the most remote places on Earth. The Bible tells you to “be fruitful and multiply.” The Pope tells you contraceptives and abortion are sinful. See a pattern? Is it any wonder then why the Catholic Church has a billion people? Certainly Islam shares similar traits as well.

Compare this to the Shakers, who believed it was a sin to have sex even for procreation. Although they were able to briefly perpetuate themselves by massive adoption, I think it should be rather obvious why they quickly died out. The same could be said about suicide cults. Similarly, even just regular religions that are less obsessed with spreading the gospel to others are not likely to be very large… like Judaism, though in Judaism we are also now seeing a sort of fundamentalist and evangelical strain emerging via the forces of natural selection.

Multi-Culturalism and Political Correctness are successful memes, just like religious ideas are. I think the reason for that is rooted in capitalism’s reproductive fitness, which is considerable since it has encompassed nearly the entire globe. Capitalism, or more precisely Social Democracy since every economy is a mixed economy, necessitates peaceful relationships so that capital can flow. As you know, trade creates interdependence, and this means we cannot afford to severely offend, say, the Chinese, no matter how much certain people might like to.

Granted, when this Political Correctness is taken too far it can lead to infringements upon Freedom of Speech which nobody could refute, as was the case with Mark Steyn and Geert Wilders, both utterly repulsive figures who nevertheless deserve freedom of speech. Yet, that doesn’t take away from our personal responsibility to be truthful and loving, and yes, to even be Politically Correct most of the time. This needs no state enforcement, just regular ol’ peer-based enforcement. The Danish Cartoon scandal was another example. Clearly the riots in retaliation were far more despicable than the cartoons themselves. In fact, I’d go so far as to say there was nothing inherently despicable about the cartoons. It just showed poor judgment to publish something that is likely to be taken so offensively. It sort of reminds me of pushy vegans who often end up working against their own noble goal.

Obviously, I readily concede that there is a dark side to PC and overzealous multi-culti stuff. Yet, ideas don’t just pop into existence for no reason. Knowing this, it would be a good idea to be prudently open-armed towards muslims. That way, we can open up more and more trading links, and by extension cultural links and a mutual understanding of our interdependence. One of the things I would very much like to see is for projects like the One Laptop Per Child to successfully connect children from around the world to the Internet. There is talk by some on the left of horrible “Cultural Imperialism.” My hope is that is exactly what occurs, and they become infected with these horrible memetic viruses of Political Correctness and Multiculturalism which have the ability to temper the worst aspects of many cultures, such as terrorism, racism, female genital mutilation, etc. If Imperialism becomes the autonomous spread of ideas like PC and mulit-culturalism, or even more hopefully, humanism, then I guess I’m an imperialist.

Similarly, democratic modes of governance seem to foster a similar moderation of extremism. Look at Turkey as compared to the theocratic Iran. Turkey, a representative democracy, does have a relatively strong Islamist party, but even they realize that in order to get along in the world they can’t be incredibly Politically Incorrect, especially when they are at the mercy of a relatively secularized electorate. You can even see this shift in Hamas. Hamas’s charter might as well have been written by Hitler himself. Yet as they have become an actual political party, their rhetoric has changed dramatically. Look at this more recent quote:

“Our message to the Israelis is this: We do not fight you because you belong to a certain faith or culture. Jews have lived in the Muslim world for 13 centuries in peace and harmony; they are in our religion “the people of the book” who have a covenant from God and his messenger, Muhammad (peace be upon him), to be respected and protected… Our conflict with you is not religious but political. We have no problem with Jews who have not attacked us – our problem is with those who came to our land, imposed themselves on us by force, destroyed our society and banished our people.” Source here.

Compare that to their founding charter from 1988 which calls for the murder of all Jews and cites the Koran and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion forgery to support this.

Furthermore, I hope we continue to maintain a slow stream of muslim immigrants who can eventually become assimilated. I can’t tell you how many muslim women I have seen in burkas carting around little girls with Nikes and without headscarves. The same was true when I visited Europe. How many of these children will grow up to be like Salman Rushdie? Hopefully many

The soft power wielded by Barack Obama, at least in comparison to the complete lack of it from before, should help make the goal of nonviolently resolving our cultural differences even more possible.

Flattr this!


35 Responses to “The Value of Multi-Culturalism”

  1. If we could only get the rest of the world to use toilet paper, then there would be no need for the multi-culturalism/political correctness racket!

  2. Nice of you to grant Steyn et al the right to freedom of speech. Glad you are able and willing to articulate some of the dark side of multiculti idiocy etc. But…

    Ah, the internal contradictions of humanism. You speak of the “personal responsibility to be truthful and loving”…Sez who? Why cling to such antiquated ideals of ‘morality’? Aren’t they just the outworkings of leftover instincts we evolved while herd animals on the Serengeti? Aren’t we just bags of tissue used by our ‘selfish genes’ to propagate themselves? Why not be as rapacious and self-serving as you can get away with? Just because it gives you ‘cold pricklies’ instead of ‘warm fuzzies’?

    You may have seen women in burkas whose kids are wearing Nikes, but too many of those Nike-wearing kidlings are imbibing an ideology that has no place for free speech and freedom of religion. If and when push comes to shove, and men willing to put their lives on the line to defend those freedoms and our very lives are needed, it’s more likely to be the sons of devout Christians who will do so than the sons of humanists, for more than one reason:

    As you yourself point out, demographic forces are at work. Such forces are aligned against ‘humanism’, however. I was the youngest of 4 sons of humanists. To them, religion was a disease, and Christianity a particularly virulent form of it. I am the black sheep of the family, being that most evil of folk, a Bible-believing Christian whom most would term a fundamentalist. Out of my 3 older brothers there are 2 children total. I have 4, and my oldest son says he’s going to have 6. Since I’ve refrained from entrusting their education to the tender mercies of the gov’t, they retain the ability to think logically, and hence are staunch theists, and, by the grace of God, Christians.

    The same forces are at work in the general population. Who has the young men offspring? Why are 40% of military personnel evangelical Christians, compared to 14 % of the general population (source: NPR, hardly a hotbed of religious propaganda, nu?)? Guess whose ‘memes’ will be perpetuated into the next generation? Just think of it as evolution in action. Survival of the fittest. Last man standing.

  3. Doc,

    I honestly don’t want to meet anyone whose sole reason for being good is because some invisible sky man is threatening them with eternal damnation. I base my morality on the fact that I can empathize with other human beings, and that empathy translates to respect and love. I love people for their own sake, not because any deity tells me to.

    I think you missed the whole point of this post. As I mentioned, Capitalism (or more accurately Social Democracy) is very reproductively fit. This system happens to demand things like Political Correctness and Embracing Diversity, not just here at home. I was pointing out the lunacy of simultaneously attacking the spread of Political Correctness and the spread of radical Islam… wouldn’t it be great if the worst problem in countries around the world was an overzealous sense Political Correctness?

  4. wouldn’t it be great if the worst problem in countries around the world was an overzealous sense Political Correctness?

    No.

    No more than asking if it would be great to function with a hole in the head. Perhaps you’ve not caught on, but the sappy, mushy, Nothingness Happy Face on a stick that is today’s secularism is THE primal reason (all other primal reasons for existence, like childrearing and one’s own adult decisions about….well…life in general, being subcontracted to government in the modern liberal welfare) that many youth are flocking to a more culturally confident movement. One of those–the strongest–is Islam.

    On the home front, with things like Migration (often referred to, improperly, as illegal immigration, or in PC circles where they advocate plunking down tax dough for people who’re not even citizens—“immigrants”–we have only to look to our alleged southern “border” to see the failure of “sustainability”, the busted hospitals, the murders, the drug flow, the bankrupt ER departments, the damage done to residents of border areas fearful of their lives and catcalls from our illegal guests that California now belongs to THEM, to realize the failure of the multi-culti mind. It is an obvious fraud, based on the non-judgemental notion, as with many other obvious social frauds, wherein the basis of the assumptions that all cultures are equal or equally balances or acceptable or achieving never gets any serious scrutiny. Which is why the dumbness spreads; predicated on a mere notion that need not even be tested until/unless the negative effects–like one-third of all Federal inmates now being illegal, gets the full monty.

    As to sky men, God does not force. Free will is the cornerstone certainly of Christianity, and as CS Lewis said, in the absence of free will the whole issue of salvation has no application.

    You’d know that if you strayed but a little from a cartoonish version of theology or your interpretation of such. But then, I do acknowledge that’s quite a fashionable quip these days: The easy road is the one most travelled, even for all the liberal penchant for their alleged “seeing in fine shades of grey” and whatnot, etc.

    You can degrade it as a bunch of applesauce, but morals are clearly pointed out in most faiths as being done because it is the right thing to do and because these standards are eternal. Not for fear or threat. Now, if I explained to a child the negative side of things and warned of not playing on train tracks, am I being an ill-tempered parent for the warning or wait until a gory mess to point out the issue?

    I could go on about Wilders and Steyn’s spirited defense of whatever is left of the West, which is not much right about now, and why the problem is no so much lack of multi-culti but the fact that what we do have, regardless of whether you think it brings forth a truly flowering of thought and diversity, is actually one of the many factors leading to our faithlessness in our own culture.

    My initial hesitation in all of this is not my own doubts, btw, but rather that this site is a sick joke along Swiftian lines, and I should just let things slide.

    But still.

    We’ll see in a few years from the demographics of all this, as Doc alluded to, whether I get egg on the face or not.

  5. La Raza is not a nationalist movement-it is a racialist movement.

  6. PS–

    And as far as cartoonishness. No one does it better than Richard Dawkins. He’s the one holding the crayons.

    BeastRabban has a great site completely annihilating Dawkins on his primitivistic understanding of theology. I’ve commented on this also under the labels of BeastRabban and Richard Dawkins. He’s not quite up to par, and his cartoonishness is sorta getting on people’s nerves. Sam Harris comes in a close second.

  7. And I ‘don’t want to meet’ (actually I do, all the time) anyone who actually has no sensible reason at all for their morality (like meaningless blather about their ’empathy translates to respect and love’; why bother with empathy in the first place? It’s awfully inconvenient at times. No particular survival value to it. Even in a culture that values it, all you have to do is simulate empathy, which is fairly easy to do.). Providentially the law is written on the heart, and even the self-professed atheist doesn’t behave as badly as his ideology calls for. Even so, what are you going to do about your guilt?

    Also, part of the reason why radical Islam is spreading into the ‘West’ IS the spread of political correctness, so fighting that is part and parcel of the fight against radical Islam.

  8. Edward, you wrote a very good article, but why refer to Mark Steyn as ‘utterly repulsive’ when most of it could have been lifted from one of his pieces?
    As for wanting Islam, let alone militant Islam, to take political correctness on board, aren’t we being pixies in the garden here? Yes it would be nice, but current trends are not exactly moving in that direction, are they? Our own PC might not be so ridiculous if it were matched by theirs. But it ain’t.
    To say PC has earned its position in the marketplace of ideas is absurd. PC has come about because the left have been busy these last few decades marching through the institutions and are thus in a position to impose it on the rest of us. At Uni I saw how rightoids tended towards more technical and career-oriented subjects, while the leftists were concentrated at the abstract (read soggy) end of the academic spectrum. Unfortunately, however intellectually suspect the academic meringue favoured by the left, it is more likely to lead to a life in front of the microphone or in the public service. So by default they end up with more influence than, say, right-wing engineers.
    As Canadian Human Rights Commissions, screaming students, lawfare litigants and others have demonstrated, PC defends itself not by winning any arguments (or even trying to), but by attempting to silence its opponents. It is a purely artificial construct.

  9. Dear Edless Millstone:

    Dear Edless Millstone:

    Er, beyond your logical fallacy ad Hominems of Steyn and Geert and your semi-cognitive dissonance, you forgot to gee, say where Steyn and Geert are wrong and source with empirical evidence.

    Some of the rest of your post while trying to apparently be er, balanced, is still I’m afraid a rather lazy, silly and corny collection of second hand canards and phony baloney.

    You imagine yourself to be somehow different to the average Marxist product sodden left liberal? How and where exactly?

    Just a few examples are that keffiyehs are NOT “cute” and have not “lost their meaning”, either to the treasonous Marxist brats and freaks that invariably wear them, or especially to full-time Muslim terrorists.

    PCism is ALL “dark side”. Like critical theory, black liberation theology and environmentalism etc, they are Marxist creations.

    It’s NOT “poor judgement” to print cartoons based on harsh reality in the FREE Western press. The ONLY reason left dhimmies complain is due ENTIRELY to the fact that Muslims become violent.

    Dawkins is NOT lovable but a narcissistic nihilistic egotist atheist.

    Its nonsense comparing democracy to theocratic dictatorship and using the barely democratic Islamic dominated Turkey is junk.

    And you wish for more Muslim immigration so they can allegedly “assimilate”. Nonsense. Study Islam the 7th century nihilist and fascist totalitarian political project founded by Mohammad the paedophile rapist pervert mass murdering Jew hating psychopath. Islam assimilates nowhere and Muslims create conflict at ENTIRELY predictable percentages. Worldwide 10% is the point of no return toward Islamisation via intimidation, violence and murder.

    But I think the most sickening one is your freakish touting of a new gentler Hamass. Give me an ‘effing break.

    There is only the evidence that for any left liberal non-idea to be discredited, one just has to wait long enough.

    Go to these sites and read these books by successful published best selling journos authors and analysts who have not been discredited on an actual single point nor the bulk of their Himalaya of fact re ISLAM and the Left et al.

    Zombietimecom drsanityblogspotcom thepeoplescubecom

    Any P.J O’Rourke.

    Left Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg

    The Death of The Grown Up by Diana West.

    Radical Son by David Horowitz.

    Robert Spencer on Islam and Mohammad. Stealth Jihad by Robert Spencer

    marksteyncom dissectleftblogspotcom eco-imperialism com

    colonelrobertnevilleblogspotcom hfontovacomjihadwatchorg
    brusselsjournalcom melaniephillipscom faithfreedomorg memritvorg

    While Europe Slept by Bruce Bawer com

    atlasshrugscom thereligionofpeacecom theprophetofdoomnet

    Brigitte Gabriel author of Why They Hate.

    americancongressfortruthcom shoebatcom islammonitororg stophonourkillingscom therealcuba com che-mart com

    Smile. Colonel Neville.

  10. Very refreshing to encounter a fairly non-doctrinaire leftist, willing to venture into some independent thinking.
    Unfortunately, you nevertheless cannot escape the limitations of your faith in seeing the world as you would like it to be, as opposed the way it actually is.
    But still, as I said, very refreshing. Thanks for the read.

  11. Wakefield,

    Thank you for actually responding to my argument, unlike Doc and some others. I tend to agree that multi-culturalism is pretty dumb, and can cause people to lose faith in our culture.

    However, teenagers and young adults have always been anomic, so that is not attributable to multi-culturalism.

    I don’t think things are as gloomy as conservatives make it out to be. If you look around you will find that most people do have a sense of loyalty to our nation and hold very strong values.

    Bush created a pretty polarized political environment, so it was harder to see that with all the shouting. Now that our government has higher opinion polls, I think the favorable impressions of our nation are easier to find.

  12. Sholto,

    When I mentioned Mark Steyn, I linked to this article written by Johann Hari,

    http://blogs.independent.co.uk/openhouse/2008/06/standing-should.html

    Hari defended Steyn in court, despite his differences of opinion, and I salute him for this. He also explains why Steyn is repulsive much more eloquently than I can in his reviews of Steyn’s writing.

    I don’t think it is that naive to think that people in muslim nations would be any less subject to the interdependence caused by trade. We have been seeing this to some extent. The most interlinked economies, like Saudi Arabia, are the most hesitant to offend other nations, even if they aren’t democracies.

    The ones that are democracies not only have the interdependence, but must also be responsive to the public which can be quite secularized.

    You may be correct that there are more dynamics at work here in the spread of multi-culturalism, but I see no reason why those dynamics wouldn’t also be true in muslim countries.

  13. Edward,
    So, trade has been a Trojan horse for multi-cultural tolerance in Saudi Arabia? I must have missed something there.
    As for Steyn, it may well be that he propounds a worst case scenario, one that hopefully does not come to pass. It may well be that we will look back on his writings as scaremongering. But note that Churchill had the same accusations thrown at him during his ‘Wilderness Years’ trying to get people to take Nazism seriously. Who was right then?

  14. Sholto,

    Any of the more interlinked middle eastern countries… Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Kuwait, etc… cannot afford to piss off their trading partners. Thus, whatever their private views, they generally try to appear non-offensive in public… that is exactly what Political Correctness is.

    As for comparisons to nazism, that is very much comparing apples to oranges.

    I accept the argument that so-called moderate muslims are not really moderate at all in their beliefs, but they can believe whatever they like so long as no violence is involved.

    The fact is that there are over a billion muslims on the planet, and most of them co-exist peacefully on this planet. Trying to find ways to continue to co-exist peacefully seems far more productive than fear mongering.

    Indeed, considering all the wars and saber rattling, the United States and Israel are seen as the more dangerous force in many quarters. As for the professional fearmongers like Horowitz, I wonder how they think the West can win friends and influence people while constantly waging war. The only way to achieve peace that way is via total war, and at that point we would have become monsters.

  15. “Bush created a pretty polarized political environment, so it was harder to see that with all the shouting. Now that our government has higher opinion polls, I think the favorable impressions of our nation are easier to find.”

    George Bush did not “create” the polarized environment. His political enemies did.

  16. Edward, thanks for the response.

    I can’t get around to everything you said and the other points from your several guests here. But…

    Fearmongers like Horowitz?

    Israel–and to a lesser but now increasing degree, the whole West, of which Israel represents a tiny segment–has been under attack by Islamicism for decades. Is it fear mongering or (what was the phrase Hari and some others have used), or “alarmism” to declare that the alarm bells are chiming for a damned good set of reasons?

    While it might be true that most Muslims live in a relative state of peace, or rather subjugation(the better and more accurate term, to be honest), means that they can play this “bad cop”, “good cop” role to full effect. How many does it take? Polls taken after 911, the London Tube bombings, and the Madrid bombings indicate that most of those Muslims interviewed, while not openly advocating violence, either had this rather odd rejection of just WHO was responsible OR in some cases supported the action in generalized terms but not personal terms.

    Distinction without a difference.

    These attitudes about Jihad–even from remote empathy from allegedly peaceful onlookers, indicates a “cocooning” effect, like the layers of the onion, that shields the Jihadists from larger spheres of critique by the very people they putatively serve.

    Why is there no hue and teeth gnashing and outcry about the gory snuff films and other decapitation festival murders that THOUSANDS of London-based Muslims have testified enjoying on their cell phones? The wonders of modern technology only? Why no commentary about how ugly this really is? We don’t here much of that. We see erstwhile leader Tony Blair and his wife making chummy with people who turn out in turn to have funded jihadist ambitions in several places. We see the inactment of de jure and de facto sharia law in Britain and now some parts of Canada, and ever increasing demands.

    Where jihad fails, the law can step in to give Muslims what they want from more secularized societies nontheless. So while not all support Jihad, their methodology is not the same but the damnable goals are. Again–distinction with little real difference except that the victims are the courts and our cultural heriitage rather than gore and blood spurting on the Net offered by Net ghouls.

    But so what. The cultural effect is much the same.

    A culture, like ours, that has no faith in its own values or its own heritage (all go ahead and say it, Christianity was the cornerstone of Western law even before the Reformation in Europe), will eventually disintigrate. Young men and women will flock to culturally confident faiths. A faith like secularism, with all its pieties about getting along and kum-ba-ya and “we are the world” is one that has no faith in itself.

    Such a faith has no market. Islam does.

    We DO have to wonder on the embedded snuggling of the Muslim community and the complacency with all this.

    How did the radicalized version of Islam–the headnipping and female mutilation and Burka brand–go worldwide in 30 years flat? My conversations with people from remote enclaves of the planet indicate that from Iran to Malaysia to even parts of the middle east like Egypt, only in recent times has jihadism forced customs like the burka and other ritualistic condemning of females. This was not always the case. The West’s indolence and slumber and concentration of political efforts into sumptious handouts and goodies for her native populations and unaffordable entitlement mentalities (now coming stateside with Bambi’s administration) is part of the problem.

    The other is of course Islam itself. Islam has seen what happened in Christianity’s “reformation”—the good stuff, yeah, but on the side it also means the banishment, de facto if not de jure, of faith to the margins of society. For Christians, that is. Other faiths move in. Mice now get meaner and stronger where the Lion Aslan used to mightily tread.

    So whatever efforts the so-called “moderate” Muslims standing on the sidelines with neither cheering nor condemnation for the stronger strain of headnipping are up to, certainly they are not the ones to reform Islam. They know where that leads.

    Like Mark Steyn also said, since you mentioned in the gracious manner liberals do when proffering that we right wingers have speech rights also ( how nice to acknowledge this, even so belatedly and begrudingly), there is the Gun Analogy.

    You know the phrase, even if you might disagree.

    “when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns”?

    Well, likewise, when religion is marginalized, only the Marginalized will have religion. For Christianity, she has for the most part made her peace with modern society. For better or for ill, depending on whether you’re a right winger conservative living in the deep south of USA or you’re a Unitariantouchy feeler who thinks abortion for teen girls needing to fit into their prom dresses is just fine and dandy. Whatever.

    But Islam HAS already HAD her reform, so far as CAIR and other organizations give a hoot about such matters.

    Radicalism is it.

    Alarm bells indeed. The trade and economic and partnership issues you mentioned are valid holdoffs on radicalism.

    True.

    But no foreever. These are based on the political arrangements that are already being altered as we speak in many places of concern. This is why I have doubts about many tactics, including military, for solving this, though I realizee as a conservative along with others the military option is the one we went to first and is the most pleasing to end the world of the Mullahs. But this cannot be the complete story. As Afghanistan shows, for example. It is getting thorny. It is the reverse of what my liberal detractors think. They thought (or claim) from the beginning that Afghanistan was the “good” and noble fight due to the fact that the Taliban was shielded by those Mullahs over there, whereas Iraq was merely a Bushian/Rovian warmonger distraction. But it turns out Hussein, while not responsible for 911 of course (and this was never claimed) did have dealinngs with a variety of stripes of terror networks even if not al Quiada. Good enough for yours truly.

    Iraq is moving to a better society regardless of Bush’s alleged “mere” pretexts on the matter, while Afghanistan, the killer of empires, is the war that shows little promise at the moment of getting better.

    Anyhow–that’s my 48 cents worth.

  17. Ah yes Edward,

    “When I mentioned Mark Steyn, I linked to this article written by Johann Hari…”

    The infamous Hari review. In the interest of balance perhaps you should have linked to a Steyn response to said reviewer in the letters section of The Independent:

    Sir: I’ve no idea why Johann Hari (29 January) would wish to spend so much of his brief time with Martin Amis discussing a “Canadian former disc-jockey called Mark Steyn”. It’s a curious interviewing technique: “But enough about what I think of Mark Steyn. What do you think of Mark Steyn?”

    Still, your readers might like to know that, pace Mr Hari, the word “gooks” does not appear in my book, America Alone; the phrase “Indian Territory” comes from Robert D Kaplan, a respected analyst of global affairs and non-disc-jockey; and the only reference to the “yellow peril” is in the context of misplaced hysteria over impending Japanese domination in the Eighties: “You’d be bombarded with commercials warning that the yellow peril was annexing America and pretty soon they’d be speaking Japanese down at the shopping mall. It didn’t happen and it’s never going to happen.”

    “Racism” is the laziest charge, and my advice to Mr Amis would be to respond with a stifled yawn and “Oh, yeah? What else have you got?”, and leave it at that. Likewise, when he’s accused of getting into bed with obscure Canadians.

    Mark Steyn

    Woodsville, New Hampshire, USA

    This lazy use of out-of-context quotes (and sometimes individual WORDS!) from Steyn’s writing is growing into a bit of a cottage industry. One dishonest, lazy writer takes a line out-of-context figuring none of his readers will actually take the time to read America Alone, and then other “writers” base their own “reviews” of Steyn’s work on the first dishonest claim. As here:

    http://www.steynonline.com/content/view/1037/128/

    Warren “Catsmeat” Kinsella is another who has lost all credibility in my view by use of this “technique”. Warren poached a bunch of words from the middle of sentences and said Steyn calls people this word and refers to this race by this epithet etc…to which Steyn happily reprinted (in a series) all the original articles in there entirety for readers to see for themselves what he actually wrote.

    It’s baffling that lefties think this kind of third-party-out-of-state-check quoting of someone is going to work. Although sadly in this world the Boomers have brought us, it does work on a certain percentage of leftards.

    For many of us however, it just adds to the list of people with zero credibility left who we don’t have to waste our time readiing.

  18. […] EmbraceUnity – The Value of Multi-Culturalism […]

  19. But in fairness I should say that I really like the little blue tiles in the background of your post. Well done.

  20. Well, if you consider Hari’s explanations of his feelings towards Steyn eloquent, I cannot argue with that – it’s a matter of personal taste how gracious and moving you find words stringed together in that or another order and fashion.
    Content wise, it looks as just an exercise in name calling, based on out of context quotations and misrepresentations.

    Now, don’t get me wrong, I am very appreciative of Mr. Hari being willing to defend freedom of speech of somebody whose speech he finds deplorable. The sad thing is that such attitude is so exceptional among those on the left that it is considered something to rejoice about and cherish, rather than to expect as a matter of course, in relatively educated people who grew up in a democratic society.

    P.S.

    Your notion and expectations of what countries of the Middle East would or wouldn’t dare to do seem to be based on the typical leftist perception of countries, nations, even entire races, as some kind of monolithic entities guided in their behaviour by a more or less rational forethought. That’s far from being the case even in democracies.

    As for your arguing in favour of co-existing peacefully with Muslims, that’s exactly Mark Steyn’s point. And in his view, it includes an uncompromising stand in defence of democratic principles and active support of the silent majority of peace loving ordinary Muslims who are the first to be terrorized by a tiny, but well funded and organized, fraction of suicidal fanatics bent on world domination.

  21. Wakefield,

    You bring up some good points. Could you reference the claim that “thousands of London-based Muslims have testified enjoying [beheadings] on their cell phones?” If true, that would indeed be worrying.

    As far as secularism and Embrace Unity-ism goes, I think that to some extent you are correct. There is a facebook group called Retired Atheist Warriors, and I am a member.

    The reason that I have mostly given up trying to promote atheism is that people are irrational, and as long as this is the case, they will always cling to irrational things. If they lose faith in one belief, they will likely pick up another.

    “Embrace Unity” is my way of voicing objection to the whole lot of them which try to divide humanity… religious exclusivism, nationalism, racism, etc. Yet, I think it is futile for systemic reasons.

    Thus, I have placed most of my hope with technology. I tend to find one of the most effective ways of solving a problem is when technology makes the problem irrelevant or obsolete. There are a number of ways I can see this occurring in this case as we merge our bodies more fully with computers.

    That is why I am a transhumanist. Of course technologies tend to create new unforeseen problems as well, which is why I also consider myself a techno-progressive.

  22. Edward,
    I didn’t liken Nazism to political correctness, although in their mutual intolerance of dissenting views they have at least one thing in common. I didn’t even liken it to militant Islam, although here there is a more noticeable unity ticket. I was saying that Steyn, like Churchill, is expounding an uncomfortable message. He may be wrong (hopefully he is), but he has every right to do so. If you really believe there is fire in the theatre, then it is not just your right, but your duty to shout “Fire”.
    Going back (sorry, dear readers) to the link between trade and PC, well the Middle East’s two largest traders with the West are Saudi and Iran. I see no reluctance, especially on the part of the latter, to, er, piss off their trading partners. If anything, oil wealth has allowed them to get away with clinging more cockily to their dysfunctional belief systems. Were they obliged to survive in the ‘real’ world they would be forced to adopt a more realistic Weltanschau. The fact that the smaller Gulf states are more moderate is only due to relatively (and only relatively) more enlightened rulers (and I suspect most guest workers in those places would dispute even that modest concession).
    It is unfair to liken, as Hari does, and as you do above, all those of us who have misgivings about the future of Islam, with Horowitz. Steyn does not advocate war with Islam – he says we should resist more robustly its opportunistic thrusts. Like the police chief in Scotland who withdrew a recruiting poster that contained a picture of a (very cute) puppy, just because some local Muslim “community leader” objected to it. It’s time we learnt to say the word “tough” again.

  23. Sholto and Agnostic,

    I can respect that position, and I think most people would. However, Steyn was certainly presenting an unrealistic scenario. In the US, muslims currently make up 0.6 percent of the population. Even in Europe, where people like Geert Wilders are decrying “islamization,” the numbers are usually well below 10 percent. While I agree we must maintain sensible immigration policies, much of the fear of islamization seems pretty paranoid to me.

    I understand there are systemic factors that are likely to keep fundamentalism as a force to be reckoned with, but there are just as many factors pushing in the opposite direction. While irrational belief will be with us for a long time, there are reasons to believe society will be relatively self-regulating with respect to the most extreme reactionary forces.

    The only problem is that we are in an age of Global Guerrillas in which small groups can wield a lot of power. However, no amount of military force can ever eradicate that threat. We must be reasonable in the amount of energy we expend on this issue.

    As for my beliefs in the rationality of humans and groups, I do think that in groups there is a sort of “wisdom of crowds” effect when decision-making is decentralized, as mentioned today on Science Daily. As for individuals, our predictable irrationality is well documented in literature about cognitive biases, and I hold no illusions about it.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090310155609.htm

  24. Edward,
    I agree that military effort, like the Iraq war, is not always cost effective. While it was gratifying to see Saddam at the end of a rope, and slight signs of normality, was it worth 5,000 US lives, hundreds of thousand Iraqi ones, and a trillion dollars? Of course not.
    As for numbers, yes in total Muslims might represent only 3% of Europe’s population and as such are highly unlikely to take over the place. However it doesn’t feel insignificant if you happen to live in Rotterdam or Bradford. Alongside the geographical concentration of Muslim communities is the age concentration. What percentage is in the 15-24 group? I don’t know, but much more than three! When you also consider that current population trends suggest Yemen will have a bigger population than Russia by 2050 (that is a projection, not a prediction), there is scope for yet more swelling.
    Add to this their relative unity, and they will continue to punch well above their weight. For example, a uniform Muslim vote has ensured the Rotterdam city council remains in very hard left hands (both sides supping with the devil, given their respective beliefs).
    So while they have no chance of Islamising Europe, their assertiveness, our cravenness, and the inherent incompatibility of our respective mindsets mean that they will continue to be a growing source of anxiety.
    As Mad magazine said, if you can keep your head etc etc, well maybe you don’t appreciate the seriousness of the situation!

  25. Sholto,

    I agree we must do everything we can to preserve freedom of speech, separation of church and state, and all the other fundamental components of democracy.

    That said, the threats stemming from Political Correctness have been relatively minor, and for the most part, not here in the US. Abroad, Canada’s Human Rights Commission had no business putting Steyn on trial, but then again, they have also tried imams for inciting hatred of homosexuals. The fact that he wasn’t convicted also should make claims of islamization seem even more ridiculous.

    Since it is apparent some of you guys commenting here are reasonable, I almost find it hard to believe that you are trying so hard to make Steyn seem respectable.

    It is very easy to find quotes of his paranoid delusions.

    “The problem, after all, is not that the sons of Allah are ‘long shots’ but that they’re certainties: every Continental under the age of 40 – okay, make that 60, if not 75 – is all but guaranteed to end his days living in an Islamified Eurabia.”

    Also, since you seem to be skeptical of military actions, how do you make sure your views aren’t simply used as a rallying cry for more unnecessary wars?

  26. OK, that quote that anyone under 40 is guaranteed to live under Islam is way over the top, although I haven’t seen that one.
    The fact that Steyn was not convicted is beside the point. As many of the HRCs’ victims have pointed out, the process is the punishment. For Steyn, backed as he was by Macleans, the pain was bearable (especially as it has provided him with enough ammunition for many an article). Most recipients of HRC

  27. er, sorry, accidentally hit the Submit button (bloody thing shouldn’t be the default button!). Where was I? Ah yes, most recipients of HRC attention are not in a position to take them on, given that their opponents get a free ride with no prospect of having costs awarded against them. The effect can be ruinous.
    Incidentally when did they try an Imam for hatred against gays? The hierarchy of PC poker hands is such that Muslims are the 5-of-a-kind, and whereas Christian/atheist white males are the two of spades. As such the former can spout with impunity, whereas the latter have to be very careful indeed.
    Where did I say anything that would promote military action? Saying “tough” in reply to a ridiculous demand is some way short of war.

  28. Sorry, I misread something about the Canadian “Human Rights” Commission. There was an attempt, but no actual trial, for hate speech on the part of an imam. That commission is an insult to all those who have fought for human rights over the past centuries.

    I do agree that it is offensive that people were brought there in the first place. I understand some hate speech laws when they are intended to thwart those who advocate murder and so forth, but this is not in that category by any means.

    Of course I think that even a brief glance at recent history should show that threats to our civil liberties have come mainly from the Right in recent years.

    I didn’t mean to say that I thought your words promoted military action. I just think it is pretty well understood that a lot of the propaganda generated in support of the war in Iraq revolved around these sorts of things: defense of democracy, fear of islamization, etc.

    I think it would be useful to think about how not to be misconstrued.

    I have frequently interacted with a few people who have been whipped into a frenzy by horowitz, steyn, wilders, etc. They are generally viewed as quacks at best, closet racists at worst.

    There is a professor on my campus who single-mindedly posts articles on this subject on a daily basis on the college’s electronic discussion board. Many have stopped bothering to respond to him a long time ago. I have always tried to respectfully engage with such people, since I haven’t been very impressed with many on the Left either, and hopefully the discourse can be fruitful.

    Considering most have such a low opinion of people concerned with this issue, especially because it is viewed as an implicit support of war, a change in strategy might be worthwhile.

  29. Wow. This article attracted a whole lot of crazy fucking wingnuts, huh?

  30. Unfortunately, rather than serve as a rebuttal to right-wingers, this piece reinforces the conservative thesis as to the mushiness of political correctness.
    Political correctness and multiculturalism as successful memes? Successful for whom exactly? I am not sure where the responsibility to be politically correct most of the time comes from. I’d suggest Satan! Maybe like the many “rights” liberals conjure up, this “responsibility” is to go unchallenged if we are to demonstrate we are “loving.” I think there is absolutely nothing “loving” about punishing those who speak the truth. Sybil Syndrome rears its psychotic head in this essay when we consider the defense of political correctness here coupled with the personal responsibility to be truthful. Hello? The high priests of Political Correctness shout “racist,””sexist,” and my new favorite, “speciest,” when anyone dares to offer a counterpoint. You want “truthful?” Only when liberals are willing to concede many of the programs they have supported have failed miserably will the critics of pc take seriously any assertion that truth is valued.
    You want memes? I’ll give you memes. Children being raised by a mother and father! But in PC-Newspeak we are not to judge that one family structure is better than another because someone conjured up a responsibility to be PC most of the time! Who cares if another generation of children are raised sans father?! The government can be daddy! During the One Minute of Hate, we are to believe it is oppressive capitalism rather than the welfare state that explains the explosion in out of wedlock births. Is confession one of the sacraments in the Church of PC? Wait, it just came to me. Instead of confession, I’ll go to”diversity training” to address my sin of raising a counterpoint.
    Wilders and Steyn are dismissed as “utterly repulsive figures” yet most members of the congregation of the Church of Moral Relativism do not have the decency to point out the flaw in their reasoning, reasoning supported by a mountain of evidence. This is the utter repulsiveness of PC 101. Here’s a serious suggestion: take the time to read Mark Steyn’s America Alone and then critique his thesis. I hereby declare it is your responsibility to do so!
    I have no doubt what irks those on the Left about Horowitz and Frontpagemag.com is the abundance of evidence presented. But evidence supports truth and the same people who worship at the altar of tolerance are conspicuosly intolerant of any truths that fly in the face of leftist dogma.
    If we needed any more evidence as to the superiority of one culture over another, consider the fate of those who would openly criticize religion in any of the Islamic Republics. I suggest criticizing religion constitutes not being sufficiently politically correct! Thank you in advance for being more responsible in the future.

  31. When I said there was a responsibility to be politically correct most of the time, an example I gave was pushy vegans. I totally accept the argument that cruelty to animals is wrong, and that our purchases create demand for cruelty. Whether you agree or not is irrelevant. What is relevant is the fact that many are notoriously pushy, and discourage even those who would be sympathetic. My argument wasn’t about shielding truth, but rather about tone and tactics.

    One can frame a true statement in numerous ways, and some ways are more effective than others. Recognizing how certain ideas become dominant in a systematic sense, and recognizing factors which may steer discourse (trade interdependence), can help one figure out how to be most effective. It is from that perspective that I argue there is much to be said for non-offensiveness.

    The memes are not successful for anyone but themselves. Memes have no volition, they simply reproduce themselves. It is simply a fact that PC and multi-culturalism have reproduced themselves effectively, and it didn’t happen by accident. It happened for systemic reasons.

    I too believe, thanks to years of activism, that our culture is superior than cultures which encourage persecution of minorities, censorship, and so forth. If we want to encourage these values to spread, we must understand the dynamics which cause ideas to spread.

    The fact that PC and multi-culturalism are successful memes should be looked upon with interest, and perhaps it would be good to think about how to encourage repressive countries to adopt such pluralistic perspectives. To me, it seems obvious that social democracy should, by its nature, automatically foster such pluralism… and while it wouldn’t be perfect it would be a step in the right direction.

  32. This is a very interesting article and the comments afterwards are great reads. I’m sorry I’m late (3 years actually) to the discussion. I just keep myself from commenting.

    I’m not pretending to be the smartest guy in this chat, but what I would like to know is what is multiculturalism? I ask the question somewhat rhetorically, however I never saw it defined in the essay. If it means that cultures can coexist in large expanses of land, then I agree.

    If it means that different cultures can coexist in small expanses of land, then the ideology itself is an idiots ideology.. One only has to look at European Americans and the American Indian. The Indians were eventually killed, westernized, or pushed to small tracks of land nowhere near most of their original lands. A sad story for most of the native people.

    What Steyn claims is coming (and I couldn’t agree more) is the Islamification of a continent (Europe). Most Islamist in Europe show now signs of conforming to Western ideals and values. In fact the opposite appears to be happening. The Muslim religion is not just a religion. It is a way of life, a political practice, and a culture unto itself. It has for most of its history been at odds with the west and will continue to be so. And the more the ground the West cedes to the Muslims (like the Indians) The more brazen and emboldened they will become.

    Their religion is not like Christianity. Christians live and act out of love for their God. Muslims live and act out of fear. One religion respects the free will of others to deny God. The other advocates the killing of those who deny God. One is having on average less than 2 children per women (lower than replacement rate), while the other is having upwards of 3, 4, and 5 children per women.

    To think that these 2 cultures can coexist in equal number in Europe is lunacy. So unless you can define multiculturalism as something other the multiple cultures coexisting in the same small space, then I cannot accept the premise that multiculturalism is beneficial in any major way.

  33. Dark,

    Thank you for your comment. I did write this awhile back and thus cannot vouch for everything I said, but I believe my general attitude was correct, however you define multiculturalism. Though, I was defining it in terms of multiple cultures within close proximity.

    Friedrich Hayek, in his essay Why I am not a Conservative, wrote that the conservative “has no political principles which enable him to work with people whose moral values differ from his own for a political order in which both can obey their convictions. It is the recognition of such principles that permits the coexistence of different sets of values that makes it possible to build a peaceful society with a minimum of force.”

    This does not necessitate that we be oblivious towards intolerant ideologies, and I fully sympathize with your fear of the intolerance that lay in the hearts of many fanatics. It is unfortunate, though, that people seem unable to communicate revulsion towards specific cruel beliefs without invoking tribalistic emotions, or an assumption that one holds a particular opposing belief. For clarity sake, I like the term “domesticated memes,” which Daniel Dennett has popularized. By that, he means that ideologies which have had longer contact with a particular culture tend to adapt themselves more harmoniously with that culture. As many people have argued, Islam, being a much more recent religion than Christianity and Judaism, is actually far less repulsive to Western sensibilities if one only looks at the scriptures. And yet, as almost anyone familiar with religion knows, the scriptures often have little bearing on how the religions operate in practice. Islam, having much less contact with the post-Enlightenment West, seems much more barbaric in practice. While I do not deny that, I don’t think the hysterical alarmism is well founded.

    The arguments put forth by Robert Wright regarding the increasing attractiveness of cooperation over violence are quite persuasive. There are a number of reasons to believe that wealth could have positive feedback loops.

    Regarding demographic trends, it should be noted that development has been reducing birthrates around the world, without exception. Combine that with improvements in the free flow of goods and ideas, and the outlook starts to look brighter.

    As Henry George wrote in Protection or Free Trade, “Trade has ever been the extinguisher of war, the eradicator of prejudice, the diffuser of knowledge.”

  34. Thank you for the response. I don’t mean for this to be a banter back and forth, but as I said before, I can’t help myself. I am writing this before reading the articles you suggested, but I wish to make a few quick points. It appears the articles you site are written by “westerners.” Where are the Muslim writings? Are there any written by leading Muslims in agreement with them? Don’t get me wrong, I am one of the staunchest proponents of free markets you’ll find, however I think some people are more bull headed than others.

    As for the Hayek article, I will read that one first, for I am a fan of his. I don’t purport to know what it says, but just from that quote, I have to say I disagree with him. I’ve come to the understanding that if a conservative wants to be thought of legitimately, and consider himself legitimate, then he needs to acquaint himself with the Constitution (I’m speaking of American conservatives). That’s why I’ve come to call myself a Constitutional Conservative. One thing I do know about Hayek however was that he considered himself a liberal in the classical sense. He preferred that term (if I remember correctly) because Adam Smith, John Locke, Montesquieu, and America’s founders, among other like minded people, considered themselves liberals of their time.

    I’ve never heard a leading conservative talk about this, but it seems to me that if you wanted one world government, such could exist under the United States Constitution. If it were properly followed (and there is room for debate on it’s interpretation), where the federal government follows it’s 18 objectives laid out in Article 1 Section 8, and the 10th Amendment was obeyed and defended staunchly, then all nations would function as states. If a state wants to recognize homosexual marriage and another doesn’t, I see no problem with that. Maybe I’m wrong, but I could see the same working for Sharia law, so long as the people realize that constitutional law trumps it. I think that to assume that conservatives (at least modern day American conservatives) have “no political principles which enable him to work with people whose moral values differ from his own” is an act of ignorance and arrogance. But then again, I’m commenting on one quote from something I haven’t read yet, displaying some ignorance.

    I’m not going to try to convince you otherwise anymore on multiculturalism. I see you firmly believe that free markets are the solution. I hope and pray you are right. I unfortunately don’t share your optimism and I believe that if nothing is done, then our cousins across the pond will soon be a minority.

  35. I am always happy to engage in serious discussion, and I do look forward to your thoughts on those links.

    You are correct that I did not cite any muslim writers, but the stats put forth in the Hans Rosling video I linked to showed that there are worldwide demographic trends concomitant with levels of development. When you combine this with the reasonable assumption that humans are self-interested actors, it should make sense that increasing wealth would cause people on average to seek alternatives to violence. Wealth enables greater education, which enables greater decisionmaking abilities. It allows better nutrition, which enables us to benefit from the Flynn Effect. (Even such things as reduced exposure to lead seem to reduce violence). Also, people with wealth simply have more to lose.

    This isn’t to say the world is all rainbows and lollipops. There are dangers, but the dangers are not always so obvious. One crucial issue is how the West will react to changes (Breivik’s being among the most awful possible reactions). Also, while what I said about education is true in the aggregate, there are specific instances where that is not the case. Specifically, it seems to be the case that the majority of terrorists were actually educated in Western-style schools, rather than madrassas. It is speculated that there may be something dangerous about teaching Enlightenment values to committed believers of non-domesticated memes, especially people pre-disposed to black-and-white thinking, such as engineers.

    I remember the slogan of the website infidels.org is “a drop of reason in a pool of confusion.” Well, that may seem like a good idea, and while I certainly want to see rationality promoted widely, it must still be done prudently. Pointing out an inconsistency in the belief system of a dogmatist by no means ensures they will become more reasonable. It could very well be the case that it is only because of inconsistencies that a particular believer is not currently stoning infidels. That is why I have previously heard of reason described as a “memetic immune disorder.”

    That said, there are many reasons to believe that society operates primarily in a NonZero fashion, rather than the zero-sum world that gloomy Malthusians believe. While some like to focus on the gloomy issues, and at best wish to seek relatively sensible policies (like banning face coverings in public, like in France) and at worst seek deportation of immigrants, my personal preference is to focus on issues where all people of principle will share common ground, or innovative solutions that cut through the narrow range of choices we are presented (hence the subtitle of this blog).

    Examples of such ideas that I like would be to offer Iran aid in green energy in exchange for abandoning all nuclear projects, eliminating lead pollution, promoting development, or building FabLabs in Afghanistan (something which is in urgent need of financial support right now).

Leave a Reply