I believe that the world might be spared a good deal of trouble if cultural pluralism could be applied to groups of equal power within the same national-level culture. If one looks at, for example, the conflict between the Left and the Right on gay marriage, one sees that on the one hand, the Right often sees gay marriage as an imposition forced upon them by the Left, and the Left can usually offer no response beyond the invocation of individual rights (along with a usually correct accusation of bigotry). It should also be clear that if the Left and the Right of America were segmented from each other, the Left would have already succeeded in having gay marriage. Yet few on the mainstream of either party, and non-one on the fringe of the Left, seems to consider that accepting pluralism of sub-society might ease both their own problems and those of their opponents.
How Foreign the Native?
Modern society is divided by many borders. Learned men and women most often discuss those such as social class, race, gendersystem, religion, language, and prior nationality. These are indeed important, and it is along these lines that some of the most recondite bigotry and brazen hatred have been wreaked by the more fortunate upon the less so. I have listened to the tales of horror of the woman, the queer, the Muslim, and the African when I returned to this earth in conquest. Many of them wept to tell them. I would have wept to listen, had I not a mighty army at my back with which to right the wrongs.
And yet these are not the only borderlines. The privileged classes have their own segmentation of society, segmentations often scarcely noticed. Along these lines, hostility oft flows in only one direction. And unfortunately, among those who control politics and those who control culture, there is neither awareness of the boundaries nor acceptance of them. From time to time, one sees an attitude of conquest and presumed cultural superiority — not the claim of a utilitarian that she can do better, but the disdain of the entitled — that in former times would have seemed more appropriate to the British lord of India than an American scholar rebuking another American.
FEMEN Among The Infidels
If there is one truly universal flaw in the human mind, it is surely the failure to see how different another culture may be. Men and women seem to jump from a point of essential similarity to seeing each other as utter aliens, from a point of sameness and clarity to a point where there will never be sameness or clarity. These errors can be the doom of empires and the bane of charities, and bring with them a certain attending level of insult and microagression. Neither myopic universalism nor alienating “othering” should survive before the eyes of Europe.
As an example, consider the young women of FEMEN. These are proper young lades of Europe (though not the Europe that I know), who were confused by the way that so many Muslim women do not chafe at the requirement of the veil, and why even those who do refuse to throw it off. They lacked the wisdom to notice when they were confused, so instead they themselves attacked Islam with condescension — and their own bare bodies. There was never any understanding in them; if they gave any heed to the criticisms of the cultural relativist they saw it only as an attempt to play one liberation against another. They assumed that because they themselves were no part of any Western army, nobody would care about the slight of the terrible West.
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