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Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Theodore Dalrymple wrote a good piece this week on the cultural and intellectual ravages of multiculturalism in the Western world.
One of the paradoxical effects of multiculturalism as a doctrine and tenet of political correctness is how completely uninterested it renders the population in the effect its behaviour has on people of other lands when it goes abroad. And there is a good logical reason why this should be so.

I have been reading recently about the case of Scarlett Keeling, the 15 year old girl recently raped and murdered in Goa. As reported in the newspapers, her mother saw fit to leave her there while she went off elsewhere in India; and the girl herself was last seen at 4.00 am on the day of her death in a drunken state as she left a beach bar.
Nothing, of course, can possibly excuse the crime itself; and any mother who loses a child in such a way is worthy of sympathy. No error of judgement, however serious, deserves to be punished in this fashion. Nevertheless, what the mother said in response to a senior Goanese policeman's remarks, to the effect that foreign women ought to be more careful in Goa, strikes me as the very acme of immaturity, unpleasantly leavened with arrogance.

She said,
If they are saying it's dangerous for British people, then it's the government's responsibility to warn people. There should be signs up, but there aren't. Instead, it's advertised as a hippy paradise, so you don't feel it's dangerous when you walk around.
Even allowing for the guilt that the mother must be feeling, this is a remarkable statement.

What she appears to be implying is that British visitors are so important that foreign governments have the duty to protect them at all times of the day and night from the consequences of their own behaviour, however unattractive, degraded and irresponsible it might be; and that, in the absence of official warning notices, parents should assume that it is safe and proper to leave their adolescent daughters drinking into the early hours of the morning in unknown company over which they have absolutely no control. The argument seems to go, what is now almost the norm in Britain in the line of crude, vulgar and slatternly disinhibition ought to be accepted everywhere else as the norm as well.
This belief has two intellectual presuppositions behind it. The first is the consumerist notion that the customer is always right, in fact can do no wrong, and that the possession of purchasing power confers upon him unlimited rights while imposing equally unlimited liabilities upon those who cater to his purchasing power. If a town, for example, relies economically upon tourism, then its inhabitants have simply to accept however the tourists choose to behave. He who takes a customer's money becomes, in effect, the customer's slave; and he must accordingly swallow his pride and his disgust.

I do not think I have to spell out to civilised people what is wrong with this attitude. However much we may value a strong commerce, we do not believe in buying people, body, mind and soul; and was it not Montesquieu who said that wherever there is a commercial people, there is a polite people? I cannot help but see in this mass boorishness a harbinger of economic as well as of cultural disaster.

The second intellectual presupposition behind this arrogant and one might even say militant coarseness is multiculturalism. There is an unfortunate and frequently unnoticed corollary of the multiculturalist dogma that all cultures are equal in worth and value, in all respects: namely, that our own pattern of behaviour, whatever it may be, is also above criticism. Therefore there is no reason for us even to try to see ourselves as others see us; the duty of others is to accept us as we are, just as we, supposedly, have accepted them as they are.

And since we have become convinced that permissiveness is the highest stage of Man, and that the enjoyment of crudely sensuous pleasure is the highest and indeed only possible worthwhile goal in life, then it follows that no one has the right to criticise our behaviour when we go in search of that goal.
Now it so happens that people who behave in this disgusting fashion usually have a sixth sense as to where it will and where it will not be tolerated; that is to say, they are both bullies and cowards. This is another very unpleasant aspect of the character that multiculturalist ideas have helped to develop.

I hesitate to put myself forward as a paragon, because as a youth I was very far from it; but when at the age of 16 I hitchhiked with a French friend round Britain, Ireland, Switzerland and France (I thought it unduly cautious of my parents that they allowed me to go no further) I was already aware of the need, not merely practical but ethical, to make myself unobjectionable to the people among whom I moved, which required that I observe them closely.

When, for example, I stayed in a monastery in France, I realised, notwithstanding the callow youth that I was, and that I was in an environment with which I was completely unfamiliar, that this was not the moment to rehearse my village-atheist arguments against the existence of God, arguments that I believed to be absolutely irrefutably valid; and I was duly rewarded for my restraint, because, all unexpectedly, I conceived a profound admiration for the monks, and developed a sympathy for them (and nuns) that has never left me since. Indeed, I rather regret that I did not have the religious faith that would have enabled me to withdraw from the world as they had - but that, of course, is another matter.

It was not any multiculturalist doctrine that enabled me to develop a sympathetic admiration for the monks. It was rather an awareness of the ethical requirement to behave differently in different surroundings that allowed me to do so, an awareness that British tourists who think that Goa (and other places) should simply put up with their coarseness have obviously never developed: for multiculturalism assures them to behave coarsely is as good as good as behaving in any other way, and that no one has the right to object to it.


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Darius' book montage

The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel The Main Thing
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
Overcoming Sin and Temptation
According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible
Disciplines of a Godly Man
Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem
When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Ourselves
The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
Respectable Sins
The Kite Runner
Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak
Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak
A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, ... anabaptist/anglican, metho
Show Them No Mercy
The Lord of the Rings
Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass
The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception
Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming
The Chronicles of Narnia
Les Misérables

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