White supremacism! Eurocentrism! Murticulturalism! Western Values! …
Endorse, deplore, assert, denounce, support any of these, vociferously, emotionally? Want to promote freedom and equality without stumbling over these dilemmas? Read on.
Richard Spencer is an ‘Identitarian’, in his own terms – though not all ‘Identitarians’ are quite like Richard Spencer. He’s a white separatist; white nationalist; whatever he wants to call it; but, it’s about being white. He values ‘White European’ values.
His ideas are based on a fallacy, because what we really value, what Spencer pretends to value, is not whiteness, or anything associated with the rather poor attribution of being white. His is really an ancient tribalism, something that we acknowledge the human race went through naturally, but not something that’s worth hanging on to.
The origins of the ‘Identitarian movement‘ suggest something more specific than just being white, but rather the desire, one which many ethnic groups aspire to, to have an ethnicity and culture remain intact. Other ethnicities cling to their ‘ethnic identity’ without receiving any push back. White Identitarians (and Jews) do seem to take a lot of flack for expressing what other ethnicities do.
I’m not a ‘white Identitarian’. As you’ll see when I get to the thought experiment later. I can understand some of the concerns – they are mostly related to opposition to the political ideology of Islam. Now, that I do oppose.
The problem I have with the ‘White Identitarian’ movement is the specificity of the ‘white’ aspect. I know, it arose arose in opposition to the perceived non-white Islamification of France. However, it erroneously conflates a difference that matters, culture, with one that does not, ethnicity. I doubt very much the ‘White Identitarian’ movement would be much of a thing (outside Richard Spencer’s tiny mind) had it not been for Merkel’s open door policy. But, let’s put that aside, and focus on the fallacy of the ‘whiteness’.
When Spencer uses the qualifier ‘White European’, when referring to culture, he’s doing so to pretend to loftier things, but he’s really about nothing more than base tribalism.
What’s worth valuing is something else other than racist ‘whiteness’; or even anything specifically ‘European’, despite Europe being historically the most localised origin of what we do value … and here I presume ‘we’ value freedom and equality, though I recongnise some do not.
The common ‘European’ culture we now enjoy evolved from the disparate cultures of Europe’s past, and inspirations from around the world. Historically, in the less mobile and less communicative past, the greatest effects on a region would result from nearby cultures coming together, with influences from further afield arriving piecemeal, mostly through trade, sometimes through being conquered, or being the beneficiaries of conquests abroad. All these have influenced ‘European culture’.
Ancient Roman culture is identifiable mostly by the artifacts it left behind, but because Roman corpses are rare, we have little direct evidence of the ethnicity of ‘Romans’. But we do know it varied, as it must have. A small state does not conquer part of the world and remain in ethnic isolation – there simply aren’t enough of them to do the job. Besides, plenty of people are not racist, are not put off by difference – indeed many may be intrigued by difference. Cultures mix, and people mix, and ethnicities become less isolated, and more mixed. It’s a wonderful thing – so much so that even an ardent racist can change his spots when his child marries outside their ethnicity and they have ‘mixed race’ grandchildren. Tribal barriers can be broken down.
One positive of the Islamic empire was that it was not racist. Okay, cynics might say that’s just a means to an end. But, credit where it’s due, it wasn’t ethnically isolationist. Even though some of it’s current followers are clearly racist. The brutal treatment of fellow visiting work force Muslims by Arab Muslims in Saudi is just one example.
As the later Europe’s turn to dominate the world came along in the second half of the previous millennium, aided by its nascent science and technology, it forcefully acquired, as all empires have, the benefits of the cultures it invaded and consumed; and a little reluctantly acknowledged these days, imparted new ideas on the conquered.
So here we are now: ‘Western’ secular liberal democracy; advanced science and technology; a history of philosophical development in reason and logic; a humanism developed out of, but also often in conflict with, the dominant religion of the religion, Christianity. Yes, even as an atheist and opponent of Christianity, there are facts you cannot deny.
‘Western’ in this context is used because the most recent source of this culture, the focal point of the trade and ideas routes, is European, and later, North American. And ‘western’ has been used to contrast that expanding culture to others around the globe – emphasised in particular for being distinct from recent cold war Communist ‘enemies’, the USSR and China, the ‘Eastern’, ‘Communist’ empires.
But the ‘European’ rather than ‘Western’ qualifier is used by white separatists like Richard Spencer, in places like the USA, to focus on the ‘white’ European origins of the dominant ‘Christian’ culture in the USA. Note that this ‘European’ distinction is necessary for them, because the USA is built on the efforts of a wider range of migrants, and the African American heritage that is a result of slavery. The actuality of the diversity of USA is far too inconvenient for white separatists. Focusing on ‘European’ allows them to justify the ‘white’ by association. Avoiding too much emphasis on the ‘Christian’ nature of this culture is necessary, so that they can shun the large non-white Christian members of the population. And, they want to include the not so religious ‘white’ population (Richard Spencer says he’s not religious). Unlike Europe’s Identitarians, Richard Spencer can’t afford to dwell on the ‘Christian’ identity.
However, this ‘Western’ or ‘European’ culture has nothing to do with colour or ethnicity other than the coincidence of its most recent and effective convergence. And the ideas that are fundamental to western liberal democracies are available to all peoples everywhere, if they want them. And, people of many ethnicities, living under under oppressive cultures, envy the freedom of people in ‘the west’. And recently many of them have been lamenting the way in which many in the west appear willing to throw it away. This ‘western’ culture is often valued more by those that don’t have it than those that do.
Proud to be British, European, Western?
Should we, the ‘white’ people that inherited this ‘European’ culture, be proud of it?
In a general sense, yes, of course – but no more so than ‘non-whites’ that value it too.
We are in it by the luck of birth. None of us choose our place and culture of birth, or the colour of our skin. This pride is one of luck, succession and continuation, not creation.
No person alive today can take credit for this ‘Western’ culture, other than the extent to which they help sustain it.
But, there is nothing about colour or ethnicity prevents you enjoying this ‘Western’ style society once in it, whatever your ethnic or national origins. And nothing is stopping you being proud of it. And nothing is stopping its export, or it’s appropriation.
In Britain, for example, even though Christianity dominates (though declining), there are many practicing Sikhs, Hindus, Jews and Muslims, of religious cultures traditionally from outside Europe (irony of the Jewish origins of Christianity noted), that are very proud to be part of Britain. They ARE members of a western liberal secular democracy – it’s theirs as much as anybody’s, and they too are entitled to have pride in the culture they embrace, and any others they identify with.
Surely the meaning of ‘pride’ in something you have not created yourself comes out of your embracing of it, your valuing of it, your effort to sustain and improve it. In this sense, pride in ‘western’ culture is available to anyone.
That doesn’t mean you paper over the cracks of imperfection. I’d guess Amandeep is aware of the horrors of ‘Western culture’ (as imparted on the world by the British and other European empires), as much as as he is of any benefits he thinks it spread around the world (I haven’t asked him).
And here’s Sunny Hunal, in a recent Tweet:
I’ve followed Sunny for some time. This is a great piece by Sunny that celebrates being English: I don’t know if football is coming home but our World Cup team has made this Asian man’s home feel more welcoming. My only gripe is that he too is prone to a bit of race baiting, and over generalising by presuming critics of Islam are racist ‘Islamophobes’ (fake term) when they are not.
Speaking of which, @5PillarsUK never misses an opportunity to race bait, claim Islamophobia, and in this case deny some of these footballers any opportunity to be proud of their French identity before using them. More importantly to 5Pillars’ @RmSalih put this up to peddle Islam, as it followed his tirade of anti-England race baiting tweets during the world cup. Do you suspect Roshan is an anti-English, anti-West, Islamist (politically motivated Islam)?
You can also see that many ‘native’ white people are not proud of ‘Western culture’, do not embrace it, are ashamed of it, are not really appreciating the benefits of it. They start from the good intent of pointing out the imperfections. But this, for some, turns into an irrational self-loathing. While we must avoid the presupposition of inherent supremacy, it seems like throwing the baby out with the bathwater to denigrate it in the way many pseudo-liberals do.
Ironically the naysayers of western liberal secular democracy seem to be equally foolish when it comes to multiculturalism.
Multiculturalism is potentially a good thing, as long as we retain the best of cultures and not land ourselves with their worst, simply to appease the cries of victimhood of the loud and assertive pseudo-victims.
When we say, “Multiculturalism has failed,” with regards to Islam, for example, that’s not to say the principle of multiculturalism has failed, but that we have failed to uphold the best of liberal democratic secularism and freedom of speech, and have bowed to a 1400 year old monocultural monotheism’s demand for a respect for aspects of it that do not deserve respect but censure.
Multiculturalism is not only not a bad thing, it’s a virtual given, in human social development. We cannot avoid it. It has been near ever present, with only historical moments and places of isolation that have allowed near monocultures to develop over a few generations, so that their multicultural history has been lost, while local developments in the monoculture come to dominate. Many Iranians feel deeply that their Persian history has been suppressed and that Islam has been forced upon them.
For example, the ‘Muslim’ culture of Pakistani Brits often seems to them like their root culture, while that of the British Empire is that of the oppressor. They forget their ‘Muslim’ culture wasn’t theirs in the first place, but was also forced upon them (multiple times – for example, with Safavid Shia Islam as well as Sunni Islam). You don’t see many Pakistani British Muslims lamenting those conquests (though it has been known for some Pakistanis to reject the ‘Arab’ religion).
If there’s something we need to do in ‘the west’ it’s to get the progressive project back on track, to be proud of our freedoms and rights, and to ensure they are not endangered by foolish tolerance of intolerant cultural imports. To do otherwise will continue to highlight and confirm the fears for the ‘white European’ nature of our culture, rather than sustain the best of our liberal secular democratic freedoms and rights.
Given that these ‘Western’ ideas have been spreading around the world, with local cultural adaptations, perhaps we can help by putting this ‘White European’ label to bed – particularly the ‘white’ bit – since that seems to be the real bugbear of those that demonise ‘Eurocentrism’.
A Thought Experiment
Imagine a world where we are most attracted to people of other ethnicities than our own. It happens, for some. But, imagine it was so common that most people procreated with partners of other ethnicities out of preference.
The result? Eventually there will be no ‘white’ people!
“Yeah!”, shout the guilt ridden whites and the anti-white non-whites; “Nooo!”, shout the fearful whites.
I know this is terrifying for those that fear for the end of ‘White European’ culture. This is the white nightmare.
Their problem is they stop thinking at that point. But, here are some more consequences.
- There will be no ‘white’ (European) people, but also no ‘black’ (African) people, no Chinese, Korean, Mexican, Native American, … Ethnically we will be thoroughly mixed. Though a ‘pure’ white race has gone, it has not been conquered by some other, as there is no other ‘pure’ conqueror race. There is no ethnic genocide.
- And here’s the nail in the coffin for the cowardly white separatist hiding behind ‘European’ or ‘Western’ culture they pretend to value so much: all of these non-white non-black non-whatever people can treasure and sustain the secular liberal democracy, and the philosophy and the science, that has helped the world progress and is available to the world to appropriate to their own benefit.
The big mistake the white separatists make is to presume that their whiteness is a significant part of the intellectual cultural inheritance they celebrate.
And, the irony is that some of the white separatists, especially the white supremacists, are the dumbest people – hardly prime examples of the white supremacy they profess to support. But it’s their ignorance that’s the problem. They need help, not demonisation.
And the same applies in the UK to the religious-ethnic isolationism that produces not only clearly identifiable ‘communities’, but dead sons and daughters, killed for the ‘honour’ of the community when they want to marry someone from outside.
The same is true of others that hold malignant supremacist notions. If you think your cultural selling point is convincing, subject it to scrutiny, and don’t protect it from criticism behind false victimhood and blasphemy laws.
When you dig deeper into the minds of the isolationists, the monoculturalists, you often hit the nerve of the fear of having your female property being raped by conquering hordes. This must be a deep fear common to many cultures, possibly so old and tribal it’s actually a component of our brain biology, our evolution. There are certainly versions of it in other species. Maybe that is what has been perpetuated in cultures and sustained in religions that use forced marriage within the culture, that insist on marriage within the culture, particularly for the women.
The ‘conquest rape’ is real. It has been a feature of wars for millennia. And it’s even endorsed in the Quran (at the very least, it is not denounced but enabled). It is even an element of the Muslim grooming gangs that have been allowed to continue their abhorrent paedophilia for decades by corrupt police, politicians and social services that refused to do their job.
But this ‘white fear’, for people like Spencer, or the equivalent for those intent on maintaining some other culture, is the antithesis of liberalism and freedom.
We’re Not As Racist As You Think
In defence of non-racist western liberal culture, I’ll take a guess, which you are free to refute with facts.
And that guess is that liberal westerners have been in a wider range of inter-ethnic marriages in the west than has occurred in any other culture in its ‘home’ nation in recent times. In places like India there is a far grater opposition of religious inter-marriage than there is among the secular people of the UK, for example.
Western liberal democracies are the least ‘pure’ of any, because of their general liberalism and humanism. In the UK it’s no longer the white parents insisting their children don’t marry someone of another ethnicity or culture – at least nowhere near as bad as it once was. But, you can bet that most objections to inter-ethnic, inter-culture, inter-faith relationships come from communities and families that are bonded to a religion. (On hearing my surname, my wife’s Baptist mother’s first question to my future wife was, “Is he Catholic” – I’m not, but I’m not so sure she was any happier to find I was an atheist.).
The white separatists, among whites in the west, are the exception – some notable larger numbers of exceptions being in Eastern Europe. And much of their fear is based on ignorance – we don’t educate well enough to get past this inherent fear of the ‘other’. Ironically, a better education on biology and evolution is rejected by some religion, perpetuating old ideas of differnce.
The ignorance leads to racism only because skin colour is such a visible marker, and has historically also been a marker of distinction between ‘western’ liberal democratic culture and others – but no longer.
When we’re all beige it will simply be too much trouble, let alone irrational, to be racist.
The more isolated ethnicities of the past are ending – despite ‘liberal’ efforts to support the ethnicity and culture of ‘Native Americans’, ‘Kurds’, ‘Jews’, ‘Australian Aboriginy’.
This is a genuine dilemma. How can we value, support, encourage the maintenance of some ethnic and cultural groups because we fear their loss, and yet not others?
“Minorities” I am told. OK, for rare or boxed in minorities like Native Americans, sure, go for it, protect their lands too, where you can. But not for Jews? And especially not in their ‘homeland’, where they predate other groups, where they were driven from?
I doubt we could see another Hitler trying to ‘purify’ their society – at least not on such a scale, though there may still be places around the world where ‘ethnic cleansing’ is possible – but even then, it’s complicated. The multi-ethnic but mono-faith Sunni Muslims of ISIS will quite happily ethnically cleanse Kurds, Yasidis … because these other peoples are clinging to their own mono-culture, and hence their religion, and refuse to mono-faith of Islam, no matter how multi-ethnic it might be. It’s the religious sectarianism that is causing an ethnic cleansing still. Just as it did in Bosnia. And so to in Myanmar.
The persecution of the Rohingya in Myanmar has a complex history of what amounts to religious-ethnic tribalism, where the Rohingya have played their own part in the past. That’s not to ‘victim blame’ in any particular example of persecution, but to explain why these examples keep arising.
However, the ‘white’ Europeans are themsleves a collection of smaller cultures and ethnicities. The Nordic peoples managed to sustain their ethnicity and culture for some time.
Ironically, it’s racism, sectarianism and ‘othering’ that creates these identifiable ethnicities and cultures in the first place. So, are we monocultural racists to want to sustain the Native American, Kurdish, Palestinian or Jewish identities?
However, I have one specific problem with ‘white’: it is not a singular ethnicity, but is rather defined in terms of ‘non-white others’. The ‘white separatist’ movement can have no positive outcome; and even if many white separatists genuinely feel (or falsely claim) that a peaceful ethnic cleansing is possible, it never could be. How could it? Too many of us would refuse to accept it.
So, Identitarians, could you at least make more of an effort to drop the racist nonsense. Your ‘whiteness’ has no inherent value. And, neither does ‘blackness’ or ‘brownness’ or any other skin colour or ethnic identity.
The same criticism applies to the race baiters that play on the white racism to fixate on their own.
As a side note here I’d draw your attention to a TV programme made by Darcus Howe that exposed the anti-black sentiments among the British Asian community. Except that it has now been removed from Youtube. Too inconvenient. As might be expected, poor old Darcus, who’d rightly been campaigning against racism for decades had presumed there’d be more solidarity among non-whites. And, while recovering from the shock of reality, he also discovered that his local West Indian black community wasn’t entirely enthralled by the incoming Somalian black community. Go figure. Racism everywhere.
Liberal Secular Democratic Humanist Values
So, as a liberal secular democratic Humanist of Britain, I value and take pride in the furtherance of our ‘British values’ … wait, no, our ‘European values’, … no, sorry, our ‘Western values’, … no, … none of this … these are Global Values, …. Universal Values, … available to all.
And, as a secularist that values freedom, I also value freedom of belief, so while I value my liberal secular democratic *Humanist atheism, I can reduce that to a subset of liberal secular democratic *humanism.
(*by Humanist I really mean atheist humanism, and so ‘humanism’ includes non-atheists).
When defending our values in Britain it doesn’t have to be so specific as to require we say ‘British values’. Though it’s a useful term to use currently: in opposition to the Islamic values that are at odds with liberal secular democracy, and at odds with Fascism and Communism. Not that all Brits agree.
But the term ‘British values’ is also used as a pejorative label to identify perceived xenophobia and nationalism.
As with multiculturalism, there’s nothing wrong with nationalism – it specifically doesn’t necessitate white monoculture.
Nationhood remains a useful idea. The state is still a useful barrier to bad ideas and bad actors – and sadly that barrier has been lacking as we’ve willingly imported and turned a blind eye to horrible ideas that lead to radicalisation and even home grown terrorism. And though the backlash of real racism and xenophobia may well erupt one day, Nationalism is not xenophobic, except when used by xenophobes that hate other nations and peoples. Can we please stop labelling all those that support nation states and border control as xenophobes – it’s bollocks.
On that point we might ask, what is the primary motivation for many members of and voters for the Scottish Nationalist Party? How come the pride in the Scottish, Welsh, Irish identities, and others from further afield, aren’t demonised the way British, or even more so, English nationalism is? How come a white Brit is a xenophobe for flying the Union jack or the St George cross, yet a Sikh that does that is celebrated for embracing his Britishness? Old resentments, and throwing the baby out with the bathwater?
Religion And Secularism
Prelude to this section. A common reaction to this will be “Why are you picking on Islam?” If this is your reaction, try this: Explaining My Bias Against Islam, and Christianity.
Cultural identities in the UK are strongly tied to religion as well as ethnicity. Which brings me more generally to Christianity, Islam, and other religions. Let’s be honest though, Islam is currently most problematic in the West when it is non-secular – that is when their followers hope to impose their religion on others. Christianity has done that previously, but still leaves a stain of ‘state religion’, with powers and privileges it should not have, in a secular world.
There are many unsavoury elements of religion that have been brought into the present by the perpetuation of values that have been discarded by more modern societies:
- Forced marriage, or discouragement of inter-faith marriage, to create a religious monoculture.
- Obsession with denying or preventing the expression of sexuality – it helps control behaviour towards 1.
- Opposition to homosexuality and gender diversity – though I can’t see why this would be a problem for a deity.
- Opposition to blasphemy, apostasy and the support of various means to encourage commitment to the religion.
- The indoctrination of children, to ensure that in adulthood they perpetuate this pattern.
To name a few.
The Anglican church struggles mostly with the sexuality, particularly homosexuality, but also tries to maintain a surreptitious continuation of the last two on the list above – through the co-opting of opposition to ‘hate speech’ (backdoor blasphemy laws), and the support for faith schools.
Politicians are freely attacked for the ideas they hold – often brutally so. But religious leaders plead for special protection against criticism, making a special effort to be offended.
The Roman Catholic church tries a bit harder to sustain its brand of monoculturalism, though lately it too has looked back, apologised for misdeeds, and now it seems to be kowtowing to Islam. Twitter is so awash with the subservient tweets of the Catholic Dr. Craig Considine (@CraigCons) one would suspect he’s a secret Muslim – or perhaps a troll that’s damning Islam with ludicrous praise.
Islam, being the second largest religion, is still pretty much committed to all the points on the list above.
To Islam’s credit it is not a racist religion, though, as I said earlier, some Islamic communities steeped in their own ethnic origins might make it so. But to its detriment, it must control marriage in order to sustain the religion within the community. This is particularly bad in India and Pakistan – the latter being a state specifically built on vile sectarianism, to the point now that it persecutes other Muslims.
There are problems with religions that are opposed to or resist secularism. Many within global Islam see it as a monolith. For the purpose of Dawah, the spreading of Islam, all Muslims are brothers and sisters, despite how diverse the religion is, between cultures and sects. It is a singular religious political judicial system. It is ironic that it is Muslims that give out the impression of it being monolithic, and then criticise non-Muslims for not noticing the diversity within.
The clue to the inherent monolithic political intensions can be seen in terms like ‘Nation of Islam’, ‘Muslim lands’, the ‘Ummah’, a monoculture that, despite the secularism of many Muslims, is hard to shake off. On the smaller scale Islam is diverse, but is monolithic in commitment to Allah, Mohammed, Quran. It is a monolith for most practical purposes, to non-Muslims.
In this sense Islam, as a system of belief, is not compatible with liberal secular democratic humanism. It is possible for some to cherry pick sufficiently for it to appear compatible, and to work reasonably well within a liberal secular democracy, but regular flash points of conflict occur that highlight the differences.
In the UK the monolith exposes itself following a terror attack by a Muslim: even pretty liberal secular Muslims leap to defence of Islam first, and are quick to warn of the suffering of Muslims in some imagined backlash that rarely happens – beyond a few incidents that are relatively minor compared to the atrocity just witnessed.
A personal and anecdotal observation that’s shared by other critics of Islam: it’s the Ahmadiyya community that are first on the scene to condemn violence in the name of Islam; and it’s the Ahmadiyya that are most rejected by other Muslims. An odd state of affairs to those who don’t pay much attention to Islam … until you’ve looked at Islam in more detail, when the pattern of denunciation is seen everywhere.
Of course, some strands of Christianity are incompatible with liberal secular democracy too. The ‘giving unto Caesar’ bit makes it appear secular, and Jesus was supposedly somewhat liberal – at least compared to the greater orthodoxy of his fellow Jews of his time. So, in principle at least, Christianity can be more persuasively made compatible with liberal secular humanist democracies. While the liberal democracy and a good deal of humanism may be present in the USA, and foundational in the Constitution, it’s odd that a Middle Eastern Jewish religion has been appropriated by white and black Christians in America, and is seen to belong at the head of what in principle is the first major purposefully secular state.
Some African Americans that have slaves as ancestors might want to point out that Christianity was forced upon them, many originally being Muslims when taken. Well, me too – I’m not sure how many of my Celtic ancestors agreed to have Christianity shoved down their throats, but I know I didn’t. And, do remember that the Islam of the African American slaves was imposed upon them in their prior life, when they were notionally free in Africa.
Religion has been imposed upon us all. And one of it’s memetic characteristics is that if replicates through the commitments of its captive minds.
Valuing Global Liberal Secular Democratic Humanism
Whatever the detail of our past and current ethnicities, it is clear that we are all of one original species that can adapt. We may have diverged into separate monocultures for a while, but that latter history is a blink of an eye to evolution. And the more liberal and tolerant we are the more we can mix freely, without the need for my contrived thought experiment of extra-ethnic attraction. We should make it easier to acknowledge and embrace our commonality. Secularism also lets us embrace our differences safely.
The value of ‘Western’ culture is not its whiteness (or its Christianity) but its more general value of freedom; the freedom to say what you think, marry who you choose, believe in any deity (or none) as you like, appropriate ideas and cultural practices that you find valuable and adapt them as you please. And it allows us to do that without fear of oppression or persecution. That these principles are not fully upheld is not the fault of the principles, but the failure of we that try to live by them.
And the freedom to discard the bad ideas, or at least not be overwhelmed by them, is crucial. Or at least we should have to have the freedom to speak out and point to bad ideas and criticise them, without the adherents pulling any form of censorship out of their ass they can: ‘Islamophobia’, ‘blasphemy’, ‘racism’, ‘respect’, ‘offence’, ‘hate speech’. These are the defence weapons of those that cannot rationally support their bad ideas.
Liberal secular democratic humanism: They are the global values that are worth spreading to whoever wants them wherever in the world; and anyone that values them is, as far as I’m concerned, welcome to my Britain, my Europe. And the world is entitled to share and take pride in those values, as many people around the world do, often at great risk to themselves when living in oppressive monocultures that reject these values of freedom and liberty.
If we want the world to embrace these values, we have to get away from their association with ‘whiteness’. It would help if we had a catchy non-Eurocentric name for them, rather than ‘European values’ or ‘Western values’ or ‘British values’. Ideas on a postcard please. And we have to get used to the idea that multiculturalism needs to be done right, not accepted without discrimination of ideas, only accepted without discrimination against people.
Other Western Values, Original and Appropriated
In the above I’ve used the term ‘British values’ to refer to the liberal political freedom we value.
Of course there are other British values that we often think of as ourse, but the trouble is, these are actually a diverse set that are not shared by all Brits.
Religious Brits might oppose the liberalism that accepts homosexuality.
And, more trivially, many Brits hate the ‘traditional’ cup of tea. Black pudding. Jam before or after cream on scones. Even the culturally appropriated ‘Indian’ eat-out is now British (fantastically sent up by the Goodness Gracious team: Going out for an English).
The problem with identifying British values is they are at this point already culturally diverse. And that’s without adding a history of the class system. I’ve yet to see a true blood aristocrat serving pie and chips in a Northern cafe, but, you never know.
However diverse we think we are, we Brits have nothing on the USA, that has embraced cultures throughout its history, with the odd glitch here and there, … and one massive shame of slavery – itself a cultural appropriation acquired with the help of Islam in Africa that persisted slavery long after the west gave it up.
Kenan Malik has a New York Times piece on cultural appropriation, and is in favour of it: In Defense of Cultural Appropriation
Roaming Millennial has had a great youtube video up for a while: “HANDS OFF MY CULTURE!” | The Myth of Cultural Appropriation
So, go on, consume each other’s cultures … but when it comes to ideas that have political consequences, I’d advise you take the best and discard the worst. Discard religions; discard racist ideologies; discard anti-freedom and often violent ideologies of the far left and far right. And, please, stop fetishing over ‘whiteness’, ‘blackness’, ‘brownness’ or any other variation of skin colour.