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Proud of My Culture
Entry 1757, on 2015-12-15 at 21:18:27 (Rating 4, Politics)
Recently I'm beginning to get really concerned that I might agree with people like Tony Abbott and Donald Trump. Well actually, I'm exaggerating because that is far too simple an appraisal of the situation. What I should say is that there are occasional things these people say in which I can see some merit.
A lot of my allies on the liberal left might be horrified by this because there does seem to be a tendency for them - just as much as our opponents on the right - to vilify certain people and refuse to consider anything they say in a positive light.
But that isn't a fair approach. No one is totally good or totally bad, and I think we should give everyone's opinions a fair chance. I really try to argue against ideas rather than people although I do suspect I would find a few transgressions in my writing here in the past. Also, there is a case to say that some people are so unreliable that rejecting their ideas, without further consideration, as a sort of shortcut to analysing them and evaluating them, isn't completely unfair.
But what specifically is the point that my (perhaps erstwhile) enemies from the right have been making which I feel some agreement with? Well, it's about cultural superiority. I'm getting a bit sick of politically correct people saying that we need to fully accept and value all cultures equally, especially in relation to our own.
I totally agree there are plenty of bad things about Western culture (by that I mean democratic governments, secularism, consumerism, capitalism of various types, high tech, etc - the sort of culture typical of the US, most of Europe, Australasia, etc). I have commented on the faults of this culture plenty of times in the past but let's also recognise the good points, especially in relation to the alternatives.
For example, I believe Western culture is greatly superior to Islamic culture. That doesn't mean I'm racist or anything else, just that according to the attributes I consider important (an emphasis on rationality, personal freedom, etc) our culture is superior to theirs. We all recognise that different cultures have different strengths and weaknesses which means it's illogical to pretend they are all the same. So some must be better than others, and I think ours is best.
I used the words "ours" and "theirs" above unashamedly because I am quite proud of our culture. Again, there are plenty of bad parts to it but on balance I think we are doing OK. So I don't want too many attributes of an inferior culture like Islam diluting the good qualities of our current western society. Wow, I really am starting to sound like Trump and Abbott now!
But on the other hand I do like cultural diversity too and I wouldn't mind if we could gain some of the positive aspects of Islam. The problem is, I can't think of any! I really can't think of anything about Islam which is worth having. But that's probably just my ignorance because, as I said above, I presume there are good aspects to all cultures.
So to try to establish some benchmarks let's look at an indicator of the relative contribution of different cultures (in this case more specifically religions) to the world. Let's look at the religions of people winning Nobel Prizes. That is one of the greatest achievements in world culture. I do admit that it is primarily a Western construct so we might expect some bias towards giving prizes to Western oriented people, but how much would it be?
Here's a comparison I found on a Mulsim web site: Nobel science prizes awarded to Muslims: 4 (and one case was debatable) compared with those awarded to Jews: 176. Muslims make up 25% to 30% of the world population and Jews 0.2%. What's wrong here? I'm sure there is some bias but can there be that much?
No, because the cause of the discrepancy is not primarily bias, it's that Islam is an inferior culture when it comes to contribution to science. And yes, I know it wasn't always like that, but it is now, and I don't believe that can be realistically denied.
I'm not a Jew (in fact I don't have any religious beliefs at all) so I don't claim any ownership of that astounding statistic, but I think this is primarily a cultural thing rather than a religious one anyway. So I think that Western culture (which the vast majority of the Jews belong to) is scientifically vastly superior to Islam. No contest.
What about peace and stability? Well you just need to look around the world and it's very obvious that the vast majority of conflicts are associated with Islam. Here's a list of the countries where conflicts have at least 10,000 deaths per year: Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Syria. Notice anything about those countries? I think this shows that Western culture is vastly superior to Islamic culture in terms of peace and stability too. Again, no contest.
Need I go on? Despite the glaring problems with Western culture I think we should be proud to be part of it because it could be so much worse. And yes, there are obvious examples of that for us all to see!
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