Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My Culture is Better Than Your Culture, Fundamental Assumption Review

I was thinking last night as I was drinking that Americans have an attitude problem. We actually have many attitude problems, but the one on which I was focusing is the notion that out culture is great and other cultures are not so great. I made some notes because I wanted to write about it today.
First, do we really believe that out way of life is better than others? Sure we have amenities and conveniences that other peoples are not afforded. The converse of that is we are spoiled and weak.
Looking at the bigger picture, outside of the individual level, many of our dealings and relationships in the world are predicated on the stance that our human rights positions are better or our way of government (that is incorrectly called democracy so often, see current health care debate) will make a country great like us when we force it upon them. There is some truth in those two notions, but we also have many problems with our government and treatment of people in this nation. We are the world's biggest hypocrites. Bottom line. We espouse freedom for all people from presidential podiums while we are tasered if we look at a police officer the wrong way.
We can not simply leave everyone alone and do our own thing here in the States either. America is too vested in interests around the world. Shutting up and minding our own business would most likely do more harm than good in today's world. The isolationist stances of the Washington Doctrine and the Monroe Doctrine that I have been a proponent of personally will simply not work in a new, flat (Tom Friedman reference) world.
With my own ideas being so muttered I looked to the internet to for stories to corroborate and clarify my stance. I found this story about Dutch politician Geert Wilders. Yes, his name is Geert.
The best passage of the Wall Street Journal article is:
"Having his own party liberates Mr. Wilders to speak his mind. As he sees it, the West suffers from an excess of toleration for those who do not share its tradition of tolerance. "We believe that -- 'we' means the political elite -- that all cultures are equal," he says. "I believe this is the biggest disease today facing Europe. . . . We should wake up and tell ourselves: You're not a xenophobe, you're not a racist, you're not a crazy guy if you say, 'My culture is better than yours.' A culture based on Christianity, Judaism, humanism is better. Look at how we treat women, look at how we treat apostates, look at how we go with the separation of church and state. I can give you 500 examples why our culture is better."

Reading that passage was a bit of a wake up call for me. Mr. Wilders is focusing mainly on Western Europe and Islamic ties in the story and I think they are the same antagonist for Americans.  My line of reasoning and initial notes were not necessarily correct, though. Mr. Wilders makes some good points, and he was speaking from a Dutch perspective, not an American one. I still have some hashing out to do on this topic as does our country. There is an intangible "us versus them" notion floating in our collective consciousness between english-speaking people and Islam. It exists in more tangibile forms in our wars and terrorism, but I mean more every American against every Muslim. If that is the case. I know where my loyalties lie.

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