The Mark of the Jandal

Friday, March 02, 2007

Multiculturalism

A secondary effect of living abroad is that I'm blessed with the exposure to people from other countries. In this regard, I'm speaking more of fellow expatriates living here for a variety of reasons. The irony of these encounters is that many times they consist solely of criticism of the US. I don't think my country farts pixie dust, I know we're fallible. I'm even willing to discuss the various faults. However having an Australian lecture me on the treatment of minorities in the US, especially the Native Americans, with no digression toward the treatment of their own indigenous folks makes the individual seem like they are trying to take down the rich kid on the playground with very little regard for the truthiness of their argument. Heck, I'm no fan of Bush, but Howard is little more than a clone of Bush with loosely wound DNA -- though some how he seems to be a better speaker.

It isn't just criticism of verifiable actions of the US. I'm just as likely to hear criticism for conspiracy theories. I mean how can one have a conversation about something when the basis for the conversation is:

o Moon landing was a hoax
or
o The US government allowed the attacks on Pearl Harbor to facilitate our entry into WWII

One evening I was having a conversation with an Australian Youth Ambassador, the Australian counterpart to the Peace Corps. This was about the same time that a school in England was telling a teacher that she couldn't wear a vale in class. The AYA was appalled at how culturally insensitive her fellow commonwealthers were acting. This is a paraphrase of the conversation we had:

Me: I think it can be hard for someone who grew up in the west to pay attention to someone and follow them when they can only see their eyes.

Her: Don't you think it would be great for your kids to be exposed to another culture; wouldn't it be great to expand their minds like that.

Me: I think it would be great for my kids to learn English, math, science, history, perhaps a foreign language. I think school should focus more on teaching kids and less on cultural tolerance.

Her: Shouldn't children learn more than just facts, shouldn't they grow as individuals.

Me: It's not the governments job to help kids "grow" and it's especially not their job to help kids "grow" at the expense of their education. If children don't feel comfortable being taught by a someone in a vale, it's it's not a failure of them or their parents. Heck some kids are scared shitless by clowns [I know this I was a birthday clown at Mc Donalds].

Her: How are kids supposed to learn about other cultures?

Me: If kids are interested in Islam they can take a class on religion. Then the teacher can bring someone in who can talk about the virtues of wearing a black tent in the desert so that men don't get too aroused and accidentally rape her -- a crime for which she may be stoned to death.

I'm a live and let live kind of guy. I personally believe that abortion kills a person. I understand that this is my belief and that there is no scientific basis for this. I mainly chose this belief to be on the safe side of things. However, because there is no way to define the moment that life begins, I'm willing to concede that I may be wrong. So I have a set of morals that define my behavior, and there is a set that I think should be applied to others. Sometimes these two sets overlap -- murder for instance is something I think is wrong and something I think the government should try to prevent. In my mind, forcing kids to be culturally sensitive for their own good is not one of these areas of overlap. If one person wants their children to be enlightened then they can expose their kids to what they as parents judge to be appropriate.

This conversation with the AYA was interesting. I had heard and read about multiculturalism before, but this was one of my first experiences with it. From the perspective of this ignorant and culturally insensitive American (where America defines two continents but I use it to define my country which is a small subset of those continents) it seems strange to see a countries strangled to death in their own political correctness.

2 Comments:

  • Very interesting stance you have. I find your position on abortion admirable, many people don't make the distinction between their own values and mores and those applied to other people.

    However, your regard to cultural sensitivity is quite off, especially considering the previous paragraph. If the government had left it people's parents to teach their children about culture, then the American South would still have Jim Crow laws, more so than the extent to which they have now. It's still a racist and segregated society, but the tide is slowly turning. Eventually Americans will run out of people to turn their aggression towards, from Blacks to Latinos to Muslims to ...

    At any rate, in so much as that the American government does not provide equal opportunities to all segments of society, many parents do not have the ability or education themselves to stem adverse society impacts to overcome this type of institutional racism.

    I think children have other problems that address their lack of attention that are great than how much of a teacher's face is visible. They are uncomfortable because they are unfamiliar. It is a natural reaction, one ingrained into us. It has nothing to do with the language of mathematics and everything to do with education of the unfamiliar and overcoming the fears of the unknown. Maybe that's a bit too metaphysical, but I am tired of American independence.

    I am, however, not a fan of burkas for other reasons. I think it is a ridiculous idea to conceal a woman's body, and from what I remember it is done out prevent temptations in men. I think I digress, and will leave it at that.

    Enjoy the blog, though. Perhaps I'll send a stranger a dildo...

    By Blogger Will, at 4:38 PM  

  • I agree very much with the blogger but not the dildo guy

    By Blogger whatever, at 5:49 PM  

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