Tag Archive: culture



I remember watching a YouTube clip in which Richard Dawkins interviews a Muslim guy, seen here. In this clip, there was one quote that was particularly annoying. I will paraphrase to make the statement neater since it was a back and forth discussion. Essentially he stated that Western men dressed their women as whores. I assume he meant, we let them dress like whores; regardless, it’s still a ridiculous statement.

This statement is rude and offensive due to its sexist slant; however, I will let feminists attack this point. I am more concerned with something more overarching: it is an ignorant and unfair comparison.

Ignorant because Muslims who make these kinds of statements don’t realize why it is an unfair comparison.

The explanation of its unfairness of this comparison may not be intuitive; however, once dissected, it is quite easy to notice. There are many aspects of culture, and for this reason, it is quite easy to compare apples and oranges without realizing it.

In this instance, the Muslim being interviewed is comparing modern Western culture with traditional Islamic culture. This is not fair. Of course there are traditional Western women who never reveal their bodies in a sexual manner. Of course there are Islamic women who dress provocatively and behave sexually (there are brothels in Islamic countries).

Now, of course women in Western countries are more likely to dress provocatively, but why is this? Is this what Western culture was like traditionally? No. Not at all. The reason why more Western women dress this way is because they can. Specifically, it is because of the continuous fight against the oppression of women in Western culture. In modern Western societies, women are free to dress as they please with little risk of being given dirty looks and no risk of being imprisoned or beheaded.

This same fight against the oppression of women has not happened in Islamic countries. This is not something to brag about. This is something to be ashamed about.

The same advancement of the rights of homosexuals and religious minorities has not occurred in Islamic countries either and we see the same desire by many Muslims to be proud of this lack of advancement. This can be illustrated by the infamous quote by the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, “Our country doesn’t have homosexuals.” Again, was this always the case in Western societies? Have Westerners always loved homosexuals and religious minorities? Again, no. The acceptance of the rights of these aforementioned groups are not Western ideals: they are universal ideals.

So, when a Muslim compares Western and Islamic cultures, they should either compare modern Western women and modern Muslim women or traditional Western women and traditional Muslim women. Muslims have no reason to be proud of comparing traditional Islamic culture with modern Western culture. This is an unfair comparison.

Moreover, this is desire to brag about how “modest” Muslim women are in Islamic countries is actually something to be ashamed of, not proud of, since it illustrates how backward the rights of women are in their country. That is, Islamic countries have failed to discover these universal ideals.

There is no evidence that women in Islamic countries innately desire to cover themselves more than any other women. They are products of the society in which they live and these products have not been taken care of. So, whenever a Muslim asserts that their women are more modest than Western women, it is our duty as global citizens to criticize this behavior for the protection of minorities everywhere.

Advertisements

Image

Being raised in Toronto, Canada, I didn’t realize that there could be any questioning the concept of multiculturalism. It just seemed to work, in Toronto. Now, I have not been to every part of Toronto, but I have been to most parts, and even the neighborhoods most afflicted with poverty — Regent Park and Jane and Finch — are multicultural and there seems to be no serious problem with the mixing of cultures in these areas. In fact, it seems to have made the residents quite tolerant of one another — again, going from the biased perspective I have as an individual and the opinions of my friends who live in these areas.

There are of course predominantly more of one race in certain areas than others, but there is no place in Toronto where a person of any color would step into and feel out of place merely because of the color of their skin.

I didn’t realize until I started traveling that this is not the case around the world. When I first started traveling, I decided to get a hostel in Brixton, England because I figured, London is London. When I stepped out of the subway station in Brixton, I was quite taken aback. I don’t know what the proportion of black people is in Brixton, but for a Torontonian, it was quite surprisingly high. Please, do not confuse this with racism. I would be taken aback by seeing such a high proportion of any minority in an area, regardless of the country. If I were in an Nigerian city and I stumbled upon an area with predominantly whites, I’d be equally taken aback. To me, this seems unnatural. There should be a large degree of intermixing of people in a cosmopolitan city such as London. The reason that this kind of situation was somewhat shocking to me is because there must be a reason why this intermixing is not occurring or at least, not occurring much.

Traveling around Europe, I noticed similar ghettoization. Paris and Rome were two cities that I recollect as having some serious issues.

Why is this? Why is Toronto such a multicultural utopia in comparison to other parts of the world?

I have always believed in the ideals of multiculturalism and as a result, I never really questioned the idea of it even after these experiences abroad. Recently, however, I watched this documentary by Douglas Murray and it has started to change my mind.

I am now starting to believe that in a perfect world, multiculturalism is of course a good thing. People move to a new country with their traditions and beliefs and slowly adopt the traditions and beliefs of their host country. Why would you move to a new country if you don’t like anything about that new country?

Yet, it doesn’t seem to always work this way. Many times nationalism or pride of religion or culture prevents the immigrants from adopting the ways of the host country.

Do not get me wrong, I am not saying this is the only reason for racial division in different cities around the world. In fact, in the Brixton case I mentioned above, I would argue that it was the bad behavior of the English government that caused this ghettoization in the first place. However, times change, and so should demography. But, we are now living in a much more tolerant Europe, yet these divisions remain. I think the reasons are manifold, but I believe that a big reason that segregation exists in these different cities could be an unwillingness to adopt the lifestyle of the host country.

In this case, it is the immigrants who are being racist: quite an ironic twist since racism from the host country would have been the original reason for the establishment of these kinds of ghettos.

In short, I still do believe that multiculturalism is a goal which we should strive for; however, I now realize that it is naive to assume that all people in our society have the same goals of harmony, equality, freedom and so on. Therefore, I think that teaching needs to focus a little less on multiculturalism and a little more onĀ universalĀ human rights. The fact is, our system of government, law and society in the West is something to be proud of. Concessions cannot be made in favor of Sharia or other such primitive conceptions of society. Bluntly, our societal values are superior and we should not be embarrassed or feel guilty about stating this. We feel shame for the ideals of the Enlightenment at our own peril.

Atheist Assessment

Posts about Atheism and the shortcomings of religion. Sometimes satirical and sometimes serious. #AtheistAssessment

standup2p

Observations - From the sharp end

Questionable Motives

What is the right question?

The Havers of a Questioning Mind

All men are born with a nose and ten fingers, but no one was born with a knowledge of God. -Voltaire

nerd on the bridge

A Literary Paradox

Lights on the Moon

what's real & what's not

DOUG PHILIPS

Meat sack with thoughts.

The Southern Rationalist

Voices of Rationality and Skepticism from the Southern US

Endless Erring

Stumbling along a Druid path

God Shmod

The one true God of Atheism.

Pretentious Ape

a humanist blog

Confessions of a Disquisitive Writer

Blogging my thoughts to the world

The More I Learn the More I Wonder

Rambles and brambles in the garden of my mind

Little Duckies

Parenting, polyticks, and the everyday busyness of an American-born mom in Israel.

The Agnostic Pastor

From Faith to Freethinking

Illusions and Delusions

Education is the key

Embrace Doubt

The Skeptic's Blog