An Unseen Error in the Multicultural Ethos

Monday, June 10, 2013

Defenders of indiscriminate multiculturalism see criticism of Islam as a kind of ethnocentrism, and therefore consider the criticism a moral crime and an error of cognitive simplemindedness. Ethnocentrism means judging another culture based on the values and standards of your own culture.

But committed multiculturalists fail to notice that these criticizers of Islam (or at least most of them) are not criticizing all other religions; but only Islam (and maybe Scientology). And they haven't noticed that Islamic texts are themselves extremely ethnocentric.

I came across a good summary of the ethnocentrism of Islam on the excellent blog, The Malsi-Tung Social Virus. I suggest you subscribe to it. The author doesn't post very often, but when he does, it is excellent reading. Here's his summary — information that would cause smoke to spew from the ears of most indiscriminate multiculturalists:

Cultural superiority:
  • Jahiliya is the doctrine that every culture preceding Islamisation is in a state of ignorance
  • The Bible and Torah are viewed as merely corrupted versions of the Koran and are full of error. Their only merit is that they point toward the coming of Muhammad
  • All forms of non-Muslim culture are inferior or evil: democracy, music, figurative art, free thought, drinking alcohol, mixing of the sexes etc.
  • Muhammad is the final messenger of God and what he teaches supercedes all other beliefs
Legitimacy of Islamic domination:
  • Warfare against non-Muslims is fully justified in order to bring (or force) the superior (and only true) way of life of Islam to them
  • Muslims in mixed societies are to be seen as superior to non-Muslims and they are justified in exploiting, deceiving, and plotting to overcome the non-Muslims
  • The dhimma pact underwrites the justified domination of Muslims viz a viz Jewish and Christian communities living under Muslim domination. The inferior status, absence of legal protection, and resumption of persecution following any (perceived) failure to uphold the dhimma pact are all justified because Muslims have both a right and a duty to dominate non-Muslims 
Imposition of Islamic law upon all people is a moral duty:
  • Jihad is the sixth pillar of Islam. It is not simply defensive but a moral obligation upon all Muslims to replace all other culture and religion with Islam
  • Warfare against non-believers is to be understood as a gift to them as it brings them into contact with the only true religion of Islam
Internal controls: 
  • To leave Islam is to challenge its truth and supremacy. This is an insult to Islam and anyone doing this is “no better” than a non-believer (kuffar) and hence deserves to be killed.
  • To question Islam or Muhammad is to be guilty of doubting the truth of Islam. This is an insult to Islam and warrants a death sentence.
If this is not ethnocentrism in its most virulent form, what is?

As the author, Greg Hamilton, writes, "There are real and profound differences between cultures...Anthropologists developed the concept of cultural relativism in order to help them gain more accurate insights into alien cultures." An ethnocentric anthropologist's observations probably wouldn't be as accurate as an open-minded, non-judgmental anthropologist's. But as Hamilton points out, cultural relativism "is obviously a useful and valid doctrine in the context of anthropology but where it has become extremely problematic is in the transfer to the political domain."

Yes. If you politically grant concessions to Islam because you don't want to appear ethnocentric, you have allowed an extremely ethnocentric culture to override your less ethnocentric culture — for the purpose of avoiding ethnocentrism!

Or, put another way, tolerance should not mean tolerating intolerance. It's a self-defeating proposition.

If you can get this message through to a committed multiculturalist, after the smoke has stopped spewing, she or he may look at the situation differently in the future. That's all we need.

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