all 7 comments

[–]naffoff [score hidden] ago

It is important to ask yourself and the person you are arguing with.

"What is your motivation for your criticism?"

This is not as hard to work out as some seem to suggest. For example FGM; if they are are defending a loved one who has been effected then you should take what they say seriously. If they have actually listened to there loved one and are acting with with consent then even more so.

If it is just criticism of a group they have heard some bad things about. then the question is, "what results dose their criticism have?" If they are concerned about FMG are they doing anything to help victims? Or to stop it happening? Do they think criticism of it to other people who had no intention of supporting it anyway will make any difference? Do they think criticism of a family that has practised FMG by someone who sounds like racist asshole will be taken seriously? or will change anything, or more importantly, will it cause more harm? could it tern members of the family against each other? Could you be making someone homeless? If the concern is for actual human beings and not for looking like you care, then they will take all this and more into consideration. Most importantly they will take in to consideration the victims wishes.

This is the same for crime too. Dose your friends criticism act to stop anyone committing crime? If that was the concern then the first though would be. "how can I help less crimes being committed?"

The simple point is you are responsible for the predictable results of your actions. If they can predict they will cause more harm than good to the people they claim to care about then they should shut the fuck up.

Just to reiterate on more time. It is perfectly legitimate to think FGM, misogyny, thug culture, and theft are bad things. The point is, now you have decided they are causing harm do you want to also cause harm, or do you want to find out how to do some good?

I have a feeling I have not expressed my self as clearly as I would have liked so apologies if it is rambling or I am missing the point anywhere.

[–]rmc [score hidden] ago

It's important to see if they complain about those aspects in the dominant culture. For example, do they think Middle Eastern countries are bad because they oppress homosexuals? Well what do they think about many Western/European countries not having equal marriage? If you go to a same sex marriage rally, you can complain about muslim societies opressing homosexuals. If you go to a pro-choice rally, you can complain about them being misogynistic. etc.

It's also important to see if they hold (say) European/Western culture, or Christianity to the same standard. Some people will see capital punishment via beheading in Saudi Arabia and say "Islam is inherently violent", and then see one nice priest and say "Christianity is inherently loving". Christianity had lots of witch burnings, and capital punishment, plenty of Christians do bad things. Someone thinking Islam is always wrong from one bad example, and Christianity is always good from one good example is showing they are holding Christianity and Islam to different standards, so I doubt their motives.

[–]Toggledog [score hidden] ago

Firstly, criticising culture is a good thing generally. Also, cultures can change quickly so an attack on a part of a culture is not the same as an attack on race.

My brain says a certain culture x isn't inherently valuable and we shouldn't lament its demise or change. We get sentimental about cultures, animals or languages going extinct but this isn't reasonable. A lack of biodiversity, linguistic diversity might be a bad thing but what about one language makes it valuable spoken, as something more than a museum piece? This is just sentimentality.

I have noticed though that a lot of criticism of cultures appears racist. Things like "Islamic culture promotes sexual abuse.", "African culture is lazy, promotes corruption." "What can you do? It's in their culture.". I have a feeling these people would be saying "Africans are lazy and you can't change that" but because it's no longer accepted in public they will blame the culture.

saying that a culture that promotes this is inherently bad.

I live in a predominantly Muslim area. They are mostly well educated, in respectable professions, believe in the rule of secular law, against FGM, yet still devout. I get irritated when people say "Islamic culture this" which is really inaccurate. Prompt people to be more accurate about their claims by using geographic or other restrictions. Something like "Islamic culture promotes x" will become "this branch of Islam in the Arabian peninsular promotes x." And now if that person was a racist they will not be able to make their broad, veiled racist claim which was just based on feelings.

[–]nun8 [score hidden] ago

Maybe we should be asking why white people force black people to live in ghettos in the first place.

[–]queerlife [score hidden] ago

Non racial cultures are similiaar, but different.

But basically...

  • "I don't hate deafness, but I hate [deaf accents/sign language/etc]"
  • "I don't hate wheelchair users, but I hate wheelchairs"

These? These are bad.

[–]vw20 [score hidden] ago

I don't think you can get a generally valid answer to your question. It depends on who is criticizing and on what is criticized.

Firstly, as others have pointed out, if the person doing the criticizing only seeks to hide racist sentiments behind a carefully worded argument, then you shouldn't bother with the discussion.

Secondly, you have to look at what exactly is being criticized and whether this actually is an aspect of a culture or not. For example, is "thug culture" an aspect of black culture? I'd say it is not. The vast majority of black people do not subscribe to "thug culture" and the attitudes and practices which are commonly defined as "thug culture" are also shared by people who are not black. Is FGM a part of Muslim culture? Well, there are 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide spread between tens of countries. Do they have a neatly defined, unitary culture? Again, I think not. My point is, it's often difficult to accurately describe a culture and to draw a line between what constitutes an "aspect of a culture" and what constitutes a practice which happens to be common to some (but not all) members of a culture. This is why I think its better to stick with criticizing a certain behavior, without specifically linking it to a culture.

Thirdly, even if you're sure that the practice which is being criticized is part of a culture, you have to look at context. Why and how did such practice develop? Can it be described or criticized using solely your own (Western) concepts? How is it viewed among different members of that culture and how does internal opposition to it look like? Is it a result of the oppression people of a culture have been subjected to? How is it justified inside the criticized culture? There are many aspects to look at here. My point is that a statement about a culture coming from a person outside such culture is prone to misunderstandings. Ideally, criticism of a culture from the outside should be subsumed to that coming from the inside or should at least pay attention to it. Often, this does not happen, which results in statements which may be perfectly fine if applied to a Western society, but lose their meaning when used outside of this context.

Finally, let me say that I don't think its necessarily wrong to criticize a culture you don't belong to. It's just that you have to be aware of a lot of things when doing so, and, from my experience, this rarely happens.

[–]misandrasaurus [score hidden] ago

How do you argue with this sort of thing ?

I don't. It's better for everyone if you just don't. They're ignorant racists and your silent scorn is much more effective and than any elegant argument you can weave.

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