Choice and “Culturalism”

The latest language change to come from the Tea Party fringers is to replace bigotry with “culturalism.”  Dr. John Press, president of the Brooklyn Tea Party, spoke at a September 19th rally, reported in The Brooklyn Ink, saying that America is rooted in Judeo-Christian principles, and therefore when people encourage multiculturalism and oppose anti-immigrant policies, “they undervalue us and do us a disservice, and quite frankly endanger the continuation of America.”

I wrote previously about choice and how our society often debates over whether being LGBT is a choice and therefore something that should be protected in law.  “Choice” is actually irrelevant as a divisor and gives an out to prejudiced people, who become “blind to their prejudice because they’ve seduced themselves into believing that what they’re reacting to is not really the trait itself, when they’re acting on the unspoken and often inaccurate smorgasbord of inventions that go with it.

The tea party bigots continue to demonstrate the point clearly and unmistakably:

““If this was racism, there would be no hope, because people are not going to change their skin color,” Press said. “But this is culturism. People can change their culture.””

h/t Jill at Feministe. Offered to Pam’s House Blend.

  1. Eh, this is an unimpressive analysis of the tea party stance on race and culture. For one thing, it is not the tea party stance that race is the root of culture, or cultural problems for that matter. Obviously there are certain cultural practices more common within certain ethnic groups than others, but I don’t think tea partiers are trying to say that a “culture of dependency,” for example, is a symptom of someone’s race. That would be racist.

    Is it bigoted to believe that one culture is superior to another–that one culture promotes human dignity and liberty over another? If so, then most people are “bigots.” There is no question that America’s culture is superior to that of Saudi Arabia’s, for example, especially if one is a woman.

    There have been very rational discussions about homosexuality by conservatives and libertarians who believe homosexuality is probably inborn, even though we still have no conclusive scientific evidence of that. Whether homosexuality is a choice or not really has no bearing on whether public policy needs to revolve around the desires of a small fringe of the population.

    For example, John Derbyshire wrote for NRO five years ago:

    I don’t think that the fact of a predilection’s being inborn should necessarily lead us to a morally neutral view of the acts it prompts. If you could prove to me that pyromania is inborn, I should not feel any better disposed towards arson. On the other hand, I should have a somewhat more sympathetic attitude towards arsonists than I had before. In that spirit, I favor a tolerant attitude towards homosexuals. I certainly do not believe, as around 40 percent of Americans say they do, that homosexual acts ought to be illegal.

    I can’t even agree with the Roman Catholic church that homosexuals are “called to chastity.” While I have nothing against chastity per se — I think it can be an honorable choice for a person to make in some circumstances, and would even go so far as to say that I believe the very low status of chastity in popular culture is regrettable — it seems to me arrogant and unkind to tell people that they are “called to chastity” if they do not hear the call themselves.

    Homosexual behavior is a social negative, suggesting as it does that normal heterosexual pairing, the bedrock institution of all societies, is merely one of a number of possible, and equally moral, “lifestyles,” and thereby devaluing that pairing — perhaps, on the evidence from Scandinavia presented by our own Stanley Kurtz on this site, fatally. Male homosexuality is also the source of public-health problems (and was so even before the rise of AIDS).

    Further, homosexuality is offensive to many believers in all three of the major Western religions, who form a large majority of the American population. I think that while minority rights ought to be respected, civic majorities ought not be asked to endure offense for the sake of abstract metaphysical or juridical theories, unless dire and dramatic injustices like slavery are in play. Majorities have rights too; and while I want to see minority rights respected, I don’t think that every minor inconvenience consequent on being a member of a minority should be raised to the level of an intolerable injustice requiring drastic legislative or judicial remedy. We all have to put up with some inconveniences arising from our particular natures.

    Tolerance is not approval; and while I do not agree with the pope that homosexuals are “called to chastity,” I do think that they are called to restraint, discretion, reticence, and a decent respect for the opinions of the majority. I certainly do not think that they ought to be allowed to transform long-established institutions like marriage on grounds of “fairness.” Nor do I think they should be allowed to advertise their preference to high-school students, as they do in some parts of this country. Nor should they be strutting about boasting of “pride.” (How can you feel pride in something you believe you can’t help?)

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