Sunday, June 22, 2014

Multiculturalism vs the Sanctity of Human Rights.

Responding to an article on cultural relativism and political correctness*, I wrote:

The issue is not the collective of ideas and norms known as a "culture" and enforced by a government.
Human history is full of examples of cultures (and their religions) imposed at the point of a sword. Every culture/religion has been guilty of initiating violence against the "other."
The best religious teachings have always stood against such collectivist nonsense.
The issue is Individual Rights - the antithesis of collective culture. 
While each person has the right to the pursuit of happiness, which includes adopting whatever culture/religion that person chooses, no collective has any "right" imposing cultural norms on anybody.
That's inherent in Western constitutional heritage, building from the Common Law, starting with, in the United States, the Declaration of Independence with its powerful claim that individuals have inalienable rights.
Rights do not depend on governments or cultures. Rights transcend such transient human constructs.
That is why a free person has the right to condemn cultures that violate individual right.
We have the right of conscience to judge, for example, the ancient world for the abomination of slavery (the antithesis of individual right) and for the evils of the forced subjection of half of humanity (the female half) or the creation of crony monopolies... all the norm before the advent of modernity -- which started with the Declaration's proclamation of "inalienable right" -- the most important political claim of the past millennium.
A free person has the right to condemn the brutality and irrationality of cultures/religions as practiced in violation of individual right.
Truly not all cultures are equal, but all can be condemned from the standpoint of individual right for each has failed, historically, to defend the individual against state oppression predicated on cultural or religious traditions.

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