On Cultural Relativism

Walter Williams on Western culture and cultural relativism:

Intellectual elites argue that different cultures and their values are morally equivalent. That’s ludicrous. Western culture and values are superior to all others. I have a few questions for those who’d claim that such a statement is untrue or smacks of racism and Eurocentrism. Is forcible female genital mutilation, as practiced in nearly 30 sub-Saharan African and Middle Eastern countries, a morally equivalent cultural value? Slavery is practiced in Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Sudan; is it morally equivalent? In most of the Middle East, there are numerous limitations placed on women, such as prohibitions on driving, employment and education. Under Islamic law, in some countries, female adulterers face death by stoning. Thieves face the punishment of having their hands severed. Homosexuality is a crime punishable by death in some countries. Are these cultural values morally equivalent, superior or inferior to Western values?

Cultural relativists are quick to say that as Westerners we have no right to judge other cultural values. After all, to relativists, post-modernists, and other cultural marxists, there are no objective truths and if there are no objective truths then there are no universal ethics; that is, no standard by which to judge our own behavior. Without universal ethics, people are free to create their own ethics and morality. Williams clearly shows this viewpoint is ludicrous.

Much of the Muslim world is at war with Western civilization. Islamists’ use multiculturalism as a foot in the door to attack Western and Christian values from the inside. Much of that attack has its roots on college campuses among the intellectual elite who indoctrinate our youth. Multiculturalism has not yet done the damage in the U.S. that it has in Western European countries — such as England, France and Germany — but it’s on its way.

Even a cursory glance at the madness happening on American college campuses show that this fight is already here.


Tactics: Left and Right

It’s been known for quite some time that the political left is much better than the right when it comes to protest. One can see a continuum that extends from 60’s and 70’s era anti-war progressives to 2011’s Occupy Wall Street crowd to the fever pitch that has become anti-Trump events. Though not always the most classy affairs, the recent anti-Trump Women’s March, for example, included tens of thousands of women lecturing us all on human dignity while dressed as vaginas, the left can always seem to rally people and, more importantly, outrage.

In fact, the only recent protest success for the political right has been the Tea Party “revolution”. Unfortunately, what started as a clarion call to low taxes and a small constitutional government was co-opted by the GOP establishment almost as quickly as it started. Though, in fairness, the Tea Party’s rise did give us Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI) and Thomas Massie (R-KY), as well as Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT).

It Comes Down to Tactics

One of the main differences between the political right and left when it comes to protests are tactics. Recently, the left has become much more aggressive protesters, largely taking their cues from the postmodernist, neo-Marxist social justice warriors whose mantra can only be described as “we provide no platform for people who disagree with us, regardless of the reasons”.

That’s a main reason why Antifa protests of pro-Trump “free speech” rallies and anti-free speech protests on college campuses, have become so tumultuous, even to the point of violence. This turn of events can’t be a surprise given the above mantra; SJW’s have no interest in honest, open debate. Their only interest is in shutting down their opponents by any means necessary, including mobbing and shouting down opponents and stopping speakers they don’t like by calling in bomb threats to venues. Though these tactics are reprehensible enough to demand denunciation by any responsible party, the fact is that a friendly media and political class has only exacerbated the problem.

This has led many on the right to seek a more direct strategy when dealing with the left: use the tactics of the left on the left. We have seen a few cases of this recently. First is the push to declare leftist violence as hate crimes. The whole idea of hate crimes is ridiculous and succumbing to the left’s linguistic games plays right into their hands by normalizing and justifying bad laws. The second strategy is even worse: to start shutting down free speech events themselves.

I can understand why this strategy is appealing. It is certainly frustrating to see your political enemies seemingly getting away with anti-free speech violence, but that’s no reason to resort to their tactics.

There is simply nothing to be gained for the political right by using the same pernicious tactics that their rivals use. It makes the right look childish, spiteful, and only continues to justify similar leftist responses. One reason for this is because conservatives and the right will never get fair treatment in the mainstream media. Another reason is that the public will simply throw up its hands and declare the two sides equally destructive.

As Nietzsche said, “Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”

The Evergreen State College Controversy in 7 Blood Boiling Minutes

Evergreen State College, a Washington college with a student acceptance rate of 98.9%, has recently come into the news for a free speech controversy. The controversy centers around Bret Weinstein, a progressive evolutionary biology professor, who had the audacity to object to a student led initiative to make white students and professors stay home for a day.

The ensuing student protests show perfectly what today’s neo-Marxist campus left has become.  The only thing more pathetic than the student’s behavior has been university president George Bridges’ response. By allowing these intellectually stunted campus bullies run roughshod over the college, even while they shout profanities and attempt to block his access to the bathroom, he is only pouring gasoline on the fire.

Evergreen State College has always been a left-wing training ground. In addition to the 98.9% acceptance rate (the national average is 65%), the college boasts “narrative evaluations” instead of a traditional grading structure. This speaks volumes about the institution’s lack of academic standards.

If the behavior in the video wasn’t irritating enough, consider this: Evergreen State College currently receives over $24 million in taxpayer funding annually. The controversy has led a state lawmaker to introduce a plan to privatize the university and eliminate the funding over five years. Even better would be to eliminate all taxpayer funding of colleges and universities, as well as ending all government subsidy of student loans. Let the campus crazies terrorize impotent college presidents on their own dime.


How the ADA Ends Up Handicapping Everyone

The American’s with Disabilities Act of 1990, ADA for short, was passed to prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities. To achieve this, the ADA expands on the anti-discrimination criteria provided by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This includes forcing employers to provide ‘reasonable accommodations’ for disabled employees, as well as forcing businesses to to provide ‘public accommodations’ for disabled patrons.

Though public accommodation laws are usually well-intentioned, they are fundamentally antithetical to libertarianism.  Not only that, sometimes the practical issues that arise from ADA lawsuits become downright ridiculous.

Enter this story from the University of California, Berkeley. The University was generously offering more than 20,000 free video lectures, podcasts and other media on their website for everyone to study and enjoy. These videos are now going away as a result of an anti-discrimination complaint brought by two employees of Gallaudet University, a school for the deaf. The reason: the videos do not provide closed captioning and, therefore, are not accessible for everyone.

The Department of Justice agreed with Gallaudet and found UC Berkeley in violation of the ADA. Instead of spending the money to provide the required access, the University is limiting the content to students and staff only, beginning March 15.

As unfortunate as that is, I can’t say I’m surprised. Government regulations rarely result in the consequences that were originally intended. In fact, most regulations end up hurting the very people they are designed to help. Take, for example, licensing laws that restrict low income entrepreneurs from starting businesses, or taxes that target predominately low-income goods like cigarettes.

This problem here is that UC Berkeley is providing their own content for free online. They are under no obligation to provide these videos for free and they shouldn’t have to spend one cent to alter their content to be more widely accessible. End of story.

When problems exist in society, we should not have State thugs bullying people and institutions into submission through excessive regulations and legal threats. We need instead to allow voluntary, free market solutions to be put into practice. For instance, maybe Gallaudet could have worked in partnership with UC Berkeley to provide transcription services, or perhaps any number of third parties could use any number of technologies to allow easier access. Given the fact that Gallaudet is a deaf college, I could imagine a scenario that these services would even be provided for no charge.

Unfortunately, this is a story that ends all too predictably; the consequences of ADA regulations aren’t that the disabled are helped up, it’s that everyone ends up handicapped.

Campus (Anti) Free Speech

One of the most troubling trends in America today is the growing anti-free speech attitudes of students and professors on college campuses. It is almost a year ago exactly that Melissa Click was fired from The University of Missouri for calling for “muscle” to remove a camerman during a campus free speech protest, yet the anti-free speech mentality of leftists on college campuses seems to be getting worse, and more violent.

This was shown when protesters at UC Berkeley set fires and assaulted supporters of Milo Yiannopoulos, who was slated to speak at the university. The protests caused the cancellation of Milo’s speech and caused over $100,000 worth of damage.
Some have claimed that the violence was justified on the basis of privilege (whatever that’s supposed to mean). Others site the rumor that Milo intended to “out” illegal immigrant students in an attempt to have them deported as a reason to support the outbursts. (Milo has denied those allegations)
The discussion of when violence is justified against people you ideologically disagree with is an important one to have and fits squarely into the larger context of current anti-Trump/fascist/neo-nazi protests across the country, but that is beyond the our scope here.
What is most troubling about this anti-free speech mentality is that it flies in the face of everything college is supposed to represent and reinforce.  College is the time when young adults break away from their parents influences and begin to learn how to think, act and behave as an adult. Instrumental in this process are professors who challenge the belief systems of the student body and demand intellectual integrity.
But we don’t have that at all. We instead see too many self indulgent professors like Click setting the pace for the worst kind of anti-intellectual impulses of the students. This leads to students that are unable to refute the substance of their opponents arguments and instead resort to intimidation, threats, and, ultimately, violence.
The problem is that this mentality is counterproductive, both short and long term.  Obviously, assault and destruction of property are non aggression axiom violations, but beyond that, violence alienates just about everyone who doesn’t already agree with you. It’s not only a way to not win people over to your position, it gives your opponent the advantage by providing extra publicity and the chance to play the victim.
If you have a better argument, make it. If you don’t have a better argument, learn one. That’s what college is for, after all.