There’s a thing that’s been bugging me lately in my observations of the cultural divide as expressed on social media platforms. Well, to be honest, there are a lot of things that have been bugging me lately in that regard, and it’s a huge part of why I’ve been so quiet lately; so many things to write about that I can’t pick just one, and the ever-present fear that something I write will draw too much attention and I’ll have to deal with the various extremists of one side or another.
That having been said, this particular post is in regards the following statement:
“There is no such thing as ‘White Culture’.”
Not because it’s untrue, but because of the context in which it is invariably presented, since it’s almost invariably followed by a rant about the appropriation of “Black Culture” or “Latinx Culture” as if those things existed.
Because they’re just as made up as “White Culture” is. The notion of a contiguous “Black Culture” that applies to all peoples of African descent is ludicrous. The concept of “Latinx Culture” ignores the enormous cultural variation between differing South and Central American cultural groups, and for that matter tacitly excludes any “Latin” cultures of Europe.
The terms are imprecise, and in a thoroughly calculated fashion. It’s more of the identity politics nonsense that has helped fuel the rise of people like Donald Trump. By denying the existence of a “White Culture”, while simultaneously lauding other cultures, you are attempting, quite deliberately, to create a sense of cultural inferiority.
And again, “White Culture” isn’t a thing. The statement that it doesn’t exist is manifestly true. But it’s also inherently misleading.
Because it’s not the matter being discussed. When someone says “There’s no such thing as ‘White Culture'”, what they’re really trying to do is deny the culture of whatever group of “white people” they happen to be dealing with at the time.
Typically Americans, because we’re simultaneously culturally intrusive, omnipresent, and yet somehow quite bland.
As such, what we’re looking at is an attempt to deny “culture” status to “white” Americans, while elevating the cultural status of specific subcultures of African-Americans and Latin-Americans and (insert descriptor here)-Americans.
I mean, I’m white. Do I have a culture?
Well kinda. It’s about as bland and nondescript a culture as one can imagine, loosely based in the shared holidays, practices, and beliefs of the American tradition. I shoot off fireworks on the 4th of July, I buy things for people on Christmas, and I avoid so-called “Irish Pubs” like the plague on Saint Patrick’s Day, though I suppose that last one might disqualify me.
I believe firmly in the right of the people to protest and petition their government, and resist tyranny by force if necessary. I believe that we are all born equal, that everyone deserves the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I believe that we all have the right to say what we think, worship as we choose, and sleep with whomever we wish.
Again, that last one might disqualify me, depending on who you’re talking to.
So yeah. I have a culture. It’s not based on my ethnicity, or even on my nationality per-se, but I’ve got one, to the extent that anyone does.
So why the verbal gymnastics?
To be fair, it’s at least in part in regard to racists who are constantly announcing the impending annihilation of “white culture” or “the white race”, and in that context I can almost forgive the grotesquely imprecise and blatantly misleading nature of the statement.
Racists are assholes, after all.
As for the rest of it, however… I have a theory.
And it’s a fairly ugly one.
You see, to many on the left the notion of “cultural superiority” is an unwelcome concept, borderline anathema to the principles of people who use phrases like “cultural appropriation” with a straight face. At the same time, of course, they’re human, and as such like to feel superior to the people around them, particularly the ones that they dislike.
So what’s a good, progressive, fair-minded, equality-obsessed liberal to do?
Easy. Deny that the people you dislike have any “culture” at all, and you’re superior by default.
The funny thing is that even leaving aside the notion of objectivity, yes, there are obviously superior and inferior cultures, depending on your perspective and status as an individual. And if you think that there aren’t, you are delusional.
Try being an albino in Tanzania, and you’ll pretty rapidly decide that holy shit I’d rather live almost anywhere else, because if you’re lucky enough to avoid being strangled at birth, you could quite easily face a lifetime of discrimination and loneliness as people reject you based solely on your condition. You know, if the fucking witch doctors don’t chop you up for use in traditional medicines first.
It’s all relative.
To Tanzanian albinos, their traditional cultures are decidedly inferior since they have a nasty tendency to follow you down dark alleys and murder you for your body parts. So most of them move to the city, where people are less superstitious, more tolerant, and at least somewhat less likely to kill you. Sure, they’re being denied the full richness of indigenous Tanzanian culture. They’re also alive.
It’s a conversation that is difficult to have in America of course, since the standard bearers of tolerance invariably conflate culture with race, and couple that with their firm belief in the inherent sanctity of the oppressed and heaven forfend we call something what it is. I mean, Muslim countries represent a culture of tolerance and justice, long oppressed by viciously exploitative colonialists, and are in no way inferior just because they have a nasty tendency to execute homosexuals.
The weird thing is that the exact same people who would have me burned at the stake for saying that many Islamic cultures are inferior based on their treatment of homosexuals are more than happy to declare the cultural inferiority of “Red States” based on their treatment of homosexuals.
WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY DENYING THE EXISTENCE OF ANY SUCH CULTURE IN THE FIRST PLACE.
It’s a level of cognitive dissonance that I can barely comprehend.