Monday, June 12, 2006

Another Anti-Racism question

As usual, I'm not asking to be snarky, I'm just wondering:

We’ve talked in the past here about why teaching only the cultural norms of America in the schools is cultural racism.

In a great many countries, it is the cultural norm to “put women on a pedestal” but basically treat them with very little actual respect. Some places, men are expected to straight up treat their women like servents.

If it is racist of us not to teach time time orientation and the community-based thinking that is the cultural norm other places, is it racist of us not to teach the subjugation of women in the schools, since it is the cultural norm other places?

If an Arab guy talks down to me and I say "Dude, please don't talk to me that way," is that racist of me given the way he was probably raised to talk to women and the culture he comes from?

I assume the answers are “no,” but I’m not sure why given the reasoning I’ve read.



Anonymous said...

We're back to something we talked about on Beliefnet some time ago: There are bad ideas. People are not ideas. I can object to your ideas strenuously without disrespecting you as a person.

TheCSO said...

I can understand that distinction, but in and of itself it's not enough. For one, it doesn't define what constitutes "respecting someone as a person". Where do you draw the line between respectful disagreement and disrespectful disagreement?

Or, put another way, are there people whose ideas you consider *so* bad that you cannot respect them as people? At what point of putting "bad" ideas into action does someone cross the line and lose your respect?

Chalicechick said...


I have some sympathy for taking such an approach and teaching:

1. Cultures who teach that women are unequal are wrong.

2. People who come from those cultures and believe that women are inferior are wrong.

3. People who have learned that women are inferior and treat them badly can still be good people, but they’re wrong.

That said, given what people here have told me, if we were to teach that people who don’t have a future time orientation are wrong, though people who think mostly of the present can still be good people, that would be racist.

The best I can do is “treating women as inferior is a moral wrong. Time orientation is a cultural difference.”

But I assume that us seeing treating women as inferior as a moral wrong is a cultural thing on our part. If the people who did it saw it that way, they wouldn’t do it. So that argument doesn’t make much sense.

I’m just curious what argument does.


TheCSO said...

At what point of putting a "bad" idea into action does the person doing so lose your respect?

To use the example from the original post, what I'm hearing is that you have full respect as a person for someone who believes women are inferior, even though you think that is a "bad" and incorrect idea.

How far can they go in taking action based on that belief - treating women badly in this case - before you lose respect for them? How much does their intent, or lack thereof, matter?