(I make one small change, in the common language of Kipling’s time the difference between race and culture was very blurred if seen at all. If you change the words White Man to Westerner I believe you free the full truth of Kipling’s poem without tainting it with racism.)
Take up the Westerner’s burden–
Send forth the best ye breed–
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives’ need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild–
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child.
Take up the Westerner’s burden–
In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,
An hundred times made plain
To seek another’s profit,
And work another’s gain.
Take up the Westerner’s burden–
The savage wars of peace–
Fill full the mouth of Famine
And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
The end for others sought,
Watch sloth and heathen Folly
Bring all your hopes to nought.
Take up the Westerner’s burden–
No tawdry rule of kings,
But toil of serf and sweeper–
The tale of common things.
The ports ye shall not enter,
The roads ye shall not tread,
Go mark them with your living,
And mark them with your dead.
Take up the Westerner’s burden–
And reap his old reward:
The blame of those ye better,
The hate of those ye guard–
The cry of hosts ye humour
(Ah, slowly!) toward the light:–
“Why brought he us from bondage,
Our loved Egyptian night?”
Take up the Westerner’s burden–
Ye dare not stoop to less–
Nor call too loud on Freedom
To cloke your weariness;
By all ye cry or whisper,
By all ye leave or do,
The silent, sullen peoples
Shall weigh your gods and you.
Take up the Westerner’s burden–
Have done with childish days–
The lightly proferred laurel,
The easy, ungrudged praise.
Comes now, to search your manhood
Through all the thankless years
Cold, edged with dear-bought wisdom,
The judgment of your peers!
To the common political “wisdom” these days the words of Kipling seem to be the crowing of a classic arrogant dead white man. But when analyzed they show not a single lie, distortion or untruth. Today the term racism has been co-opted by the other side and is now used mostly BY racists to demonize their opposition and mask their own agenda.
I was fortunate enough to have been raised in an environment that was very colorblind. Not in a hyper-PC “oh, we NEVER talk about the color of Johnny’s skin” way but as in that no one around me ever made any kind of a big deal about it. People were people and that was about that.
As a result I was puzzled on hitting college age when people put such an emphasis on NOT seeing the obvious when it came to cultural differences. What can there possibly be wrong with noting say, that the North Korean culture is seriously inferior to just about all other modern ones? Just who is racist, the one who sees people of all color as good, bad and sometimes indifferent or the one who sees their own RACE, not only culture, as the villain and excuses ALL other races with an argument that amounts to “they don’t know any better so we can’t hold them to our standards.”
Who is racist when every single sign in the Wal-Mart near my house (with many Hispanics in the area) has duplicate Spanish while the Wal-mart in Diamond Bar where there are a great many Asians the signs are only in English? Is it not an insult to put “Cosmeticas” under the word cosmetics? Even tourists are not usually that clueless. To me it smacks of an arrogance that assumes certain races are less able to “cope” with our society than others. ON the other hand if the impetus for these signs comes from the Hispanic community itself it is another form of arrogance. It is then saying “hey, we don’t care HOW close your stupid English is to the Spanish, we do not want to have to even pretend to think we are not in a Hispanic country if we don’t want to.” Just imagine a white American expressing that attitude. The Leftist lynch mob would be after them in a flash. We have a term in America that we apply to, among other things, the kind of American who lives in a foreign land in an American elcleve and ignored the culture and language of their hosts…we call them assholes. Unless they are from a developing land and live that way in the West. Then we call them oppressed. Is it not racism to think that Westerners should completely adapt to cultures wherever they go but non-Westerners are not required to do the same when they travel to the West?
What other than a racist arrogance (on one side or the other, if not both) would make anyone think that ONLY the Spanish speakers need to have a special option on phone lines? And on that note, What about the racism of the Spanish speakers toward all the Portuguese speakers? ALL anyone ever talks about in Ca is Spanish this and Spanish that. Do we not get immigrants from Brazil and the other Portuguese countries? The HiSPANIC issue has been taken over by those who speak Spanish and the entire Portuguese based culture has been suppressed in America. The general public is hardly aware that there are TWO major cultures in South America not just one.
At some point simpleminded Humans became confused between skin color and culture. As an American though I have grown up with the glaring example of a place where about the only thing that really controls how a person lives is the cultural face they show the world.
A Mexican man who dresses and acts like he wants all the world to know he could be type-cast in a modern remake of Zoot Suit will not have the opportunities given to him that a man who is assimilated (into WHATEVER country he lives in) and happens to have been born in Mexico will have. Or one born in China, or one born in America for that matter.
Even keeping to just white Americans, who will deny the profound differences between people who grow up in inner city Brooklyn to those who grew up in suburban Southern California. Which one would you rather hire for a job dealing with customers in Chicago? Culture matters. Culture is values and traditions and ethics. One culture says stealing is not a crime when a person is legitimately desperate, while another says a man raping his wife is no criminal. Both think the other society is wrong. Who wins? In the West the one that provides the most freedom and opportunity to all while oppressing none is the best regardless of the details. In the East it is one that protects the status quo and those who fall between the cracks are just collateral damage in the pursuit of a pure society that will be completely benign once all opposition is removed. Yeah, right, we have heard that one before.
But if you take a person from ANY culture that is willing to adapt and put them in ANY place where they are given the opportunity to do so they will thrive and their children and children’s children will be of the new country and not the old “race”.
So what is the point of all this PC pretense that all cultures are equal and valid and no one’s “cultural experience” should be held as less than any other’s? Good question. I do not see how it can be anything that is meant for the good of all involved. Anyone who travels far enough from their home culture will be seen as “wrong” in their ways. Take two examples: A bunch of random California college students dumped in Saudi Arabia would be seen as tainted and evil and inferior to the locals not for their race (which could be anything, including Arab) as much as for how they acted and their moral and ethic values and what religion they belonged to. And a bunch of the elite of Saudi Arabia let off the leash in America would offend many people in Ca. with THEIR actions and values.
As an example, not too long ago a Saudi Prince was caught beating his servants in Switzerland and he was arrested. The Saudi Government’s response was to put political and economic pressure on the Swiss until THEY apologized. Is this the response of a civilized nation? No, it is the response of a tribal mindset; A mindset that sees “us” as always to be protected right or wrong and “them” as always worth less than any of “us” regardless of actual individual merit.
I for one refuse to apologize for acting with vigor to defend against the destruction and defamation of the cultural paradigm that has brought the world from violence, ignorance and superstition to the point where the only thing keeping most peoples down is their own lack of commitment to those ideals.
This is not to say that the West is perfect. There never has been a perfect society and I do not expect to see one any time soon. I am content with protecting and improving the only one that has actually had results in improving the lot of humanity.
To those who accuse me of only talking about non-Western tribalism I would like to say that I have spent a lot of my time highlighting the aspects of our own culture that retain tribal elements. The deep South in America is one place where Tribalism is still fairly strong for a Western land. The Us and Them factor is ever present there in way a Californian like me finds boggling. Institutional prejudices that I thought only remained in the movies and TV were shoved in my face. I did not respond by assuming the locals knew best and I was just an interfering outsider. I stood up for the values that made the West and America what they are. But even the worst of rural Louisiana culture has risen far above the level of the highest of the non-Western lands. To pursue civilization means to pursue, fair, consistent laws for ALL people instead of privilege for a few and subservience for the rest in pursuit of a FUTURE paradise that will be worth the unfortunate “deviations” of the present.
So do not be ashamed to stand up for the West. Do not be afraid to call non-Westerners to task for their barbaric treatment of minorities and women. Stand for the West and world civilization or you can be sure your apathy will be used by those who promote tribal and totalitarian thought to take your power away and use it ON you instead of for you.
Bottom line, freedom of religion and conscience gives you a right not to be oppressed by others as you pursue your business, it does not give you a right to make others dance to your tune or allow you to break local laws protecting public health and safety because you do not “believe” in doing things that way.
The PC paradigm says we should pretend that the U.S. and Iran are equal in “civilization” and that it is wrong and evil to even try to judge which might be the “better” culture. But that attitude denies the three thousand years of developing human rights in the West. If the values of the West; freedom of speech and religion and conscience are not meaningless mental masturbations by a timid people afraid to “deal with the nitty gritty real world” then the “values” of Iran and North Korea and such places can only been seen as evil and inimical for those who grow up in them or are subject to their power. To get any other answer is to say that all of the West’s evolution toward dealing with other nations and individuals humanely has been a meaningless game that has no moral ramifications at all in the eyes of any hypothetical “objective” observer”.
How did the progress of the West toward equal rights for all get derailed into favoritism to favored minorities, disdain for the un-favored and outright institutional contempt for not only the indigenous races but the entire indigenous cultures of the West? I think Neville Chamberlain could explain the phenomenon if he were here. In every group there are hardliners and compromisers and appeasers. Hardliners will not see the brick wall in front of their face if it means giving up one iota of their agenda but the appeaser willingly sacrifices, one by one, every vital aspect of their psyche and security for the promise of peace in the future and to be seen as the “good guy”. But the compromiser weighs each path in relation to the situation and THEN chooses to compromise or not. As hardliners and appeasers seem to be the dominant breed in politics what we have today is the result of a tug of war between the hardliners and appeasers on both sides of the political spectrum.
In the terror wars the appeasers are concentrated in the West and the hardliners are almost all on the Islamic side. This is how we end up with a “separation of church and state” that allows the government to pay for Muslim footbaths at a state university. This is how we see a couple in England put on trial for criminal racism for merely responding to statements by a Muslim woman about THEIR religion that to them Muhammed was a warlord and Muslim traditional dress is oppressive to women. For stating two truths that any third grader with a copy of the Koran and Hadith could confirm these people may lose their bed & breakfast (yep the woman was a GUEST under their roof when she initiated a conversation about their Christian beliefs) because they “insulted and offended” a member of the only religion that demands that you follow their customs at all times when they might be present or aware of your activities. When was the last time a Jew or Christian or Hindu demanded co-workers refrain from eating in front of them during a fast? Why not? Because they subscribe to the ethics of the West not the East.
Civilized people tend to not like appearing uncivilized even when presented with those who are truly barbaric. We tend to give the benefit of the doubt and bend over backwards to excuse the behavior of non-Westerners (in this I include Japan and South Korea and others like them in “the West”.) no matter how horrific simply because at one time in the past our culture had “taken advantage” of them. That the non-Western countries that were colonized are virtually all dramatically better off (as far as the people in the street are concerned at least) with the influx of Western Law and science and rights is deemed irrelevant. That they treat their own people or foreigners with no power in ways that make the worst of the colonial excesses look tame also means nothing. If you say that the English were preferred employers over local Indian rich folk during The Raj because they treated their servants more humanely and that Islamic attacks over centuries cost the lives of MILLIONS of Indians by DIRECT violence you are called racist or Islamophobic. Yet the fact remains that the English actually freed India from despotism and the Islamics brought eventual barbarism wherever they won. So why are the English demonized as the oppressors of India and the Islamics who conquered with blood half of ancient land seen as “victims”?
Things like this happen because the appeasers are not half as afraid of having their civilization destroyed as they are of being seen as barbarian themselves. They will excuse time and again those from non-Western nations that seek to bring their customs into our lands no matter how many laws are broken or how many people, Western and Non-Western alike have to suffer or even die so they can pretend that “all cultures are equal”.
So, what makes a civilized culture as opposed to a barbarian one? To the ancient Greeks who coined the word barbarian it meant any who were so benighted that they did not speak Greek. To the Shogun Japanese it was anyone who was not Japanese no matter how high their technology or cultural achievements. To me, civilized cultures are those that allow its individual members the stability and safety to build their lives in peace and a constant and humane system of law that applies to all people equally, so that all, rich and poor, know where they stand in regard to acceptable behavior toward each other.
When these criteria are met a society can start building a civilizational “equity” that grows over time. Without them a society will remain stuck in a feudal or tribal mode that has no checks and balances against abuse of personal power. When every functionary, officer and elected official seeks to build their own power base witout duty to the people and individuals are expected to obey without question any who has power over them cooperation drops to a minimum and consistency in law and its application are hard to find.
Let us come right out and say it, today “World Civilization” IS Western Civilization. The most universal aspects of our world today, those of culture and technology and law that are shared and sought by the people of almost every nation are almost exclusively the brainchildren of Western civilization. We can fantasize all we want about how the many things the ancient Chinese invented or the many Greek works the Islamics preserved makes them the equal of the West but it does not change the truth. The Chinese invented things but used knowledge as a means to horde power. The lack of sharing of information between scientists caused many discoveries to either languish unused, like deep ocean navigation, or the secrets were never spread so when the inventers and their people disappeared so did the knowledge.
The printing press was invented in China a thousand years before Gutenberg made his but the Chinese still mainly used the older wood block printing when the Europeans were printing books by the gross. Individual innovation did not take up and improve and spread around the new ideas and inventions. Instead technology was horded like a weapon to be used only for the benefit of the owner. And because of this most of the innovation by individuals in ancient China came to nought over time. But in the West, with a diferent way of looking at power the rate of progress has been unparalled anywhere else in history.
Starting with the traditions of the Greeks and developed by the Romans Western European council based (as opposed to those controlled by kings and priests) tribes adopted many of the new ideas from their Roman conqueror and blended them with their rough and ready form of democracy and individual rights.
Westward rolled the tide of humane civilization. At the high tide of the changes and innovations from the renaissance European thinkers shifted to an even higher civilizational gear and began what came to be called the Enlightenment. No longer would priests and kings be obeyed simply because they were priests or kings. The value of ALL people came into its own and the tide jumped the ocean to America. There all bets were off as the West turned fully away from the old Eastern paradigm of the individual existing only to serve the society.
The most significant difference between the West and the East is this concept. To a Chinese gentleman I once chatted up the nation of China is more important than the individual rights or desires or even the oppression of any of the subject peoples of that nation. This man was not a bad person. In fact he was so nice and reasonable that when he said the above, as though it was completely obvious, it shocked me. But to him, growing up in the East, people only had worth as they contributed to the WHOLE. To him anyone who in any way diminished the whole was simply wrong no matter what the reason. To him if Taiwan or Tibet once were “China” they always should be and individuals who happened to live there needed to act like it. In contrast in the West the WHOLE is seen as sick unless it promotes the well being of the individual as well as the whole! In the East the state may oppress the people to keep order, in the West the people may dispense with the state if it does not serve them. This was the whole premise of the American “revolution” and has spread all over the Western world. It is now “common sense” in the West that a people have the right to create a government that benefits them and that the state has no right to put stability over the law. In the East the only people who have the right to over throw the government are people who belong to the winning faction in that revolution. “Treason doth never prosper, for if it does none dare call it treason”. To take power for “us”, for the “right thinkers”, is seen as a “legal” violation of the principal of putting the state first. But all this does is replace on set of thugs with another, then another, then another.
So now let us compete abandon any pretence of PCism and declare that it is ONLY the very values of the West that keeps non-Western nations from barbarism and political instability. Even China and India, the most advanced non-western cultures, routinely sacrifice the rights of the person to pursue the prosperity of the whole. India does it much less than China due to their orientation toward the West and as a result is a “freer” place to live for its citizens.(At least in comparison with non-Western countries.) As a result the people in these lands do not know where they stand from year to year and it is hard to impossible to build stable institutions. India especially has been a textbook of the evolution from a tribal society to a Western one based on law. Compare its evolution to that of Pakistan which retains its attachment to the tribal past. When there is no underlying structure to the law, when each new ruler acts by whim and not in accord with agreed rules the citizen is left adrift in a sea of uncertainty and corruption. Making nice with evil men is seen as simply the price a person must pay to be allowed any life at all. Success comes not from values but from a willingness to compromise all values on the altar of the local boss’s power and his ability to pull strings of influence.
In the West we know from experience that a few humane rules that apply to everyone produces more prosperity and stability and opportunity for all than all the strong arm rulers in history ever managed to give their people. Those in the East know this too. But in their paradigm power is not to be shared lest someone else take it all and leave you nothing. Do unto others before they do unto you is the rule in lands that do not accept Western ethics. Their leaders are willing to see their people live forever in fear and oppression as long as they can feel secure in their power as leader. But they fail in the very task of a leader, to protect and provide security for their people. To promote Western values is to undermine everything that made them powerful in the first place. In these lands each time the people can stand no more and rebel the only point on the agenda for the new regime is to consolidate power in the same way that those who oppressed them consolidated it: By force and without mercy for dissent.
By contrast the more a nation has embraced Western Values the more stable and prosperous that nation becomes. Nowhere is this more blatantly obvious than in Israel and the Arab states surrounding it.
How can a tiny, oppressed, besieged people be the world’s most innovative and inventive nation? How can this tiny land produce so much good for all humanity in medicine and agriculture and science while surrounded by lands where civilization is something to be had only by those who can afford to import it from the West? How can Israel give full citizenship to Arabs and retain its integrity and yet Saudi Arabia will not even accept as citizens fellow Arab Muslims from neighboring Arab nations lest they lose some sort of Holy “Saudiness”?
Power and how it is used and protected is what it all boils down to. In the West governing power is seen as naturally belonging to all of us and is to be used for the benefit of everyone. In the East this power belongs to the collective group, be it nation or tribe, and is to be used to further the nation or tribes wellbeing. However, the individuals of the East are seen as replaceable parts in a machine they serve rather than being served by. In the West it is the rulers who are seen as replaceable. Judging each paradigm by its fruits it is clear which one is better at delivering its promise of a stable, prosperous culture.
So why do so many in the West trip over themselves to allow Non-Westerners to practice any and all of their tribal “values” in our lands even when those practices are illegal and universally condemned for Westerners? How can a civilized Westerner ever allow things like forced marriage and genital mutilation and honor killings to resurface in the West. Did all those who fought and died to make these horrors go away in the West act in vain? Is it our duty as “civilized” folk to allow “underdeveloped” people to re-establish in our own lands every horror we ourselves have outgrown?
About the only even partially reasonable answer I can come up with as to why this happens is that people are so scared of being seen themselves as uncivilized that they will not make ANY judgment on another person’s culture lest they somehow be tarred with the same brush as real oppressors from the past. In embarrassment at the excesses of Western civilization (which are not “excessive” compared to social policy outside the West.) they will not only excuse but PROMOTE worse excesses in their own lands by those less civilized. It is somehow culturally insensitive for a Westerner to tell an immigrant they can’t keep their women ignorant and enslaved. But it is not insensitive for that same immigrant to demand that the Western women in their own land conform to his notion of proper dress in order not to provoke rape. (yes, that came from an actual Australian Imam who said that Western woman should veil in order to get along better with the Muslim immigrants who were treating Western Women with violence and contempt. )
We in the West need to get over our over-developed sense of guilt and start acting with more responsibility to our hard won values. We need to stop applying double standards to the values of Dead White Men (and women, Queen Elizabeth I and others made huge contributions. Q.E.I pioneered the concept of consolidating ruling power by serving the interests of the people instead of the nobility.) and stop protecting those who want to strip away 500 years of advancement in favor of a return to tribalism with them at the top of the pecking order.