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Saturday, June 24, 2006 - 9:37pmSanction this postReply
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Hi all; I'm new to the forum (although I'll confess to having lurked around the site for about a month and a half now), and there's something I came across this year that I'd like some input/advice on. The high school from which I recently graduated conducts an anonymous survey of the student body every year concerning a variety of issues; they use the survey (adjusted for the typical errors generated by students messing around) to address any negative elements in the students' experience. Questions concern a variety of things, from whether students feel safe at school to whether they engage in regular drug use. One set of questions, though, was jarring to me. It concerned students' interactions with other students of different races. The primary question asked students to respond on a continuum of 1 to 5 (with 1 being "strongly disagree" and 5 being "strongly agree") to the following statement:

"I enjoy spending time with people of a different race than me."

Is it just me, or is there no right answer here? The administration has decided, based partly on that survey, that students are too uninterested in racial issues. I am fairly sure (based on testimonies of other students) that the vast majority answered "3" because it is the only option that shows no preference and is thus devoid of racism. Though I no longer have a direct stake in what happens in the school, I have no desire to see my younger friends (or anyone, for that matter) subjected to diatribes full of collectivist tripe that tells them to make ANY sort of judgment based on someone's racial heritage. But how does one argue with an administration full of people who have, historically, been impervious to reason?

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Saturday, June 24, 2006 - 11:31pmSanction this postReply
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Hi Daniel,

And welcome aboard!

I would point out that the question itself is racist, because it makes race the determining factor in interpersonal associations.

If you don't enjoy spending time with someone just because he or she is of a different race, then that's obviously racist; otherwise the person's race would be irrelevant to the value that he or she has for you as an individual human being.

But, by the same token, if you do enjoy spending time with someone just because he or she is of a different race then that too is racist, otherwise the person's race would also be irrelevant to the value that he or she has for you as an individual.

In both these cases, you're judging a person, either positively or negatively, based simply on his or her membership in a race that is different from yours. Typically, people enjoy spending time with someone if the other person has values and interests similar to their own, regardless of whether he or she is of the same or of a different race.

It often happens, however, that people of the same race or ethnicity have more things in common with each other than with people of a different race, so it is more likely that their friends will be of their own race. But this is not always the case. Nevertheless, to make an issue out of this and to send around a questionnaire reflecting it is race obsessiveness run amuck!

Now presumably we are not talking about sexual attraction here. A previous thread raised the issue of someone's being attracted to a certain physical type, which might be correlated with a particular racial group. For example, a black man might find white women more attractive than black women, or a white woman might find Latin men more attractive than white men, etc. But this is in no way racist; it is simply a preference for a certain physical type, and has nothing to do with friendship that is based on shared values or mutual interests.

- Bill
(Edited by William Dwyer
on 6/25, 12:01am)


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Sunday, June 25, 2006 - 3:56amSanction this postReply
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Daniel -

My advice; Choose the most contraversial. If they ask a ridiculously stupid question, such as the one presented, they deserve a ridiculously stupid answer. If they call you on it, explain to them such an arbitrary question should never have appeared, and the box 'Don't care' wasn't available to tick.

That's how I'd do it, anyway.

Andy.

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Sunday, June 25, 2006 - 8:39amSanction this postReply
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When I come across questions/surveys like this, I make up my own choice-- like adding a category that explains my view and checking it, or, in this case, adding a new number on the continuum-- like 0-- and putting down that the number 0 means the question is irrelevent in my life. [hehe]

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Sunday, June 25, 2006 - 9:43amSanction this postReply
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Excellent post Bill. And Jenna love how you handle those situations! I'll need to remember that should I find myself in any similar situations. I was going to say maybe one can go the indignant route, during the test one can just stand up, walk out, and throw the test in the trash can in protest. But it is high school and that would warrant a trip to the principle's office if I recall.

I would say the question is poorly worded and is left for some ambiguity, but to play devil's advocate, the way the question is worded doesn't preclude enjoying spending time with people of the same race, nor I think does it suggest it asks if you enjoy spending time with someone because of their race. Only that you do enjoy spending time with other students or friends who happen to be of another race than your own.

Although I'm sure there are some kind of collectivist/tribalist motives here from the school so I'm probably giving them too much credit.

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Sunday, June 25, 2006 - 7:38amSanction this postReply
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Actually, I simply refused to take the survey on the grounds that it was based on bad premises that sought to make the student body morally compromise itself. But the problem remains regarding the administration's decision to "increase awareness of racial issues." Because they only began attempting to do so this year, I was spared the full results of their plan. Still, it resulted in the formation of a "Student Diversity Club" dedicated to educating the rest of the student body about race. All they've succeeded in doing is perpetuating the B.S. postmodernist view that races and cultures think in different ways and that any way is socially acceptable. But how does one break down something endorsed by an administration that, most of the time, is deaf to any complaints that don't tow the party line? In other words, how does a single student, armed only with reason and a decent abilitiy to debate, change policies that are based in a lack of reasoning?

p.s. I think people will find this irony amusing. Underclassman English courses at my school focus on looking at the way different cultures create meaning in their stories. Then, once one hits junior year English, the teachers (the same set who taught you freshman and sophomore English) proceed to disabuse each and every student of the notion that race is somehow biologically determined, or indeed that it exists anywhere outside of the human mind. That is, the literature tha deals with race issues is used to justify the (admirable) assertion that race is something that people have constructed based on their perceptions of others' differences rather than something that is there from the beginning: the exact OPPOSITE of what the administration is advocating. Perhaps good sense will win out in the end after all :)

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Sunday, June 25, 2006 - 1:03pmSanction this postReply
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I also omit irrelevant info or fill in commentary where possible - eg. any form that asks for race gets 'other - human'. Unfortunately a survey with selections from 1-5 is probably means a fill-in-the-bubble - and the machines which automatically read and tally them can't yet appreciate write-ins.


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Sunday, June 25, 2006 - 1:12pmSanction this postReply
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Daniel wrote:

But the problem remains regarding the administration's decision to "increase awareness of racial issues." Because they only began attempting to do so this year, I was spared the full results of their plan. Still, it resulted in the formation of a "Student Diversity Club" dedicated to educating the rest of the student body about race.


Ahh, now I see the full motive here behind that question. So I did give them way too much a benefit of the doubt. I agree Daniel that is pretty repugnant.

All they've succeeded in doing is perpetuating the B.S. postmodernist view that races and cultures think in different ways and that any way is socially acceptable.


Here here! Multiculturalism is a disgusting idealogy.

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Sunday, June 25, 2006 - 4:12pmSanction this postReply
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Here here! Multiculturalism is a disgusting idealogy.
What so horrible about multiculturalism?  What is the opposite of multiculturalism?  Monoculturalism? Sounds kinda boring...

Are you maybe thinking of "Cultural relativism" instead? I think that's what the student survey is all about, cultural  relativism.

But race in and of it'self isn't an indicator of cultural influence, so the writers of the survey are ignorant, as well as stupid.

"Diversity" is code for "relative to all others cultures."  I know they hate it, but some cultures really are inferior to others.  Come on!   Are they blind??

  



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Sunday, June 25, 2006 - 4:59pmSanction this postReply
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Teresa, multiculturalism is usually defined as regarding all cultures to be morally equivalent, or cultural relativism.

The words "multiculturalism" and "cultural relativism" are interchangeable. From the ARI website:

Multiculturalism is a growing force in Americaís universities and public life. In brief, multiculturalism is the view that all cultures, from that of a spirits-worshiping tribe to that of an advanced industrial civilization, are equal in value.

Since cultures are obviously not equal in valueónot if manís life is your standard of valueóthis egalitarian doctrine can have only one purpose: to raze the mountaintops. Multiculturalism seeks to obliterate the value of a free, industrialized civilization (which today exists in the West and elsewhere), by declaring that such a civilization is no better than primitive tribalism. More deeply, it seeks to incapacitate a mindís ability to distinguish good from evil, to distinguish that which is life promoting from that which is life negating.



We are opposed to this destructive doctrine. We hold that moral judgment is essential to life. The ideas and values that animate a particular culture can and should be judged objectively. A culture that values freedom, progress, reason and science, for instance, is good; one that values oppression, stagnation, mysticism, and ignorance is not.


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Sunday, June 25, 2006 - 8:29pmSanction this postReply
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The words "multiculturalism" and "cultural relativism" are interchangeable.
Thanks, John. 

Predictably, I disagree with ARI's submission.   

I'm referring back to a collection of essays put together by Howard Dickman titled "The Imperiled Academy."

One essay, written by Daniel Bonevac and titled "Leviathan U.," describes a clear distinction made by  British  academic, Diane Ravitch, over twenty years ago: "...pluralistic multiculturalists seek to enrich our common culture, to make it more inclusive and less parochial by incorporating elements of other cultures.  In the words of one of the most influential pluralists, "to advocate multicultural education is not to deny the need  for a common public culture, but only to argue that the common culture could be less rigid and biased." ["Monoculturalism"]

Basically, what these early multiculturalists were advocating was rational sympathy for cultural differences, like offering more varied menus in the dining halls for students with dietary restrictions, and not forcing Muslim girls to wear gym uniforms they found embarrassing.

Ravitch makes another distinction between pluralism and "particularism," which rejects the idea of a common culture altogether.  

Bonevac continues:

"This [particularism] has influenced 
Afrocentric  school curricula developed and implemented in cities such as Pittsburgh and Washington. According  to particularists, American society and culture do not, and should not, approximate a 'melting-pot' producing one culture out of many. In such a blend, they maintain, the bland white majority and its culture overwhelm minorities and their cultures. Inevitably, minorities occupy subservient social positions; minority cultures play a minor roles in the culture as a whole, if they manage to survive at all. Pluralists might respond that we should seek to change our recipe, preserving the melting-pot image, or that we should seek a smorgasbord, allowing each culture to preserve its own identity while allowing people to choose among the offerings of many cultures. Particularists, in contrast, see the smorgasbord idea as deceptive. The majority culture is bound to dominate the available offerings; it will be hard to find a place for minority cultures on the table."


I understand ARI's long history of rejecting context, and applying definitions (or severely limiting them) to terms in an attempt to suit it's own purpose and agenda, as the quote you provided demonstrates, but this is a complex issue with many facets.

I maintain that "relativism" and "multiculturalism" are not the same animal, in the same sense, at the same time.  One is an offering, the other is a walled off cessation and arrest.



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Sunday, June 25, 2006 - 10:05pmSanction this postReply
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If ye split hairs  enough, ye end up  with shavings....

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Sunday, June 25, 2006 - 10:42pmSanction this postReply
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Teresa wrote:

I maintain that "relativism" and "multiculturalism" are not the same animal, in the same sense, at the same time.


I don't share your view. Commonly the term is used to equate cultures morally.

One essay, written by Daniel Bonevac and titled "Leviathan U.," describes a clear distinction made by British academic, Diane Ravitch, over twenty years ago: "...pluralistic multiculturalists seek to enrich our common culture, to make it more inclusive and less parochial by incorporating elements of other cultures. In the words of one of the most influential pluralists, "to advocate multicultural education is not to deny the need for a common public culture, but only to argue that the common culture could be less rigid and biased."


How am I supposed to interpret that? What elements should be incorporated into Western culture? Buddhism? Islam? Or what? And why should we incorporate them into an education?

Basically, what these early multiculturalists were advocating was rational sympathy for cultural differences,


????

like offering more varied menus in the dining halls for students with dietary restrictions, and not forcing Muslim girls to wear gym uniforms they found embarrassing.


Dietary restrictions because of health? Or culture?

Buddhists are vegetarians, do we say Buddhism, is now morally equivalent to Western culture? Is culture based on some kind of tribalistic notion now ok? Girls that protest a gym uniform because of their Islamic religion?

Multiculturalism is a repugnant idea. Making concessions to be tolerant of one's culture, a culture that is derived from religious or tribalistic notions is completely absurd and ought to be rejected. I have no sympathy for a religious or tribalistic culture. This idealogy, is what allows for the argument Muslim women should not have to show their face on a driver's liscence, or that we should abandon the classic American History education of the founding fathers and instead harp on the fact Thomas Jefferson owned slaves. Multiculturalism is a disgusting idealogy and is destroying this country's education system, and further succeeding in the Balkanization of our citizens.

I think you should read Rand's essay "Global Balkanization"

Now this ought not to be confused with tolerance with respect to individual rights. But that's not what multiculturalism is. It is defined as accepting cultures as either equivalent to our own, or rejecting the notion that one can pass moral judgement on a culture. Sorry I don't buy that. I can definitely pass a moral judgement on whether Muslim school girls don't want to wear the school's uniform. Or whether a school should accomodate it's lunch menu for some absurd religious sensibilities.

"This [particularism] has influenced
Afrocentric school curricula developed and implemented in cities such as Pittsburgh and Washington. According to particularists, American society and culture do not, and should not, approximate a 'melting-pot' producing one culture out of many. In such a blend, they maintain, the bland white majority and its culture overwhelm minorities and their cultures. Inevitably, minorities occupy subservient social positions; minority cultures play a minor roles in the culture as a whole, if they manage to survive at all. Pluralists might respond that we should seek to change our recipe, preserving the melting-pot image, or that we should seek a smorgasbord, allowing each culture to preserve its own identity while allowing people to choose among the offerings of many cultures. Particularists, in contrast, see the smorgasbord idea as deceptive. The majority culture is bound to dominate the available offerings; it will be hard to find a place for minority cultures on the table."


And? Both ideas are disgusting.

I understand ARI's long history of rejecting context, and applying definitions (or severely limiting them) to terms in an attempt to suit it's own purpose and agenda, as the quote you provided demonstrates, but this is a complex issue with many facets.


I don't get the militant hatred for the ARI on this forum. I think they got this one right. Sorry Teresa, I just don't agree with you on this one.








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Monday, June 26, 2006 - 5:27amSanction this postReply
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quote Daniel Walden: But how does one break down something endorsed by an administration that, most of the time, is deaf to any complaints that don't tow the party line? In other words, how does a single student, armed only with reason and a decent abilitiy to debate, change policies that are based in a lack of reasoning?

p.s. I think people will find this irony amusing. Underclassman English courses at my school focus on looking at the way different cultures create meaning in their stories. Then, once one hits junior year English, the teachers (the same set who taught you freshman and sophomore English) proceed to disabuse each and every student of the notion that race is somehow biologically determined, or indeed that it exists anywhere outside of the human mind. That is, the literature tha deals with race issues is used to justify the (admirable) assertion that race is something that people have constructed based on their perceptions of others' differences rather than something that is there from the beginning: the exact OPPOSITE of what the administration is advocating. Perhaps good sense will win out in the end after all :)
I would say follow, the example of Socrates, don't try to change something, question and let people think for themselves. The end of your message is a good example of questions you could ask your teachers.


Issues of race, culture and sub-culture seem very blurred to me.

You could say "race" as a population (in the mathematical sense) of individuals sharing a set genetic charecteristics. These differences are to my opinion not relevant. So whites are better at digesting lactose, Portugal is the country with the biggest occurence of blood-type A+, blacks are less likely to suffer sun-burn, so what? Outside healthcare, this is of litle importance to society.

Then there is culture. Cultures can be very diverse. Hindu culture is different from ancient Rome and modern day Islam. But a lot of things are common to all cultures, like legends about heroes, moral rules etc. But how many cultures are there in America outside the mainstream culture? Maybe the Amsih or Native Americans  could be considered different cultures, but there are few tensions with mainstream american culture.

Subculture? OK it has it's influence but it is easy to switch sub-cultures and there are  lots of them. Where do you put blacks who joined the US-Marines or ex-hippies who converted to Mormonism?

So the question stands, how much do race/culture/sub-culture matter when studying western societies?


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Monday, June 26, 2006 - 5:38amSanction this postReply
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I don't get the militant hatred for the ARI on this forum. I think they got this one right. Sorry Teresa, I just don't agree with you on this one.

No worries, John.

Oh, and I don't "hate" ARI, I just disagree with some methods and policies.  I don't follow much of what's going on in either of the two major Objectivist camps.

(Edited by Teresa Summerlee Isanhart on 6/26, 5:42am)


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Monday, June 26, 2006 - 7:14amSanction this postReply
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The majority culture is bound to dominate the available offerings; it will be hard to find a place for minority cultures on the table."
That's the same crap view of those who claim there're little possibilities of diversity in business offerings, that all the stores will end up being alike, etc - rubbish.....  always places for the minority culture in restaurants, for instance, and stores catering to their peculiarities - at least sure is where I live..... and that means within the community at large, since it takes those sub-cultures to make viable those businesses....


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Monday, June 26, 2006 - 9:16amSanction this postReply
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Re: multiculturalism: There are some values that are universal, no matter what the culture. I think denigrating life is wrong, all around-- no matter if it's an industrial Western nation or some little village in China. This is the part that I disagree with cultural relativism, that it says all cultural activities and thoughts are acceptable if it's a different culture. I go with some actions/thoughts are morally acceptable (to me), some are not.

For example, I, and my parents, dislike the Chinese government intensely. We speak of it with deep sadness; some don't even talk about it because it's too terrible.

However, just because not all cultural actions/thoughts are equal necessarily means than none of them are. I think chopsticks are just as equal in value as forks as a way of eating--- that's morally fine to me, it's a cultural difference, a cultural and personal choice, and here toleration and understanding is the word, not to mention perspective. Someone celebrating Jewish holidays like my orthodox aunt does-- that's her deal. It would only be wrong if it was required of all people, no matter their choice.

And, thinking differently because my language, social life, food, youth, etc. is Eastern rather than Western-- and there are differences-- that's not morally wrong, as long as those universal human values (such as sanctity of life, growth, etc.) aren't being squashed. I think that being able to look at things in the Eastern wholistic way as well as Western reductionist way is an advantage as it helps me keep context.

The hard part is when religion is culture is identity is nation, when it all becomes monolithic so that if you're dealing with a nation you're also dealing with a religion too. This is bad, where boundaries are dropped completely-- which seems to me to breed irrationality because there is no perspective, no context, no sense of time, no sense of difference because everything is and should be the same.

Culture is not always cut and dry; it is not always-- though it certainly can be-- a moral case (i.e. chopsticks vs. Chinese gov't); it is also a case of differences in practice; which is why there are so many misunderstandings. I don't think my parents think or are wrong just because they grew up in a different culture; they're wrong when they overstep their boundaries to try to make their boundaries mine.


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Monday, June 26, 2006 - 9:28amSanction this postReply
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I think the currently Christianilty dominated "American/Western culture" is full of crap. ;-) 

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Monday, June 26, 2006 - 9:38amSanction this postReply
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Jenna wrote:


However, just because not all cultural actions/thoughts are equal necessarily means than none of them are. I think chopsticks are just as equal in value as forks as a way of eating---


Well whenever I eat at an Asian restaurant, (which these days it's about all I eat) I always eat with chopsticks so far be it for me to condemn my actions as immoral. :)

The word culture I think has taken on different meanings over time, in the context of this thread, and in the context of the term multiculturalism, it has taken on a far different meaning than what you have described in your above sentence.

In this context, culture is usually defined as a set of beliefs. So accomodating Muslim women so that they don't have to have their picture on a driver's liscense, is derived from their erroneous Islamic beliefs and their demands thus are irrational. I can definitely pass a moral judgement on this.

Now things like an eating utensil? Ok well I'm not sure what specifically about a chopstick that is rooted in some cultural belief. I don't think there is one unless I am mistaken? Obviously in this context of culture it is innocuous and subjective. But I'd prefer not to drop context;

Multiculturalism regards the notion one cannot pass moral judgement on a culture, or one must equate all cultures morally equivalent. I reject that notion and obviously in this context I think you share that view as well.

But now you got me thinking about Chinese food so I have to go find some! :)

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Monday, June 26, 2006 - 10:15amSanction this postReply
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Guido wrote:

Then there is culture. Cultures can be very diverse. Hindu culture is different from ancient Rome and modern day Islam. But a lot of things are common to all cultures, like legends about heroes, moral rules etc.


When passing moral judgement about a culture, for example Hindu culture, and compare it with Western culture, you have to take the totality of those culture into consideration when passing judgement.

When we start looking for some minutia of good in any culture, no matter how terrible the overall culture is, is fallacious and leads to moral ambiguity.

To use an analogy, I'm sure Stalin was nice to his dog, or a few peasants may have benefited from his actions, but the miniscule amount of good cannot possibly blemish his record of overwhelming evil. Similarly, Rand has said some off the wall things about homosexuality and gender roles, but this miniscule amount of erroneous thinking should not blemish the overwhelming amount of genius thought she had. It's this kind of moral ambiguity that has labeled anyone who believes in the validity of objectivism as "Randroids" or "Cultists".

I reject that way of thinking.

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