What Part of Our Culture is Worth Preserving?

Saturday

I WAS TALKING to an educated woman last night and she said something that struck me. I was explaining how Islam tries to undermine our culture, and she said, "We don't really have a culture in America."

Just by coincidence, when I got home, my wife had been reading the book, Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and she was sharing parts of the book with me that described what things are like in Somalia. It's very different in many ways, of course. For example, in Somalia, everyone knows their family's history back about 800 years! Every child memorizes all the names of their ancestors. It's a cultural characteristic known as "ancestor worship."

Here's another difference: They're very tribal in Somalia. In other words, people look out for their own clan over everyone else, and if your third cousin needs help, you help him, even if you've never met him before. Another aspect of tribalism and ancestor worship is that anything you do that is shameful dishonors your whole clan. In that culture, you could be shunned by people because of something your great grandfather did a hundred years ago.

As my wife was sharing this with me, I thought, "Here's a way we can discover the outlines of our own culture, which we don't see because it's like water to a fish — we can do it by looking at another culture."

When we find something that seems alien or foreign or when it seems hard to understand why anyone would be that way — we've found something different from our culture, which means we have noticed something characteristic of our culture that is not characteristic of the other culture.

So here are some characteristics I was thinking about that define American culture: We are not tribal. We are individualistic, and part of that individualism is the lack of responsibility (or shame or dishonor) for people related to us. So if my great grandfather was an adulterer, people don't remember that, they don't care, and they don't think less of me because of it.

We do not worship our ancestors, which might be considered another aspect of individualism.

In America, we believe in pluralism — that is, we believe there is not one right way or one right religion or one right culture. We believe everyone has the right to worship however they choose, and to believe what they want. We expect people to have different philosophies of life.

What I've said so far as a definition of American culture is so different from almost any group of human beings anywhere on the planet in the history of humanity as to be revolutionary. Any tribal people who exist now or have ever existed would probably look at our lack of tribalism as a complete lack of humanity or honor. They would probably think our culture isn't a culture. And they would be frightened at our lack of unity or similarity with each other.

But here's another thing that makes us even more strikingly different than any other culture that has ever walked the earth: Women here have rights, freedom, and power — to such an extend as would be shocking and offensive not only in present day China, many places in Africa, and everywhere in the Middle East (except Israel), but in every other time and culture back through history.

When most men in America talk to women, and women answer, men actually listen, even if they don't like what the woman is saying. Men don't dismiss women, for the most part. Men don't beat women. They don't lock women up for being uppity. Here, women have the right to speak their minds, even to men.

Of course, some men do, in fact, dismiss women, and even beat them. But it is rare and frowned upon by an overwhelming majority of our citizens. It is considered to be shameful and offensive by most Americans. And beating and locking up women for being uppity is against the law — and that law is enforced.

Americans are also can-do, inventive people. We will find a way. I remember reading a book of sayings from around the world — sayings that characterized the culture of the different countries, and I really liked the one for America: The harder you fall, the higher you bounce. That kind of optimism is characteristic of American culture.

So here are four characteristics that are part of "American culture." Individualism, pluralism, women's rights, and optimism. These characteristics are shared by other countries and cultures, but they are definitely signature parts of our own culture.

The reason I bring this up is because Islam is a culture. It is an aggressive culture that is not pluralistic — that is, it wants to be the only culture. It wants to subjugate or eliminate all other cultures, and it is incumbent upon each Muslim to strive mightily to make it so. Wherever Islam takes hold, it eventually replaces the existing culture.

How can we defend our culture from Islam's relentless aggression? Well, the first step would be to know we have a culture! And ideally, we should know what is unique about our culture, and we should know what parts of our culture are worth protecting and defending.

Our clarity about the unique, valuable characteristics of Western culture is a kind of immune-system — it's a strength that gives us the will to protect and defend the liberty and equality we have taken for granted our whole lives.

What part of your culture would you be willing to defend?

22 comments:

Damien 3:54 PM  

Citizen Warrior,

you asked,
-----------------------------------------------
What part of your culture would you be willing to defend?
-----------------------------------------------

I'd be willing to defend every part of our culture that you mentioned, because genuinely free and prosperous societies are rare. I think a lot of Americans (as well as other westerners) are spoiled.

In particular American feminists don't know how good they have it. What many left wing feminists don't seem to get is that if they really care about equality of the sexes, they should be defending America since it is most likely the closest thing we will ever get to a truly gender neutral society.

Most societies are not individualists, or at least are not anywhere near as individualist as modern American culture. Also most cultures have not been as pluralist as the modern west. So to say that all cultures are morally equivalent or that there is nothing in western culture worth defending is nonsense.

In fact, even in most of the sci fi or fantasy stories I have read, or watched on TV, or in movies, the fictional alien cultures tend to be lacking in either, individualism, equality of the sexes or pluralism. Could one of the reasons be that we westerners are so used to people valuing those things, that in order to make a culture seem truly alien, it must be lacking one of those values to a large degree?

Emerson Twain 5:56 PM  

Mohammad used Islam to transcend and sacralize its Arab tribal roots to the extent that belief became blood: hence the Ummah, with all of its multi-racial parts. Here in the USA our shared culture is very much the same: we are related not by tribe, but by ideas, and that puts us in direct conflict with Islam, on its own terms. Sadly, most of us don't know how desperate the Jihadis are to defeat us and replace our ideas with theirs. I think we need to think like good old Sargent York and keep shooting those turkeys from behind until we're done.

Pasadena Closet Conservative 9:58 AM  

A few days ago, during a friendly argument about Christmas trees at government buildings like city halls, I said that they're not associated with religion like manger scenes are, and that historically a part of our traditional American culture.

Boy, did I get a mouthful from the other person, who said that there is no traditional American culture. I tried to convince this person with many, many examples, but it was not to be.

Damien 3:26 PM  

Pasadena Closet Conservative,

Unfortunately we seem to be abandoning one positive aspect of traditional American Culture tolerance, at least when it comes to things that aren't PC.

Always On Watch 6:05 PM  

I worry that Americans don't even recognize their own culture any longer. They don't know what to defend! Instead, they're indoctrinated with the lies of multiculturalism.

Damien 6:35 PM  

Always On Watch,

Your correct, we have a culture that is worth defending.

Citizen Warrior 11:12 AM  

“Forgetfulness occurs when those who have been long accustomed to civilized order can no longer remember a time in which they had to wonder whether their crops would grow to maturity without being stolen or their children sold into slavery by a victorious foe. They forget that in time of danger, in the face of the enemy, they must trust and confide in each other, or perish. They forget, in short, that there has ever been a category of human experience called the enemy. The very concept of the enemy had been banished from our moral and political vocabulary. An enemy was just a friend we hadn't done enough for yet. Or perhaps there had been a misunderstanding, or an oversight on our part — something that we could correct...”

- Lee Harris, “Civilization and its Enemies, the Next Stage of History”

Citizen Warrior 11:00 PM  

From an article entitled, Taking the Fight to Islam (an article on Ayaan Hirsi Ali):

Some observers find her forthright approach refreshing and, indeed, intoxicating, but many recoil from her unadorned conviction. Writing in the New York Review of Books, the historian Timothy Garton Ash described Hirsi Ali as a 'slightly simplistic Enlightenment fundamentalist'. Last year when Garton Ash chaired a discussion with Hirsi Ali at the ICA, he seemed both to admire the incisiveness of her quietly spoken logic and to wince at its unshakeable conclusions.

'For him,' Hirsi Ali laughs, 'the Enlightenment is complex. For me, it isn't. There's nothing complex about it.' A student of 17th- and 18th-century political ideas, she doesn't mean that she thinks the Enlightenment was some kind of uniform philosophical movement. The simplicity, for her, is the legacy of the Enlightenment, the things we take for granted about Western sociopolitical culture: the rule of law, the rights of the individual, freedom of expression. To Hirsi Ali these are bedrock precepts that should not be compromised in the name of cultural diversity.

Elsa 4:12 AM  

Great! It's important for us to value the positive in our culture.

I would add that there's not just optimism but "do-ism". I remember being allergic to a lot of the Eastern philosophies with their karma stuff. You're here because of past life stuff - so you're in the caste you're in because of stuff like that, etc. Taoism also has a lot of that (not identical, but close).

The West is "do-istic". We can do this, change this, and so on. The opposite of fatalistic.

So you recognize when there is a problem (racial inequality, etc) and work to do something about it.

Elsa 4:15 AM  

Lots of good stuff.

Just a bit of a comment re women. We're not the first society where women have quite a bit of power. Women have had power in a number of places (not well known by mainstream society):

- Crete,
- Catal Huyak (also Middle East,
- Troy,
- most likely, many Greek societies, until the overthrow of matriarchy - brilliantly brought alive in the Orestaia, a Greek tragedy that of course extols patriarchy, as it was written by a writer with the conquering ideology.

There was also much shared power in many North American aboriginal tribes, like the Huron and Mohawk (local tribes, for me, so I know a lot about their way of life - men as elders, but women choosing the men who are the elders and quite ready to take the position of elder from men who did not do the job in a way they approved of).

I'm sure there are a lot of other examples.

Walter Sieruk 8:00 AM  

Many people how believe in Islam end commit murderous acts of evil. Such madness much be the result of Islam. That is real Islam and not some kind of hijacked or warped form of Islam as some claim as a coverup for the reality of the truth. After the Quran does teach in Sura 9:112 "The believers fight in Allah's Cause, they slay and are slain, kill and are killed." This is just one of the many parts of the Quran that taach violence and killing for Islam. Jesus did teach "Thus, by their fruits you shall recognize them." Matthew 7:20
To all the acts of extreme evil and madness that many of thoses who follow thedeath cult of Islam do, it thus very fitting to site the Bible in Ecclesiates 9:3 which reads "The hearts of men are full of evil and there is madness in their heats while they live and afterwards they join the dead." [NIV]

Anonymous 8:12 AM  

Yes, America has a 'culture', but one has to define the word culture.

I've heard all my life that America does not have a culture, but they only recite these comments because they heard it on some media show.

I am sure she is a nice lady, but she needs to think for herself & not follow cute phrases.

pkeyrich 9:41 PM  

Where are the hot dogs!
And Chevrolet!

The picture shows the flag of the USA, baseball, and apple pie, but lacks the hot dogs! I'm sure that was just being PC for Muslim sake.

Brother Mark:) 9:38 PM  

Hi everyone!

I just thought that I would add here, that a word like "worship" or "pray" as another example may mean something much different in a different culture than ours, which is why the language that we use can be important also.
For this article, the best term for the Western populace would be "ancestor respect". Another example of this would be how many confuse the Taoist as someone who "worships" their ancestors as opposed to someone who gives great respect and meaning to the legacy of their ancestors. I could give other examples, but I don't really think it necessary to do so.

Have a great day!


Brother Mark:)

hellosnackbar 2:16 PM  

The British culture is basically the same ,
What alarms me is the nonsense of cultural equivalence.
Political correctness which has a philosophical basis of Gramscian Marxism is something that has infected both European and American political culture.
The left in the UK have acquired a comical schizophrenia whereby they ally themselves with Islamofascists.
It's time for politicians to dissolve the veil of Political correctness and to adhere to empirical fact.
Islamofascism is a supremacist,totalitarian,death cult which Muslims adhere to due to the sacerdotal filth from imams,mullahs etc, who claim they are slaves of imaginary Allah.
The sedition they preach is clearly of a criminal nature with respect to the law within Western culture!




Anonymous 2:56 PM  

I heard the same thing from a student, when I was teaching. Then we talked about hot dogs, Thanksgiving, high school sports, inventions, the auto culture, jeans and t-shirts, shopping malls, freedom of religious worship, speaking out against out government, 5th of July parades and fireworks...All the things, by the way, that BO missed in his formative years, making him culturally different from most of us.

Greg Hamilton 3:50 AM  

Where else has the miracle of social order and personal liberty been achieved so successfully?

The Fog Horn 5:00 PM  

I lived in a muslim ghetto in Leicester and had pooh, washing up liquid, eggs and wee put through my letterbox, bangs on the door at night, eggs thrown at my windows, verbal sexual insults shouted at by the crowd in the Islamic video rental shop, stalked by men at night. It was awful and I feared for my life, even having to wear a hooded coat to protect myself better.

I have spent twenty years trying to make people believe me.

I have recently discovered that the Abrahamic religions were based on an imaginery volcano god...Yahweh, which means there is neither a god nor an allah.

I have spent the last two or three years researching this theory and collating my findings. I am now spending my time trying to get people to listen.

I believe this theory is our only hope. Please help me to pass it on. I do believe it is possible to make the biggest and strongest building callapse by pulling just one brick...and this is that brick.

http://ohmyvolcano.blogspot.com

Anonymous 4:41 AM  

You all seem to think that islam is a religion. It is NOT.
Islam is a militant and very violent political system which encompasses every aspect of life. The laws are from the koran and are called shariah.
The way they worship a god....well, their ways have been taken from Christianity and Judaism so as to more easily convert their conquered peoples.
Only when the world understands that islam IS a political system will we be able to defeat it!

Anonymous 7:00 PM  

So how does one realistically suppose we handle this "evil" religion?

Citizen Warrior 1:30 AM  

How do we handle Islam? If we all knew the basic tenets of Islam, it would be very simple. Each of us would recognize that there will be constant pressure to yield to their culture, to set aside some small part of our culture because it "offends" them.

If everybody already knew about some basic elements of Islam, like these:

http://www.inquiryintoislam.com/2010/11/basic-elements-of-islam.html

Each of us would simply deny the concession. The orthodox Muslims would keep trying, but they would find their way blocked.

They would try to limit freedom of speech, for example, as they are doing in many places including the UN, but if enough people knew the agenda, they would want no part of it and would simply refuse the concession.

bill 3:09 PM  

Maybe the states need to tell the federal government that with a constitutional admendment!

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