Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Sensitivity or Hypocrisy?

Sir Charles Napier, the conqueror of Sind, had a wonderful statement on multiculturalism:

A Brahmin told him that suttee was the custom in India. "In my country, too, we have a custom," Napier replied. "We hang men who burn women. Let each of us act according to his custom."

There seems to be a great deal of misplaced sensitivity or tolerance toward other "cultures" these days regardless of how despicable their practices. A recent article in the Financial Times by Ian Buruma entitled "Wielding the Moral Club", takes those who work themselves up in an Anti-American (and by extension, Anti-Western) fury while ignoring the vicious brutality of the "downtrodden" often inflict on one another. For example, the Cambodian dictator Pol Pot was most certainly a person of color as the saying goes, but that doesn't make him any less murderous than say, that most famous murderous white person of them all, Adolph Hitler.

On a much smaller scale I have witnessed this faulty logic at work in my own city of Cincinnati, Ohio. This past year two separate plays were protested by religious groups who found them objectionable. Fair enough, it's their right to protest. One of the plays, "Corpus Christi" by Terence McNally was picketed by a conservative Catholic group, the other, "Paradise" by Glynn O'Malley was protested by a Muslim group which succeeded in having the venues where the play was to be performed cancel.

Various arts and civil liberties groups vociferously decried the conservative Christians' objections and the play went its full run. The local papers covered the entire controversy while declaring fully for the First Amendment. However, since the Muslims declared O'Malley's play to be "racist" (it wasn't), we heard hardly a peep from the defenders of free speech.

Personally, I find censorship, regardless of its origin, to be abhorrent. And bad behavior is still bad behavior no matter what the color of the person's skin.


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