Fit in, be absurd 16

Some cultures are superior to others. To be specific, Western culture is superior to others.

But, as everyone knows, it is not politically correct to say this.

The reliably funny Fred Reed writes (in part):

I am done for, and damned. Yes, a poor sinner who has strayed from the path of righteousness, and now sits brooding over a bottle of Padre Kino, Mexican rust-remover marauding as red wine, for I have done the unpardonable: I have said – I cringe with shame – that some cultures are superior to others.

It gnaws my soul.

Please don’t misjudge me. I am in most respects a good American. I have nothing against brainless, passive-aggressive, narcissistic sanctimony, nor preening academic mediocrity, nor intellectual vacuity. No. I tell you, I love all of these things. I am devoted to our traditions. I believe to the roots of my teeth that bovine complacency is the bedrock of democracy. Indeed, the only criticism I can make of our national intellectual life is that it would embarrass a microcephalic box-turtle.

Oh god. Wait. I didn’t mean to imply that microcephalic box-turtles are in any way inferior. They are just otherly abled. I apologize, and acknowledge my Vertebrate Privilege.

Let me recount my fall from grace as a warning to those that will hear. Long ago, a callow youth, I was reading the Huffington Post (this column has no respect for chronology), which informed me that no culture is superior to any other: They are just different. To think otherwise, it huffed, was to concede oneself to be among the Fallen, and perhaps a Republican.

I read this and the scales fell from my eyes (though I had no interest in going to Damascus, where they were using nerve gas). I thought, Yes! It’s true! Hosanna! All cultures are equal! Jewish culture is not superior to Nazi, just different. Why hadn’t I seen it before? The culture of Switzerland is not better than that of North Korea, and the South of Bull Conner was in no way inferior to the most dappled, liquid-eyed liberalism of Massachusetts!

For years I believed this, enraptured, and prattled like a jaybird. I was among the Saved. Then … Woe! Woe! … Padre Kino got the best of me. Oh, Demon Rum! Drink has ever been my downfall …

I was in my cups and, prompted by the Devil, thought: All cultures equal? Exactly how is a pack of nekkid savages in the rain forests of Papua-New Guinea, who eat weird pasty white grubs and each other, who speak a language consisting of seven words none of which means anything … how could they possibly be the equals of Europeans who brush their teeth and wrote Hamlet’s soliloquy? Equal how? In the eyes of God, maybe. If so, I figured the Old Boy must need glasses.

So low had I sunk.

Floating in the vile effluvium of the corrupting grape, I engendered worse thoughts. Regarding Islam, for example. How equal was this medieval horror? Here is a faith that will not let its girl children learn to read, and indeed holds them down screaming and mutilates their genitals with a razor blade and no anesthetic. Equal? To what?

You see. Wine. Booze. The Great Purple Father was making me lose all devotion to equality. Shun strong liquor, I implore you, lest you start to favor the death penalty for such victims of intolerance as Ted Bundy, who was misunderstood by society.

But back to Islam. Before, alight with the equality of all cultures, I had thought clitoridectomy to be a minor surgery, not much different from sending girls to Wellesley. Actually, Wellesley had seemed worse, as on campus girls underwent forced exposure to oppressive dead white men like Plato, while Moslem girls faced nothing worse than gangrene.  But suddenly I wasn’t sure. My Huffington-flavored faith wavered.

I even reflected at one point that European culture had invented everything that kept many of the rest from living in the animal shelter. Where they would probably eat the animals. …

Why was it, I wondered, that all cultures were equal, but that all cultures were superior to white European culture? This seemed illogical. In my earlier state of virtue, I had understood such considerations to be the result of Male Linear Thinking, which had earlier been called “thinking” until it was noticed who was best at it.

Having decided that some cultures were superior to others, I fell deeper into error, and wondered whether maybe being smart was better than being stupid. Before, I had understood from the Washington Post that being illiterate and borderline retarded was a sign of Authenticity. Well, I certainly wanted to be Authentic, though I thought I would pass on eating the pasty white grubs. (Authentic what was never mentioned, but it didn’t seem to matter. If Salon was for it, it must be good.)

I began dressing like the contents of a dumpster, with butt-hanger pants and a baseball cap on sideways so as to look like an idiot. I petitioned the Educational Testing Service to have my SATs lowered, and began Vocabulary Limitation Therapy. I considered lobotomy. Such was my desire for Authenticity.

It did not work. No. No amount of abasement, no embrace of degradation can overcome Vertebrate Privilege. But, like a sociologist, I could revel in being an earnest aspirant to degeneracy. Small compensation, but better than nothing.

But alas! Alack! I am ruined. Having lost one’s faith in the transparently absurd, one may never go back. I will never again believe the Iroquois the equals of the Finns. I am lost.


(Hat-tip Frank)

Posted under Commentary, Humor by Jillian Becker on Sunday, May 25, 2014

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This post has 16 comments.

  • Andrew M

    The title of this article seems to be promoting hipsterism.

    Are you suggesting that fitting in or being absurd is the virtue here? Or are neither of these virtues? I frankly favor a weird society — normal is boring, and boring isn’t innovative.

    • We are saying that Fred Reed is saying – satirically accusing himself of being so ruined by drink as to TELL THE TRUTH – that he can no longer fit in (ie. be politically correct) by believing absurdities.

      If you want to fit in, be absurd.

      • Andrew M

        I thought that’s what you meant.

        I’m bad at fitting in. I like it that way. 🙂

    • liz

      It’s a joke, Andrew. You know, one of those things that keep life from being boring.

      • Andrew M

        I thought it was pretty funny, too! I just didn’t get it at first. 🙁 Yeah, I’m too serious sometimes.

        Jokes are excellent, I agree. We need more of them. Especially about Islam. I hope you had a lovely Everybody Draw Mohammed Day last week.

        Lastly, at the risk of making many enemies here, I’d like Christopher Hitchens to explain why women still aren’t funny. 😉

  • why bother

    I can attest to the fact that my former girlfriend I lived with for three years, a Kuwaiti and Muslim, did not go through “genital mutilation.” It’s a tragic mistake to generalize all Muslims as following the same thing. And this ex-girlfriend earned her Phd in the US, paid for by the Kuwaiti government. I guess maybe she was the only female Muslim ever allowed to read? While I do enjoy Fred Reed and I am by no means a liberal, this myth-mongering is the same logical mistake that he argues against – progressives saying all cultures are equal. They are not. Fred is saying all Muslims are equal. They are not.

    • liz

      That’s not really the point. The point is that to be “politically correct”, one is supposed to pretend that the Muslims that DO all that stuff are equal to the ones that don’t. That all Muslims are equally civilized, when in fact they are not.
      Frankly, I don’t think even the Muslims that DON’T do any of that crap are worthy of any respect, anyway, because if they had any understanding of decency they would want to get as far away from Islam as they possibly could.

    • Neither we nor Fred Reed have said that all Muslim women are genitally mutilated. We are concerned about those – a huge majority – who are. We know reasonable, tolerant Muslims. We are concerned with those – a huge majority – who are not.

    • Andrew M

      There is a reason nobody speaks in hushed tones about Buddhism for fear of being denigrated as a “Buddophobe”.

      Buddhism’s values are superior to those of Islam because it does not promote proselytizing to the point of murder (if at all). There are many decent Muslims out there, just as there are many despicable Buddhists. Even so, a focus on Buddhist violence over Islamic violence is an act of looking in the wrong direction.

      What matters here is the way the core beliefs of Islam and Buddhism shape these particular cultures. All modern, mainstream schools of Islam condone or promote jihad and are increasingly demanding a quite strict interpretation of sharia. Governments of Muslim-majority nations are disturbing moving in this direction as well. Buddhism encourages self-development through abandoning sources of mental suffering. There is much to criticize about Buddhism, such as its chilly attitude to material wealth, but nobody is awake at night arming themselves against murderous Zen monks.

      Fortunately, Islam does offer some limited avenues of borderline-heretical thought out from its cultural quagmire (Sufism, ijtihad, bidah). It was a near-open defiance of Islam’s most sacred values that the Golden Age caliphates made as many scientific advances as they did (during which time ecclesiastical thuggery stunted the scientific development of Christian Europe). The worst elements of Islam, however, came out of the woodwork about 900 years ago and squelched this flame of rebellion with their comparatively overwhelming scriptural support.

      Regrettably, that vast majority of non-violent Muslims aren’t pursuing these avenues because they don’t know scripture well. This is allowing the doctrines of jihad, dawa, and taqiyya to drown out whatever voices of reason remain in the Middle East, allowing them to define the ijma of the community.

      Non-Muslims should applaud and support anyone who manages to break free from this toxic, knowledge-poor culture and become the best person they can possibly be. However, these people risk life and limb just to share their stories, because Islam also contains the uniquely evil decree of ordering the death penalty for all who leave the faith.

      Christianity certainly has much violence in its past which deserves apology, but that violence did not occur in an era of nuclear weapons. If the reformers within the Islamic community cannot manage to shake the foundation of modern Islam quickly enough, it behooves the West and other cultures which respect the dignity of the individual to take on the job themselves.

      I love shish kebabs, the ornate architecture of mosques, the hypnotic flow of Middle Eastern music, beautiful women from traditionally Muslim countries, and the guttural poetry of the Arabic language. None of this would go away if Islam ceased to exist as an ideology — and the continued health of the planet requires just that.

      عالم مع أقل إسلام هو أحسن عالم

      • We appreciate and agree with the drift of your comments, Andrew M., especially with your last sentence (even though our tastes for some things are different from yours). But a few points:

        There was no Islamic Golden Age. There were no Muslim “scientific advances”. (Try naming them.) All that is myth. It is true that there was a short period of very slight liberalization – ijtihad as you say. But “the gates of ijtihad closed”.

        Sufis? The gnosticism of Islam. It has a reputation for being pacific, irenic. But – the Chechens who raided the school in Russia and tortured and killed all those children were Sufis.

        Buddhism also is not innocent of violence. Put this title of our post of October 8, 2009, into our search slot: “The Dalai Lama in Jurassic Park”. It is about Buddhist violence. Contemporaneously, Buddhists – rightly or wrongly – are striking back at Muslim aggression in Malaysia. Still (agreed) they are not a threat to us.

        As we often say: after disease, religion is the greatest cause of human suffering.

        • Andrew M

          I had a response written here many moons ago, but it got eaten by the marvels of modern technology.

          I broadly agree with you that the “Islamic Golden Age” was more gilding than metal. Muslims alone made very few breakthroughs. Nevertheless, they did serve to catalog and recombine information from other civilizations to make something greater than the sum of its parts. Free expression was more tolerated then, and subtle defiance of Islamic principles lurked everywhere in the works of the famous poets. Islamic society also used information to practically improve their lives outside of refining oil, desalinizing water, and making weapons. They applied engineering principles to make for more livable cities than what existed in much of Europe at the time. It was clearly a superior culture to that of modern Islam and would improve things greatly today if it were to return.

          Baghdad was the era’s hub of learning, attracting knowledge-hungry scholars wishing to advance their learning. Meanwhile in Europe, the Church destroyed much of the ancient knowledge these scholars revered. Regardless of how many native-born Muslim scholars contributed to the conversation, let’s thank those who rewrote and recombined these philosophical and scientific works. It’s so easy for history to erase these precious documents forever, so having two is always a blessing.

          Of course, Islam itself deserves no credit for the advances of this era, and in fact destroyed it. After the Mongols sacked Baghdad, Quranic dogma locked away this tradition forever. It’s been nearly a millennium since this happened, so I have little hope that Islamic society will ever revive the tradition peaceably.

          In spite of all of this, I still like most of the non-dogmatic aspects of Islamic culture as mentioned before. Even the “terrorists” have something to teach us about sticking up for our culture and global domination. Wouldn’t a worldwide civilization rooted in individual liberties and the rule of a light, sane, but clearly worded law be a good thing? I think it’s worth dying for. Know your enemy – he might have some good ideas.

          • The Muslims conquered people with superior skills, who, despite having to embrace Islam, continued to do many things well. Of the 30 people under Islam who translated Greek texts which helped Europe to recover its glorious past eventually, 28 were Christian, one was Sabean and one was a Jew. The medieval “Muslim” poet most famous in the West, the Persian Omar Kayyam, was an atheist. Of the three greatest philosophers in medieval Islam, the Persian Avicenna (980?- 1037), and the Andalusian Averroes (1126-1198), suffered at times persecution and banishment; and the third, the Cordoban Maimonides (1135-1204) was a Jew, and also persecuted. So much for free expression. Works by Bat Ye-or chronicle just how far from genuine liberalism Islam always was. And the Muslims finally destroyed the Great Library of Alexandria (though Christians had vandalized it earlier). But of course you’re right that there were periods in those centuries when Islam was less barbaric than it is now. Terrorists have nothing to teach us except that every one of us should be armed with guns. Yes, freedom protected by the rule of law all over the world would be great, but the enemy of such freedom under the law as the world has now to some degree and only in patches, is under constant threat by Islam.

  • liz

    Awesome! “Transparently absurd” is right on the mark.
    And putting up with the constant dishing out of such absurdity from arrogant pinheads is really getting tiresome.
    Even letting the government go back into the hands of corrupt Republicans would be better than being preached to about “multiculturalism”, “social justice” and told to “check your privilege” every day.

  • Frank

    Fred does have a way of getting to the heart of the matter.

  • Don L

    Aren’t these the words on the great seal of sweden: authenticity of cultural equality. But wait…is it the great seal or is it sweden’s great seal or is sweden is great and there is a seal or … ?

    It is as the great ferret once said to, the would be paramour of Col. Blake, the cheerleader nurse, “It’s good to be good to the good!.”


    And in all truth, some people are superior to others. There, I’ve said it.
    “You are not special…….NO ONE IS SPECIAL, until they do something that is special.” These words of my teacher ring out in my ears almost daily, especially when I read articles demanding that, and hear people state on T.V. that “everyone is special, and must be treated as such.”

    This goes totally against everything in Nature.

    The world of Nature teaches us George’s (my teacher) line. This truth looks every single person on this planet right in the eye, every day. The deniers would like to change the world of Nature in this respect. I’m certain of this.

    The lion must run down it’s prey in order to feed itself. If it cannot bring down the water buffalo, it doesn’t eat today.

    Ask the new recruit just entering into basic training if he or she is
    ‘special.’ Make sure that you ask the recruit in front of a couple of
    drill instructors. Chances are that the drill instructors will finish
    the recruit’s sentence, with a few choice paragraphs.

    Some people are superior to others in the physical sense. Some in the genetic sense, some in the mental sense, and some in the moral sense. And those who deny these are in fact only lying to themselves and those around them.

    If you wish to know exactly where you as an individual stand amongst other people, ask this important question to your best friend, but also to your worse enemy. The truth is somewhere in the middle of the two opinions.

    The sort of folks that wish that this weren’t true are the ones that will instigate the ‘awarding’ of trophies to ALL participants in a children’s baseball league, or some other type of game which is strictly set up for teaching kids how to compete, and most importantly, how to lose with honor, integrity, and how to win with the same.

    This very important lesson of life is defeated when the children losing the game know inside that to receive a ‘trophy’ for only competing is a farce.

    This teaches them that their efforts are neutral, but also how to waste energy. They quietly say inside to themselves, “I have lost the game, BUT still I get a trophy.”

    IOW, “No effort on my part is almost the same as maximum effort on my part. If I do not expend myself, I will still be carried along.”

    To the ones that win the game, seeing the losers also get an award allows them to feel that their maximum efforts have also been degraded.

    These kids ‘grow into’ thinking that they deserve to be awarded great jobs, free money, instant fame, and any other positive reward that you can think of, without the expenditure of vast amounts of sweat, tears, energy, money, and also taking on some major disappointments.

    All are victims of the practice of rewarding low expectations.

    As “grownups” they win nicknames such as Socialist, Liberal, Progressive, Lefty, Rino, Communist, and Collectivist.