Written by: Michael Kravshik.
Click here to view the original version of this article in FrontPage Magazine. Below is a version that includes some personal experience debating the matter with a fellow student at the Norman Patterson School of International Affairs.
Also, click here to check out my original piece on cultural relativism.
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Cultural relativism has reached a new point of absurdity in Canada when the ‘barbarity’ of female genital mutilation and honour killings (forgive the Canadian spelling) is questioned and becomes a controversy.
A recently introduced manual by the Government of Canada intended to teach newcomers about Canadian values and Canadian society has been met with ongoing hostility from left wing Canadians and politicians over its choice of words in describing female genital mutilation and honour killings. Jinny Sims, the immigration critic of the opposition New Democratic Party of Canada, suggested the word ‘barbaric’ might “stigmatize some cultures.”
Aside from official protestations, everyone can imagine the type of cultural relativist rhetoric that has been used to attack the Conservative government for releasing this guide. The blogosphere has been filled with ‘liberal minded’ Canadians continuing in the same vein as Ms. Sims, suggesting the term is somehow discriminatory or offensive to a particular group. However, reasoned thought on the matter should conclude on the exact opposite; that it is offensive to those forced to endure such ordeals to call it anything but barbaric. Unfortunately, sensitivity towards this group (as per usual) is ignored.
One such example is the following justification provided by a fellow masters student, echoing similar sentiments I’ve seen flying around the blogosphere:
“I think the problem with the term “barbaric” is that it tends to be applied in a discriminatory fashion. A man of Arab descent kills his wife? Barbaric honour killing. A jealous white husband gets loaded and shoots his wife? Neither barbaric nor an honour killing. The double standard is what’s troubling…”
Of course, his analogy is utterly ridiculous. To begin with, a drunk, jealous man shooting his wife isn’t an honour killing because it has nothing to do with honour. He specifically mentioned jealousy (maybe she cheated?) and intoxication. Honour killings are a cultural practice based on societal norms. They happen when someone either does, or has merely been perceived to, tarnish the reputation of the family or the community. The fact that the difference even needs to be justified is absurd, not to mention that most of the communities involved also consider drinking alcohol a sin.
More importantly, I find it hard to believe that anyone would take issue to calling the second situation barbaric. A man shooting his wife is barbaric, regardless of the colour of his skin. I guess my virtual opponent agreed with me since shortly after my reply he deleted his comments and never replied (thank you Facebook ‘edit history’).
Taking up the relativist banner was also none other than Justin Trudeau, front-runner for leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada, and son of the infamous Canadian Prime Minister who brought multiculturalist policy to Canada. He attacked the Conservatives for using the term ‘barbaric,’ and suggested that the term was a “pejorative” and that “there needs to be a little bit of an attempt at responsible neutrality.”
Of course the term is a pejorative, as it should be. Have we gone so mad with political correctness that we can’t even call cold-blooded murder of a family member barbaric in case it might ‘stigmatize’ or offend? Rightfully, Mr. Trudeau was forced to step back from his comments as even members of his own party realized he had gone too far. This was done in usual callous fashion people expect these days from politicians; claiming that his words were somehow taken out of context, and that they may have ‘misled’ people.
He certainly didn’t mislead Immigration Minister Jason Kenney who shot back at Trudeau saying that the Liberals are, “so wrapped up in political correctness, they can’t call things for what they are anymore…They’re afraid of offending someone or appearing to be insensitive by actually making a judgement about culturally barbaric practices.”
Here we have a blatant example of the folly of cultural relativism. Had Trudeau’s comments not been so utterly contemptible that it forced his own faithful to question them, it is safe to assume he would have continued his attack on what he would call ‘conservative values’. While Mr. Trudeau attacked them for political reasons, what is always more shocking is when intelligent regular people actually believe that they are somehow unjustified or discriminatory. Unfortunately for Trudeau, these are not conservative values; they are Canadian values, western values, and unequivocally morally justified values.
This is an example of the ridiculous lengths politicians will go to in the name of cultural relativism. What can you add?