Are Some Cultures Better than Others?

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Sep 18, 2017

Are some cultures better than others? Or are all cultures and their values equal? Bestselling author Dinesh D'Souza, who was born in India and moved to America, explains.

Multiculturalism teaches that Western values and institutions are no better than other cultures’—and thus aren’t worth protecting

  • Cultural relativism — denying that any culture is in any way superior to another — underlies the ideology of multiculturalism. Multiculturalists in academia push the belief that all cultures are equal, not just by adding to the “diversity” of school curriculums but by criticizing and diminishing the value of Western culture. For example, they want to minimize the importance of the Great Books because they’re written by “dead white men,” and replace them with non-western works.View Source
  • Related reading: “Western Values Are Superior” – Walter WilliamView Source
  • Related reading: “America: Imagine a World Without Her” – DineshView Source

Why has Western culture so strongly shaped the world in the last 500 years? The institutions of democracy, capitalism, and science.

  • Author Dinesh D’Souza on why Western civilization has been so influential over the last five centuries: “Western civilization is not distinguished by colonialism and slavery, but by its institutions of democracy, capitalism, and science. These institutions were developed because of a peculiar dynamism in Western civilization—a dynamism driven by the combination of Western philosophy and theology. And it is these institutions, I believe, that comprise the source of Western strength and explain the West’s long-standing dominance in the world.”View Source
  • One of the most important heritages of western civilization is the idea of universality, the idea that the universe operates according to the same laws and principles everywhere and at all times and those laws and principles apply to all people — an idea directly derived from the Judeo-Christian worldview.View Source
  • Related reading: “Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph” – Dennis PragerView Source

Multiculturalism’s claim that all cultures are equal is relativistic nonsense. 

  • Multiculturalism, which is based on cultural relativism, teaches that all cultures are equally valuable and worthy of celebration and emulation. But is that really true? Overtly anti-liberal ideas like rigid social hierarchy, the superiority of men over women, and anti-free speech blasphemy laws are taught in many non-western cultures.View Source
  • According to a 2017 survey, a majority of men in the Middle East believe that women hold a lesser station and value in society.View Source
  • China continues to be ruled by an authoritarian regime that silences free speech, jails dissenters, and heavily regulates access to information.View Source
  • In India, radical Hindu nationalists attack religious minorities, while the government remains complicit, and continues to use sedition laws to attack groups that criticize the government.View Source

America’s unparalleled influence is sustained far less by military force than by the force of its ideas and institutions.

  • Author Dinesh D’Souza on why Western civilization has been so influential over the last five centuries: “Western civilization is not distinguished by colonialism and slavery, but by its institutions of democracy, capitalism, and science. … And it is these institutions, I believe, that comprise the source of Western strength and explain the West’s long-standing dominance in the world. In keeping with this, and contrary to multiculturalist doctrine, America’s unparalleled power in the present is sustained far less by military force than by the force of its ideas and institutions.”View Source
  • Related reading: “America: Imagine a World Without Her” – Dinesh D’SouzaView Source

Multiculturalism is born out of cultural Marxism, which is why it is so strongly anti-Western. 

  • Multiculturalism is born out of cultural Marxism and seeks to infiltrate public consciousness first through universities and the media.View Source
  • Multiculturalists in academia push the belief that all cultures are equal, not just by adding to the “diversity” of school curriculums but by criticizing and diminishing the value of Western culture. For example, they want to minimize the importance of the Great Books because they’re written by “dead white men,” and replace them with non-western works.View Source
  • Related reading: “The Myth of Multiculturalism” – The Heritage FoundationView Source

Western civilization didn’t rise to power because of colonialism and slavery, but because of western ideas, like capitalism and democracy.

  • Western Civilization didn’t invent colonialism or slavery — or have a monopoly on either. The British conquered India and ruled it for 300 years. But before the British the Persians, the Mongols, the Muslims, and Alexander the Great had done exactly the same thing — conquered large parts of India.View Source
  • As for slavery, it has existed in every culture. It was prevalent in ancient India, in China, in Greece and Rome, and in Africa.View Source
  • Slavery has existed in all cultures, but the abolition movement was able to advance the anti-slavery movement by advancing the idea of universal human rights — a uniquely western idea.View Source
  • The West’s powerful influence revolves around its institutions of democracy, capitalism, and science, which were developed out of Judeo-Christian beliefs and Western cultural heritage.View Source
  • Related reading: “Greatest Emancipations: How the West Abolished Slavery” – Jim PowellView Source

Slavery wasn’t uniquely Western—the abolition of slavery was. 

  • Slavery has existed in all cultures, but the abolition movement was able to advance the anti-slavery movement by advancing the idea of universal human rights — a uniquely western idea.View Source
  • Related reading: “Greatest Emancipations: How the West Abolished Slavery” – Jim PowellView Source
  • Related reading: “Is Racism a Western Idea?” – Dinesh D’SouzaView Source

Part of America’s strength is that it’s a multi-ethnic society—not a multicultural society that fails to assimilate immigrants. 

  • Immigrants have been historically welcome in America, but combined with more stringent integration laws. As George Washington said, immigrants must “get assimilated to our customs, measures, and laws: in a word, soon become one people.”View Source
  • Over the years Irish, German, Scandinavian, and many other ethnicities have assimilated successfully into American culture. This changed in 1965, when progressives decided not to “Americanize” a new wave of Asian and Latin American immigrants.View Source
  • Sharing a language and cultural ideas creates a common trust that allows people to succeed.View Source
  • Europe has already experimented with passive multiculturalism and “tolerance” of cultures that clash with its own. The experiment has led to violations of human rights and increased extremism.View Source
  • Related reading: “Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph” – Dennis PragerView Source

Do you think the United States and Western Europe are made up of imperialist, colonialist, resource-exploiting, greedy, grasping, brown-skin-hating people whose values are not worth defending?

If you think this question is absurd and that no one thinks this way, you would be very much mistaken. Many people do. And what’s even more disturbing, many of these people were born and live in the West. In other words, they have come to despise their own culture.

This thinking is the product of a doctrine widely taught in our schools. It’s known as multiculturalism, the belief that all cultures are equal. Or to put it another way, no culture’s values, art, music, political system, or literature are better or worse than any other.

But is this really true?

Some years ago, Nobel-prize winning novelist Saul Bellow created a major controversy when he said, “Find me the Tolstoy of the Zulus, or the Proust of the Papuans, and I would be happy to read him.” For this, Bellow was accused of racism.

The charge was nonsense. Bellow wasn’t saying that the Zulus and Papuans are incapable of producing great novelists. He was saying that, as far as he knew, they hadn’t. But just by raising the possibility that some cultures have contributed more than others, he violated the chief tenet of multiculturalism.

More recently, President Donald Trump expressed a similar sentiment in Warsaw, Poland.

“We write symphonies. We pursue innovation…We treasure the rule of law and protect the right to free speech and free expression…We empower women as pillars of our society and of our success…That is who we are…Those are the priceless ties that bind us together…as a civilization.”

For this, Trump was roundly condemned by the multiculturalists. How could he say these things, one writer wrote, “as if these were unique qualities to white-dominated nations, instead of universal truths of the human race across all cultures.”

Here’s the problem: Are values such as innovation, rule of law, free expression and women’s empowerment equally held across all cultures?

If all cultures are equal, how does one account for the fact that, for the last 500 years, it has been one culture—the culture of the West, and now of America—that has shaped the world?

Multiculturalists explain it in terms of oppression. Western civilization, they say, became so powerful because it is so evil. The study of Western civilization, they insist, should focus on colonialism and slavery––the unique mechanisms of Western oppression.

But colonialism and slavery are not uniquely Western at all. They are universal.

The British conquered India and ruled it for 300 years. But before the British, the Persians, the Mongols, the Muslims, and Alexander the Great had done exactly same thing - conquered large parts of India.

Indeed, the British were the sixth or seventh colonial invader to occupy India.

As for slavery, it has existed in every culture. It was prevalent in ancient China, in ancient India, in Greece and Rome, and in Africa. American Indians practiced slavery long before Columbus set foot here.

What is uniquely Western, in fact, is not slavery, but the abolition of slavery. And what distinguishes the West from all other cultures are the institutions of democracy, capitalism, and science. These institutions developed because of a peculiar dynamism of Athens and Jerusalem––a synthesis of classical reason and Judeo-Christian morality.

And it is these institutions, I believe, that comprise the source of Western strength and explain the West’s long-standing dominance in the world.

The West’s greatest strength is not merely its military power, but also the unparalleled power of its ideas and institutions.

But what about America? If America is a nation of immigrants––mostly non-white immigrants––doesn’t that, by definition, make it a multicultural society?

No. America is a multi-ethnic society. We don’t want it to be a multicultural society. I’m an immigrant from India. My wife is an immigrant from Venezuela. Despite our differences of ethnic background, we have both assimilated to the unique values of America––the values embodied in our Constitution and our laws. The pursuit of happiness. The American Dream.

So, no––the United States and Western Europe are not made up of imperialist, colonialist, resource-exploiting, greedy, grasping, brown-skin-hating people. Our values are worth defending––not just because they are ours, but because they are good.

I’m Dinesh D’Souza for Prager University.

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