African culture, or: Aunt Libby was a witch so we burned her
May 14th, 2011 by Unamused
Commenter Kiwiguy recently confirmed the need for HBD and race realism blogs, citing a thread by one “Saffer” on the optimistically named Straight Dope message board (“Fighting Ignorance Since 1973”).
I have fixed up the spelling, grammar, and punctuation, because it was awful; and Americanized the spelling, because it was distracting. You may of course follow my links to the source, if you prefer.
South Africa sucks
Saffer writes in the original post:
Recently, a prominent South African politician has said that white people are criminals for stealing the land from black people, and that white-owned land will be expropriated with no compensation and given to black people. He said this alongside the president, who did nothing to deny it.
The majority of the voting population seems to be in favor of this short-sighted approach. Is South Africa destined to become Zimbabwe 2?
After right-thinking forum-goers accuse him of giving off a “racist odor” (I’ve found it smells like Black Forest cake), he hastens to clarify, lest the ongoing fight against ignorance turn against him (comment #11):
I do not believe for one second that any race is inferior to any other.
I do believe that apartheid was disgusting and evil.
I am inclined to believe that if South Africa was free much earlier on, it could be considered “first world” by now.
Kiwiguy notes that “without a nuanced understanding of [human biodiversity], this person can’t say groups aren’t inferior, but on the other hand they’re not going to have statistically similar outcomes either. So no, even if it was free earlier, it is unlikely it would be first world by now.” (I have various ideas of my own on the subject, of course.)
Straight Dope is corrupted by race denialism to the point that recognizing that Zimbabwe has gone to hell since they kicked out the white government, and failing to rally behind the expropriation of white-owned land, are said to give off the stink of racial hatred. I have neither the time nor the inclination to debunk a thread’s worth of errors, factual and logical. But I would like to address some tangentially-related multiculturalist sleight of hand.
Don’t blame the huts
“Markxxx” writes (comment #9):
“Africans also have the problem that they want new technology but they also want their old heritage. The two things are not always compatible. You can’t live in huts, worship your tribal ancestors, and have Internet, TV, modern medicine.”
This is… not quite right, or at least not nearly precise enough. Overall, the behavior of Africans is indeed incompatible with the maintenance, let alone the formation, of a civilized society, never mind a technologically advanced one. Some of the incompatible behavior can be considered part of their cultural heritage, some of it is merely human nature in a hostile environment, and some of it is African human nature (e.g., race differences in intelligence).
Strictly speaking, it’s not the huts’ fault (and, considering China and Korea, ancestor worship does not seem to be an obstacle at all). Living in a hut stands for all the horrible things about Africa that differentiate it from the civilized world.
Synecdoche, I suppose.
Exotic dancing in junior high
“even sven” replies (comment #27):
You gotta remember that these “exotic” spear dances (or whatever) are exactly the same as the square dancing your grandma made you learn in Junior High. A “bizarre ancestor worship ceremony” is exactly the same as an old-fashioned tent revival. My Cameroonian friend’s family photo albums looked straight out of National Geographic, but to them, they are just photos of grandma, grandpa and old Aunt Libby. That hut? It’s cozy and nostalgic like an old farmhouse or a log cabin.
This is one of those ideas that manages to be deeply wrong without saying anything false: nothing wrong with spear dances, no… Sure, ancestor worship is fine… Family photo albums, uh huh… Huts? Okay, why not. Just like camping, right?
Thus, with the focus firmly on Africa’s least offensive features, you’re left with the impression that the differences between African and Western culture are strictly superficial. We’re different, but equally good — or rather, we have no right to judge them as being good (“good”) or bad (“bad”).
This is reinforced in a later comment (#46). The emphasis is mine; I want to highlight how even sven diminishes Western culture.
We’ve got a few hundred years of painting Africa as primitive, savage and uncivilizable. Why stop now?
How is worshiping your ancestors somehow inherently incompatible with modernity, and worshiping a dead Jewish guy is not? Why is it that when we organize under linguistic, religious, geographic and familial ties we are creating the wonderful thing we call ‘a community’ but when Africans do that, it’s a backwards ‘tribe’?
So much for Christianity. Oh, and our safe, civilized communities have been safely sequestered in scare quotes so as not to hurt the feelings of African tribesmen.
How are traditional healers different than our own new-age BS?
Well, for one thing, most of us know it’s BS. Plus, it’s not the best form of medicine we could come up with.
Why are chiefs more backwards than any other royalty?
By all means, let us compare Liberian cannibal warlords to the Queen of England.
I’m not saying it’s all roses — it’s not. But half the “backwards” stuff people harp about only becomes “backwards” when you use the words we made up to describe African institutions rather than their familiar counterparts.
The “straight dope” here is nothing more than cultural relativism, pure and uncut, injected straight into the heart of darkness. No culture is better than any other — provided you’re as biased as possible against Western culture, while ignoring anything wrong with Africa. Saying that you’re not saying it’s all roses isn’t enough. Where are the thorns?
Yes, those were all excellent examples of African culture: photos of mom and pop and little Kwame, our cozy starter hut, Grandma’s shrunken head (okay, that’s South American culture), all that exotic dancing (er, not that kind). Well, here’s one more.
From CNN World: “Activist battles Kenyan tradition of rape ‘beading'” (May 11, 2011).
“Josephine” is 12 years old and several months pregnant.
She’s a member of the Samburu tribe, living in a small village in a remote part of Isiolo in Kenya’s Eastern Province. The pre-teen, whose identity is being protected, claims she had sex with a relative — a rape sanctioned by the Samburu, through a practice called “beading.”
In “beading,” a close family relative will approach a girl’s parents with red Samburu beads and place the necklace around the girl’s neck.
“Effectively he has booked her,” says Kulea, a member of the Samburu herself. “It is like a (temporary) engagement, and he can then have sex with her.” Girls are also “beaded” as an early marriage promise by non-relatives.
Some girls who are “beaded” are no more than 6 years old. …
Samburu culture dictates that girls be engaged to a relative, she says, and they are allowed to have sex with him. But “they are not allowed to get pregnant and there is no preventative measures,” she says. “At the end of the day, most girls get pregnant … and these (infants) end up dying or being killed or being given away.”
… [T]aboo dictates the girls will never be able to marry if they keep their babies resulting from beading.
Philip Lemantile, the father of 14-year-old Nasuto, says beading is aimed at stopping promiscuity among young girls.
“This is our culture,” he says. “It is part of us. And we have been practicing it, and we accept that these girls should be beaded, and sometimes the girls just get pregnant.”
You see? It is their culture. It is part of them. They accept it. Why, that’s no different from taking your sweetheart to the sock hop! Except she’s twelve years old, she’s your cousin, and when you pin a corsage on her, you’re reserving the right to have sex with her, whether she wants to or not. I could list a hundred more examples of African culture, incomparable to anything in the last century of Western culture.
Obligatory disclaimer for the hopelessly biased: despite the fact that rape and incest occur in Western countries — more and more as we give up our traditional culture and open our borders to immigrants, legal and illegal — despite that, rape and incest are not part of Western culture. We know this because (a) we’ve made them illegal, (b) the police actually enforce those laws, and (c) we are overwhelmingly disgusted by that kind of behavior.
It is not our culture. It is not part of us. We do not accept it.
Heaven and Hell
What can a relativist say to this? They have no grounds for opposing practices like beading while celebrating spear dances and ancestor worship. Two of them are harmless? Tell that to the witch-burning child torturers. If it wasn’t for their services, Africa would be overrun with spell casters! And that’s much worse than a little AIDS pandemic. It is of course presumptuous to think the West is more “advanced,” just because we stopped burning witches in the 1700s. Maybe we got it all wrong.
As soon as you open the door to cultural relativism, right and wrong disappear — at least until reality catches up and kicks you in the teeth. That’s when you remember that hey, savagery and barbarism and all those other social constructions really do exist after all. By that time, though, the mob rules. I don’t think I’m being paranoid. I’d just rather not die young.
You can’t separate good from evil without a moral frame of reference. Trashing traditional values and community, over and over, while ignoring everything wrong with Africa, is not the way to make the Dark Continent a brighter place. The kind of place you’d want to live in, not just drop by to drop off some medicine and dig a couple of wells. Not the kind of place you’d do anything to walk away from.
I ain’t gonna work on Grandma’s hut no more
Modernity can exist without having to look exactly like American culture (as surely we’ve realized from East Asia.) Nostalgia is present in every culture — from country kitsch to Africans nostalgic about Grandma’s hut.
True, modernity can exist without having to look exactly like American culture. It could look like German culture, for instance, or Spanish, or Japanese. But by all accounts modernity and African culture are mutually exclusive: one can only rise while the other is slipping away. And by “African culture,” I don’t mean just the least horrible parts. I mean the whole of African culture, as practiced by Africans when they aren’t staring down the barrels of 9,000 UN guns.
As Jared Taylor wrote in his excellent article on Hurricane Katrina, “Africa in Our Midst”:
Natural disasters usually bring out the best in people, who help neighbors and strangers alike. For blacks — at least the lower-class blacks of New Orleans — disaster was an excuse to loot, rob, rape and kill.
Our rulers and media executives will try to turn the story of Hurricane Katrina into yet another morality tale of downtrodden blacks and heartless whites, but pandering of this kind fools fewer and fewer people. Many whites will realize — some for the first time — that we have Africa in our midst, that utterly alien Africa of road-side corpses, cruelty, and anarchy that they thought could never wash up on these shores.
To be sure, the story of Hurricane Katrina does have a moral for anyone not deliberately blind. The races are different. Blacks and whites are different. When blacks are left entirely to their own devices, Western Civilization — any kind of civilization — disappears. And in a crisis, it disappears overnight.
You can keep arguing with the race realists, by which I mean you can keep saying we’re Nazis without ever addressing our arguments, but your denial of human nature — African human nature especially — is killing far more people than Hitler ever did.
PS No Holocaust denial.