Reality Conditions

Friday, February 03, 2006

Brayton on gender apartheid

Ed Brayton links to this post that comments on the situation of women in Saudi Arabia and wonders why it has much less repercusion in the West than apartheid in South Africa had in its day. Brayton's comment deserves to be quoted:

"The other explanation, I think, lies in cultural and moral relativism. Again, because we viewed the South African oppressors and their victims as being from different cultures (and they were), it seemed uniquely bad to us. But the oppression in Saudi Arabia happens within a single and virtually monolithic culture and ethnic group and we have a kneejerk tendency to fall into the sort of cultural relativism that says, "Who are we to judge other cultures when we are so bad ourselves? Their culture has been this way for centuries and it works for them, so who are we to impose our supposedly enlightened Western values on them?"
Count me as one who thinks this sort of relativism is utter nonsense. If it is wrong to oppress another person and take away their dignity and their self-determination - and I firmly believe that it is, and you will never convince me otherwise - then it is always wrong, regardless of where it takes place, how long it has been taking place, or the ethnic or religious identity of either the tyrant or the victim."

There is nothing I enjoy more than a slap in the face of this kind of relativism. Well said, Ed.


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