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Celebrating diversity

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I'm often accused of hating diversity when nothing could be further from the truth. Well, nothing outside scripture, anyway. No, I'm a big fan of diversity. In fact, I'm a fan of a diverse range of diversities, including cultural diversity (can't get enough of that), religious diversity (give me more, give me more), political diversity (I'll take all you've got), and diversity of opinion generally. I just can't get too much of the wide diversity of ideas and cultures on this earth that so mutually enrich each other, with one or two exceptions. For example, I'm a fan of Chinese culture. Not because I like everything about it. I don't, frankly, not by a long way, but it's different and exotic enough that I can feel enriched by it without feeling that it's trying to impose itself on me in some way - - a quality that cannot be praised too highly in my opinion. In fact, Chinese culture is a good example of how multiculturalism can work. In many western cities you'll find a Chinatown, and if you walk through it you might as well be in Hong Kong. There's no attempt to integrate. It's all about being Chinese. But also, and crucially, there's no attempt to expand its influence politically, or to impose Chinese standards of behaviour or appearance on anybody else. If every other ethnic group behaved like the Chinese in this regard, then multiculturalism could work. But they don't, because when a culture is driven by religion it often includes a strong element of moral judgment about others. And when that religion also happens to be socially confrontational and politically supremacist in nature, that's when multiculturalism can tend to break down. In my opinion, allowing such a religion into a genuinely multicultural society amounts to an act of vandalism, like putting an otter in a fish pond. As for the Chinese, I like them for their positive qualities: industry, thrift, self-reliance. I hope that's not a racist generalisation. I know it's always wrong to generalise about people unless you're depicting them falsely as victims, in which case it's compulsory, but I think I got away with it there, don't you? One aspect of Chinese culture that most people in the West identify with is food. The Chinese diet is famously diverse, or omnivorous. For me, as a vegetarian, it's particularly exotic and, dare I say, horrific and repulsive, but only if that isn't racist. A Chinese woman told me the only thing with legs she won't eat is a table, and the only thing with wings she won't eat is an aeroplane. I looked it up and, as I suspected, it's an old Chinese expression. It's not exactly Ming dynasty, admittedly, because aeroplanes have only been around for just over a century, but it's old enough to tell us that the Chinese are as fussy about their food as they are about animal welfare, or their government is about human rights. The treatment of animals in China is particularly inhuman, barbaric and disgusting, and deserves to be widely publicised and roundly condemned until it stops because it not only debases and degrades the Chinese themselves, but all of humanity, thank you very much. And I hope somebody puts Chinese subtitles on this video and gets it shown in China so that they can hear that, because they bloody well need to hear it, urgently - - with all due respect. Here in Europe we love to lecture the Chinese about human rights. They must think we're obsessed with the subject, which, of course, we are. We're so crazy about human rights in Europe we now have the right to do anything we like, except choose our own government, make our own laws, or speak our mind in a way that hurts somebody's feelings. Oh yeah, we're the real champions of human rights. But then in recent years the term "human rights" has become a lot more woolly, and has come to mean different things to different people and cultures, and that's got to be a good thing because all cultures are equal, right? So, the United Nations Human Rights Council can now include the likes of China and Saudi Arabia and still keep a straight face. When the Saudis talk about human rights, if it's forbidden by sharia it's not included. In other words, human rights are not included. But that's cultural diversity for you. Let's not carp and criticise. Let's embrace it and celebrate difference. Some people have human rights and others don't. Viva diversity. So diverse are we on this planet I sometimes think that if aliens were to arrive from another galaxy the reception they'd get might depend very much on where they happened to land. If they landed anywhere in Europe their human rights would be automatically protected - assuming they were human, that is. Actually, come to think of it, maybe we should amend it to the Humanoid Rights Act, just to avoid any potential embarrassment in that area. But of course either way they would be made welcome and invited to stay, but not to integrate, for cultural reasons. And if they don't speak our language, that will be our fault, not theirs. If their requirements turn out to be at variance with ours then of course we'll do our best to accommodate them for the sake of community cohesion, the highest of all virtues. If, for example, they find the atmosphere not quite to their taste - - a little too much oxygen, perhaps, not quite enough methane - then we'd be morally obliged to adjust it as best we can in their favour in a spirit of mutual tolerance and respect. On the other hand, if they happened to land elsewhere, say in China,, none of this would be an issue. They would simply end up in a stir fry, and that would be the end of the matter. Different strokes for different folks. Isn't diversity wonderful? Peace and... what's "bon app├ętit" in Chinese?

Video Details

Duration: 6 minutes and 2 seconds
Country: United Kingdom
Language: English
Views: 1,041
Posted by: patcondell on Dec 20, 2013

It's all about difference.

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