@CSBrown28 raises an interesting point. He says " Most of us agree people who think that whites are supreme over other races are filth and deserve our ire."
The phrase “supreme over” is a bit awkward, but on a forum like this no one is required to write a college essay.
So let me ask: is it ever legitimate to say: “Culture ‘X’ is superior to Culture ‘Y’” ??? Or … "With respect to desirable characteristic/behavior ‘Z’, “Culture ‘X’ is superior to Culture ‘Y’”?
By ‘legitimate’, in this context, I mean ‘possibly true’, not necessarily ‘is true whenever someone says it’. (Analolgy: “Specimen X is heavier than Specimen Y.”)
And by ‘legitimate’ I don’t mean ‘is politic’ or ‘is wise’ or ‘is unkind’. Just ‘is possibly true’. There are things which are said, and not believed. There are things which are believed, and not said. Society probably depends on this being so.
The word ‘culture’ is tricky, of course, and someone who wants to dodge the question can divert the discussion into the ‘exact’ meaning of the word – and of course like all words it’s better not to think in terms of a word ‘having’ a meaning, like a tin of beans contains beans and not rice, but rather in terms of how we use the word – understanding that different people can use the same word in different and even contradictory ways. … and in fact the same person can do that as well.
I’m using it in the dictionary sense. Here are a couple of dictionary definitions: >
The arts, beliefs, customs, institutions, and other products of human work and thought considered as a unit, especially with regard to a particular time or social group.
Culture :- the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group; also : the characteristic features of everyday existence (such as diversions or a way of life) shared by people in a place or time.
Of course, all kinds of caveats are necessary here: cultures change over time; the can contain contradictory elements; they can contain elements to which more lip-service is paid than actual observance; peoples’ observance of them is often not ‘binary’, but shmoozed out, with some people adhering more to a particular custom than others. There is not a single national culture – there can be competing cultures within the boundaries of a state; there can be ‘sub-cultures’ immersed in broader cultures. All of these things and more make this concept slippery – and yet, I believe it’s a valid and useful concept.
Here’s another way to see what is meant by ‘culture’. Suppose a brand-new city were built somewhere, with its architechtural styles etc being a kind of ‘world average’. In other words, were you to be sat down in this city, you wouldn’t be able to say, “Ah, I’m in China” or “Looks like a small Midwestern American town to me”.
Now suppose it was populated by people wearing masks, all speaking through a voice synthesizer that translated their words into English. So you could not tell what nationality or race or tribe they were from their looks or voice.
Let’s take 100 000 of each group.
However, their behavior would be the same as their behavior in their native land. The only observable thing about them would be their behavior.
You are sat down in such a city, for a week at a time, over a period of five weeks, to experience life among five different cultures, say China Chinese, village Nigerians, New York Jews, Blacks from South Chicago, whites from a small town in Mississippi.
Each group acts like it did in its original environment. We haven’t chosen exceptional individuals, but ‘average’ ones, although in every case we have a normal distribution of behaviors within that group.
Another diversion for anyone wanting to dodge the real question: probably every distinguishable cultural element that exists, is held, to some extent, by a few people in every possible distinguishable culture-bearing group. We’re talking general trends, dominant beliefs, averages, typicalities.
Could you tell the difference? Let’s give you fly-on-the-wall powers, so you can see inside police stations, schools, people’s apartments, a police roadblock, a bar, etc. You see men and women reacting with each other, children and teachers, a policeman who has stopped someone for a driving offence, children with homework. Anything you like.
Could you tell that you were in one culture as opposed to another? Could you tell which culture you were in? Let’s assume you have had a year or two living among New York Jews, white small-town Mississipians, a South Chicago housing project, a Nigerian city, and a Chinese one, so that you were familiar with the attitudes towards authority, towards education, which TV programs were watched, how men behaved towards women and vice versa …
Would you be able to say, after a week, which (disguised) group you were in?
Or let me put it another way: is there anyone, of the thousands of people who follow this famous forum, who thinks, “No, it would not be possible to distinguish among these five groups.”