Recently, as I noted, I’ve started reading Charles Taylor’s Essay (and some responses and criticisms) on Multiculturalism. Progressives with whom I’ve been acquainted would all agree with the following:
I would like to maintain that there is something valid in this presumption [note: keep reading, the presumption in question will become clear], but that the presumption is by no means unproblematic, and involves something like an act of faith. As a presumption, the claim is that all human cultures that have animated whole societies over some considerable stretch of time have something important to say to all human beings. I have worded it in this way to exclude partial cultural milieux within a society, as well as short phases of a major culture. There is no reason to believe that, for instance, the different art forms of a given culture should all be of equal, or even of considerable, value; and every culture can go through phases of decadence.
They also would defend their “progressive” stances on gender and abortion within their notions of providing support for the weaker (by political or social measures) by particular identity features which aren’t contained in culture (we’re going to ignore for now the particular problem of the weakest of all is the fetus). A exemplary statement of the feminist (and gender problem) would be something like (from Ms Wolf’s ‘comments’ on the initial Taylor essay):
The problems of women who have been constrained by their role as women can remind us that, say, African-Americans can also be constrained by an intolerant insistence that they give cultural identity a central place in their lives. And the problems of those who have been urged to ignore or suppress or remove their differences from white, Christian heterosexuals can remind us of the dangers of trying to deny the significance of, say, gender differences that may run very deep.
You cannot be avid lover of a sport without picking a particular team. Sports fandom demands you pick a team. A person who says “I love baseball” but isn’t a fan of any one particular team is either a professional player or is a person that doesn’t realize that he/she is missing most of the experience of baseball, that is being a fan. Similarly you cannot truly label yourself a supporter multi-culturalism without loving your own culture. This means rejecting the Derridan fallacy and picking a team that is, belonging hook line and sinker to a particular culture, which means believing and following its foundations tenants and assumptions.
That brings one to the interesting modern paradox, liberal/progressives have a pretense of loving other cultures (which too often just means they merely like a varied ethnic dietary menu) but so often in rejecting their own native culture they end up equally despising all cultures. Returning to the sporting/baseball analogy, this is akin to a person claiming to love baseball, but having no allegiance to a particular team, and on inspection on finds they dislike all actual teams. What they mean by “love baseball” itself becomes suspect. This isn’t respect … and if you really want the multicultural experience you have to first become a … (oops) conservative/conserving member of your own.
In the iconic 70s film, The Outlaw Josie Wales, Mr Wales meets with some Western tribesman and defines for us a conservative multi-cultural moment. He and the chief come to an agreement regarding territory based on their shared commitment to their separate cultures, their shared willingness to put their life on the line to defend their own particular culture.