Cultural Relativism is dogma today. It's like a religious tenet – you really can't question it, and if you do, you are subject to sanction.
Cultural relativism was put forth by Franz Boas, "the father of American anthropology," a hundred years ago. Boas was lashing out against the racism pervasive in anthropology in his day. The British Victorian scholar, EB Tylor, "the father of anthropology," was a racist. Tylor really did insist that educated English men were at the top of the evolutionary pyramid, and African savages and European peasants were way down at the bottom.
Boas came along and pointed out that "primitive" cultures were just as good as any others.
Boas made good and important points, but we've taken cultural relativism too far. How far?
When I was in grad school at Indiana University Bloomington, I mentioned clitoredectomy as a violation of women's rights. My fellow grad student lashed out at me. No, no, she insisted. I was a "bigot" and a "racist" and a "cultural imperialist" to judge clitoredectomy negatively. "You're Catholic," this grad student snapped. "Clitoredectomy is just like your ritual of confirmation."
That grad student has gone on to a stellar academic career. Me? Not so much.
When I protest against clitoredectomy, child marriage, acid attacks on women and girls, and acts of jihad on Facebook, my liberal friends often excoriate me. Not a few have unfriended me, always denouncing me first as a bigot, hater, cultural imperialist, racist, and hooded KKK grand dragon
These attacks are often accompanied by cultural relativist arguments. Jihad is just like the Crusades. Child marriage is just Miley Cyrus twerking. Clitoredectomy is just like wearing high heels.
Mariam Yahya Ibrahim is a 27 year old Sudanese woman who has been condemned to death for allegedly converting from Islam to Christianity. She is eight months pregnant. The Sudanese court's death sentence is in accord with Islam. "He who changes his Islamic religion, kill him" – hadith Sahih Al-Bukhari 9:57. This precept is and has always been widely supported in Islam (see here).
I'd like to invite my cultural relativist friends to defend Mariam's murder, or to culturally relativize it for me. If all cultures in all respects really are equal, if there really is nothing superior – or even merely preferable – about the Judeo-Christian tradition and Western Civilization, please explain how murdering a young woman, wife, and mother for the crime of being a Christian in a Muslim-majority state is really okay.
Above please find a blank piece of paper on which you can detail your reasoning.
|Mariam Yahya Ibrahim|