Appeared in the North Shore News – August 16, 2013
IF you read no further, the theme of what follows is: Why don’t we keep our noses out of other people’s cultures?
Yes, that sentence usually ends “business.” But “cultures” – an ambiguous term I usually avoid, preferring tradition, religion, or custom – are something else. And so we come to the Western world’s repulsive new cultural imperialism.
The imperialism of old was geographic: Land, resources, control over lesser breeds without the law (note for the young: this is irony, 19thcentury Kiplingesque talk). Thus the British bestrode an empire on which the sun never set. The Spanish, Dutch, French, Portuguese, Germans, Italians battled for real estate; a rich chunk of Africa was the personal possession of the King of the Belgians.
All right, you knew that. Boring. Few wax nostalgic over these empires. And their contemporary echo has rung worse than hollow: The American-led forays into the Middle East, attempts to control and democratize Iraq, wretched Afghanistan and elsewhere, have been multi-trillion-dollar disasters. Where is the “acceptable” government-in-waiting in Syria where U.S.-backed meddlers are currently mucking in? Nowhere.
But more insidious – and even more high-handedly arrogant – is the bullying of those who don’t see things the way our so-called politically correct and enlightened believe they should.
Stand back. Look at ourselves. Drugs. Drink. Youth abused. Youth jobless. Youth suicidal. Food banks, criminally wasted food. Rampant obesity. Our lands and waters degraded. Sex and violence, filmdom’s brain-dead twins. Political corruption. Scandals among police, churches, schools. Personal, corporate, government debt on gigantic scale. That’s the short list. And we’re trying to impose our “culture” on other societies?
Move on: The huge success of the women’s and homosexual movements in the last mere 40-odd years are so fresh in historical terms that the icing on the cake has barely cooled – even in the selfstyled progressive West, where many still remain stolidly unconverted. As recently as 1987 an authority quoted in The Oxford Companion to the Mind pronounced homosexuality a perversion “in the technical sense.”
Yet the missionaries of the West’s new secular humanist religion, more narrow and more self-righteous than any priest you’re likely to bump into, are aggressively, in fact boorishly, browbeating countries with ancient faiths and customs who, beyond a small Westernized fringe – the ones our media interview – want no part of our claimed enlightenment.
Note well: The Arab-Islamic societies have zero appeal to me. The utterly evil “honour killings” in some East Indian families much less so. Now flip this: How do we in Canada feel when immigrants try to export Shariah law, or the patriarchal right to murder their disobedient daughters? Or even about certain Chinese attitudes toward animals, notably slicing off sharks’ fins and throwing them back to die helplessly? Does that invasive shoe pinch on the other foot? How dare they. Well, how dare we.
But the cause de jour is Russia’s laws hostile to homosexuality and the pompous posturing about Canada boycotting the 2014 Olympic Games. (Which would hurt Russia? No. Our athletes.) This cause has attained hysterical pitch, locally with CKNW especially plumbing new depths of media exploitation and trendy titillation, Gord MacDonald for bad example hotly shilling for a stupid petition signed by stupid sheep for a woolly cause. Baaaa.
Russia, land not only of Lenin, Stalin and the KGB but also of Tolstoy, Chekhov and Eisenstein, is, according to a Vancouver Sun list, one of 75 nations with prejudicial laws and customs concerning homosexuality. Get this as straight as your grandfather: So did Canada a bare four decades ago. In our colossal elitist gall, we in the busybody West demand that societies four millennia old jump instantly through the hoop of rights we’ve barely created ourselves.
Repeat: Leave others to find or keep their ways. Clean up our own act. Too much of it stinks.
Amazing. The greatest Canadian – probably any – broadcast news voice of the Second World War is still with us. And a West Vancouver treasure.
Peter Stursberg turns 100 on Aug. 30. That voice, a great, rich, booming instrument, filled and shook radios all over the country when Stursberg was a CBC correspondent in Europe.
Years ago I was surprised to learn that Stursberg was living in the Rockridge area. I phoned, and when he answered I was transported back to early childhood and first heard that dark, portentous voice on the Philco.
I’ve urged the Jack Webster Awards committee to give him this year’s Webster, and also the Canadian Association of Journalists to recognize him, and – in case the corp somehow wasn’t aware of the 100th – the CBC to make an appropriate fuss. Johnny Michel, CBC’s managing director for B.C., assured me it had and it would.
In the U.S., Stursberg would easily have been as famous as Edward R. Murrow. But this is Canada, you know. We need nudging.
© Trevor Lautens, 2013