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Today I come before the public to bare my soul, confess the evil I have done, and make a clean breast. I will state my crimes as plainly as a drunkard at a recovery meeting, who says, “I am an alcoholic.” In honesty only is there surcease.

My mea culpa: I have, for all my long life, thought some cultures superior to others. I was wrong, deeply wrong, perhaps unforgivably so. Cultures are all equal, as our great and reliable media, notably NPR and the New York Times, have told me.Cultures are just different, not better or worse. How can I have doubted it?

The blame for my rests entirely with me. I will no longer attribute my error to those false gods of the Radical Right: observation, common sense, morality, and an inability to escape the obvious.

For example, I find from Reuters:

“BENI Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) – A crowd stoned to death a young man in northeast Congo on Friday before burning and eating his corpse, witnesses said, in apparent revenge for a series of attacks by Ugandan rebels.”

Here we have (I now see) a case not of grotesque animalism, as I once would have said, but of cultural versatility. Moslems eat beef but not pork, Hindus eat pork but not beef, but Africans eat both, and each other. They are simply freer spirits, not constrained by dour Eurocentric conventionality. This dietary quirk may be an evolutionary adaption to life in a region afflicted by famine. There is nothing wrongwith cannibalism. In it we simply see another way of looking at things.


Congolese culture.

I concede that my tendency to regard anthropophagy as barbaric was reprehensible Euro-supremacist bigotry. I recognize now that Congolese culture is as admirable as any other, such as Swiss. In penance, I will carry packets of garlic and other seasonings in case I am hit by a truck. If I cannot serve my fellow men, I can at least let them serve me.


An essentially identical culture, differing only in unimportant details (Mission Control)

As a Europhallocentric colonial male, or perhaps colonoheterophalloceuric supremacist, or fellowphallo hetero….well, one of those, I can never keep them straight, so to speak…I once worshiped at the shrine of cultural Mammon. Yes, I admit it. I pondered thousands of years of European history, of literature and philosophy and science, of mathematics and medicine, of politics—and thought them good. No. I am again evading. I thought them superior.

I considered the slow progress of Europe toward approximations of democracy, the gradual realization that women were people and should study and work and do as they wished, and I thought these also superior. I erred. Sending a young woman to Swarthmore is no better than performing an enforced clitoridectomy without anesthetic and keeping her in compulsory ignorance. It is just different.

Worse, I read of Chinese culture, and studied Chinese, and thought themmagnificent. Oh, ‘tis true. I was not content in my arrogance about my own civilization, but had to be vicariously arrogant about that of the Chinese. Their art, the writing that seemed almost alive on the page, appeared glorious to me—that is to say, superior. I could read their classics only in translation ( I tried, but what in God’s name is the character for “roe deer?”) but they seemed of highest quality. In my delusion, I thought Chinese culture—forgive, forgive me—actually better than wearing a loin cloth eating bugs.

No. No. I was wrong. But the scales fell from my eyes. I now understand that dim ignorance, illiteracy, shiftlessness, stupidity, parasitism, uncontrolled violence, primitivism, frolic bastardy, and a habit of barbecuing each other are quite as noble as the polity of Tokyo. And who am I to say that stoning women to death for adultery is any worse than giving them a parking ticket?

Bias is bias. Let us admit that a sub-basement of unreason underlies the cultural haughtiness of the Far Right. I now know this. For example, reprobates, Republicans, conservatives, and Klansmen have regarded the indigenes of Papua-New Guinea as stone-age primitives. No evidence existed for this slander, except that the natives were primitives and lived in the Stone Age. The Republican view was purely Europhallocolono or—oh hell, anyway it was bad.


H ardly distinguishable from the Tang Dynasty

In fact the indigenes lived simply, nobly, at one with Nature and cherished Her ways. They understood the Oneness of all things, their harmony with the crocodiles and marmosets of the ecosystem.

It is an inescapable fact that no tribe in Borneo ever designed a Caterpillar D9 or built a mega mall. Nor do they use incandescent bulbs.

How did I miss this for so many years?


The BlueMosque. Note similiarity to an igloo.

Note that a Euro-capitalist-hetero-and-so-on civilization uses needless complexity to opress nobler and simpler peoples by confusing them. But complexity is no virtue. I have read of a tribe living on the banks of the great, grey-green, greasy Limpopo, all set about with fever trees—OK, I stole that from Kipling, but he won’t notice—whose number system consisted of one, two, three, and “many, many.”

How simple! How clear! How democratic, how accessible to the masses! Surely this is preferable to Euroheterosupremophallic etc. notions like computational fluid dynamics. All airplanes do is pollute the environment.

In my uncharitable days I reflected that if we Eurowhatsits have a decimal system because we have ten fingers, then a one-two-three many-many system would suggest evolution from the three-toed sloth. There is no evidence for this. But the point here is that having fewer numbers is not inferior to having many of them, just different. When you have only a few, you get to know them better.


Shameful Eurosupremacist, probably a bond trader, in guest quarters in Cuando Cubango, Angola. Pretty much like the Ritz-Carlton. Note mosquito-ports in walls, doubling efficiently as air-conditioning.

Now I shall build me a house, of clay and wattles made, and lie iin it, reflecting on my new and welcome cultural humility.

(Republished from Fred on Everything by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity 
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  1. Vendetta says:

    There’s always pluses and minuses to every culture…it’s just that the plus and minus columns don’t match up.

    On the plus side of being a Papuan, you know more of how to survive in the jungle, what bugs and roots you can eat and what you can’t. On the minus side….everything else.

    Likewise in Congo: I’ll bet it’s actually quite a thrill to hunt down and slaughter the people you hate the most, instead of just seething in public and blogging nasty things about them online.

    On the minus side….everything else.

  2. Bliss says:

    Whenever Fred Reed writes about africans and african-americans you can be sure the post will reek of sleazy mean-spiritedness. There is definitely something pathological going on here.

    What kind of a lowlife gets off on pictures of starving human beings? In his willful ignorance he acts as if Europe has never suffered from massive famines, only Africa. Do the pictures of skeletal victims of the Nazi deathcamps or the Holodamor represent the totality of european civilization? The moral bankruptcy and intellectual dishonesty of his ilk (and there are many like him, including here) is staggering and disgusting.

    Note that he writes nothing about the pre-columbian and current barbarisms of his beloved mexicans. Or about his own recently human-sacrificing cannibal ancestors from north of the Alps. No mention of the genocide of native americans, the Holocaust, the Holodamor, the firebombing of civilians in Tokyo or the nuking of women, children, elderly japanese in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    And of course his kind always lie or turn a blind eye to the ancient achievements of africans and the current achievements of african-americans. He posts a picture of Mission Control but ignores the fact that the current head of NASA is an african-american, a former test pilot who served as Mission
    Commander of the Space Shuttle.

  3. SEATAF says:

    Will Mr. Reed at least agree, then, that the U.S. North, which did not allow lynch mobs to burn people alive and collect their charred remains as souvenirs, was, despite some hypocrisies, culturally superior to the U.S. South?

    • Replies: @Buzz Mohawk
  4. Stealth says:
    @Bliss

    In fairness, the current head of NASA was appointed because he’s black. He has stated that the “foremost” of the goals he was given by Obama was to make Muslims feel better about their contributions to science. Is he qualified? Hell if I know, but considering that his principal mission is to serve as an inspiration to people who don’t have anything to do with NASA, he was probably given the job for all the wrong reasons.

    • Replies: @Bliss
  5. Harold says:
    @Bliss

    Whenever Fred Reed writes about africans and african-americans you can be sure the post will reek of sleazy mean-spiritedness. There is definitely something pathological going on here.

    It is the mainstream culture that is pathological. Fred’s tone is a reaction thereto. No-one would have been so mean-spirited as to call Sarah Jessica Parker horse-faced if she hadn’t been held up by women’s magazines as an exemplar of female beauty.

    Note that he writes nothing about the pre-columbian and current barbarisms of his beloved mexicans. Or about his own recently human-sacrificing cannibal ancestors from north of the Alps. No mention of the genocide of native americans, the Holocaust, the Holodamor, the firebombing of civilians in Tokyo or the nuking of women, children, elderly japanese in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    We get enough condemnation (and exaggeration) of white misdeeds already, in fact this is nearly all we do get. Why would Fred add to this oversupply?

    And of course his kind always lie or turn a blind eye to the ancient achievements of africans and the current achievements of african-americans.

    Your kind always want minor achievements acknowledged over myriad other equally impressive achievements merely because their progenitors were black.

    • Replies: @Gallo-Roman
  6. FD says:

    Atrocities happen everywhere, scaled by technology and intensity of conflict. They are not an especially useful criterion for cultural merit. The level of achievement alone is a better metric.

  7. Yep, Fred, you nailed it; European culture is so superior, it would be an absolute shame had it not exported itself throughout the world and trashed too many cultures to count .. leaving chaos in its wake everywhere. Obviously you’d be a fan of Bernard-Henry Lévy: Philosopher and Murderous Fool:

    http://ronaldthomaswest.com/2013/05/14/the-great-bernard-henry-levy/

    After all, Europe did Libya a tremendous favor by overthrowing Gaddafi, handing the country to al-Qaida aligned militia and see women’s emancipation, radical by Arab world standards, perform a vanishing act together with a standard of living approaching middle class America, the envy of Africa.

    And of course you’d be a fan of neo-liberal Susan Rice who never encountered a ‘humanitarian intervention’ she did not like, particularly when it has to do five million Congolese deaths to keep mining concession stocks viable on the Western democracies stock exchanges:

    http://ronaldthomaswest.com/2013/05/30/usaid-in-central-africa/

    But that’s not very funny to some people, so we need to keep the news ‘fair & balanced’ with a look at good old fashioned conservative logic and its rational ideology of god blessing us with gifted leadership of the Republican election cycles past:

    http://ronaldthomaswest.com/2013/05/09/dick-cheneys-lucid-dream/

    Or if you prefer the Republican women’s role model:

    http://ronaldthomaswest.com/2013/05/24/the-michelle-bachmann-archetype/

    And, of course, we have our premier philosophers with their impeccable logic at our Crusader headquarters:

    http://ronaldthomaswest.com/2014/10/18/rear-admiral-john-kirby/

    Yes, clearly European based culture (that includes the USA, just to inform those ‘mericans’ who’d not been beyond our borders) is so superior we feel compelled to train and arm groups who become famous for decapitating and crucifying people:

    http://ronaldthomaswest.com/2014/09/13/stupid-is-as-stupid-does/

    But some people won’t appreciate knowing that and so we can provide them with a distraction, after all, watching ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’ is a superior form of redneck entertainment (more important than any real news) and we wish to keep the genre alive and current:

    http://ronaldthomaswest.com/2014/04/07/thuck-norris/

    And just to be fair (and balanced, like Rupert Murdoch’s FAUX NEWS), here’s wrapping up with one to bash the liberals:

    http://ronaldthomaswest.com/2014/10/09/liberals/

    Because at the end of the day we were better off in a world ruled by monitor lizards (even if Fred Reed’s satire sucks by comparison)

    • Replies: @Harold
    , @Vendetta
  8. @Bliss

    The person you reference in the last sentence was an affirmative action hire put there by a black president.

  9. shmiggen says:

    One of the most vibrant and enriching articles I’ve read in awhile.

  10. Harold says:
    @Ronald Thomas West

    You don’t seem to know what superior means. It doesn’t mean good. It means better. You can’t show something isn’t superior by showing that it is bad. Moron.

    • Replies: @Jim
    , @Ronald Thomas West
  11. Jim says:
    @Harold

    Obviously European and Chinese cultures have been vastly more advanced than Pre-Columbian New World cultures say. That is of course totally compatible with an immense amount of brutality in the history of Europe and China. Of course there is an immense amount of brutality in the history of Pre-Columbian New World cultures.

  12. Wyrd says:

    Is Bliss Unz’s token SJW? She stays perpetually offended.

  13. Vendetta says:
    @Ronald Thomas West

    You are being deliberately obtuse in reading from to be some kind of neoliberal dipshit – making you the dipshit. Nice plugging of your blog though. Your crass, overbearing self-promotion speaks wonders of your merits as a judge of culture.

  14. Bliss says:
    @Stealth

    the current head of NASA was appointed because he’s black….. Is he qualified? Hell if I know

    Another illogical white supremacist. Always good for a laugh.

    Perhaps you also think he was a fighter pilot, test pilot, Space Shuttle pilot and Space Shuttle Commander because he is black?

  15. Bliss says:

    Fred Reed’s magnum opus:

    A Brass Pole in Bangkok: A Thing I Aspire To Be

    That title cracked me up. Sleazy and pathetic, but still funny…

  16. @Harold

    If you want to claim ‘superior is better’ go right ahead:

    http://ronaldthomaswest.com/2013/05/17/bozos-handcock-u-speech/

    But somehow the math just doesn’t work out 😉

    • Replies: @Realist
  17. I too was once a shameless, AngloGermanoPhalloCentric American. I mistakenly thought the aboriginal people of my continent lived a primitive, brutish life here in America before my ancestors arrived. Somehow I had the crazy idea that those mis-named “Indians” were just roaming around, fighting tribe against tribe and sometimes even eating each other. I had no idea how kind and wise they were, how advanced their culture was!

    Those “First Americans” enjoyed the same kind of simplicity as the Africans! It was my very own misguided people who had the gall to build a complex, modern nation here and rob those people of their advanced artistry and culture. Why, my European cousins from Spain even let their horses go wild so the natives would have to learn to ride them! How dare we rob those people of the joys of getting around on foot! We even made them look at written communication! Such pornography of the mind must have shattered the peaceful thoughts they had of warring against the tribe over the hill and waiting for the buffalo to arrive…

  18. @SEATAF

    Will Mr. Reed at least agree, then, that the U.S. North, which did not allow lynch mobs to burn people alive and collect their charred remains as souvenirs, was, despite some hypocrisies, culturally superior to the U.S. South?

    He would have to, wouldn’t he? Because that is a fact that follows from his argument, which is indeed correct.

    I have noticed that his bleating, cliche’d complaints about things like Sherman’s March — like most southern complaints about anything that was necessary to shut up the damn Confederacy — resemble the envious bullshit accusations shoveled upon Northwestern-European/American people by anyone from any inferior culture that hasn’t won the competition with us. Such whining is best ignored.

    • Replies: @Palerider1861
  19. @Buzz Mohawk

    So tell me, mister yankee doodle dandy — are you really that depraved, or are you related to that maniac Sherman?

    Hurry…inquiring minds want to know.

  20. Weird how progressive twits like Ronald Thomas West and Bliss come here just to get butt-hurt.

  21. dave37 says:

    Ethnocentrism has it’s limits.

  22. IA says:

    Bliss, West, Buzz, et. al., please broadcast, email, write, youtube 3/4 of the planet to STAY AWAY from the horrible white man. Better yet, go there and warn them to stay home. Are they stupid? Or just ignorant?

  23. Realist says:
    @Bliss

    “And of course his kind always lie or turn a blind eye to the ancient achievements of africans and the current achievements of african-americans.”

    Let’s see a list….shouldn’t take long.

  24. Realist says:
    @Ronald Thomas West

    “If you want to claim ‘superior is better’ go right ahead:”
    That is the definition.

  25. dave37 says:

    Someone once compared Mr. Reeds writing style to be a bit like Mark Twain, though I would think it mixed with some Jack Webb. The question seems to me be that diversity rejects the status quo developed over time. Some think it good but some don’t. Comments about Sherman (an anti-abolitionist btw, and he didn’t like indians either) seem to me to point to a “diversity” that still produces heat. I wonder what 100 years from now all the different diversities in this country will produce besides restaurants.

  26. iSteveFan says:

    Perhaps you also think he was a fighter pilot, test pilot, Space Shuttle pilot and Space Shuttle Commander because he is black?

    I am quite sure it helped.

  27. “Comments about Sherman (an anti-abolitionist btw, and he didn’t like indians either) seem to me to point to a “diversity” that still produces heat.”

    It seems my writing is not good enough to convey irony, or at least not obvious enough for some people to notice. I do not believe the American Indians had a culture equal to that of the White Man. I thought my comment made that clear. I am sorry if anyone did not get the joke.

    My comment involving General Sherman, however, was no joke. His March to the Sea went right through my mother’s home town (so I am familiar with the phrase “damn Yankees.”) But with regard to culture and the Civil War, I am pro-North — indeed pro-American — so I share what I think is the majority view: that it was a successful campaign that helped beat an enemy that had to be beaten.

    I am neither “progressive” in the pejorative sense, nor anti-white, so I am surprised to find my handle thrown in with “Bliss, West…et. al.”

    I too wish 3/4 of the planet would stay away, and yet I experience no cognitive dissonance with regard to my pro-North take on the freaking Civil War.

  28. Truth says:
    @Bliss

    I second.

    But hey, 75 year old “racist” race traitors tend to be a little…unique…anyway.

  29. @Harold

    Your kind always want minor achievements acknowledged over myriad other equally impressive achievements merely because their progenitors were black.

    I was under the impression that “Bliss” was Asian, the resident taker-upper of the Yellow Man’s Burden of championing noble Peoples of Color everywhere against the White Devils, armed only with a certificate in Angry Studies. Maybe I’ve got him (her?) confused with someone else.

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