Over dinner with an old friend--kangaroo, duck and elk.

December 30th, 2013, 7pm

It was -2.8°C with few clouds. The breeze was light.

I ordered the kangaroo meatball for the sole purpose of being able to say that I’ve eaten kangaroo. Sure, it’s a bit vain of a motivation—“Hey, look how cool I am. I ate a marsupial meatball.” But let’s reconsider the motivation behind wanting to have eaten kangaroo. The point of ever bringing it up is to be interesting, which benefits everyone in the conversation, not just the speaker. Ain’t nobody never liked boring (which is why I wrote a triple negative here).

Telling someone I ate kangaroo could easily lead to asking them what is the strangest food they have ever eaten—see, I’m not only interested in myself—which could lead to a discussion about the various cultures in the world where we find such foods, an interesting enough topic for a winter’s eve. (For the record, sheep stomach soup is the strangest thing I have eaten, just ahead of a mesquite-flavored sheep intestine sandwich and roasted cow tongue, taste buds and all). In our mutual appreciation of world cultures we promote a healthy multiculturalism that sees and highlights the best of varying cultures—like Middle Eastern hospitality or the joy expressed in African dance.

Of course, in this moment we are doing something specific to our culture. That is, the celebration of multiculturalism is a very Western cultural value, a topic we discussed over our kangaroo dinner. Cultures outside the West like their culture and are generally content to live within it. They do not necessarily mind outside cultures—and they may even bring in elements from the outside, like the large shopping malls of Istanbul—but they feel no need to press for multiculturalism as a cultural value to show how progressive they are.

Now, if we sneer at the lack of multiculturalism in other cultures we violate a key commandment of our own multiculturalism, “Thou shalt not sneer at anyone.” In this case we would have ethnocentrically elevated one of our cultural values—multiculturalism—over those values of other cultures. Oh, the arrogance.

But if we do not sneer, then that means we are ok with cultures sneering, which is to say, making value judgments. But since only people can truly make value judgments—not the abstract idea of cultures, for cultures are made up of real people in the flesh—if we follow the logical road all the way down to the cul-de-sac, we must say that we are ok with people making value judgments. But such judgments violate a key commandment of modern tolerance, “Thou shalt not judge.”

And so you see how hard it is to please a progressive.

Cassie and Jack said thanks.

Share this moment

Rhett Burns

Create a free account

Have an account? Sign in.

Sign up with Facebook