Thursday, July 28, 2016

Democratic Party Culture 2016





What Do Democrats Want?

Previously I examined the Republican Party platform. Now the Democratic vision for America is available so I want to take a look at that in a similar fashion. The Democratic Party Platform document is a bit shorter at 55 pages compared to the Republican document.

Economic issues
Several traditional concerns of Democrats are evident in a call for raising wages and protecting workers’ rights. Also, they wish to protect and expand social security. There is an identified focus on jobs for younger persons and support for small businesses.

Related to the economy is a concern for fairness in the U.S. financial system, taxation, and trade. The fairness in taxation reflects a Democratic view of proportionality rather than equal or flat tax approaches.

Rights and Justice
Several concerns deal with human rights. In addition to concerns about racism and criminal justice, the platform planks include concerns for immigrants, women, and people who identify as LGBT. Additionally, there are concerns for people with disabilities and respect for people of faith. Fairness in voting rights and campaign fairness are also mentioned.

Similar groups to those in the preceding paragraph are mentioned in a section on values. For example, the platform addresses concern for women and girls, sexual and religious minorities, refugees, and issues such as trafficking and slavery, torture, and HIV/AIDS.

Education
There is a strong emphasis on education. Specifics include relief for students with high debt loads and promoting debt-free college education. They advocate control over the exploitive practices of some for-profit schools. Another widespread appeal is to provide universal preschool education.

Health and Safety
Not surprisingly, Democrats continue their focus on universal health care, more affordable prescriptions and note a specific focus on mental health and substance dependence. Special mentions include people with autistic disorders, reproductive rights, violence against women, and gun violence.

Defense and Military
Democrats support a strong military and care for veterans as well as active service members. They address concerns about global terror and identify issues associated with specific countries.

Leadership
A final section focuses on American leadership in the world and is organized by continents.


Search Term Frequency

To compare the emphasis of the Democrats with that reported in my post on Republicans, I analyzed the platform for the same concepts. I used the search tool in Adobe Reader to identify a few examples. In some cases, I searched both the singular and plural use of a term. My focus is generally on culture but I also looked at international issues.



Religion and Religious Freedom
Religious 11 + Religion 6 = 17
Religious freedom 3
Christian or Christians 1
God 3
Conscience 0
Muslims 5 (Muslim 1) = 6
Jewish 1
Hindu, Buddhist 0

Economic
Economic 47 + economy 45= 92
Tax 31 + taxes 6 = 37
Market 5 + Markets 10 = 15
Property 3
Wages 14

Defense and Safety Issues
Military 28
Border 2 + borders 3 = 5
Gun/ guns 11+1 = 12

Police 3

Leaders
Obama 6
Clinton 0
Bush 1
Trump 24

International Issues/ Sample of Countries
China 6
Israel 5
Russia 2
Mexico 1
Iran 9
Canada 2
India 1
United Kingdom 1
Palestine 0

Social and Cultural
Rights 79
Health care 43
Criminal 10 + crime 3 = 13
Abortion 5
Drug 16 + drugs 10 = 26
Disabilities 28, Disabled 0, disability 8 = 36
Marriage 0
Sex 3 + sexual 16 = 19
Immigration 17
Judge 0 + judges 3 = 3
Gun/ guns 11+1 = 12
Adoption related to children = 1
Race 11 + racism 7 + racist 1 = 19
Worship 0
Violence 24
Pornography 0
Rape 1
Divorce 0

 Related Posts
Psychology, Politics, and Donald Trump http://geoffwsutton.blogspot.com/2016/04/7-reasons-why-donald-trumps-republican.html

Shaping U.S. Culture in Cleveland http://geoffwsutton.blogspot.com/2016/07/shaping-u-s-culture-in-cleveland.html

  The Future of America http://geoffwsutton.blogspot.com/2016/06/the-future-of-america.html 

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

BRIBES, REWARDS, & REINFORCEMENTS


The TIMES writer misuses the term “bribe” in the story.


“The Right Way to Bribe Your Kids to Read”


Although it is common for many to consider rewards for behavior as “bribes,” the term often carries the meaning of influencing people to violate trust or break a rule. In short, it suggests rewards and prizes may be morally questionable. The quotes in the story also refer to rewards in a confusing manner.

Consider this. If reading were a rewarding activity, then it would be rewarding in itself and there would be no need for external rewards—a new book might suffice to encourage more reading.

Psychologists prefer the term “reinforcement” to refer to events or tangibles that, when presented following a behavior, serve to strengthen the desired behavior.  And in research or clinical practice, psychologists recommend fading (reducing) reinforcements as the behavior becomes a habit. Even better, different schedules of reinforcement often result in lasting habits once an activity is found to be enjoyable.

There is a downside to reinforcement attempts. You could induce frustration and dislike of an activity if trying to increase reading in a person who has some limitation for a task compared to the skill of others. We all have limits in our capacity to accomplish helpful goals. Encouraging me to run further or faster, quilt, sculpt, or do other things where I have zero to minimal skills would be incredibly frustrating and serve only to increase rejection, “Why try?” In effect, if the attempt at reinforcement turns out to decrease behavior then a parent has punished rather than rewarded a child.

To psychologists, activities that reduce a desired behavior define the term "punishment." Said another way, punishment is that which stops or decreases behavior. 


Whether increasing reading or some other worthwhile behavior, parents ought to be cognizant of reasonable achievement levels for their children. If a reward program does not work, then by all means, don't use it-- and be sure to avoid inadvertently "punishing" a child or teaching children to change behavior for a bribe.




Sunday, July 24, 2016

A Democratic view of culture















Democratic Party Values

Previously, I wrote about several Republican Party Platform issues and general Republican values. Then I brought the post up-to-date with the 2016 platform. In this post I look at the Democratic Party. My focus in primarily on culture rather than on party politics. But clearly, culture can change to the extent more people from a particular party govern according to their espoused values. Here’s a link to the previous platform.

Taxes
Democrats are known for tax structures that take less taxes from low income workers and more from those who earn more. This is referred to in the platform as paying a “fair share.” If you check the Republican platform, you will see a focus on closer to equal sharing of tax burdens, sometimes referred to as flatter. The question is “What is a fair share of taxes?” And the answer is it is up to you to decide! But here’s more about fairness.

I think most Americans are willing to concede that the very poor ought to pay little to no taxes (after all, Americans are a generous people). But Democrats often point out that those earning more ought to pay more. The question of fairness is tricky because we can talk about an equal percentage (fairness as equal) such as 15% of all earnings or we can talk about the very rich paying a higher percentage (fairness as proportional) of earnings above a specific income level (e.g., pay 30% on earning above $250,000). So, what’s a fair share?

Health Care
It is no secret that the Democrats have pushed for national health care. The Affordable Care Act came closer to providing national health insurance but there are still millions of Americans without healthcare coverage. This issue really divides Americans.

The arguments vary about several issues such as: What is the role, if any, of the federal government in health care coverage? Why shouldn’t individuals be free to choose to have or not have health insurance? Who is going to pay for this major expense if the government gets further into the business of healthcare?

The federal government has been in the business of healthcare insurance for years in the form of Veteran’s Administration hospitals and services, Medical care of those in active military service, Medicare for those at or above age 65, and Medicaid for low income Americans. In a sense, Americans have already approved the government being in the business of healthcare insurance and services so, the issue ought to be about expanding or contracting health care. Unless you favor dumping care for everyone, which neither major party supports.

In my view, refusing to obtain health insurance places an undue burden on other citizens because all health care costs rise when hospitals and other health care providers pass along the costs of caring for those who do not or cannot pay their bills. I also draw an analogy to free education, which has been supported by Americans for years. You can do a lot of jobs without much education but you cannot go to work if you are seriously ill. You don’t need a high school education to stock shelves or drive a truck but you do need your health and strength. And you might not earn enough stocking shelves or driving to pay for health insurance along with the bare minimum of life’s necessities. Of course this could be solved by requiring all employers to provide health insurance but then the cost of products and services would rise. There’s no getting around it. One way or another most of us pay for other people’s health care costs.

Here's another analogy. We willingly pay for defense against those who would do us harm by having a strong military and homeland security. So, why not pay for defense against diseases and illnesses that attack and kill or disable our citizens? A lot of us die or suffer from heart disease, cancers, strokes, and so forth.

















Social Security and Medicare
Social Security and Medicare are a mainstays of the Democratic Party. Most Americans depend on Social Security and Medicare to cover a substantial portion of their retirement funds and basic well-being. Most seniors have paid into the system during their working years. The biggest concern is the high cost of the programs, especially as more people live longer.

Getting rid of these programs would be a disaster for so many and would be morally impermissible given that so many have paid into the system and deserve to reap the benefits. Although there are arguments favoring privatization, the problem is private employers vary in the retirement benefits they offer employees. Some employers offer a lot but others offer too little. In some way, Americans need a reliable scheme that allows them to retire with some minimum of income and affordable health care to cover the period when they are unable to earn a living.

Playing politics with Social Security and Medicare happens from time to time. Scaring people about their well-being seems immoral to me. On the other hand, stories about waste in Medicare are not hard to find. All Americans have a moral duty to avoid abuse of Medicare and report those who abuse the system.

Education
Education is expensive. In a free society, it is natural for educators to want higher incomes than available from some poor school districts. In addition, schools vary in many aspects of quality that are tied to available funds. In general, Democrats favor spending more on education.

Funding higher education is a separate issue. Democrats favor increasing the opportunity for the poor to attend colleges, universities, and technical schools. Increasing education is very expensive.

Although it is true that people with a higher education earn more than those with less education, education is not the only factor in higher earnings. Having worked with students and teachers from preschool through graduate school I find a considerable range of ability and motivation. It is incredibly na├»ve to think that all people will be better off with more education. And it is an intrusion on individual rights to compel youth to attend school against their will and then label them as “drop outs” or worse when they quit.

I agree that as good citizens all people need a basic level of education. I do not think it fair to create a culture where those who choose to enter work at a young age are somehow considered inferior. We don’t need more citizens with higher education degrees working in jobs that do not require a college education. Also, we do not need government loan supported quasi-educational businesses selling easy to obtain degrees to people who can ill afford to pay back the loans. No education is free. Someone is paying for it.

Workers
Democrats have a reputation for focusing on the working class rather than “Big Business” or “Wall Street.” Many Americans have been appalled at taxpayer funds supporting the big investment banks that were considered “too big to fail.” In contrast, many low and moderate income workers lost their positions in the most recent recession. In some states, workers lack union support to help them bargain for better salaries and benefits.

In general, I think a reasonable role for government is to ensure a productive balance between the rights of businesses to earn a profit and invest in the future of their company with minimal government constraint and the rights of employees to share in the profits of the company they work for in terms of a fair wage and benefits.

From time to time imbalances exist to the detriment of businesses that fail due to excessive costs of doing business in part due to excess government regulation. But at other times, employees suffer when unregulated businesses exploit their workforce and dismiss them for trivial reasons.

Photo note: Photos were selected from bing.com using the "free to share and use" category. I will gladly remove photos if there is a mistake.

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Friday, July 22, 2016

Republican Culture 2016

Select concepts by Frequency- See below

 What Do Republicans Want?

The official U.S. Republican party platform for 2016 is available. The 66-page document outlines their vision and offers identified issues and plans for change. Find the Table of Contents on page iii, which lists six major headings.

1. Restoring the American Dream p.1.
Economic ideas come first with comments on taxes and jobs along with investments.

2. A Rebirth of Constitutional Government p.9.
There are traditional Republican concerns about constitutional rights and limitations on the roles of leaders such as the president and judges.

They speak out for traditional marriage and state: “We condemn the Supreme Court’s ruling in the United States v. Windsor, which wrongly removed the ability of Congress to define marriage in federal law (p. 11).” They also condemn the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges.

Next, Republicans affirm First Amendment rights of religious liberty. An early focus is on the rights of conscience. Related concerns are protecting the tax-exempt status of religious organizations and the freedom of people to conduct business according to their religious beliefs. Also supported is the public display of the Ten Commandments.

Freedom of Speech is to be protected including freedom from being forced to support candidates through union dues. Support for the second Amendment is noted along with a reference to self-defense as a “God-given right.” In reference to the Fourth Amendment, there is a call for limitations on surveillance.

The protection of human life is tied to the Fifth Amendment. Specifically, the claim is “the unborn child has a fundamental right to life.” Other comments focus on protecting other rights linked to the Fifth Amendment such as property rights. There is a focus on the rights of States and individual liberties, including voting rights. They voice objection to abolishing the electoral college in favor of a popular vote.

3. America’s Natural Resources 17.

The plank offers support for energy exploration, use of public lands for activities such as hunting and fishing. They demand a halt to funding of the U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change.

4. Government Reform p. 23.

First is a call for a balanced budget amendment. Medicare and Medicaid are used by over 100 million Americans and should be preserved. Medicare reform options focus on those younger than age 55. Medicaid should be managed by the States. Options are to be considered for Social Security. Additional sections focus on freedom of the internet and immigration control, including building a wall along the southern border.

5. Great American families p. 31.

The plank focuses on the importance of marriage and families to society. Statements oppose cohabitation and state the importance of marriage as a union of one man and one woman.

Several comments focus on education—supporting parent rights and merit-based rather than tenure tracks for teachers. Educational choice is supported, including parochial schools. Republicans oppose interpreting Title IX to include sexual orientation as a sex discrimination issue. They condemn BDS and advocate for free speech on campuses. Also they believe “The federal government should not be in the business of originating student loans (p. 35).”

On healthcare—repeal Obamacare. Ideas for health care changes include increasing options and reducing mandates as well as giving more control to states. They advocate transparency in pricing and home care for seniors. The paragraphs in this subsection also affirm the protection of individual conscience including respect for religious beliefs. Also, reforms are needed in medical malpractice lawsuits. A focus is on reforming the FDA and advancing the well-being of people with disabilities.

On criminal justice, two problems need to be addressed: over-criminalization and over-federalization. Other comments note the legalization of marijuana despite federal law and a plan to limit opioid prescriptions.

6. America Resurgent p. 41.

A strong military is the “first order of business.” A general goal is “rebuilding the U.S. military into the strongest on earth, with vast superiority over any other nation or groups of nations in the world (p. 41).” Support for the troops includes several provisions for those in service and their families along with an increase in the number of chaplains. They oppose banning Bibles and religious symbols.

The party affirms support for Israel and the Kurdish people. Other comments address Asia, Europe, and Africa. They respect the decision of the UK and the special relationship. Support for NATO remains. Support for the Americans is also noted, especially for neighbors. The opening to Cuba is labeled a “shameful accommodation to the demands of its tyrants (p. 50).” Reforms are called for in the U.N. They are opposed to several positions of the U.N.

Search Term Frequency

One way to consider the concerns of authors is to examine the concepts by searching for key words. I used the search tool in Adobe Reader to identify a few examples. In some cases, I searched both the singular and plural use of a term. My focus is generally on culture but I also looked at international issues.

If you calculate terms differently, please post corrections because I want to provide only accurate information. Also, if you include additional calculations for other terms, please post those too.



Religion and Religious Freedom

God 15
Conscience 10
God-given 9
Christian or Christians 8
Religion 5
Muslims 1 (Muslim 0)
Jewish 1
Hindu, Buddhist 0

Economic
Economic 57 + economy 52 = 109
Tax 45 + taxes 3 = 48
Market 27 + Markets 18 = 45
Property 27
Wages 4

Defense and Safety Issues
Military 54
Border 7 + borders 10 = 17
Gun/ guns 7+1 = 8
 Police 3

Leaders
Obama 11
Clinton 5
Bush 1
Trump 0

International Issues/ Sample of Countries
China 18
Israel 16
Russia 9
Mexico 4
Iran 4
Canada 3
India 1
United Kingdom 1
Palestine 0

Social and Cultural
Rights 84
Healthcare 35
Criminal 19 + crime 11 = 30
Abortion 27
Drug 14 + drugs 9 = 23
Disabilities 15, Disabled 1, disability 3 = 19
Marriage 19
Sex 6 + sexual 7 = 13
Immigration 12
Judge 3 + judges 7 = 10
Gun/ guns 7+1 = 8
Adoption related to children = 4
Race 2+ racism 1 + racist 0 = 3
Worship 3
Violence 3
Pornography 2
Rape 0
Divorce 0


Related Posts
Psychology, Politics, and Donald Trump http://geoffwsutton.blogspot.com/2016/04/7-reasons-why-donald-trumps-republican.html

Shaping U.S. Culture in Cleveland http://geoffwsutton.blogspot.com/2016/07/shaping-u-s-culture-in-cleveland.html

  The Future of America http://geoffwsutton.blogspot.com/2016/06/the-future-of-america.html 

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Sunday, July 17, 2016

SHAPING U.S. CULTURE in CLEVELAND

Republican Culture

Imagine that Donald Trump and Mike Pence will be supported at the Republican National Convention next week. And imagine that Trump leads the charge on his agenda for America along with some revision of the traditional party platform.
So, what matters to you?








The Republican Platform & American Culture

I went to the GOP website to locate the current list of issues per the party "platform." What is available today is the 2012 platform, which provides a basis to see if there are any changes coming out of the 2016 convention so, if you want a Republican vision of a significant swath of U.S. culture, read it now or download the pdf for later reference (platform link).

A lot of groups will be at the convention attempting to get their voices heard and drawing attention to what about U.S. culture they would like to maintain or change. If you vote Republican, you are in part endorsing the platform to the extent they are serious about changing laws to conform to the platform.

A vote for president matters of course but a party platform also helps to identify the values of the people. ALL political parties have rhetoric so I suggest looking past the slogans at the details.

Of course, you ought to look at the revised platform at the end of the week along with Trump's speech to get a sense of the direction a lot of Americans desire.








Reading Political Platforms for Culture

American Dream: For example, if you wanted to support the "American Dream" what are the bits in the dream you want and what bits do you not want? Also, who should be allowed to share the dream (e.g., only Christians born in the U.S. to American citizens or some others too)? Asked another way, are there people you do not want to include in the American Dream?

I'm an immigrant. My father brought us to the U.S. and was a life-long believer in the American Dream. He became a citizen as soon as he could. Like me, lot's of Americans are naturalized citizens and want the best for America. And none of us can run for President (except Ted Cruz). But we have access to the other rights as do natural born citizens. It's a great country-- no wonder so many people want to share the dream. I do care about those kids who are in limbo--people without a country-- those brought in by illegal immigrants. What do you think? Should these kids only have a nightmare instead of a dream?

Big Government. Republicans generally have a reputation for being against big government but the 2012 platform includes a number of government programs dependent on taxes. What's your favorite government program (e.g., military, airport security, social security, FBI, CIA, IRS, CDC)? Should we get rid of Medicare, Medicaid, Disability programs and other health care assistance? Details matter because the federal budget is huge and we taxpayers without off-shore tax havens have to foot the bill.

If you favor smaller government, what government programs and services do you consider essential to our well-being as a nation? I actually don't mind helping the poor and funding basic education. I don't mind my taxes helping those who cannot work due to disability. I'm note sure about higher education for all.

I've seen a lot of waste in programs run by governments, nonprofit organizations (religious and secular), and for-profit corporations-- I think the problem with bloated budgets and excess spending is more a matter of human nature. We all suffer when some shirk work or spend to excess then go bankrupt-- sticking someone with a massive bill to pass on to others if they can.

God. Does every American pray to the same God? The Republican platform includes references to God. Conservative Christians have been strongly linked to the Republican party. Does the word "God" here refer to the Christian God meaning Jesus (in Christian theology, Jesus is God) or does the party include the God of the Jews and Muslims? Can the reference to God include the Hindu Gods too? I'm just wondering if the party is just for Christians.

I presume that no atheists are welcome in the Republican Party or their endorsement of the platform would be hypocritical. I also wonder if it would not be more honest for religious groups to have their own party like Christian Republicans and Christian Democrats- at least we would have a little better idea of the faith-politics connection.

Military. Military strength is a common concern of Republicans. Nowadays it seems like a we can't be too skimpy on military spending; though I suspect there's still a lot of waste -- not because of Republicans per se but because of human nature. I happen to support a strong military but I hate waste and I can't imagine how we can police the entire planet. Leadership must include plans to wisely allocate tax dollars to defense-- don't you think?

Budgets and Debts. Regardless of who is in congress and who is president, I have seen no evidence of a serious effort to reduce the size of the U.S. budget. Perhaps of more concern to me is balancing the budget given the huge debt we currently owe. I'm a fiscal conservative. My wife and I seek value and try to be careful with our money. I happen to think government leaders ought to be more careful with our hard earned money taken in the form of taxes.

In principle, I'm not opposed to paying taxes but I hate to see wasted funds and people acting as if they are "servants" of the people while living in luxury off of taxpayers. The bottom line is, budgets and debts affect the kind of culture we will enjoy.

Pro-life. Republicans have typically been the party with a stance against abortion. However, some Republicans support a woman's right to choose. Abortion is clearly a hot button issue. Throughout the U.S., various laws have been passed that increase restrictions on access to abortion.

I believe pro-life is a moral good. And equality for women is a moral good. I wonder what the new platform will say about abortion? I wonder if it matters if a party is pro-life but not all members of a party support the platform.

I wonder if it matters if a politician says they are pro-life. If they swear to uphold the law and the law permits abortion, doesn't that cause some inner conflict if they are seriously anti-abortion? What does it really mean for a candidate to be pro-life-- is it just a feel-good slogan?

There's more to Republican values than what's in the platform and even more in speeches. I'm not out to increase or decrease support for Republicans, Democrats, or Libertarians. I am primarily concerned that people think about the issues before voting.

I actually believe there are patriots in all three parties and I believe one can be a sincere Christian and be a member of any of these parties. I do not comment on the perspective of other religious faiths because as a Christian I do not think I could do justice to the perspectives others might have. I do respect the right of free speech for people of other faiths or no faith at all

More to come- Democrats and Libertarians

I write about culture in general and Christian culture in particular. To read more, see my recent book.

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Monday, July 11, 2016

White Christians and Black Lives

Lives destroyed in Dallas

John the Baptist, Rodin, St Louis Art Museum


On Friday morning I ambled toward the breakfast room of my St Louis hotel. Black hands took turns with my white hands filling plates with yellow eggs and brown sausages followed by filling white cups with black coffee.

The room was full of black families watching horrific Dallas scenes. “Officer down. Officer down.”

We all learned five of twelve injured officers had died—gunned down at a #blacklivesmatter protest, which followed the shooting of black lives earlier in the week.

I’m mindful of another catastrophic week not far from here -- the 2013 events in nearby Ferguson, Missouri. #blacklivesmatter

I return to my room passing an open door. The sign says, “Family Reunion.” Children scamper to and fro ignoring parent calls. Some black families are enjoying time together. #blacklivesmatter.

Like the screen in the breakfast room, police’ lives become the focus of attention. Now more families and friends will grieve and deal with so much pain. We must take time to mourn with those who mourn. Police officers are important people too! Police are critical to a peaceful protest. Police are essential to making #blacklivesmatter.

Christian friends on social media remind me that all lives matter. I see plenty of evidence that white men’s lives matter. I’ve seen evidence that women’s lives matter more than they did when I was a boy. I see some evidence of progress toward #blacklivesmatter.

I head over to the St. Louis Art Museum. Inside I’m greeted by a black statue of John the Baptist (Rodin). I thought all Bible characters where white men-- you know like Jesus. When I was a kid, sin was black and white was pure. Oh my God!

We Christians write practical theology by the way we live. We tell others whose lives matter in our art, stories, symbols, people we hire and promote, and in our prayers and media posts. In Jesus’ day Samaritan lives mattered. Peter and Paul learned that gentile lives mattered.

Today we must learn #blacklivesmatter.


Notes

See "Why Jesus' Skin Color Matters" in CT March 18, 2016

Read more about Christian cultures in A House Divided









Friday, July 8, 2016

Cultural Diversity and Scientific Inquiry

A disturbing story challenges thinking about diversity.

When I read this story, I was appalled.What about you?
AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images
See link to the story below.

Why not evaluate cultures?

It has been fashionable of late to not merely study diverse cultures but to celebrate diversity and to encourage respect of people and their different ways of living. Differences are to be understood and respected—not evaluated. And certainly not condemned.

The scientific study of diversity sometimes slips into a moral stance like the following: "It’s wrong to condemn a culture as immoral or inferior because they do things differently."

Said another way, "all cultures are equally moral."

I have no problem with emphasizing the importance of respect for people of other cultures. I enjoy learning about the different ways people celebrate the stages of life in dance, music, art, and religion. There’s a beauty in so many colorful ways people from different cultures decorate their homes and bodies and prepare their feasts.

Like many others, I think it reprehensible when political and religious leaders show disrespect toward people from other cultures to the point that some extreme nationalists appear to think they have a right to threaten, harm, and even kill people who look like they are members of a different group.

Cultural Diversity and Perversity

I realize the difficulty inherent in establishing a universal standard by which to judge one culture as inferior to another. But this headline in The Independent surely indicates something is wrong.

“Isis burns 19 Yazidi women to death in Mosul for 'refusing to have sex with fighters:'

The women were reportedly burned to death in iron cages because they refused to have sex with Isis fighters”
 (Osborne, 2016, The Independent)
 
I suspect that many readers would react to the story with anger and disgust. It’s the kind of story that offers justification for attacking people who treat women in such a deplorable manner-- sex or death--according to the story.

My point is that cultures are not just different according to any codification scheme. Some aspects of some cultures violate widespread, if not universal, principles of morality. And with Haidt, in the tradition of Hume, I’d like to point to the powerful role of emotions in generating moral outrage—who really needs a “reason” or rule to understand some things are wrong?

Cultural Diversity and Academia

I understand the importance of describing diverse expressions of human behavior and the stress on a neutral moral stance when plumbing the depth of cultural differences. I also understand the importance of expanding the unthinking and often narrow-minded analysis culturally unaware students display when first confronted with people who are different in some personally important manner.

Nevertheless, to take the moral stance that cultural diversity entails cultural equality in all matters seems rather absurd.

Let us quibble over the basis for judging how people within cultures treat others. Let us engage in civil arguments about a reasonable basis for moral judgment.  But let us not pretend that all rules, customs, and acts within cultures are just and morally equivalent.

My commercial follows.

In my recent book, I examine cultural similarities and differences in Christian cultures.

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