On Culture

I'm not going to bore you by recapitulating the debate over "multiculturalism", but I do want to link this excellent article from my old friends at Psychology Today:
My ancestors are from the violent, improverished part of Sicily. This gave me a dash of realism when teachers taught me to celebrate other cultures and sneer at everything American. I embraced this "multicultural view" for a long time, and even taught it to innocent youth. But I could not continue the dishonesty of excusing huge flaws in other cultures, while erasing all the good in American culture.

For exampel, a recent PT post Lets Eat, Drink and Grow Old Together, described the health benefits of the Sicilian diet and social system. This is true if you overlook the centuries of starvation and in-group murder produced by the Sicilian culture. I speak frankly because this my heritage. ...
By starting an argument with a Sicilian, PT made one of the classic blunders. But more importantly, Loretta Graziano Breuning reminds us that "the rush to idealize other cultures often leads Americans to a self-hate that is bad for our health."
I was shocked to hear the ways people from that culture rationalize and normalize child abuse, spousal abuse, and violent strategies for making your way in the world.

"Our society is like that too" you may rush to say. That's what was taught in school, and I absorbed it because I wanted to be "educated." But I always knew that life was more complicated. I was beaten by my mother, and I could see that "our society" treated me better than I was treated at home. I knew that we do not live in the nightmarish police state suggested by my college professors, who may not have experienced any direct violence. ...
She's talking about what some commentators have labeled "oikophobia" (if your Greek is rusty, that's "fear of the house"):
The adolescent rejection of home and its iterations (ethnic group/tribe/religion) is composed of many different strands; it is nearly, though not completely, universal. Adolescents in more traditional cultures and subcultures typically navigate through a more limited rejection of their parents and culture. The vast majority of adolescents come to terms with the compromises and limitations of their own culture and become full members by the time they have become young adults.

The Oikophobes have now established their own subculture in which adolescent angst and the repudiation of limitations is not only accepted but celebrated; imperfections in America are then the objects of Utopian inspired rage. ...
It's essential to recognize the difference between a reasoned, responsible, constructive critique of one's native culture (which liberalism, at its best, aspires to provide) and an irrational rejection of even the best aspects of one's heritage simply because it is not "foreign" enough. Knowing this difference matters, whether we are ordering lunch, or a land war in Asia.