Can you argue for epidemics of deadly cholera? If no one could endorse cholera, Western medicine becomes a universal good. If universal goods exist then diversity is just an illusion. In the case of disease, the West becomes the best. Herein lays the fatal flaw for anti-Western multiculturalists. This trap causes Warwick Anderson’s book, Colonial Pathologies, to choke on its own smirking values.
Colonial Pathologies, depicts the work of the medical corps after the United States runs the Spanish out of the Philippines. As a typical leftist, Anderson hates to say anything good about the West. He paints our presence there as irrational and tyrannical. Anderson repeatedly mocks the medical officers’ obsession with “promiscuous defecation.” He decries our obsession with using latrines as well as the Filipinos’ “promiscuous spitting.” Overall, he argues that the medical model we impose needlessly equates near obsessive fastidiousness with civilization. The concept of hygiene provides an excuse for us to practice cultural imperialism.
The problem with Anderson’s snickering at America’s efforts stems from their being implemented to stop cholera epidemics. Our obsessions with latrines, cleanliness and defecation actually lower the death rate. To defame the doctor’s efforts and laud the indigenous, in this case, requires belittling the importance of ending cholera epidemics. While he and other post-modern leftists multiculturalists want to make everything about the imposition of “arbitrary hegemonic Western discourse,” the imposition of medicine translates into a matter of life and death.
Anderson’s coreligionists sneer at “up-lift” as a rationale for our imperialism. To them “progress” means nothing. Ironically, this means they have to argue that the education system we built for the Filipino’s has no merit. They sneer by putting words in quotation marks. The quotation marks mean, “according to arbitrary Western standards.” Sneering at people who rid a nation of cholera takes a lot of gumption. In order to be consistent, postmodern leftist multiculturalists decrying Western ways must put quotation marks around “education,” “filth,” “ignorance,” “disease” and “early death.”
Aggrandizing ourselves by bashing multiculturalist leftists makes culturists popular. Here comes the hard part. Culturists enter where hypocritical leftist postmodernists fear to tread. Culturists can accept that we might want to put postmodernist quotation marks around “disease,” “ignorance” and “death.” To Westerners saying “quote, unquote death” seem ludicrous. But culturists accept that some cultures prefer disease to cleanliness. Anderson relays that the Filipino nurses who tried to get people to use latrines were mocked. Many cultures do not value learning. Suicide bombers do not consider death the greatest evil or long life the greatest good. Not even death means the same thing in all cultures!
Culturism recognizes diversity, but rejects relativity. We consider our truths non-negotiable because in our culture long life, education, cleanliness, strong economies and the avoidance of disease are top priorities. Those in “timeless villages” do not stress about progress like we do. Our safety requires recognizing diversity exists. Letting foreign peoples in and invading other countries without understanding diversity destabilizes us. Only when we fully accept the existence and breadth of cultural diversity can we appreciate that our ways can perish. If we want our values to continue, if we want safe spaces for Westerners, we need to recognize that our culture is special and requires protection.