Tuesday, October 03, 2006

These are the things that keep me up at night

Are liberals tolerating themselves right out of existence? In our insistence to let everyone have their say, including facists, racists, and those who oppose free speech, are we allowing those who don't share our liberal values to take over our culture? Is the only way to defeat our enemies to become them? And is that any better?

Example: In America right now, crazy Jesus-krispies want to eliminate the teaching of evolution in schools. They know they can't get it banned, so they're settling to have Intelligent Design taught in science class along side evolution as a viable, scientifically-based alternative viewpoint to "Darwinism." Obviously this is crap, but their arguement goes something like this: "We're not tyring to make your kids agree with us. We just want all sides of the arguement presented so young people can make up their own minds."

It sounds terribly rational doesn't it? It makes them sound like they are the all-tolerant ones, and us crazy liberal "open-minded" east coast eitists are tying to quash their humble faith. (Of course, it completely ignores the fact that ID has nothing to do with science and there is no "arguement" in the scientific community about the credibilty of evolution via natural selection. Just goes to show how carefully they've chosen their words.)

In our advocacy for freedome of religion, expression, thought, and speech, we've paved the way for those who disagree with us to take over and remove from our society the very values that enable their rise to power.

Here's another example: that crazy Muslim cartoon fiasco in Denmark last year. The drama from which is still on-going, by the way. The artists of the cartoons, who were making a political statement about Islamic self-censorship, are still in hiding. There are still black-market rewards out for their heads, and they will never again be able to live a normal life. Their families are still in serious danger. Many of the Muslims who called for the death of these cartoonists live in Denmark or elsewhere in Europe. These are immigrants who demand that we tolerate their religion and culture, but are activley trying to oppress ours, the open, freedom-loving cultures to which they immigrated.

An article in the Guardian the other day asked "To what degree to we as a society accommodate these views?" To which I respond, "Why is this even a question? Why do we even attempt to accommodate people who demand special priveleges for themselves that they deny others?" Whatever happened to "As long as you live in my house, you live by my rules." Didn't we all hear that from our parents at some point in our teenage years? Did no one tell them it's just plain rude to walk into someone's home and tell them how to live their lives? Did I just write an entire paragraph containing nothing but questions?

I was thinking about the article I posted on M.E. the other day. The one about the poor dockworkers who banded together to prevent a bunch of facists from demonstrating in their neighborhood way back in the day. I applaud their efforts. But technically, shouldn't the facists have been allowed to march? What about their freedom of speech?

The Ku Klux Klan is still alive and well in the US of A. I hate the Klan. They're a bunch of racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-semetic fascists. A couple years back they had a rally in Cleveland, Ohio. The citizens of clevelend were so upset the National Guard had to be called in to protect the Klan members. The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), non-profit champion of civil rights for minority groups in America, actually went to court to defend the Klan's constiutional right to freedom of assembly. (Wouldn't you have hated to be the lawyer that got handed that case?) This is an organization that normally defends the rights of blacks, gays, and jews. And here they found themselves in a position where they had to acknowledge the rights of the people whose sole mission is to remove rights from minority groups! Ow, the irony!

(This is a really crummy transition, but bear with me here)

The Pirate is Christian. (I told you it was a crummy transition.) A fairly devout one at that. Being a militant atheist myself, this has prompted some very intimate and personal discussions about what we believe, what values are important to us, and what values we can tolerate and respect in other people. To help me better understand his position, he gave me a copy of "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis. Lewis's book essentially takes a single, fundamental premise, and from that creates a (seemingly) rational arguement whereby if you believe the first premise, you must wind up a the end of the road accepting Jesus Christ as your savior. The fundamental principle on which the work is based is this: some moral codes are superior to others.

The idea of relative superiorities of moralities is something I've been struggling with for some time. I always thought that no culutre's moral code was superior to any one else's, that no culture could be judged better or worse than another, that every culture was different, but ultimately equal. (Herebe, I can already hear you plotting your comment in my head!) I was taught this as part of my education on why it was wrong to massacre the Native Americans by the millions. I was taught it there was no such thing as absolute right and wrong, that everything we percieved as right and wrong was a product of our culture, and we have no right to impose those views on another culture.

But what if another culture tries to impose thier views on me? Lately I find myself thinking, "Hang on a minute. there are some things that are just plain wrong, i don't care who you are or what your culture tells you. Stoning a woman for adultery (when her accomplice - remember it takes two to tango - goes free) is wrong. FGM is wrong. Killing someone because he drew a picutre you don't like is wrong. Burning churches and killing nuns because you don't like something someone said is wrong."

Isn't it?

I'm sure it must be. Why am I so sure? Am I sure?

When do we have to stop tolerating what other people justify in the name of their culutre? And when does that intolerance turn us into those same people?

I never thought of people who disagreed with my views as "my enemy." But then they declared me their "enemy." I do not seek war, but it seems to have come to my front door. I do not welcome it, but I cannot igore it. How do you defeat your enemy without becoming him? I'm having a crisis of faith. I'm losing faith in my morality, my confidence, my self.

These are the things that keep me awake at night.

19 comments:

MinCat said...

isnt it also wrong to commit genocide and wipe out millions of people so that you can get your own way, which is essentially what europe did to the americas, right? isnt it also wrong to call yourself a chartable mission and preach love of everyone no matter who, and then refuse food to people in a refugee camp during a drought, unless they were christian? and then say, o you can covert over there. which is what the british missionaries did for years in india. isnt it also wrong to bomb he shit out of civilians in the name of a "war on terror"? isnt it wrong to let poeple in because they will do the dirty jobs for peanuts, treat them badly, ghetto them, refuse them rights of citizenship and then go oh theyre horrible MUSLIMS who cause riots? i could go on. but yes, i do agree, because its something thats been worrying me a lot of late, where does liberalism become idiocy? in india we've been tolerant and liberal for years and now people r egetting mad to, just like in the West, about how our tolerance is abused. but then again, what we see as benevolent concession oculd be calibrated invisibly wiht so many kinds of prejudice and patronage and discrimination, how can we know unless we hear the other side's story ?

Chaucer's Bitch said...

Hi MinCat. Did you wander over here from Dave's place? Welcome. Thanks for your thoughts.

Anyone else wanna chuck in their 2 pence?

Ezri said...

I gotta agree with you guys. I think what has happened in the world at the moment is a case of the sqeaky wheel getting the oil. So, the liberal folks who are trying to just go about things and keep their beliefs to themselves aren't nearly as visible as the folks who decide to sit down in the middle of the street and hold their breath til they turn blue.

For instance, here's a quote that appeared in our local paper the other day. This is from the guy who's second in command of our government, and was made in front of an international gathering purportedly there to celebrate a program of greater cultural understanding :

We will continue to wrestle with these issues, but my hope is that the deliberations of the next few days along with the exposure which that will bring will go some ways towards curing the perception that to empower black people in this country is some sort of evil.”

Now maybe it's me, but I'm totally offended by this. There are quite a few folks who think that by being offended, this makes me racist. Or rather, I am already racist, but I need to cut the shenanigans and just admit it, and ask for my flogging nicely. Okaaaay.... I don't get it. Is it really too much to ask to live in a society that doesn't pick sides of the war by the color of your skin?

As for religion, here's the thing I don't get, I really don't - most of the big revealed religions- I think of them as the big three, in order of appearence, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, have a basic core premise of love. God is the all- merciful, all-loving being. So, if that's the case, how can you go wrong treating everyone with kindness, and going for the Wiccan motto, "An it harm none." That works pretty well for me- i.e. worship as you like, celebrate as you like, dress as you like, unless your beliefs cause you to cause harm to any other person- then you've crossed the line.

That's certainly where I'm at with things. I don't really have a problem with religion until it starts causing harm to other people. I struggled with it when I was still Catholic, because some of the fine print is pretty out there in my opinion - I mean, the first thing they teach you is that God is all-loving. How do you get from there from a rule set designed to trip you up, and then tell folks that if they don't follow the rules, God's gonna be pissed at you. *sigh* I'm just depressing myself here.

Anyway, I think the issue is going to be we just need to enforce some rule set that says, by all means, have your religious beliefs, but they don't get to come into the public venue in terms of special consideration, and if in the practice of your beliefs you break the law, you broke the law, end of story.

Of course, it's stuff like this that convinces me again and again that I've got to start an all-online company, get some sane folks together, and find a nice uninhabited island, or a la the Amish, just exit from society (of course, we know that doesn't always work either) - *sigh* CB, you wanna come live on my island, you just let me know :)

Chaucer's Bitch said...

Ez, that wasn't 2 pence, it was 200 pounds!

If we're gonna live on a island, we're gonna need us an experieced sailor. Cani i bring the Pirate? huh huh can i can i?

THe Muller said...

Mizz B.

That way lies madness. At some point everyone has to put an allegorical stake in the ground and say "This is where I stand. You can try to (and may) convince me that my beliefs are wrong, but do so in terms that I recognise. If you attempt to convert me to your belief system by forceful means, I will resist with all my might".

Is the above not what is happening today? Except ... the liberal centre has yet to recognise that the fundamentalists on both sides are equally bad. Perhaps the enlightened have drawn that conclusion, but find it difficult, due to a tidal wave of rightist propaganda, to convince hoi polloi that their "leaders", elected, or otherwise appointed, are treading dangerous ground.

Like you, I am fresh out of answers - except for one that I was holding back for a special occasion; and this may me a good time to bring it out. Why oppose the teaching of ID - provided it is done in the context of a serious science, such as physics, chemistry or biology? The curriculum could be structured to ensure the scientific approach prevailed. Not too far fetched, methinks. It has been done before, as I am sure any serious historian will verify.

First Nations said...

the problem lies in the sad fact that religion is so much more fun and easy to participate in than government. that makes for a population where the majority participate in, and know more about religion than participate in or know a goddamn thing about government.
i play it like this: lots of people probably hate me, most of them merely on principle. fine. as long as they stay the fuck off my property and away from my family, hate away. have a blast. meanwhile, i will continue to be nice to your kids and grow tomatoes in complete defiance of your attempts to demonize me.
but should it come to force? do not make the mistake of thinking THIS hippie will merely put a daisy in your rifle barrel.

ZB said...

Min Cat - isnt it also wrong to commit genocide and wipe out millions of people so that you can get your own way, which is essentially what europe did to the americas, right? isnt it also wrong to call yourself a chartable mission and preach love of everyone no matter who, and then refuse food to people in a refugee camp during a drought, unless they were christian? and then say, o you can covert over there. which is what the british missionaries did for years in india.

Isn't it also wrong that Romans came to my country, built a wall across my land, enslaved my people and sold us at slave markets in the name of their civilisation?

Isn't it wrong that the Angles, Saxons and Danes then did the same?

And the bloody French as well? In 1066?

No-one said that life was fair or easy. We've all been victims of humanity at some point. Get over it. You only remain a victim if you cling to it. If you cling to it then you perpetuate it. 'I won't embrace you as a fellow HUMAN because one hundred years ago, your great grandfather was really rude to mine.'

We need to get past perpetuating ideologies here people. They're all bunk. They really are. They're just ideas, not manifestos for living. And we certainly need to get past blame culture and 'I'm a victim, I'm a victim...'

In India, you've been tolerant and liberal for years?

Are you taking the piss? Since Britain withdrew from India there has been more violence and bloodshed there because of political, relgious, racial and caste issues than at any other point in India's history. And don't blame the British for it either like Mugabe does. You're either an independent nation responsible for yourself or you aren't. And with regard to this, I'll give you just one example. The central claim of Indian nationalists was that the wealth of India was being drained into the pockets of British Imperialists. However, the colonial burden as measured by the trade surplus of the colony amounted to 1 per cent of Indian net domestic product a year between 1868 and 1930. In comparison, over the same period, the Dutch drained between 7 and 10 per cent per annum from their East Indies Indonesian Empire. Against this must be weighed the massive investments the British made in Indian infrastructure, irrigation and industry. By 1880, Britain had invested £270 million in India – one fifth of their total capital investment overseas. By 1914, the figure was in excess of £400 million. The quantity of irrigated land increased by a factor of eight under British rule. By the end of the Raj, a quarter of all land was irrigated compared with under 5 per cent of it under Mughal rule. British investment created the Indian coal industry from scratch until by 1914 it produced 16 million tons per annum. The first railway line in India, the twenty one mile route linking Bombay and Thane was opened in 1853. By 1903, more than 24,000 miles of track had been laid. While the advent of the te-rain created a huge market for British locomotive manufacturers (most of the tens of thousands of trains put into service in India were built in Britain) the standard third class fare of seven annas transformed India’s social and economic life. British rule in India also resulted in marked improvements in public health. The widespread introduction by the British of quinine as an anti-malarial prophylactic, public programmes of smallpox vaccination and improvement of urban and rural water supplies (supplies which bore cholera and other diseases) increased average Indian life expectancy by eleven years over the period of British rule. , on balance, the nationalist assertion that the average Indian would be better off under Indian rulers does not hold economic water and it was not clear for the majority of Indians whether or not their lot would improve after independence. Under British rule, the village economy’s share of total after-tax income rose from 45 per cent to 54 per cent. Since that sector represented around three quarters of the population there can be little doubt that British rule reduced, at least, social inequality in India. Those who did suffer were generally the ruling elites that British rule had overthrown and whose share of the national income, some 5 per cent of the gross total, they had appropriated for themselves. Nationalism was fuelled less by the impoverishment of the many but the rejection of the privileged few and the springboard for Indian nationalism was not economic but social – namely the British Imperial administration’s inability to turn its rhetoric of and plans for social and administrative equality into social and administrative reality. That it failed to do so was not due to any lack of liberal progressiveness upon the part of the government. Rather, it was due to the racial militancy and narrow self interest displayed by Anglo-Indian industrialists, businessmen, planters and professionals during what became known as ‘the white mutiny.’

Now, I'm not an Imperialist (despite what you and CB might think) but I think that this evidence suggests two things: One) That Niall Ferguson's assertion that Imperialism should actually be considered, in LIBERAL HUMANIST hands, as a viable system of governance and regulation. Especially since the primary impulse of the modern world is economic and resource based upon a transglobal model and that Empires are primarily transnational organisations designed for moving resources about. Especially since most Imperial models actually respect and perpetuate individuation, national identity, religious and social ways of life etc. It's easier to let them be than it is to change them. Equally, that since the demise of the British Empire there have actually been more wars, conflicts, civil and social disputes than at any other point in mankinds history. The Imperialist oppressor wasn't really that oppressive. Sorry. Two) The evidence suggests that no matter what country, what culture, what religion, what creed, what race...all people are really interested in is a) themselves and b) getting a bigger slice of the pie.

I'm not Imperialist, fundamentalist, John the Baptist or culturalist. I will treat people as they treat me. I will always offer a person respect regardless of the colour of their skin or their religion. I will hold the door open for someone; I will help old ladies with their shopping...I will, in other words, act as I wish to be treat. If that's Liberal then I'm a liberal. I'm also a humanist too. But that doesn't mean that you can take a lend of me. Turn the other cheek? Maybe. Once. Do it again though and see how I respond. If religious fundamentalists were treat the way they acted towards others then they'd actually have cause to scream about prejudice, discrimination and defamation. Society is generally tolerant and generally prejudiced. Sorry, that's a fact. Every culture is.

Ezri "Anyway, I think the issue is going to be we just need to enforce some rule set that says, by all means, have your religious beliefs, but they don't get to come into the public venue in terms of special consideration, and if in the practice of your beliefs you break the law, you broke the law, end of story."

Agreed. The majority, the concensus should be king, not the squeaky wheel. This doesn't deny the squeaky wheel the right to squeak but it also allows for cultural diversity and moral diversity without it being at the expense of the individual.

And no CB I'm not going to make a claim about the superiority of culture. No one culture is superior to another. but some moralities may be MORE APPLICABLE TO HUMANITY than others. Stoning adulterers to death is a moral judgement call but its not a good moral judgement call. Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone? Christian ain't it? Seems to fit.

And if you don't like it, forgive me/it/them. Isn't that the core value of most religious ideologies? Forgiveness? To err is human, to forgive is divine. It's hard to do but it's divine. Get in touch with your inner God or Goddess today. They'll be glad to see you.

MinCat said...

hey CB i dont think it was dave it was somsone else though. :)

yes ZB, unfortunately you havent known me long enough to know i get a lot of shit for saying thoe same things you do about the brtis in india. and our so called tolerant secular stuff. my point is merely that there is an alarming tendency in the Western world tosay to see itself as being some sort of poor victim of thoe evil muslims. which is silly. and as for tolerance, sadly, because i HATE this argument, we have indeed tolerated and given concessions to mionrities in india for years, its practically written into the constitution, but now the majority, or so called majority, is in a state of dispossession, the affirmative action [what you guys call it i think] has gone on for a long time but it doesnt seem to work.

the imperial enterprise did NOT respect and perpetuate national identity religious or social ANYTHING. please!!!!!! stop reading white history for whites. think of latin america. think of africa. respect??? you call that respect??????????? think of the tainos. think of the fact that even today people who come from that kind of bloodline are forced into a victim space, so that their once opressors can feel less guilty about hving done their deeds, because they are 'atoning'.

the british, to a alrge extent, CREATED several aspects of social inequalit in india. by their arrival and imposition of THEIR concept of what a religion is and how it works upon what thye encoutnered which was NOT necessarily anything to DO with the Eurocentric concept of faith belief etc, we are left with "hinduism". that has NO meaning. there were plenty of social movements for euqality well before any european presence in india, they are not documented in eurocentric archival forms or in european languages.

dont get me wrong im not some rabid postcolonial subject, we're just currently studying a lot of the problems that the colonial enterpirse the world over has left the rest of us to deal with. we will never know what africa might have been. half the slaves were captured for agricultural expertise in thoe climates that the eurpoeans know jackshit about!

what is worrisome is the tendency to say o we were bad, slap the wrist and say sorry. no, there is no point to these discussions and debates, we will never know, we can never know what might have been, we can never think about these things from a non eurocentric paradigm because there was never space for an alternative to develop.

the danger with claims to for the good of imperialism in the "right" hands is WHO DECIDES the right hands?? the ones wiht the biggest guns???? is a law that permits torture lberal or humanist? no culture no moral system i better tan another, they simply evovle the way they do in certain historical contexts.and they also keep evolving, only we like to freeze them in archive and structure. any argument for imperiaim, of any kind, is made by the person who think theyre oging to be holding the reins.

no, forgiveness is not th core of all religiou ideologies, how many christians actually DO what their theoretical religious prophet asks them to? let he who has not committed adultery throw the first stone, but only if he is on our side. if hes not then pshhh he doesnt exist.

miliant reaction to anything i not an answer. neither is oiing the wheel. but making the wheel feel it sok to squeak might make the wheel squeak less or more softly.

Billy said...

The best thing about religion, in my opinion is the whole community spirit thing that comes from being in a group who all belive the same thing.

My main problem with religion is that the big 3 seems to all have a thing against idolatry yet I can't see the difference between faith and idolatry.

Ezri said...

Well, I'm not qualified to speak about India, so I won't go there. Sometimes I think we're better off pulling a Sunshine of the spotless mind, and erasing the past so we can focus on making the future better for everyone. At least here, everyone is busy trying to either gouge people in retribution for the past, or being defensive about it (and some of it stuff we weren't around for either). Because of all of that, we're not addressing the big issues affecting us NOW.

Will try to keep this comment to cents instead of pounds today, but am definitely in favour of having very strict dividing lines between church and state across the board. Heh, and if I had my way all the religions would switch their priorities from Big Brothering people's behavior to encouraging kindness to others - wouldn't that make a better world. (Remind me CB to send you the poem, Kharma, Dharma, Pudding and Pie- I know you will enjoy it :)

Also, CB, by all means, every island can use an experienced pirate. Bring him along; we'll get a huge library going, build some grass huts, and declare religion to be a personal matter, and have our community be about respectful conversation instead (and good food of course) - (ooo, and off topic completely, if you can download Studio 60, check out last night's and it's fabulous new gameshow, Science Scmience :)

Ok, cents, and pounds finished ;)

Chaucer's Bitch said...

I am completely in favor of secular government and total separation of church and state. What i'm wondering is

1. At what point do i get to say that my beliefs (atheism) are better than yours? when do i get to declare my neighbor a stupid, irrational fuckwit and say "I won't respect your beliefs. i think they are dumb and wrong. you may think whatever you like, but you cannot teach them to my children, you cannot demand special protection from my government, and you cannot make me like you."

2. If I do that, will I have become the very neighbor i abhor?

3. if yes, is that bad?

homo escapeons said...

I will try to be brief...2 quick quotes..
"It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious."

There are tedious (arsholes) people who are Muslim/Buddhist/Atheists/Gay/
Fundamentalist Christian/
Green/Black/Purple and Pink or whatever..at the same time there are charming (decent) people in each of those groups too.

and the ubiquitous
"If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything"

While it is oodles of fun to be contrarian when we are young sooner or later we realise that there are a universal truths.

I am an intergrationist at heart I think that while customs maybe interesting and quaint as long as they remain superficial cosmetic rituals and fashion/culinary practices, but others are simply divisive.
Multicultural schmulticultural.

I would like to see a world in which people aspired to uniformity similar to Lennon's song Imagine.
This obviously makes me an Idealist of sorts BUT I understand that this vison is utterly impossible due to our reluctance to question Religion and continue to treat it as some sort of sacred cow that cannot be dissected and analyzed.

Couple this with our natural tendencies to acquire mates and territory and murder competitors like our closest living relatives,
the chimpanzees..and voila, there is your answer..

That being said this painful slide down Occam's Razor regarding any idiot's right to have their make believe acknowledged as equal to or greater than COMMON F*CKIN SENSE should be universally abandoned.

The death of this Cultural experiment has been a Politically Correct whitewash.

OK wrap it up...Bottom line...human beings need to accept that...sure we don't know who or what started the Big Bang BUT

we do know How we got here, Where we started, When it happened, What we are and Why we are like this.
We need to educate the world and give up on trying to be all things to all people...gasp..sorry for being so tedious.

andrea said...

Hey -- you forgot to mention the Pope's faux pas in your list of examples. (Not that there's anything you CAN say about it.) Very think-worthy stuff. Me return later and process it in pieces.

PS Just had to drop by because your recent comment on Homo Escapeons' blog made me laugh out loud.

Timorous Beastie said...

Bitch,
I don't think you get to say, "My views are better than yours" but you might get to say, "My views are more rational than yours", and clearly atheism is much more rational than any religion. I suggest that you give The Pirate Betrand Russell's "Why I am not a Christian" in exchange for "Mere Christianity".

Chaucer's Bitch said...

TB, explain to me the difference between "more rational" and "better." Is there any way that less rational views could be perceived as better? Does not more rational = better?

Reciprocity. I like it. (Should probably read it myself first though, wadda ya think?)

Chaucer's Bitch said...

Just borrowed a copy of Why I'm Not a Christian from flatmate B to read. Thanks for the tip!

Timorous Beastie said...

That should be Bertrand, of couse, not Betrand. English teacher who cannot spell skulks off...

Chaucer's Bitch said...

Shame on you.

*marks computer screen with red pen*

ZB said...

"The imperial enterprise did NOT respect and perpetuate national identity religious or social ANYTHING. please!!!!!! stop reading white history for whites."

How dare you accuse me of perpetuating some kind of 'white' reading of history! How fucking dare you! That's as racist a comment as calling someone a black bastard. No, I don't know you well enough to comment upon your particular situation but believe me, I do know the subjects of Imperialism, Colonialism and the formation of nation and national identity well enough to comment on them.
1) re India - Prior to the European occupation (it wasn't just Britain, you can point your finger at Portugal, France and Holland as well to name just three others) of India there was no conception of National Indian Identity. India was a loose conglomeration of what for want of a better word we will call 'states', feudal in structure. This means they were defined by aristocratic hierachies, caste and religious differences. The introduction of a common external agency (for example a foreign Imperial power) is widely recognised as being the prime agency for mobilising and forming national identity against an orientational locus. THIS IS NOT A WHITE CONCEPT. Homi Bhabha and Spivak are not white, but they have both recognised this. For further reading see Hopkins, Cain, Judd, Lawrence, Coupe et al ad passim. It is a recognised model of the formation of nation and national identity that has been identified time and again. For example, there is no centralised conception of Scottish national identity until the highland clearances, ditto Irish identity until the arrival of English Landlords. It also works the other way - there was no centralised conception of English Identity until the formalising of the British Empire as a state run, rather than military-fiscal, enterprise in the mid seventeenth century. Before then, you were more likely to identify yourself by your region of origin (Newcastle, Bristol etc) than your country.
2) Re Africa - since the European decolonisation of Africa, increased political fissiparity has meant a breakdown of social and civil order, an increase in RACIAL and RACIALLY MOTIVATED conflicts and a decrease in the per capita wealth and security of the average individual at the expense of the murderous and unscrupulous. You might not like to hear it, but in Africa, the states that have survived the transition from Imperial colony to fully fledged independent democracy with stable internal rule are those which were BRITISH. Mugabe is the exception that proves the rule, just as he is the exception that proves that Imperialism can be a stabilising force on the world order. THIS IS NOT A WHITE MAN TELLING YOU THIS. HISTORY TELLS US ALL THIS. Under the Roman Empire, Europe enjoyed its greatest period of peace IN HISTORY. There was less per capita conflict from 0 AD to 450 AD than there was from 450 AD to 1900. Strange but true. Empires, let us not forget, are transnational organisations for moving resources about. The last thing that they want to do is promote civil unrest and conflict. WHY? DERR! Let me think? Is it because civil unrest and conflict makes it harder to move resources about? IN ONE! WELL DONE! TELL HIM WHAT HE'S WON, BOB! Get over this cultural oppression shite. It was never about cultural oppression. It was always about the money. Always. Empires stand and fall on their economic viability. The British Empire didn't end because nationalists were asking for independence. The British Empire ended because it had bankrupted itself ridding the world of an extreme right wing fascist and cancerous ideology. It couldn't afford to run the Empire any more so it folded. And while we're on the subject of the British being oppressive colonial bastards, you could have had the Belgians - who did such a good job of running the Congo that they reduced the native population by two-thirds. You could have had the Japanese - who when they took the Chinese city of Nanking held competitions to see how many women they could rape and how many men they could kill and how inventively. Being hung by the tongue on meat hooks and eaten by ravenous dogs anyone? Nice. The reality is that if the British hadn't occupied India then some other European power would have. If you don't believe me, go and read Hitler's comments on what he planned for India once he'd taken it. Go and read Hirohito's comments regarding what he planned to do to India and Indians once he'd co-opted it into the Greater Asia co-prosperity scheme. And incidentally, my figures regarding British investment and influence on India are more than correct. They're scrupulous because academics have to be about these things if they aren't to perpetuate popular myths. Here's a little known fact - The Government of India acts of the 1920's and 30's, not only removed Westminsters power of veto over India's governance of her own internal affairs but it also meant that during the Second World War when India was in grave danger of turning Japanese and German, Britain met the cost of India's entire war effort for the duration of the campaign. Then, when it was clear that India would not be ruled by Japan or Germany, Britain gave India independence. If Britain only ever took, took, took as you seem to imply surely that should read the other way around? Surely it should have been India paying Britain? No, sorry.
I've never said that Imperialism was a good thing but I, unlike you, am fully aware that there are different degrees of Imperialism. If you haven't see Monty Python's Life of Brian, go and watch it and come back when you've seen the 'What have the Romans ever done for us' section. If you don't get the point I'm making after that, you never will.
3) I am perfectly aware of the historiographical need for newly independent countries to write about and create the myth of their struggle for independence from the hated colonial oppressor. But it remains that, a myth. In the case of the British Empire (I'm not qualified to comment on the others) Britain remains the only Empire in history to decolonise of its own free will and pull out when its situation, for a host of reasons, became untenable.
4) My grandfather was Latvian, my Grandmother German, my other grandfather English, my other Grandmother Irish/Scottish. Their religions were Russian Orthodox, Protestant, Roman Catholic and Presbyterian. One was landed gentry, one was poor workhouse, one was the daughter of a master craftsman, one was a blacksmith. There is no such thing as national, racial or religious or caste purity. I know this because my family origins tell me this. We're all mongrels. Get over it. Celebrate the diversity rather than being a squeaky wheel.
5) Britain is not a perfect society, it is not as tolerant as it should be but speaking as someone whose family worked in India, it isn't too bad. In England, if my father had been pulled out of his car by armed police, locked in a police cell, interrogated without a lawyer for four days and then released without word or charge then there would be a national outcry - regardless of whether he was white or black. But this happened to him in India without a word being said. Why? Because he was white? Possibly. More likely because he'd refused to pay the standard bakshish to the relevant authorities to grease their palms so he could get on with his job.

Now, go and read away your prejudices and come back when you can make an informed contribution to these debates rather than being a squeaky wheel with one note. They're important. Too important to be lost in a welter of blame and 'I'm more of a victim than you' idiocies.