Two responses to my earlier email have left me puzzled. While I admit
it not the best thing I have ever written, I can't help but feel that
I have somehow been misunderstood.
From Jens Ropers <ropers(a)ropersonline.com>
I'm not trying to get into a political argument
here, but I would like
to note my objection to the above assumptions in the strongest possible
terms. I believe they are:
- historically untrue,
- (on balance) also absurdly false as regards the present,
- anachronistically missionaristic and
- the positive aspects favoured in this paragraph are the very
ANTITHESIS of how occidental civilization has historically conducted
and continues to conduct itself.
You have your opinion, & I have mine. There is a great deal in the
history of Western Civilization that is offensive & shameful -- but I
believe that there are some things worthy of praise. If you cannot
accept that there is at least one or two redeeming things to Western
Civilization, then I don't know what I could say that you'd care to hear.
And because it seems to be a point of anger here, let me explain _precisely_
what I mean by the term "Western Civilization": it is the common heritage
of Europe, the Americas, Australia & New Zealand. One tradition that can
be found amongst all of these people is the struggle towards tolerance,
pluralism, & unfetered speech; I am unaware of any serious argument
that this tradition of thought was introduced from Africa, India, or China.
And from my long reading of history, I know that Western Civilization
hardly has a monopoly on violence, oppression, ignorance & hatred.
And Christiaan Briggs <christiaan(a)yurkycross.co.uk> wrote:
> Bah! If I don't recognize the contributor --
or even more clearly, if
> that person is editting from an IP number -- I'll just consider
> her/him/it a troublemaker, list the articles that person produces on
> VfD & revert all of her/his/its edits as "vandalism".
So who the hell do you think you are???
My above passage is an example of a rhetorical technique known as
irony. Unfortunately tone of voice does not always successfully transmit
across the Internet for some reason, & obviously it failed in this case.
I apologize for that failure here.
And if I may allowed to be chauvanistic for a
moment, I think this
ideal is a valuable part of Western Civilization that needs to be
taught to the rest of the world. We should respect other people's POV,
we should be willing to explain our own POV, & that there should be a
fair & beneficial
exchange between them
*groan* spare us your offensive ethnocentric colonialist views, please.
I assume that you, too, misunderstood what I meant by "Western Civilization".
If not, then I am puzzled why you reject an ideal that the land you
appear to be writing from -- the United Kingdom -- has struggled to promote.
While the struggle may not have always been praiseworthy, orderly, or even
successful, many people in that land have worked to perpetuate the ideal
I talked about.
If you inadvertently thought that by "Western Civilization", I merely meant
the United States of America, I think I may understand part of your
reaction, but I still am left with one question. If there is nothing good
that comes from the United States, then why do you bother to contribute to
Wikipedia, which is a creation of the US?
A positive purchase maybe:
Lies My Teacher Told Me:Everything Your American History Textbook Got
A book for everyone of the American Empire.
Sorry, but my reading time is currently spent on teaching myself the immense
amount of knowledge that was not covered -- if even alluded to -- in
my school years.
While I should appreciate your concern for my educational backgruond, I
find myself somewhat upset that you made sweeping assumptions about what I
learned in school. From what I've since come to know, my education differed
in many respects from other people that I have known. I won't bore you
with all of the details, but I consider myself substantially self-taught
despite my college degree, & still unfinished.
And in reference to your comment about "the American Empire", not everyone
in the US agrees with the views of the current President: a majority of
voters cast ballots for his opponent in the last election, & I would be
surprised if he received as many votes in this coming election. The US
has been far more conflicted -- if not schizophrenic -- about the its
imperial role than other nations.
Wow. All of this verbage just because I tried to express (& again, I admit
I did so badly) the hope that despite all of the crimes, objectionable
behavior & just plain shit that has been done, it would nice if there was
one positive ideal we in the west could pass on to not only the rest of
the world, but also those who come after us. And the means this could be
passed on is thru how we run Wikipedia. I guess I've learned that this
ideal of pluralism, tolerance, & mutual respect isn't even that strongly
held within the Wikipedia community.