Respect other people’s customs? That depends

It was Herodotus who first insisted that other people’s customs must be respected. However, a few pages later in the same book he added a comment some might consider self-refuting: “Burying people alive is an ancient Persian custom”.

The upshot is that some of other people’s customs and laws are respectable and some aren’t. And in case of conflict, none of them should take precedence over our own laws and customs.

You might think that such self-evident things should go without saying, but you’d be wrong. These days we are taught to believe that our laws are merely a statement of intent. When new arrivals to our shores choose to ignore them in favour of their own laws, it’s their privilege.

In theory, every progressive person should welcome such open-ended hospitality. It’s the spirit that animates the two groups of which I’m chairman and founding member: The Charles Martel Society for Multi-culturalism and Vox DEI, Vox Diaboli.

Such, as I’ve mentioned, is the theory. In practice, however, some cases severely test even my commitment to multi-culti probity.

One such is currently causing heated debates in Spain, a country desperately trying to atone for its sins under Franco’s regime, known to all progressive people as the greatest evil ever to have plagued the world. As the case in point shows, there’s but a small step from desperation to overcompensation.

The court in Ciudad Real acquitted a Gypsy man of raping a 12-year-old girl because such acts were “part of the cultural reality of the Gypsy community”. A few days earlier the court in León had passed a reduced sentence for a similar crime and on similar grounds: because it’s normal in Gypsy culture, Spaniards must accept and respect statutory rape.

The founder of the two aforementioned societies in me rejoices, but the voice of experience still manages to break through. For Gypsy culture, amply represented in the country of my birth, also includes a few other traditional practices that are frowned upon in less nomadic societies.

One such is rustling horses, which used to be a big source of income among the Gypsies in Eastern Europe, along with such money-spinners as pickpocketing and fortune-telling. Tempora mutantur and all that, so horses are no longer widely used as transportation.

They’ve been replaced by cars, and logically the Gypsy community should have retrained in grand theft auto. I don’t know whether or not they have, but if they have indeed made a smooth career change, I wonder how Spanish jurists feel about that, or about pickpocketing, come to that. After all, there are 750,000 Gypsies in Spain, and that could add up to a lot of cars boosted and pockets picked.

I know how the French feel about such things, because Gypsy migrants from Romania and Hungary have more or less cornered the pickpocketing market in Paris. They live in suburban camps, and every morning coaches carry hundreds of them into the city centre where they ply their trade until it’s time to go home. All in a day’s work.

It’s that Herodotus dichotomy again: respect in theory, abhorrence in practice. Now, there are only 70,000 Gypsies in Britain, where they are supposed to be called ‘Travellers’ out of respect. However, I’m not aware of any cases where that commendable sentiment led to acquittal in rape trials.

I am, however, aware of the general climate of suicidal – sorry, I mean laudable – tolerance to alien mores that makes any such verdicts possible. And here I have to point out regretfully that our four million Muslims have a few cultural traditions that may strain our commitment to multi-culti tolerance.

We have, for example, quite a few immigrants from Afghanistan, where one ancient custom is called ‘bacha bazi’. Rich men buy boys as young as 11 from poor families and use them as sex slaves, which isn’t believed to violate Islam’s injunction against homosexuality. If that practice were exported into Britain, how tolerant would we be? You tell me.

Then there are the equally ancient customs of stoning adulterers, throwing homosexuals off tall buildings and mutilating thieves. An interesting dilemma: what if a Muslim chopped off a Gypsy pickpocket’s hand? Which cultural tradition would we respect more?

And of course marrying prepubescent girls is a custom going back to Islamic scripture and its prophetic author. Eight’s too late, as they say in those parts, but how tolerant are we prepared to be? In Yemen, for example, a quarter of all girls are married off before the age of 15.

Would our courts countenance a marriage between a 10-year-old girl and a 60-year-old man? They should, out of consistency if nothing else. After all, we allow huge parts of our cities, such as Leeds and Bradford, to be governed by Sharia law. So there should be no problem with what’s considered statutory rape in other parts.     

We also have some two million people of Indian descent, a country whose ancient culture calls for suti, a widow immolating herself in her husband’s funeral pyre. Penelope finds that custom particularly unacceptable, but that misses the point. She isn’t Indian, so, even if that practice were exported to Britain, it wouldn’t apply to her.

But our commitment to mutli-culti tolerance would be called into question if we found anything wrong with suti. Tolerance isn’t just Vindaloo and pilaf; it’s also suti and the stoning of adulterers.

Taking off the hats of the two societies I founded, I can propose a simple solution to all such conundrums. Immigrants are welcome to practise any of their traditional customs for as long as they don’t clash with our customs and especially our laws.

When such a conflict does arise, any deviation from our law must be treated as a crime, regardless of the perpetrator’s race, ethnicity or religion. That’s what equality before the law is all about. No claim of cultural difference should be accepted as extenuation – here in Britain, our customs and laws must reign supreme.

(I almost wrote that, if anything, cultural idiosyncrasies should be treated as aggravating circumstances, but stopped myself in the nick of time. Such particularism has no place in the Charles Martel Society for Multi-Culturalism.)

4 thoughts on “Respect other people’s customs? That depends”

  1. Western standards have gone in a diametrically opposed direction; nowadays, expressing attraction towards any woman below the age of 25 (30 to be safe) makes one a ‘nonce’ -with Tommy Robinson types acting as a sort of white man’s ‘morality police’ -the Muslims are of course no better, such systematic pairing is clearly at odds with any genuine love and affection. Bitter old men wielding power through sexual means.

    As with so many contemporary conflicts, I find myself loathing both sides. Why can’t everyone be as nuanced as me?

  2. Ah, yes, ancestral traditions. I have a friend who, when this subject comes up, likes to interject that for my family such traditions may include the elimination of certain native peoples. (One of my father’s distant relatives left northern New York to ride the plains with Buffalo Bill.) He also takes great pleasure in extending the German heritage on my mother’s side to include activities popular there nearly a century ago.

    That Spanish court is a disgrace! It opens the door for all crime, everywhere. Are they not concerned with justice? Are there more 12-year-old girls than there are Gypsies? Which demographic takes precedence? There is a long history of 12-year-old girls not getting raped. What sort of evidence do I need to prove “cultural reality”? “Your honor, my grandfather was a thief/rapist/murderer/judge, so you see, there is nothing I could do but follow in his footsteps.”

  3. I think you’re libelling both Herodotus and the Persians, but I can’t prove it without re-reading Herodotus. Thank you for inspiring me to re-read Herodotus, the most entertaining author who ever lived!

    The Left, of course, have no real interest in the rights of minorities. They use the putative rights of minorities in order to take rights away from majorities, and once the majorities are squirming under the leftist jackboot, the minorities can receive the same or worse treatment too.

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