Do what I say not what I do

I hang out with a lot of expats in Uganda. The local term for Westerner is Muzungu (Swahili/Luganda for “wanderer” as the white man was always wandering all over the place, the English language is called Luzungu).

At any rate almost down to the tee any Englishmen or American in Uganda would be a reliable lefty, almost a sure voter for the Labour/Liberal party or a Democrat/Independent.
While these self-professed liberals (after all most of them are NGO types) regularly declaim the Tory party or the right wing for their racism and proclaim their paens to diversity, in many of their gatherings I end up being the only “dark-haired” person about. Now that’s another level of homogeneity and it’s only happened to me once before in the West (forget about being the only dark skinned person but dark haired to boot).
At any rate I find that while their adhere to the cult of diversity and multi-cultural ism in practise the Tory party gatherings (even the far-right UKIP) will be more diverse in terms of race & ethnicity. In part because the right insists on a minimum standard of acculturation/assimilation (which is easily accomplished depending on your class levels, immigration is fraught as a two-edged sword since underperforming immigrants “sponge on welfare” high performing “take jobs”) they are able to accommodate racial diversity.
Whereas I’ve noticed that the left liberals won’t notice anything amiss about their all-vanilla gatherings, it’s as though their ideological leaning insulate from any actual criticism. The right considers any superiority/arrogance to derive from wealth & the creation of wealth whereas the left seems to hold itself apart from a complex interlocking of race, class & ideology that makes it far more opaque and inaccessible to get into. Essentially the easiest pass is to blend in by just fudging the boundaries (understand the rules & play them to your advantage).
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3 Replies to “Do what I say not what I do”

  1. Regarding these Western expats in Uganda, could it be possible that the only reason that they're so homogenous as a group during these meetings is because there aren't any nonwhite Western expats nearby or that they know of? I don't think any of them are purposely being hypocritical vis a vis their actions and the ideals that they espouse. You see this happen anywhere you have expats. Most people group together with those whom they share interests or a common background with. For example immigrants to the West tend to cluster together just as how Americans(of any racial background) seek each other out in foreign lands as well.

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  2. That's true in a sense but what would they have in common with the average Ugandan? My take on multiculturalism was always about incorporating and promoting the best aspects of other cultures(tends to boil down to food, arts, history) while helping new immigrants to divest themselves over time of cultural traits that are backwards or debilitating to both themselves as well as natives of the destination country. Most people all over the world are remarkably similar in their basic pursuits(reasonable income, job, hobby, spouse/family/friends). In a lot of cultural clashes, the immigrant group often has the more successful outlook. For example, I'm sure you know of desi families who deride the western fashion of serial relationships, easy divorce, single mother families where the child is forced to live on their own after the age of 18,etc. Obviously that sort of dynamic only plays out among certain social classes in the west and if you look at higher class groups or other thoroughly American ethnicities(like jews for eg) they do not fall into this pattern either.

    I was under the impression that most liberals expect immigrants to acculturate as well but they're also far more open to immigrants pumping new life into overall American culture(Yoga, Martial Arts, different religious institutions,Bharatanatyam, Salsa, innumerable restaurants catering to different ethnic cuisines,etc.). Most conservatives in their stance for aggressive assimilation just come off as being bigoted, intolerant, and small-minded(as in they are probably more interested in hunting/sports/country music while being indifferent to or even hostile towards aspects of European/American high culture).

    I apologize if my last sentence is too stereotypical/generalizing. In any case the truth is that most people whether liberal or conservative know astoundingly very little of history, religion or the arts regarding their own background let alone that of others. Thus, I suppose Multiculturalism as it was dreamed up was really only ever meant to apply to the thin section of society that is actually intellectually curious about this sort of thing..

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