Posted by Dessa on September 19, 2010
The book club is officially on. For those of you just joining in, the first title we’re reading is Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
So here’s what I’m thinking: Let’s read the chapters 1 through 8 by next Sunday, the 26th. We’ll read through the end of the book by the Sunday after that.
I’ll be introducing a forum for the conversation in the coming days. Until then, here’s one of the questions I’ve been considering as I’ve read through the first few chapters:
MORALITY ACROSS CULTURES
Making moral judgements across cultures is a challenging task. Americans are often justifiably cautious about issuing any judgement, lest they be accused of colonialism, paternalism, arrogance, and ignorance. But it seems to me that if we refrain completely from acting, or even commenting, on the moral violations around the world, we tacitly permit some pretty heinous stuff: child pornography, blood diamonds, sex trafficking, etc.
On the other hand, we’ve got a track record that implies we’re pretty good at getting ourselves involved in conflicts we don’t fully understand. Moreover, we’ve got a history that includes some significant human rights violations here at home. So when and how do we responsibly make moral judgements about practices that occur around the world–particularly those practices like female genital cutting that have cultural significance? And how can we make those judgements without making ourselves vulnerable to the accusation that we’re rudely foisting our values where they don’t belong?
In the first few chapters of Infidel, that’s the issue I’ve been thinking about most. I’m eager to hear what questions or answers you’re finding. Format for the conversation will be announced soon. In the meantime, let’s use the #LitHop for our hashtag on Twitter.