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City Journal Spring 2014.
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NEW BOOK FROM THEODORE DALRYMPLE:
The New Vichy Syndrome: Why European Intellectuals Surrender to Barbarism.
NOT WITH A BANG BUT A WHIMPER:
The Politics and Culture of Decline

by Theodore Dalrymple
Not With a Bang But a Wimper.
 
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Theodore Dalrymple
Sham Diversity
Jamaican homosexuals and the limits of liberal tolerance.
19 January 2005

Occasionally, I meet among my patients Jamaican men who have sought, and received, political asylum in Britain. Yet is not Jamaica a democracy, with a genuine opposition party and free and fair elections—even if sometimes marred by a little mutual gunfire between supporters of the main parties?

The refugees in question are male homosexuals, and that they are allowed to stay in Britain represents the official recognition, motivated by political correctness as it no doubt is, that they will suffer persecution in Jamaica, where laws against sodomy remain on the books, though they are rarely enforced.

An article appeared in the Guardian recently that ascribed blame for this Jamaican illiberalism not to the Jamaicans themselves but to the British. The Jamaicans, it argued, had a peculiar fear and hatred of homosexuality because British slave masters sodomized slaves one and three-quarter centuries ago. Homophobia (the fear of homosexuals rather than of males or humans) is therefore a result of slavery and colonialism.

The article’s author allowed that other factors played a role as well. Jamaican men tended to be swaggeringly macho as a consequence of the powerlessness they felt under the colonial and neo-colonial regimes. Furthermore, Jamaica is a very poor country, and its population poorly educated. And why is it poor? Because so large a proportion of its budget goes to service the national debt—a burden developed countries have laid on it. If Jamaicans were richer and better educated, they would be more tolerant of homosexuals.

This argument is paradigmatic of the liberal mindset regarding supposed victim populations such as the Jamaicans, who nevertheless hold views and behave in ways that liberals find distasteful. The blame is not theirs but rather belongs to the perpetrator group of which the liberal disapproves. The world must be kept free from any kind of moral complexity.

In the process, the victim group—in this case the Jamaicans—find themselves dehumanized. They can do no wrong because, as victims, they are not really moral agents. Their opinions, even if similar to those widespread among us not so very long ago, are not really theirs, but are unthinking emotional responses to their historical experiences—not real opinions but rather something more like the automatic responses that rats develop when exposed to conditioning stimuli.

In all this, the liberal’s devotion to diversity disappears. Jamaica, which for all its faults has a democratic method of altering its laws, is to be regarded as suffering from a neurotic illness if it does not go along with current liberal notions of right and wrong.

The diversity to which the liberal claims devotion is thus a sham. It is more a stalking horse to destroy moral attitudes of which he disapproves, so as to replace them with others that he regards universal and binding, than it is genuine tolerance.

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More by Theodore Dalrymple:
To Have or to Be?
Cruel When Not Kind
Why Europe Sleeps
More . . .
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