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November 29, 2006

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Ophelia Benson

Interesting. But what Livingstone means by multiculturalism isn't exactly what everyone means by it, I think. He makes things sound a little easier than they are in practice.

"Livingstone is admirably clear that some culturally relative practices, such as female circumcision, are morally unacceptable and should not be tolerated."

Indeed, but it would have been useful if he had also been clear that not all multiculturalists agree with him on that point, and that it can be very difficult to defend both the idea that, in his words, "Every individual who exists is unique, and wishes to pursue their life in a different way. The individual must be able to choose for themselves" and thoroughgoing multiculturalism, because in some cultures it is simply not true that all individuals must be allowed to choose for themselves. In many cultures there is no such imperative with respect to women, for example.

It's also interesting that Livingstone didn't mention homosexuality, which is another item that many cultures don't allow to flourish unimpeded. Livingstone was strongly criticized by Peter Tatchell and others for welcoming al Qaradawi to London precisely because al Qaradawi has very harsh views on homosexuality.

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