After all, to ascribe values like the “correct” punctuality and grammar upon other cultures and languages is nothing short of ideological projection.
Can you imagine being from a unique, distinct culture but then forced to adopt the ideologies and values of others? This was exactly what I asked myself when I began witnessing my own Muslim friends impose ‘woke’ social justice ideologies upon themselves, which went against the cultural values they were brought up in.
Over the years representation of minority groups, for example, in my case Muslims, has been conducted increasingly under the ideology of identity politics. This style of representation, especially for minorities, is one infused with new-era ‘woke’ social justice.
Social justice in the past has achieved some astounding social progress, especially in terms of racial and gender equality. But, today, reaching “equality” and “representation” is very different. It is now conducted in the form of “critical social justice” which cultural writer Helen Pluckrose describes as something that “views society as the construction of oppressive systems of power and privilege.”
Examples of this critical era social justice are dictating gender pronouns, wanting to abolish the police, enforcing extreme political correctness and an obsession with the identity politics of race, gender and sexuality. These ideas also now seek to form an allegiance with minority groups who hail from more traditionalist societies, not just among minorities in the West, but now across the world.
Recently, the Department of State of the United States government announced it was “International Pronouns Day” and published a guide on why people share their pronouns on social media. Other outlets released guides about how to use non-binary pronouns in five different languages.
This is a perfect example of America’s obsession of fanatically exporting its progressive causes to nations with cultural values that would have little approval for them. It is a form of cultural ‘liberal interventionism’ which, much like their numerous ill-fated military ‘liberal interventions,’ are often unwelcome, unhelpful and incompetent.
Who would disagree? After all, to ascribe values like the “correct” punctuality and grammar upon other cultures and languages is nothing short of ideological projection.
I noticed this phenomenon when an international student from Iraq was encouraged to “announce” her pronouns during a university seminar. She didn’t understand what on earth was happening, yet, since she was an underrepresented group, she was lumped together in the same category as other minorities because of ‘intersectional power structures,’ or something.
It was purely symbolic in nature and was supposed to be ‘inclusive,’ yet it showed little respect for the beliefs of the student, who came from a socially conservative country and likely had never considered one’s pronouns something that ever required “announcing.”
In the West, minority groups have built an allegiance with liberal movements solely based on their minority status, rather than on their beliefs, ultimately diluting the tenets of their faith. The irony of critical social justice is that it is a new form of “colonisation,” something which its proponents claim to despise. In its never-ending bid to be more “inclusive,” it excludes the very traits which make foriegn cultures unique and interesting, or, to use a favourite word of the social justice crowd, “diverse.”
Ultimately, people from other cultures are being forced to adopt Western values and not many of those who embrace these critical social justice narratives ever acknowledge that the allegiance between the two is mostly based on artificial grounds and political pragmatism.
Across the world, we see a similar occurrence, with this cultural export even being imposed through foriegn policy.
A good way to describe this phenomena would be “woke imperialism” as stated by the social scientist Richard Hanania, who, in a recent substack piece said “a particularly sinister aspect of this shift is that we are seeing a merger between a fanatical new faith and long-standing institutions specializing in manipulating populations abroad.”
Look at the American-style wokeness being exported abroad through foriegn policy, such as the US initiatives to re-educate Afghan women during its occupation of their country. One program consisted of an American NGO teaching Afghan women about conceptual art. A viral video surfaced which demonstrated Afghan women being taught about conceptualism and Marcel Duchamp. In the video, Afghan women were being taught about the wonders of his famous gallery entry “Fountain,” which is, of course, just a urinal. This resulted in headshaking in disbelief by the Afghan women, as they were told that this upturned toilet had started a “huge revolution.”
Perhaps what is even more outrageous is that, while “spreading democracy” in Afghanistan, the US government spent a staggering $787 million on gender study programs in the country. This was to re-educate the people of Afghanistan about woke California-style norms on gender and sex. Given that such views still get pushback in Kentucky, why on earth would they be welcomed in Kabul or Kandahar?
Such social movements are often imposed on foriegn cultures by the very same establishment who claim to want to “decolonise” museums, historic monuments and curriculum in the name of restoring social justice in their own countries.
This is all whilst passing judgement on nations that are not their own, and projecting their expectations onto a completely different culture. There is very little common ground between a traditional eastern culture and an ideology rooted in Eurocentric social justice discourse but, in spite of that, wokeness has become an integral part of American soft power.
It’s a shame, because if we truly care about ‘decolonisation’ we should stop enforcing Western social justice values upon others. Do non-western people need our help in assimilating to these authoritarian ideas or do they have a right to preserve their culture? Because the former sure sounds like ‘colonisation’ to me.
Ramsha Afridi is a writer and a journalist based in the UK, she has written for publications such as the Telegraph and the Daily Express amongst others. Follow her on Twitter @ramshaofficial