Saturday, August 11, 2007

Salt Lake Muslim Festival

This sounds interesting: There will be a Salt Lake American Muslim Festival SLAM at Washington Square (This is the plaza a the downtown Salt Lake Library.

The festival will include: Vietnamese Dragon Dance, Kenshin Taiko Drummers, Phillipine, Peruvian, and Tongan Dancers, Easter Arts Central Asian Dances, Rinceori Irish Dancers, Chinese Dances by Fay Fay Ye, and Bien Flamenco, Sol de Jalisco Mariachi Band, Ahiska Turks Cultural Dances, Sister Maryam and Jose Bonilla Songs, Native American Indian Performance, Baptist Gospel Singer, and the Salt Lake Saints Jazz Band. The festival also includes speeches by Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon and Dr. Alice Rothchild of the Jewish Voice for Peace.

I am happy that such celebrations take place. I love to learn about different cultures. I could not help but note that only one of the acts in the line up is from the Middle East.

I highlighted the Turkish Dancers as they seem to be the closest to the Middle East of any of the acts. I could not find a web site for the group. Several web sites attribute this dance to the dancers. If you watch the video, you might want to translate the message from user mazinia which explains the dance. Errr, I don't think it is really a good example of the heart and soul of Islam.

In some ways I suspect that this very SLAM festival highlights the greatest fear of the Muslim world: marginalization. The fear is that multiculturalism will reduce all cultures to a circus act for a University professor's amusement.

Multiculturalism is culture that assumes all other cultures are a subordinate part of itself.

[***]I suspect that most of the people attending this event will be left leaning. It will include the small portion of the left that hold the viewpoint that they are united with the Islamic world against the people's enemy: George W. Bush.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

In actuality, I think things are more complex. This war on terrorism is largely about the Islamic World's rejecting the multiculturalism being forced on them by the west. Both the blowing up of the Buddhas of Bamyan and the World Trade Center were about rejecting multiculturalism. Conversely, our reactionary wars are about breaking the stranglehold of monolithic belief system in the middle east. From one perspective, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are about bringing multiculturism to the region.

Anyway, it sounds like the festival will be a fun event worth attending. The machine which cranks out this stream of festivals is getting more professional with each passing year. Yet I can't help but I sympathize with those who find the process of reducing a culture to an act on a multiring circus to be somewhat marginalizing.

[***] I changed this sentence. A commentor thought I said that 90% of the left believed that they were allied with Islam against Bush. What I wanted to say was that I suspect that 90% of the people who attend the festival will be left leaning. And that there are some people who see themselves as allied with Islam against Bush.


Charles D said...

Now and then I wonder if you are merely visiting us from another planet. Leftists are united with the Islamic world against Bush? Are Mormons united with the Islamic Fundamentalists against gay rights? Just because two groups of people have reached the same conclusion doesn't mean they are "united" or "allied" or "friends".

The war on terrorism is not about the Islamic World rejecting multiculturalism, the war on terror is an invention of the Bush administration in response to a criminal act allegedly committed by murderers who were Muslim. The destruction of the Buddhas of Bamyan by the Taliban was an act of religious bigotry and arrogance. The destruction of the WTC was a criminal act designed as a warped response to US foreign policy in the Middle East. There is no relationship in either case to multiculturalism as it is understood in the West.

I hope you enjoy the SLAM festival, and I hope you learn that the right-wing bugaboo of multiculturalism is not the cause of all the world's ills.

y-intercept said...

I didn't say multiculturalism was the source of all ills.

I know people act as if they are united with the Palestinians against Bush and the Jews. I think they are foolish. This does not mean that I think Bush is right.

Historically, there have been leftist organizations who've allied themselves with radical Islam. The basic idea of radical existentialism is that you foment revolution by forming alliances with all of the parties that are disenfranchised by a system that you want to overthrow. People who hold this theory, think there needs to be an alliance between the American left and radical Islam.

Many French Existentialists (Satre, Camus, etc) had hopes that an alliance with Islam would revive the revolution. A lot of really weird things happened in the various rebelions in Algeria and Lybia that were encouraged by the radical left.

The conclusion that the left must be aligned with radical islam is a belief that many people on both the left and right hold. When you state it, people go back and reassess the premises that lead to the conclusion.

President Bush made a similar mistake in assuming that the Sh'ites wanting to rebel against the Sunni Hussein were yearning for western style freedom.

I think there is great value in multicultural events. That's why I linked to it. The danger in multicultural events, however, is that we often see what we project onto the culture and not the culture itself.

We want to see the Muslim world as part of a large happy multicultural community. It is possible that multiculturalism is not a foundational premise of the Muslim world.

The fact that I wrote a provocative statement to go with a mention of the event is more likely to get people to attend it than if I praised the effort.

y-intercept said...

NOTE, I changed the compound sentence in the article. It was possible the sentence to say I think most left leaning folks think such and such. The sentence really said that this festival will attract primarily left leaning people, including those who think such and such. Compound sentences can be tricky.

Anonymous said...

I understand the distinction you're trying to make in the sentence that you changed, but it still conveys the same impression, which is not a fair one, I think. But thanks for the heads up on the festival; actually sounds kind of fun, if I can find my pro-Muslim/anti-Bush t-shirt...

Charles D said...

I have yet to hear of any leftist, even the dyed-in-the-wool radical socialists (of which they are very few left) who see an alliance with the radical Islamic militants as productive to their ends. You are imagining something that is not there.

It is not multiculturalism that is opposed by fundamentalist Islam, it is what they view as the decadence of American culture - a view shared by quite a number of Christians as well. There is a distinct difference between promoting or celebrating the diversity of ethnic backgrounds that makes up America, and the sort of academic multiculturalism that deems all points of view equally valid. That is hardly a view prevalent in the US government or military, nor is it one that any Western organization or government seeks to impose on the Islamic world.

Those who espouse the latter type of multiculturalism need to realize that human rights take precedence over religious beliefs or ethnic customs. Oppressing women or homosexuals is wrong regardless of what you may read in your religion's holy book or what the tradition has been in your ethnic group.

The problems causing the greatest rift between Americans and the Islamic peoples are our lack of respect for the human rights of the Palestinian people, our double-standard that supports the rule of law only when the US is excepted from it, and our hypocritical claim to promote democracy when we practice the exact opposite.

It is simple morality and our seeming inability to view our neighbor as we view ourselves that is at the root of our difficulties with the Islamic world. Left-wing politics and multiculturalism have nothing to do with it.