She just shrugged her shoulders but I decided to pursue the point. Specifically, I gave my thoughts about the origins of this notion of cultural sensitivity that is central to the political correctness movement. Those roots are to be found in the sociological concept of “ethnocentrism.”
For years, sociologists have been using this term “ethnocentrism” to refer to the judgment of other cultures by the standards of one’s own culture. And they judge this tendency towards ethnocentrism to be somehow undesirable. So they teach their students not to be ethnocentric because, of course, one should try not to be judgmental.
Few sociologists have the raw intelligence necessary to understand that the culture of anti-ethnocentrism is comprised entirely of sociologists and sociology majors. And, to the extent that one pushes this idea of anti-ethnocentrism on others, one is engaging in ethnocentrism – something that involves judgment, which, in the judgment of sociologists, is a very bad thing.
If you are beginning to think that I’m suggesting sociology is an essentially worthless discipline, you are judging me quite fairly and I approve of your judgment entirely.
Of course, the sociology major was confused when I told her she was being ethnocentric by judging Larry the Speaker Guy for using the term “Indian.” He was raised in another region in another time (read: another culture) that accepted the use of the term “Indian.” She should not impose her (post)modern cultural values on him. That would be judgmental, which would be really very bad.
When we hear a person say he is better than us because he is not judgmental we should thank the sociologists. These intellectual giants have taught us their culture is better because it’s not ethnocentric. The only question is whether the average sociologist’s modesty is as hard to detect as his/her/its intellectual fortitude.
This one may be too close to call. I’ll let you make the judgment.