I’ve written before about anti-religious / anti-Islam people using the religion-is-not-race defence when accused of racism.
Today Anne Marie Waters tweeted this:
1) Race is genetic & does not determine values.
2) Religion is taught & does determine values.
End of lesson.
â” Anne Marie Waters (@AMDWaters) August 14, 2017
Given that it’s only a 140 char approximation to truth – it does make an actual point about religion, after all – the question of how good a point it makes is entirely down to the motives and values of the speaker.
Either from birth or literally in-the-genes, the genetics of race is a slippery topic. Genes are not as well-defined objectively as some would have us believe in general, and not specifically when it comes to ethnicity. It would be possible in a scientific context to work with a definition of race as defined only by genetic properties, but that’s not possible outside the lab. (Interesting and topical to look at current Taleb work on the statistical patterns in the distributions of selected genetic markers in different populations.)
Determined and defined are over-statements in the real world, part of the greedy reductionism that accompanies overly objective takes on anything.
In reality, both race and religious identity are matters of individual and cultural identity politics, learned tribally as much as taught directly. The real argument against the simplistic statement is that it objectivises these cultural differences – which is what leaves it open to questions of motive. Anti-Islam is perilously close to everyday racism when it is seen to be directed against people who identify as Muslim.
However the focus is right. Values. Multiculturalism fails because incompatible values expect to be accommodated by segregation. A multicultural society succeeds when a set of values is maintained in that society by all its formal and informal institutions.