Wednesday January 23, 2019

Honor Killers know their action is shameful

0
//
Kwame Anthony Appiah

Jaipur: The British-born Ghanaian philosopher, cultural, political and moral theorist Kwame Anthony Appiah asserted that phenomenon like “honor killings” are resorted by those who are morally weak and the motivation for it is shame rather than guilt.

Honor and morality can oppose each other, and the former can lead people into committing despicable acts like “honor killings” despite them knowing their actions are morally wrong and should not be done, he says.

“Honor and morality are different systems that can conflict in cases like of honor killings… Honor draws people to do something they know is morally wrong and they ought not to do but this does not stop them,” he said at a session titled “The Honor Code” at the Jaipur Literature Festival on Friday evening.

“Guilt is moral and shame stems from honor,” he said, adding that the sense of shame can be given to someone, not guilt.

Appiah, who holds a position at the New York University’s philosophy department and school of law and has authored “The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen” which deals majorly with three changes — the end of the practice of foot-binding in China, the slavery trade and duelling in England — that came through moral shifts, says he had studied the issue and came to conclusion that honor was a matter of a system, based on local norms of how respect is assigned, and the right of respect is addressed through identity, which can be of family, caste, nation, religion or gender.

“Identity is what you are supposed to be doing.. You are supposed to confirm to the norms,” he said, adding morality is what holds you responsible and honor is something other people have a stake in.

On his typology of revolutions, Appiah contended that revolutions, in the classic sense entailing a big change in a small time, related to political revolutions of which the French Revolution is the ‘obvious’ stereotype but moral and lifestyle revolutions were different, insofar they had different time frames, and entail at least 20 to 25 years, or a generational gap, example attitude in the US for gay marriage.

The difference is that lifestyle revolutions encompass new ideas, a big change in morality and have significance in daily life, while the moral kind, such as on equality for women and abolition of slavery, have arguments already in place, so the issue is not about changing of minds but the big change comes when habits change, he said.

Leading Indian cultural and literary theorist Homi K Bhabha, who had initiated the discussion, contended that honour, especially in the case of “honor” killings, was linked to authority, and a sense of humiliation was important for both shame and honor, the latter being an ambivalent response to the issue of shame. He also contended that sex was a problematic area in this connection.

Appiah said it was a question of privacy that linked to sex. “Everyone knows what the others are doing. What is constrained by shame is visibility,” he said, stressing shame is connected to visibility and there is loss of respect through exposure, and thus shame.

Holding of laws were needed against issues like “honor killings” and racial discrimination, he however stressed that the law and the state were important factors here but not the determinants and a moral change was imperative.(Vikas Datta,IANS)

(Image Courtesy: Google Mania)

Next Story

Trade War Between Washington and Beijing Effecting Farmers

Roger Lande says sometimes China does things “we don’t like,” but all relationships, with family, friends and business associates, have ups and downs.

0
China, USA, Trade War
U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping participate in a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China. VOA

The trade war between Washington and Beijing is hurting farmers who grow huge amounts of soybeans in Iowa for export to the massive Chinese market.

Farmers in Iowa hope that the strong commercial and close personal relationships that China and the U.S. farm state have nurtured for many years will help the two sides overcome complications like the record U.S. trade deficit with China.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has visited Iowa farmers repeatedly over the past couple of decades and former Iowa governor Terry Branstad is now the U.S. ambassador to Beijing.

The close ties have been strained by Washington’s allegations that China unfairly manipulates markets, steals American intellectual property, and creates bureaucratic obstacles to trade. China also accuses the United States of unfair practices.

FILE - Justin Roth holds a handful of soybeans at the Brooklyn Elevator in Brooklyn, Iowa, Nov. 21, 2018.
– Justin Roth holds a handful of soybeans at the Brooklyn Elevator in Brooklyn, Iowa, Nov. 21, 2018. (voa0

Tariff war

The United States imposed tariffs on Chinese exports, and Beijing retaliated with tariffs on American agricultural products.

That meant that Iowa soybeans were more expensive and less competitive on global markets.

Demand for U.S. soybeans — and prices paid to U.S. farmers — plunged $85 a metric ton.

An Iowa farmer who manages several farms, including 153 hectares of soybeans, says his profits fell 100 percent for 2018. David Miller is not happy to lose money but says without the tariffs, China would not pay any attention to the talks.

FILE - farmer Michael Petefish walks through his soybeans at his farm near Claremont in southern Minnesota.
– farmer Michael Petefish walks through his soybeans at his farm near Claremont in southern Minnesota.(VOA0

Needing each other

China really needs what Iowa produces, according to Grant Kimberley, the marketing manager for the Iowa Soybean Association, who has been to China more than 20 times.

“China needs soybeans … because their middle class has grown, and that means they are eating more protein in their diet, more meat, and if you have more meat production, you have to have more soybeans to feed those animals,” he said.

Kimberley’s family runs a 600 hectare farm, 48 kilometers from Des Moines, which was one of the places visited by Xi, who saw that it uses more advanced equipment and technology than is available to Chinese farmers.

The former director of Iowa’s department of natural resources, Roger Lande, and his wife, Sarah, have twice hosted Xi, at their home in the small town of Muscatine.

Also Read: Amidst Weakened Domestic Demand, China Expected To Report Slow Economic Growth

Roger Lande says sometimes China does things “we don’t like,” but all relationships, with family, friends and business associates, have ups and downs.

Kimberley is optimistic things will work out.

“Because that’s a long-standing relationship that’s been in place for 35 years,” he said. And “I think the overall underlying support and the people that are involved between the states and the province is still strong. And, and everybody recognizes that, over the long term, eventually this will get resolved,” he added. (VOA)