Morality In Joan Didion White Man's Burden

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The 19th century expression “White Man’s Burden” reflects the conviction European imperialists had to develop nations they felt were inferior to them. Armed with the belief it was their moral obligation to spread Western ideals, and civilize people they believed to be uncivilized, they succeeded in robbing countries of their culture and natural resources. The ideology was used to justify dishonorable acts as noble doings. European colonizers might have been convinced, exploiting and occupying someone else's country is only ethically just, when in turn, you provide the indigenous people with Western education and culture. If we all know morality as the comprehension of what is right and wrong, how were the majority of imperialists in the…show more content…
However she warns us of adhering ourselves to such groups especially when we abandon our own critical thinking processes and accept a group's set of morals to be the universal truth. As Simone de Beauvoir writes in The Second Sex ““No group ever sets itself up as the One without at once setting up the Other over against itself.” (44) ‘They’ can’t belong in our group because ‘we’ don’t belong in their group. This is how the notion of the Other is established. Didion condemns this as she says a person's actions does not “confer upon anyone any ipso facto virtue.” Applying “good vs. evil” as a measurement to form an opinion on others could be seen as the equivalent of using the similar vs. different dichotomy to deduce the value of another person or culture. In Montaigne “On Cannibals” he claims “Each man calls barbarism whatever is not his own practice” elucidating to some subconscious suitability we all have of deeming whatever is different or out of the norm to be bad (7). For instance instead of trying to understand The Donner-Reed party and the Tupinambas cannibalism we can quickly retort by how they “breached their primary loyalties.” which in theory is a lot easier than trying to emphasize for these individuals (Didion

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