Assimilation and “when in Rome”

Ugh. Just ugh. “Veiled woman kicked off bus”. If you want to know the reason for my “ugh”, just read the comments. All 300+ of them.  What got ot me most was how many people were spouting variations on the “if you come to our country, you have to fit in!” theme. Blend in, adopt, adapt, assimilate, when in Rome, abide by our rules, be like us. Many commenters are saying that if they went to Saudi Arabia they would be respectful of dress codes and cover their arms and legs etc, so obviously when people from over there come here they should abide by our “culture”. I hadn’t realised that a uncovered face and hair were a root aspect of our culture, so that’s me schooled. Not just an issue of politeness, decorum, general ettiquete (e.g. removing caps indoors), but a fundamental element of “Kiwiness”. Basically, there are an awful lot of people who are using the “respect Kiwi culture!” line as a substitute for “blend in with us or don’t complain when you suffer the consequences”. And that is a pretty hateful and nasty attitude.


  1. GoodGravey says:

    I know. It just so pisses me off when people pull this “leave your culture behind” crap.

    As I commented on that article, and many before it, we have the culture we do because others have brought theirs and left a little with us. The first time I used this argument I actually got an email from Stuff staff thanking me for it. And it is so true.

    And as I said this time – if you want “these people” to leave their culture behind, you’d better not have any orange beef, fried rice, butter chicken or kebabs. Leave the hummus on the shelf. Avoid pasta and rice. God forbid you ever have any “spag bol” or feta cheese or pizza.

    “Blend in with us”? They’re a bit late for that. “They” already are “us”. They always were.

    Sorry. These xenophobic things always get me so angry. I would be an angry young man if I was, well, young. The rest of it is fine though.

    • steph says:

      I get really angry about it too, and it’s difficult because I feel like it’s pretty unlikely I will ever get through to someone who says stuff like “leave your culture behind!”.

      And you are so right; this “kiwi culture” that people like that think they are defending isn’t some sort of pure thing that has never gained from other cultures or lost something from itself, and it seems very shortsighted to not acknowledge that.