“When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”
St. Ambrose, advising St. Augustine to conform to the Roman custom of Saturday fasts (Anno Domini 390)
“When in Rome, do as you like and call the Romans xenophobes.”
St. Bilious, advising St. Fractious to complain about Roman customs when in Rome (Anno Diabolus 2021)
This contrast occurred to me as I read this trenchant line from William Wildblood:
The absurd error, so absurd it’s hard to believe it wasn’t deliberate, of multi-culturism in which incoming groups are given the same right to their own identity as the native population.
It is ironic that liberals used to sound like St. Ambrose when he advised St. Augustine and his mother Monica to observe the Roman custom of Saturday fasts when they were in Rome. Here, for instance, are two liberals condemning American diplomats for refusing to respect the cultures of the nations in which they were posted. In their bestselling political novel The Ugly American (1958), Eugene Burdick and William Lederer said this about American diplomats in southeast Asia.
“They associate as much as possible with each other and antagonize the native population by their arrogance, condescension and refusal to take any interest in the customs and culture of their hosts.”
Today’s liberals sound more like St. Bilious advising St. Fractious to complain that Rome is full of Romans. If The Ugly American were written today, I expect it would condemn Americans for being “ugly” in America. At the same time, it would give Wildblood’s “incoming groups” this multicultural advice:
“Associate as much as possible with each other and antagonize the native population by your arrogance, condescension and refusal to take any interest in the customs and culture of your hosts.”