In the essay “Cultural Inclusion,” author Amanda Edwards boldly lays out questions for Trump’s administration regarding the religious discrimination that has taken center stage today. She draws parallels between the video “Trump 2020” and articles on “Orientalism” by Edward W. Said and Zeynep Celik to argue that cultural discrimination across the West and East pervaded not only political administration, but also the socio-cultural fabric, including art and architecture. To counter this, she recommends that architects be aware, mindful and sensitive to cultural inclusiveness in their work. – Editor: Snehalakshmi Varadarajan
Today while scrolling through Facebook, I noticed a post from a boy that I went to elementary school with. He had shared a video posted to the “Trump 2020” campaign page, titled, “Islamic Population Predictions.” This six minute video lists statistics about Western culture fertility rates, stating that in countries with an assumed more favorable culture, like Germany, France, Canada, and the United States, the fertility rate average is less than 2 children per family. However, the video states that the fertility rate for Islamic families is an average of 8 children per family. In the video, these statistics are linked to the decline of Christian nations, and the immigration of Islamic families being an imminent threat, with the warning, “Europe as we know it will cease to exist!”
The video continues, giving more warnings about the birthrates of Muslim children in Christian countries and how that will affect the future workplace and militaries of various countries. The source of this video is listed as “Global Jihad: Lifting the Veil on Islam”, a series of reports copy written by These Last Days Ministries, Inc. One of my main questions (and I have so many for the current administration) is why an issue that is blatantly religiously discriminant highlighted on the Trump administration’s platform? These statistics are obviously meant to stir fear, most likely in conservative Christians, but the video never offers a solution to this “problem.”
In the articles by Celik and Said about Orientalism, the same foundation for discrimination is discussed. There seems that there has always been a division in Western and Eastern culture. Said states that, “The Orient was almost a European invention, and had been since antiquity a place of romance, exotic beings, haunting memories and landscapes, remarkable experience.” Celik discusses that there were certain rules of preservation of Eastern art and architecture within Western countries, but those same rules didn’t apply within Eastern countries when the West invaded. What was “colonization” to the West was “destruction” to the East. Europe colonized these Eastern countries with the intent of forcing government on cultures that were different and forcing their own religion on religions they did not understand.The Theologist by Osman Hamdi
Today, these countries in Asia are still viewed as exotic to Westerners, and the culture, customs, and religion are still widely misunderstood. However, rather than Western countries colonizing them, Asian and Middle Eastern people are immigrating to the West. As architects, we shouldn’t approach this subject by merely being “politically correct”, but it is a political issue. We should educate ourselves, so that we are not judging through ignorance. Trump’s video, assuming the statistics are factual and not “alternative facts”, shows architects that we should be designing with cultural inclusion in mind.
Zeynep Celik, Colonialism, Orientalism, and the Canon, 1996, pg 198 – 217
Edward W. Said, Orientalism, 1978, Chapter 3 https://www.facebook.com/pg/ElectTrump2020/posts/?ref=page_internal http://www.tldm.org/tldmstore/GlobalJihad.htm http://www.jstor.org/stable/3046172