Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Cultural Appropriation Is Sexy

 

Protest_Halloween-featIt’s difficult to imagine a more loathsome fad — or better exemplar of victim culture — than the current practice of crying “cultural appropriation” whenever a person identified with one culture uses ideas from another without approval. In the Washington Post, Cathy Young has an excellent piece cataloging some recent examples ranging from the controversy over “Kimono Wednesdays” at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts to various artists and musicians being forced to kowtow to twitter mobs for the crime of offending the easily offended. We’ve seen the phenomenon repeated at Yale and Claremont McKenna, where students who wore Mexican-themed costumes for Halloween were criticized not so much for being lazy and crass, but for using cultural ideas that were not their own “inauthentically.”

Offensive-Costumes-620x300But besides the practice’s spoil-sporting and petty totalitarianism, it’s also fantastically stupid. As with biology and technology, culture thrives when different ideas are allowed to recombine in novel ways, and declines or stagnates when it closes itself to new ideas or new combinations of old ones. After all, the only truly “authentic” cultures are all barbarous and primitive. Indeed, Matt Ridley has made a career of pointing out that sexual-style admixture is the best model for allowing distinct things — be they biological, technical, or cultural — to combine and work collaboratively, rather than compete directly with each other:

How does evolution do cumulative, combinatorial things? Well, it uses sexual reproduction. In an asexual species, if you get two different mutations in different creatures, a green one and a red one, then one has to be better than the other. One goes extinct for the other to survive. But if you have a sexual species, then it’s possible for an individual to inherit both mutations from different lineages. So what sex does is it enables the individual to draw upon the genetic innovations of the whole species. It’s not confined to its own lineage.

It should go without saying that this doesn’t always work out well. Not every hybrid is likely to succeed, nor should all be cheered on. Some cultural mixing gives strength to bad ideas, and others allow perfectly good ones to disappear (the unguided nature of the process being the source of its strengths and its weaknesses). And yes, horror of horrors, sometimes it allows blond college kids to wear serapes, sombreros, and mustaches in late October.

But if we’re going to thrive in a world where ideas compete — as indeed we must if we want to thrive at all — we need to encourage our culture to experiment with others just as we need to push our best ideas abroad to be spread out and integrated. That’s how new things are discovered and better ones are honed, provided the interactions aren’t forced. The alternative risks all the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of inbreeding.

Ironically, it’s not the “nativist” right-winger who’s philosophically opposed to cultural admixture; being opposed to immigration hardly denotes a lack of curiosity about what goes on elsewhere in the world, or how that might be integrated into what we have here. Instead, the real enemy of cultural interaction is the campus leftist who claims to celebrate all cultures, but demands they be fenced off from each other … lest they get ideas.

There are 29 comments.

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  1. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHillJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I, quite frankly, am tired of the LGBT community “appropriating” the sexual desires of others. As a man, I can state it’s hard enough to get an attractive woman to date, marry and have your children without some lesbian competition.

    Chasing skirts is male culture, not theirs!

    • #1
    • November 25, 2015, at 10:13 AM PST
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  2. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk andJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Women wearing pants = Cultural appropriation.

    • #2
    • November 25, 2015, at 10:36 AM PST
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  3. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron MillerJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    This Christmas, I will honor a Judean religion with a Roman ceremony and a German tree associated with a Greek saint and decorated with Chinese ornaments, after gorging on pies made of Mexican gourds and casseroles made with African vegetables, singing English carols, and watching a film about the progeny of Irish immigrants forced by unruly Canadian hounds to settle for Japanese duck.

    Ahh, America.

    • #3
    • November 25, 2015, at 10:39 AM PST
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  4. Kevin Creighton Contributor

    1. Oppressive cultures appropriate suppressed cultures, never the other way around.

    2. Nobody, in the history of everything, has ever appropriated Canadian culture.

    Ergo, Canadians have the most-dominant culture in the world. Case closed.

    • #4
    • November 25, 2015, at 10:41 AM PST
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  5. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor

    51e2hLMUENL._SX342_

    • #5
    • November 25, 2015, at 10:42 AM PST
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  6. Cantankerous Homebody Inactive

    I’m so triggered right now…. I….I…. I don’t even….

    • #6
    • November 25, 2015, at 10:46 AM PST
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  7. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron MillerJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Anything that encourages women to shake their booties is alright with me, Midge.

    That comment should keep the hippies away another month, don’t you think?

    • #7
    • November 25, 2015, at 10:59 AM PST
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  8. Richard Fulmer Member

    Given that Americans hail from all parts of the globe, what can “American culture” be other than a stew?

    • #8
    • November 25, 2015, at 11:11 AM PST
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  9. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk andJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I await the rampant lawless destruction of California Fusion restaurants.

    • #9
    • November 25, 2015, at 11:19 AM PST
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  10. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk andJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Aaron Miller:Anything that encourages women to shake their booties is alright with me, Midge.

    All women?

    • #10
    • November 25, 2015, at 11:21 AM PST
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  11. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk andJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Kevin Creighton:1. Oppressive cultures appropriate suppressed cultures, never the other way around.

    2. Nobody, in the history of everything, has ever appropriated Canadian culture.

    Ergo, Canadians have the most-dominant culture in the world. Case closed.

    Now that our secret is out, I guess there’s no reason to keep our nukes under wraps. Unleash the Labradors of War!

    • #11
    • November 25, 2015, at 11:22 AM PST
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  12. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor

    Misthiocracy:

    Aaron Miller:Anything that encourages women to shake their booties is alright with me, Midge.

    All women?

    #yesallwomen ;-)

    • #12
    • November 25, 2015, at 11:26 AM PST
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  13. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor

    Aaron Miller: Anything that encourages women to shake their booties is alright with me, Midge.

    • #13
    • November 25, 2015, at 11:29 AM PST
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  14. Mike H Coolidge

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: Ironically, it’s not the “nativist” right-winger who’s philosophically opposed to cultural admixture; being opposed to immigration hardly denotes a lack of curiosity about what goes on elsewhere in the world…

    Perhaps, but it is opposed to one of the most effective avenues of cultural admixture and it betrays a lack of confidence in one’s own cultural fitness.

    • #14
    • November 25, 2015, at 11:36 AM PST
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  15. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    Aaron Miller: Anything that encourages women to shake their booties is alright with me, Midge.

    “ROCK THE PARTY” – DJ Reach Re-edit (FOTC)

    I assume this illustrates the dangers of too little cultural appropriation?

    • #15
    • November 25, 2015, at 11:43 AM PST
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  16. Dave of Barsham Member

    I was born at the wrong time. Merely indignantly citing my disgust at the cultural appropriation of Algebra and Physics could have saved me so many bad grades…

    • #16
    • November 25, 2015, at 12:26 PM PST
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  17. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron MillerJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    On a serious note, an Arizona state senator has shocked his fellow Navajo constituents by joining Republican imperialists.

    • #17
    • November 25, 2015, at 2:22 PM PST
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  18. La Tapada Member

    Shame on you for culturally appropriating the word “kowtow.”

    • #18
    • November 25, 2015, at 2:28 PM PST
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  19. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy WeivodaJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Are people of non-European descent appropriating culture when they drive automobiles, or tractors, or fly airplanes? Or use the telephone or a computer?

    • #19
    • November 25, 2015, at 4:01 PM PST
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  20. Johnny Dubya Member

    To expand on Randy’s thought, isn’t it interesting that Muslim supremacists, who favor a cultural return to the Islam of the Middle Ages, use cellphones and computers and social media?

    • #20
    • November 25, 2015, at 4:13 PM PST
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  21. Rightfromthestart Coolidge

    ‘cultural appropriation” whenever a person identified with one culture uses ideas from another without approval.’

    And who exactly is authorized to give this ‘approval’ on behalf of the whole group?

    • #21
    • November 25, 2015, at 5:15 PM PST
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  22. jonsouth Inactive

    By far the funniest thing about that ‘Kimono Wednesdays’ kerfuffle was watching those non-Japanese Asian girls getting all flustered defending Japanese culture. Because if they could hear what the average person in Japan says about other Asians even in casual conversation, their eyes would pop.

    • #22
    • November 25, 2015, at 5:17 PM PST
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  23. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy WeivodaJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Rightfromthestart:‘cultural appropriation” whenever a person identified with one culture uses ideas from another without approval.’

    And who exactly is authorized to give this ‘approval’ on behalf of the whole group?

    Maybe we need a United Nations agency to sell permits. You’re a Frenchman who wants to open a Mexican restaurant, you’re going to need a permit. Want to open an Irish pub in Columbia? You’ll have to make arrangements through your embassy.

    • #23
    • November 25, 2015, at 5:24 PM PST
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  24. Full Size Tabby Member

    Misthiocracy:I await the rampant lawless destruction of California Fusion restaurants.

    And lots of others.

    When I worked in Orange County, California, across the street from my office was the “hamburger restaurant” owned by the Cambodian family that also served Mexican dishes and teriyaki plates. And every lunch (including the Mexican and teriyaki plates) came with a pickle spear – somewhere these Cambodians had picked up the idea that everyone in America wanted a pickle spear with their lunch.

    When our son moved to San Antonio, Texas, one of his favorite discoveries was the kielbasa taco that was a product of the meeting of the Mexicans and the Germans who came to farm the area in the middle of the 19th Century.

    • #24
    • November 25, 2015, at 5:39 PM PST
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  25. Arahant Member

    There was recently a yoga thread here on Ricochet. I won’t go into all the details, but most of the physical parts of yoga that has come to the West originally came from…the West: Britain, Denmark, Sweden, the US, and a little bit from India. The Indians had something called yoga for quite some time, but it was mainly a few meditation postures. In a Nineteenth Century fitness craze, the head honcho of Mysore wanted to spread a fitness regimen. So, one of his people combined those few postures, plus some exercises, stretches and postures from Indian acrobatics and wrestling and a bunch of Western exercises to develop a new fitness regimen, which they called by the old name of yoga. Some of the Western exercises came to India through the YWCA.

    How’s that for some serious cultural appropriation?

    • #25
    • November 25, 2015, at 9:55 PM PST
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  26. Kevin Creighton Contributor

    Full Size Tabby: When I worked in Orange County, California, across the street from my office was the “hamburger restaurant” owned by the Cambodian family that also served Mexican dishes and teriyaki plates.

    If you live in the Phoenix area and haven’t been to Chino Bandido’s yet, GO! It’s Mexican/Chinese/Caribbean fusion, it’s delicious, and it’s CHEAP. You can get stuffed to the gills with an amazing jerk chicken enchilada with fried rice and black beans (OMG, their beans!) for $8, and you be hard-pressed to find a better meal anywhere in the Valley.

    • #26
    • November 26, 2015, at 7:37 AM PST
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  27. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk andJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Misthiocracy:I await the rampant lawless destruction of California Fusion restaurants.

    I was kidding of course, and then I came across this article which denounces Fusion cuisine:

    • #27
    • November 26, 2015, at 11:18 AM PST
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  28. Henry Castaigne Member

    jonsouth: By far the funniest thing about that ‘Kimono Wednesdays’ kerfuffle was watching those non-Japanese Asian girls getting all flustered defending Japanese culture. Because if they could hear what the average person in Japan says about other Asians even in casual conversation, their eyes would pop.

    When I lived in China it was similar. Ninety-nine Chinese out of a hundred hate the Xinjiang Muslim minority. Most Chinese also hate the Japanese and indulge utterly delusional fantasies about how they want to invade their land and perform medical experiments on them.

    • #28
    • November 26, 2015, at 11:31 AM PST
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  29. MaggiMc Inactive

    Having grown up in Louisiana, I’m a cultural appropriator from way back–thank goodness. Otherwise, I would never have learned to make gumbo! And I’m not sorry one little bit.

    • #29
    • November 27, 2015, at 4:34 PM PST
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