Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Cultural Appropriation: Dumb Concept. Intimidation Weapon… Prove Me Wrong

 

I write this to respond in part to @AlecDent‘s cultural appropriation article in National Review. While I agree with the main thesis that “sksksksksksk” is not cultural appropriation, I disagree with Mr. Dent’s opinions expressed below:

The concept of cultural appropriation is hardly new, but the linguistic policing that serves as the basis for the BuzzFeed article takes it to a new level. Accusations of cultural appropriation are usually leveled against white people who adopt elements of another ethnicity’s culture in a way that is perceived as making light of that culture’s history and traditions….

Not true. The loony left does not limit “cultural appropriation to “making light” of another culture. To the contrary, it is an intimidation tactic to reward and aggrandize those the left sees as “historically oppressed people.” The emphasis here is on intimidation. That is the leftist goal.

I agree that true cultural appropriation is wrong and should be guarded against. Caucasians have been historically privileged in American society, and it would be wrong of us to commodity or in any way diminish the cultures of historically oppressed peoples.

Almost everything I see reported to be “cultural appropriation” has nothing to do with “diminish[ing] the cultures of historically oppressed people.” It is a natural result when cultures meet and meld. The dominant culture adopts those aspects that appeals to it for whatever reason. It is generally not about making light of anybody or hurting anybody. It could be on occasion, but not generally.

Let us all celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Let us all celebrate Cinco de Mayo. If a young woman wants to wear and oriental-style dress to her prom because it looks good on her, that has nothing to do with “making light of historically oppressed peoples.” And what nutcase would make the claim that the Chinese in China are oppressed by anyone but their own government anyway?

I frequently see young lefties wearing dreadlocks. Did they get castigated for cultural appropriation? No. They’re obviously lefties. They are not the intended objects of the intimidation.

Cultural appropriation as a concept is a big crock of nothing-burger. Prove me wrong

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There are 54 comments.

  1. Henry Racette Contributor

    Prove you wrong? Won’t even try. I think you’re spot-on.

    • #1
    • September 9, 2019, at 12:19 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  2. Columbo Member

    Does embellishing and satirizing your point count?

    • #2
    • September 9, 2019, at 12:29 PM PST
    • 11 likes
  3. Alec Dent Contributor

    In regards to the issue you have with the first quote of mine: you’re entirely right that the left doesn’t limit cultural appropriation to simply things that make light of another culture, something I noted in the sentence immediately following where you cut my quote off at, “(I say ‘perceived’ because, of course, perception does not align with reality in every case.)”

    As to your second point: you’ll note I said “true cultural appropriation,” which implies there is such a thing as false cultural appropriation. I didn’t define what true cultural appropriation is in my article; in my defense such a definition is only tangentially related to the argument I was making and I was cautious about being too wordy. The examples you’ve listed are all ones I would consider perfectly acceptable. By “true cultural appropriation” I had in mind things like the use of a religiously sacred object in a manner other than that in which it was intended (i.e. high-fashion hijabs, “Piss Christ“) or the adoption of ethnic characteristics or stereotypes to mock them (as routinely happens with white students throwing parties where they dress up as racial stereotypes). 

    Should cultural appropriation be outlawed? No, of course not. Can I understand why aggrieved groups would feel the way they do? Absolutely.

    • #3
    • September 9, 2019, at 12:43 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  4. David Carroll Thatcher
    David Carroll Post author

    Alec Dent (View Comment):

     By “true cultural appropriation” I had in mind things like the use of a religiously sacred object in a manner other than that in which it was intended (i.e. high-fashion hijabs, “Piss Christ“) or the adoption of ethnic characteristics or stereotypes to mock them (as routinely happens with white students throwing parties where they dress up as racial stereotypes).

    @alecdent. Thank you for your reply. 

    “Cultural Appropriation” as it has apparently been taught by academics to their muddled brained students has been extended far beyond what you say you had in mind as “true cultural appropriation.” But I will address the specific examples you raise. In my view, if “high-fashion hijabs” are worn because the women think the hijabs are attractive fashion, that is a far cry from “making light” of a historically oppressed culture. To the contrary, if non-Muslim women want to wear high-fashion hijabs to look attractive, I do not see that as cultural appropriation to be condemned. It is not a look that I particularly like, but that is hardly the point. I do not like tattoos either, so there you go. 

    “Piss Christ” had nothing to do with cultural appropriation. It was merely an attempt by some boneheaded artist (I use the term “artist” loosely) to make a splash using the shock value. It had nothing to do with one culture appropriating something iconic from a “historically oppressed people.”

    For that matter, Al Jolson in blackface has been wrongfully maligned for an act that was acceptable in his day. Dressing in blackface for a fraternity party is certainly considered offensive, but I do not see how it amounts to the appropriation of anything from someone else’s “culture.” It offensive because they are mocking a minority’s physical characteristics (which its members cannot help having). Blackface is not about making light of a culture per se. Mocking people for their cultural characteristics is certainly always offensive. But it is not appropriation.

    I am aware that there is a Navajo lawyer who is trying to promote laws to protect the use of Navajo symbols in art or commercial works by those other than Navajos, which he calls cultural appropriation. Indeed, that sounds more like cultural appropriation and anything normally bandied about in the leftist popular culture. Even so, such things are better handled by intellectual-property legislation than by goofy academic theories.

    The point is that the term cultural appropriation is loosely used primarily for its intimidation effect. I object to giving any comfort and aid to leftists by even acknowledging that cultural appropriation, whatever it may mean, is wrong. If it ever is, it is only in the extremely rare instance and not wrong in general as the term is used and understood by the popular media — and the muddle-brained victims of academic malpractice. 

    Should cultural appropriation be outlawed? No, of course not. Can I understand why aggrieved groups would feel the way they do? Absolutely.

    I understand them feeling “the way [the media contends that] they do” only when they are being mocked by the alleged appropriation.

     

    • #4
    • September 9, 2019, at 1:20 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  5. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher

    I am all for having no one not of one culture use any aspect of anyone else’s culture. 

    So, there are a lot of people who need to stop using computers, airplanes, cars, pretty much any technology invented in Europe. 

    Except in America. Here, anyone can be American, so as long as one member of a culture is a citizen it is fair game. 

    Ready, set, go!

    • #5
    • September 9, 2019, at 2:59 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  6. Bruce Caward Thatcher

    I think the problem here is the word “appropriate”. Dictionary: “take something for one’s own use, typically without the owner’s permission”.

    1. In this current “cultural approriation” business, no one is “taking” anything. I may be copying, or imitating, or learning from you and adopting some of your foreign practices into my lifestyle, because I find them pleasing or practical or possibly exotic and thrilling. But I have not taken anything from you, I have merely started doing it too.
    2. And “owner’s permission”? You don’t own your culture, you are merely of it. Good on you. But if I become aware of you, and find you interesting, so what? Is your culture licensed in some way? I may find those color combinations pleasing, so I wear them, or the geometric patterns interesting, so I put that atrwork on my walls. I don’t have to know their significance to you, or to your ancestors (just as you possibly don’t), to wear or use them if it pleases me. Of course I may adore your culture, and that’s why I do it (thinking Dave from Breaking Away, and his Italian fixation). But it doesn’t matter, it’s all good.
    3. Sometimes you may encounter a jerk out there who will stereotype your culture, generalize about it by imitating one of its identifying characteristics. Make fun of you. In short, be a jerk. Well, be careful – jerks on the loose.
    4. Then again, maybe “jerk” is relative. I, for instance, like the Frito Bandito commercials. Pretty funny. All the Mexican guys on my construction site think the song is funny too. Just as I would adore to hear some jingle a Mexican ad agency came up with to sell a product lampooning a typical gringo.
    5. If you are from a foreign country, or some exotic culture, and you are here in the states, and you are reading this, welcome! I hope you are enjoying yourself. I hope you are happy to be here in the land of freedom. But I hope you realize that one of our (and possibly now…your) freedoms, is to be able to do this thing -unimaginable in many parts of the world – called “what we want”. 
    • #6
    • September 9, 2019, at 3:10 PM PST
    • 10 likes
  7. David Carroll Thatcher
    David Carroll Post author

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    I am all for having no one not of one culture use any aspect of anyone else’s culture.

    So, there are a lot of people who need to stop using computers, airplanes, cars, pretty much any technology invented in Europe.

    Except in America. Here, anyone can be American, so as long as one member of a culture is a citizen it is fair game.

    Ready, set, go!

    And tattoos. That is a cultural appropriation of Ba’al worshippers.

    • #7
    • September 9, 2019, at 3:10 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  8. David Carroll Thatcher
    David Carroll Post author

    I think that @AlecDent was trying to avoid offense by his apparent acceptance of the phoney cultural appropriation theory. I agree the mocking folks for their culture or skin color is wrong. But the cultural appropriation theory goes far beyond mocking.

    It is about control and intimidation. It is about pretend offense. Not really about mocking and true offense.

    • #8
    • September 9, 2019, at 3:18 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  9. Bruce Caward Thatcher

    Alec Dent (View Comment):
    Should cultural appropriation be outlawed? No, of course not. Can I understand why aggrieved groups would feel the way they do? Absolutely.

    Then I hope you understand why I feel aggrieved every time you call me “white”. What do you mean by that? Are you are stereotyping me because of the color of my skin? What does white mean? How is it that you lump me together with anyone or everyone else you might call white? What is it you are suggesting “we” all have in common? Is “white” some kind of common culture?

    (Kidding about the aggrieved part, not aggrieved in the least. But still I wonder about this “white” of which you speak.)

    • #9
    • September 9, 2019, at 3:22 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  10. DonG (skeptic) Coolidge

    I think the best definition of “cultural appropriation” is the taking of some aspect of some groups culture by another group without giving proper credit. A silly example would be some rural white guy saying that rednecks invented rap music. A more common example would be a song-writer traveling abroad and taking some tune she heard and deriving a domestic pop song from that. Authors can do the same thing by adopting folk tales into stories without credit. So, melting pot=good, cross pollinating=good, and exploiting the creative work of others=bad. 

     

     

    • #10
    • September 9, 2019, at 5:23 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  11. Cow Girl Thatcher

    David Carroll (View Comment):
    It is about control and intimidation. It is about pretend offense. Not really about mocking and true offense.

    So true…like I am not supposed to wear big hoop earrings because I’m not a woman whose DNA comes from an African ancestor. Seriously?

    And, I’m not allowed to like Chinese or Thai food? Am I also never supposed to wear turquoise jewelry since there are no Navajo people in my family tree?

    This is one of the dumbest Lefty tropes ever! (And that is saying something.)

    • #11
    • September 9, 2019, at 5:40 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  12. Bruce Caward Thatcher

    DonG (View Comment):

    I think the best definition of “cultural appropriation” is the taking of some aspect of some groups culture by another group without giving proper credit. A silly example would be some rural white guy saying that rednecks invented rap music. A more common example would be a song-writer traveling abroad and taking some tune she heard and deriving a domestic pop song from that. Authors can do the same thing by adopting folk tales into stories without credit. So, melting pot=good, cross pollinating=good, and exploiting the creative work of others=bad.

     

     

    My first thought was Paul Simon’s Graceland and Rhythm of the Saints albums. He went to a foreign country, seeking inspiration. Found beauty, satisfaction. Recorded two albums very different from Here Comes Rhymin’ Simon.

    Did he commit some heinous cultural crime, or make some awesome music?

    And who is it who gets to say?

    • #12
    • September 9, 2019, at 6:00 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  13. Henry Racette Contributor

    Cow Girl (View Comment):

    David Carroll (View Comment):
    It is about control and intimidation. It is about pretend offense. Not really about mocking and true offense.

    So true…like I am not supposed to wear big hoop earrings because I’m not a woman whose DNA comes from an African ancestor. Seriously?

    And, I’m not allowed to like Chinese or Thai food? Am I also never supposed to wear turquoise jewelry since there are no Navajo people in my family tree?

    This is one of the dumbest Lefty tropes ever! (And that is saying something.)

    Agreed.

    It’s also wrong because, unlike things that can’t be changed, such as race or sex, culture is made up of ideas that can be adopted by anyone. Wearing blackface isn’t cultural appropriate, it’s just a gag — albeit one in poor taste. But borrowing from other cultures is perfectly okay and not in any way disrespectful.

    And cultures don’t own stuff, including the ideas they popularize. Mexicans no more own tacos than I own hamburgers.

    • #13
    • September 9, 2019, at 6:02 PM PST
    • 1 like
  14. Stina Inactive

    DonG (View Comment):

    I think the best definition of “cultural appropriation” is the taking of some aspect of some groups culture by another group without giving proper credit. A silly example would be some rural white guy saying that rednecks invented rap music. A more common example would be a song-writer traveling abroad and taking some tune she heard and deriving a domestic pop song from that. Authors can do the same thing by adopting folk tales into stories without credit. So, melting pot=good, cross pollinating=good, and exploiting the creative work of others=bad.

     

     

    Yeah… like comic books, Annie, and The Little Mermaid…

    • #14
    • September 9, 2019, at 6:07 PM PST
    • Like
  15. Man With the Axe Member

    Bruce Caward (View Comment):

    DonG (View Comment):

    I think the best definition of “cultural appropriation” is the taking of some aspect of some groups culture by another group without giving proper credit. A silly example would be some rural white guy saying that rednecks invented rap music. A more common example would be a song-writer traveling abroad and taking some tune she heard and deriving a domestic pop song from that. Authors can do the same thing by adopting folk tales into stories without credit. So, melting pot=good, cross pollinating=good, and exploiting the creative work of others=bad.

     

     

    My first thought was Paul Simon’s Graceland and Rhythm of the Saints albums. He went to a foreign country, seeking inspiration. Found beauty, satisfaction. Recorded two albums very different from Here Comes Rhymin’ Simon.

    Did he commit some heinous cultural crime, or make some awesome music?

    And who is it who gets to say?

    Simon was roundly criticized for cultural appropriation for Graceland. But I distinctly remember hearing Ladysmith Black Mambazo sing a song that began with these lyrics (I quote from memory): 

    It was a great day. 

    A great day. 

    It was a great day

    The day we met Paul Simon

     

    By the way, “Mambazo” means “axe” in Zulu. 

    • #15
    • September 10, 2019, at 6:47 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  16. David Carroll Thatcher
    David Carroll Post author

    When @AlecDent responded to the post, he defended his position on cultural appropriation with two examples he called “true cultural appropriation” of which he disapproved. I respectfully (I think) challenged both examples on different grounds. He has not yet responded. I hope he does. I do not believe he has proved me wrong as yet.

     

    • #16
    • September 10, 2019, at 7:07 AM PST
    • 1 like
  17. Robert E. Lee Member

    America is culteral appropiation. We beg, borrow, and steal from every people, place, and culture on Earth. That’s how we became the best on Earth.

    • #17
    • September 10, 2019, at 7:37 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  18. David Carroll Thatcher
    David Carroll Post author

    Robert E. Lee (View Comment):

    America is cultural appropriation. We beg, borrow, and steal from every people, place, and culture on Earth. That’s how we became the best on Earth.

    And that is one of the reasons that the left’s attempts to vilify “cultural appropriation” defy common sense.

    • #18
    • September 10, 2019, at 7:46 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  19. Brian Wolf Coolidge

    Cultural Appropriation is a tricky subject and it is subjective. Americans have a hard time understanding it because we are much freer in acknowledging that we are a melting pot and have borrowed all kinds of things from all over the world. Our pride comes from taking good ideas and making them better or even fully practicing them and allowing their full beneficial impact. We don’t get as wrapped up in having things wholly made in America but “true” Americans. It is very odd for most countries to admire people like John Locke or Adam Smith they way we do, when they were not Americans. Even our love for Lafayette is a bit strange. We glory that “American” food is a mismash of other cultures food. In my part of Eurasisa, when I lived overseas, a common question was “What American Food do you miss the most?” One of the most common answers was “Mexican food”.

    That is bit weird. 

    People from smaller and at times oppressed cultures tend to more fiercely cling things that they identify with their culture, even when they borrowed their culture from somewhere else, and so get offended when when things they think of as their own are taken over by others and successfully exploited for big money. Big countries like Iran, China, Russia, India and the like can get a little offended when we take something that they did, put our own twist on it, market it and they encounter their own culture as the newest thing from America. Frustrating!

    It is hard for an American to wrap their minds around it. It might be something like if your kids or grand kids were listening only to popular Japanese and Korean boy bands. They excitedly came to you and said, “Look what the Japanese have done with Music! It is so cool, I don’t know what I would do if the Japanese had never thought of boy bands.”

    You point out that boy bands in Britain and America pre-date Japanese and Korean boy bands and they got the idea from us and your kids roll their eyes and say, “Everyone knows Boy bands are a Japanese thing Dad.”

    As Americans we tend to feel flattered when we are copied, we are confident in our own culture and proud of its history so it is hard to understand what it is like to be “appropriated”. Others however DO feel it and they feel insulted. What we are obligated to do about that or respond to it is a different matter entirely. 

    Being in the economic, culturally and military dominate position we are in today it is hard for us to understand why people “feel” appropriated. Understanding that they do however can help us deal with empathy and defuse it as a grievance, perhaps.

    • #19
    • September 10, 2019, at 8:07 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  20. Full Size Tabby Member

    Robert E. Lee (View Comment):

    America is culteral appropiation. We beg, borrow, and steal from every people, place, and culture on Earth. That’s how we became the best on Earth.

    Every culture that has ever had trade with others exercises “cultural appropriation.” Cultures develop by adopting and adapting from others things and customs that people think will improve their lives. Earlier in the comments we heard about examples of musical “appropriation.” Cultures have been taking musical and other art forms from each other as long as people have been interacting with people not of their little tribe.

    My thinking on “cultural appropriation” tends to focus on food.

    Hungary today is known for producing paprika. But Hungary has paprika only because Turkish invaders brought it with them in the 16th century, and apparently the locals decided to keep it.

    My favorite example is pizza. We consider “pizza” to be from Italy. But in the USA, people (many but not all of them of Italian heritage) adapted the pizza to local circumstances to create types of “pizza” that a 19th century Italian would not recognize as “pizza,” some types of which are distinct enough to now be called by the name of U.S. locations (“New York style,” “Chicago deep dish,” etc.). The Wall Street Journal recently had a feature article on the subject of U.S. regional adaptations of pizza. But even the 19th century Italians were not the first people to put tasty toppings on baked flatbreads. Peoples all around the Mediterranean have been baking flat breads for millennia, many of which no doubt added tasty toppings. So, had not the Italians adopted and modified (“appropriated”) those flat breads, there would be no pizza today. And had not others appropriated pizza we would not have what is today a staple of American party foods.

    Because the U.S.A. is an idea-based (rather than tribal based) country to which anyone from anywhere could come, we have the benefit of more meeting of different cultures than most peoples get, which meetings of cultures allow greater sorting, adopting, and adapting what people like and what will benefit people.

    • #20
    • September 10, 2019, at 8:11 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  21. Full Size Tabby Member

    Alec Dent (View Comment):
    Should cultural appropriation be outlawed? No, of course not. Can I understand why aggrieved groups would feel the way they do? Absolutely.

    I’m afraid I do not understand why a group should feel aggrieved when people of other groups decide something of their culture is so useful or beautiful or otherwise beneficial that the thing gets adopted in the wider culture. Isn’t that a compliment to the group that originated the thing?

    • #21
    • September 10, 2019, at 8:20 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  22. Full Size Tabby Member

    Since I consider it impossible to identify a single origin for anything we see today in any culture, I agree with the premise that anyone who accuses another of “cultural appropriation” is doing so only as an intimidation tactic to exercise control over the other person’s actions words. The phrase “cultural appropriation” is a weapon of intimidation.

    • #22
    • September 10, 2019, at 8:24 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  23. Brian Wolf Coolidge

    I should follow up on my comment 19 by saying something about domestic politics. When Chinese Americans say they are offended that a white girl wears a dress inspired by Chinese fashion this is usually just an attempt to gain cultural and political leverage. There is no feeling of “appropriation” actually going on. They people here are all Americans for a Chinese American to feel “appropriated” they would have to renounce their citizenship, their culture and heritage is that of an American now, they are no longer in any real sense Chinese. Culture does not travel down a genetic path and even someone born in a home that is entirely genetically Chinese and teaches Chinese culture it is a culture that is modified and even transformed by American culture. In sense they are “appropriating” American and Chinese culture both.

    This is why domestically appropriation is purely toxic social phenomena. To indulge in it would destroy the American social fabric and destroy us as a nation. It is vital we don’t go down that road.

    Native Americans have a different cultural heritage. They live in a land that was conquered after their failed resistance. A situation incredibly common across continents and world history. To preserve any sense of cultural identity they have to separate themselves from American culture to some degree and hold that line. They have a moral right to do this.

    At the same time they can look at the Cultural appropriation by other Americans of different aspects of Native American culture in one of two ways.

    1. Look we conquered them in a way by having them adopt some of our ways and take our heroes as their own. We were not beaten completely and I like that.

    2. The invaders are mocking us and the still exploit us.

    The first way leads to peace and a happier life, the second way leads to a lot of bitterness and disappointment. Which is why most pick the first way. Native Americans stand out for most Americans as a tragic heroes, brave warriors and the epitome of courage. Why be bitter about that?

    Anyway I think their standing is unique.

    • #23
    • September 10, 2019, at 8:25 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  24. Henry Racette Contributor

    Brian Wolf (View Comment):

    Cultural Appropriation is a tricky subject and it is subjective. Americans have a hard time understanding it because we are much freer in acknowledging that we are a melting pot and have borrowed all kinds of things from all over the world. Our pride comes from taking good ideas and making them better or even fully practicing them and allowing their full beneficial impact. We don’t get as wrapped up in having things wholly made in America but “true” Americans. It is very odd for most countries to admire people like John Locke or Adam Smith they way we do, when they were not Americans. Even our love for Lafayette is a bit strange. We glory that “American” food is a mismash of other cultures food. In my part of Eurasisa, when I lived overseas, a common question was “What American Food do you miss the most?” One of the most common answers was “Mexican food”.

    That is bit weird.

    People from smaller and at times oppressed cultures tend to more fiercely cling things that they identify with their culture, even when they borrowed their culture from somewhere else, and so get offended when when things they think of as their own are taken over by others and successfully exploited for big money. Big countries like Iran, China, Russia, India and the like can get a little offended when we take something that they did, put our own twist on it, market it and they encounter their own culture as the newest thing from America. Frustrating!

    It is hard for an American to wrap their minds around it. It might be something like if your kids or grand kids were listening only to popular Japanese and Korean boy bands. They excitedly came to you and said, “Look what the Japanese have done with Music! It is so cool, I don’t know what I would do if the Japanese had never thought of boy bands.”

    You point out that boy bands in Britain and America pre-date Japanese and Korean boy bands and they got the idea from us and your kids roll their eyes and say, “Everyone knows Boy bands are a Japanese thing Dad.”

    As Americans we tend to feel flattered when we are copied, we are confident in our own culture and proud of its history so it is hard to understand what it is like to be “appropriated”. Others however DO feel it and they feel insulted. What we are obligated to do about that or respond to it is a different matter entirely.

    Being in the economic, culturally and military dominate position we are in today it is hard for us to understand why people “feel” appropriated. Understanding that they do however can help us deal with empathy and defuse it as a grievance, perhaps.

    What you say sounds reasonable — though I have to admit that I don’t particularly care what other people think of us copying aspects of their culture. (That might be some of my own American-ness showing.)

    But, while I could be wrong, I don’t think the fuss about “cultural appropriation” is coming from abroad. I think it’s a domestic thing, something American identity enthusiasts invoke to justify their fantasized victim status and fuel their righteous resentment and consequent moral superiority. (And that could be some of my cantankerous old white man-ness showing.)

    • #24
    • September 10, 2019, at 9:19 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  25. Brian Wolf Coolidge

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    But, while I could be wrong, I don’t think the fuss about “cultural appropriation” is coming from abroad. I think it’s a domestic thing, something American identity enthusiasts invoke to justify their fantasized victim status and fuel their righteous resentment and consequent moral superiority. (And that could be some of my cantankerous old white man-ness showing.)

    I tackle that in comment 23. What I was trying to do in two comments was show that cultural appropriation is a real thing that is felt. This does not mean they are right to resent it or that they should not see appropriation as common, but people really do resent it some instances.

    Understanding that Americans can come across less rude then we do sometimes and that would be a benefit to everyone.

    The people who invoke cultural appropriation domestically have no moral justification for doing so and it is a toxic practice. They leverage legitimate, if misguided, feelings of foreigners for domestic power and advantage. This is no good. Native Americans have standing to resent some appropriation of their culture and heroes by Americans but that is a dead end and that is why I think most Native Americans view it positively. 

    I think understanding the legitimate feelings of appropriation and then understanding how bad domestic actors are exploiting that is helpful. Cultural Appropriation and the negative feelings associated with it is not just “bunk”. The way those feelings are exploited and leveraged is bunk and we need to call it out and oppose it from knowledge and not from ignorance.

    The fact that it is very hard for Americans to feel “appropriated” is a good thing by the way and I really appreciate that.

    • #25
    • September 10, 2019, at 9:52 AM PST
    • 1 like
  26. Henry Racette Contributor

    Brian Wolf (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    But, while I could be wrong, I don’t think the fuss about “cultural appropriation” is coming from abroad. I think it’s a domestic thing, something American identity enthusiasts invoke to justify their fantasized victim status and fuel their righteous resentment and consequent moral superiority. (And that could be some of my cantankerous old white man-ness showing.)

    I tackle that in comment 23. What I was trying to do in two comments was show that cultural appropriation is a real thing that is felt. This does not mean they are right to resent it or that they should not see appropriation as common, but people really do resent it some instances.

    So I see. I responded before reading the rest of the thread, and was then distracted by other things.

    • #26
    • September 10, 2019, at 9:58 AM PST
    • 1 like
  27. Juliana Member

    Brian Wolf (View Comment):

     

    I think understanding the legitimate feelings of appropriation and then understanding how bad domestic actors are exploiting that is helpful. Cultural Appropriation and the negative feelings associated with it is not just “bunk”. The way those feelings are exploited and leveraged is bunk and we need to call it out and oppose it from knowledge and not from ignorance.

    Can you provide examples of cultural appropriation/exploitation which lead to legitimate feelings of appropriation?

     

     

    • #27
    • September 10, 2019, at 10:57 AM PST
    • 1 like
  28. Brian Wolf Coolidge

    Juliana (View Comment):

    Brian Wolf (View Comment):

     

    I think understanding the legitimate feelings of appropriation and then understanding how bad domestic actors are exploiting that is helpful. Cultural Appropriation and the negative feelings associated with it is not just “bunk”. The way those feelings are exploited and leveraged is bunk and we need to call it out and oppose it from knowledge and not from ignorance.

    Can you provide examples of cultural appropriation/exploitation which lead to legitimate feelings of appropriation?

     

     

    Sure the official international designation for the Georgian Sheep Dog was the Russian Sheep Dog and I now I believe it is the Caucasian Sheep Dog. Corn and Potatoes are often misidentified and their origins messed up, often due to the fact that “corn” was used for wheat in older version of English.

    Buddhist rituals used for new age quackery. Western Monks meditative practices not being recognized and meditative. The whole issue of the origin of coffee. Rug making. Saying the first city in North America was a European foundation. Printing was a European invention. The invention of gunpowder changed the world. Legends about Dracula. The Sound of Music. Lots and lots of food issues here too, way to many to list.

    That kind of thing. There is a lot of them. Some of them are only understandable from the point of view of the culture that is being appropriated. 

    Take Dracula for instance. Could a Romanian or perhaps more appropriately a native of Transylvania feel miffed about taking their complex folk lore and national hero/tyrant and turning him into a Monstrous/Cartoon/Pop culture phenom? Sure. Their feelings are legitimate. If I saw George Washington used as the butt of jokes, the straight man in a comedy duo, or a merciless killer of young women I might feel a bit put out myself. Especially if I knew almost the entire world saw him that way instead of the real George Washington and what he really accomplished.

    Do we owe the Romanians something, besides understanding, I think not. But I will understand and sympathize if a Romanian told me something like, “Could you know make some Englishman a blood sucking monster? Why our guy?” Understandable.

    Does that help?

    • #28
    • September 10, 2019, at 12:00 PM PST
    • Like
  29. David Carroll Thatcher
    David Carroll Post author

    Brian Wolf (View Comment):

    Sure the official international designation for the Georgian Sheep Dog was the Russian Sheep Dog and I now I believe it is the Caucasian Sheep Dog. Corn and Potatoes are often misidentified and their origins messed up, often due to the fact that “corn” was used for wheat in older version of English.

    Buddhist rituals used for new age quackery. Western Monks meditative practices not being recognized and meditative. The whole issue of the origin of coffee. Rug making. Saying the first city in North America was a European foundation. Printing was a European invention. The invention of gunpowder changed the world. Legends about Dracula. The Sound of Music. Lots and lots of food issues here too, way to many to list.

    That kind of thing. There is a lot of them. Some of them are only understandable from the point of view of the culture that is being appropriated.

    I don’t see any of these are being a legitimate complaint of cultural appropriation. As I understand the concept as pushed by leftists, it is something the alleged appropriator should not in good conscience do.

    I don’t see the naming of a dog as appropriating anything form anyone’s culture. Perhaps I am missing something. Who is the appropriator and and what is it that they should not do?

    I don’t see how misidentifying the origins of vegetables appropriates anyone’s culture.

    I don’t see how the new age use of meditation is misappropriation of anyone;ls culture, especially if the goal is personal improvement (or enlightenment or something). What is morally wrongful about it?

    What is a misappropriation of rug-making? Criminal mis-identification by a rug merchant of Persian-style rugs as being from Persia (Iran), maybe. That would be garden-variety fraud.

    Getting history wrong is not a wrongful misappropriation of anyone’s culture.

    Using gunpowder is the misappropriation of culture? I don’t think so.

    How is the legend of Dracula (Bram Stoker?) the misappropriation of anyone’s culture? Or the Sound of Music? What is wrongful here?

    How can food ever be a wrongful appropriation of someone’s culture? If I eat Chinese food, do I offend the Chinese? Certainly not the Chinese owner of the restaurant in which I eat it!

    • #29
    • September 10, 2019, at 1:02 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  30. Juliana Member

    @brianwolf, it seems as though most of your examples stem from an ignorance of history. Hopefully most people understand that Dracula is a work of fiction, although Vlad the Impaler was probably not a nice guy. There are people who tend to the sensational and/or want nonsense to be real (Area 51), but I don’t see that as a cultural exploitation. Dracula, or Vlad the Impaler if you will, does not embody the culture of Romania any more than Charles Manson embodies the culture of California. Who do you think gets to decide if a particular action is culturally appropriated or just personally offensive? Those in Romania who benefit from Dracula tourism may have a different opinion than those who may be distantly related to Vlad.

    And while the earliest examples of block printing come from Asia, the printing press was invented in Europe. Again, an ignorance of the details of history, to my mind, do not lead us to cultural appropriation that may be hurtful, but to an exposure of our own lack of knowledge and education. Rather than accusing someone of appropriation or exploitation, maybe the correct response should be an educated response to correct someone’s misinterpretation or simple lack of knowledge.

    If this is truly as big a deal as you suggest, would you rather that we all stay in our own little boxes and not intermingle cultural elements? Aren’t we then practicing segregation and apartheid? I believe that would lead us down a road already well trod and somewhere we don’t want to return. No one person owns a culture, and I believe it would be difficult to get consensus on specific cultural elements from any group.

    There have been conflicting reports from Native Americans when it comes to using terms such as Braves or Fighting Sioux as mascots. Are Native Americans mascots? Of course not, but generally mascots are chosen for symbolic characteristics. I would prefer the characteristic of my team to be brave or fighting rather than twisted like a pretzel (Freeport IL high school-https://il.8to18.com/FreeportHS/). But I suppose the pretzel can be offended as well. Are Trojans and Spartans okay as mascots merely because they no longer exist as a victim group?

    Where is the line? What is ok and what is not? And who decides? Who enforces?

    • #30
    • September 10, 2019, at 1:04 PM PST
    • 4 likes