Bank Robber’s Mask Is Soooo Problematic

 

UPDATE: News story based on bunk, as noted below by Midget Faded Rattlesnake. The general points about “cultural appropriation” stand, although not as related to this story. Fake but accurate!

In which California is fitted with a jet engine, loaded into a rail-gun launcher, and aimed so the trajectory takes it over the shark:

I used to say “not the Onion,” but let’s use “Not the Babylon Bee” going forward. From the story:

An armed robber wearing a “Day of the Dead”-type mask, who held up a Wells Fargo Bank, may be charged with cultural appropriation, in addition to bank robbery.

According to a press release by the Santa Monica Police Department, on Sept. 10, a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt, gloves, and a skull mask similar to one that represents the Mexican holiday, entered a Wells Fargo location in the beachside Los Angeles suburb.

“Use of a Day of the Dead Mask during a robbery can be a separate offense or an enhancement, under the California Penal Code,” a police spokesperson said in a press release, per the Observer. “In this case, the suspect is sought for violating the rights of indigenous peoples, and for bank robbery.”

Interesting set of priorities in that last sentence.

A spokesperson from Wells Fargo tells Yahoo Lifestyle, “We are working with law enforcement and are unable to provide more details as this is an ongoing criminal investigation. Wells Fargo values and promotes diversity and inclusion in all aspects of business at all levels. We do not tolerate racism, cultural appropriation or discrimination of any kind.”

It is a good thing that Wells Fargo does not tolerate racism. One suspects they tolerate a great deal of discrimination when it comes to extending credit, but the term no longer means “make a distinction.” What’s new, at least to me, is this: Wells Fargo does not tolerate cultural appropriation of any kind, even if it’s not related to a robbery.

I’d love to see someone make them codify precisely what that means. They can’t, of course, and wouldn’t, of course. It’s a nonsense term, selectively applied, and profoundly illiberal. It suggests that every tribe should stay in its lane, as they love to say, with no culture polluting the folkways of another – as if the syncretic history of humanity hasn’t eventually enriched everyone whose culture picked up something from another. It doesn’t even define “culture,” except for superficial manifestations that reduce culture to kimonos or burritos, but never the ideas that arise from a civilization. Even then, it’s inconsistent: the high schooler wearing a kimono to a prom is culturally appropriating; the Japanese businessman in a suit is not. This has the odd effect of defining Western cultural signifiers as a global norm, which seems like cultural imperialism.

You could make the point that Western innovations arose from cultural differences unique to a time and place, a confluence of capital, societal endorsement of innovation, a post-Enlightenment elevation of reason and inquiry, and so on. But no one would make that case, because it would center the conversation around the history of Europe and the Anglosphere, which is inconvenient. Best to see that tale through the lens of colonialism, which prevented the occupied lands from developing the telephone and the three-piece suit.

More from the news story:

The Day of Dead, a holiday that lasts between October 31 and November 2, is a celebratory period for Mexican people to honor those who have passed on. Toy company Mattel is currently selling a “Barbie Día de Muertos” (retail price: $75) that some reportedly tweeted appropriated Mexican culture.

Somehow a news story about a bank robbery required the inclusion of a bad Barbie that resulted in some tweets, but okay. The designer of the doll is Mexican-American, according to a NYT story worrying about cultural appropriation. Doesn’t matter. LANES. STAY IN THEM. THAT INCLUDES COLLECTABLE PAINTED FIGURINES.

The Left: absolutely you should do extra prison time for appropriating a culture. Also the left: vote Elizabeth Warren. Also the Left: we find your use of the phrase “pow wow chow” offensive. Additional charges will be filed.

Published in Culture
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There are 41 comments.

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  1. Jon1979 Lincoln

    If you go by this, every non-Celtic who participates in Halloween by wearing a costume next month is guilty of the same cultural appropriation violation.

    • #1
    • September 17, 2019, at 11:05 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  2. Eustace C. Scrubb Member

    Any word on whether the robber used the correct pronouns while addressing the bank hostages?

    • #2
    • September 17, 2019, at 11:24 PM PDT
    • 22 likes
  3. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks Post author

    Eustace C. Scrubb (View Comment):
    Any word on whether the robber used the correct pronouns while addressing the bank hostages?

    He may have taken the safe Buffalo Bob option, and just insisted “it puts the money in the bag.”

    • #3
    • September 17, 2019, at 11:31 PM PDT
    • 19 likes
  4. Sandy Member

    So maybe less time if you wear a regular old Antifa-style face covering, or even a reduced sentence for robbery-while-doing-social-justice. Added points for vandalism. 

    • #4
    • September 18, 2019, at 2:32 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  5. ctlaw Coolidge

    Of what ethnicity is the perpetrator? What form of illegal profiling makes the police certain that ze is not entitled to wear the mask?

    If the perpetrator was an authorized user of the mask, does that mean all wearers of such masks are criminally liable for conspiracy?

    • #5
    • September 18, 2019, at 3:07 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  6. MACHO GRANDE' (aka - Chri… Coolidge

    I believe this now requires your resignation, 007.

     

    See the source image

    • #6
    • September 18, 2019, at 3:36 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  7. Titus Techera Contributor

    1. So liberals finally want the police to get tough on something? The PC police turn out to be police–very South Park, like so much of America-in-the-media these days!

    2. Isn’t stealing money always cultural appropriation, since there are president’s portraits on the money, plus Franklin & Hamilton? I mean, it’s Hamilton from Hamilton!

    3. This is probably the most ridiculous woke capital story I’ve seen yet, but it can probably be improved upon. All woke capital should have minority staff on the receiving end of complaints, to accuse customers or, worse, plaintiffs of racism!

    4. Deleted for offensiveness

    5. Something seems wrong about a day of the dead Barbie, though! Is it for creepy children who want to lean into that? Or is it supposed to lend anthropological authenticity to the bearer?

    • #7
    • September 18, 2019, at 3:43 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  8. Cato Rand Reagan

    This can’t be real. It has to be satire. It certainly isn’t constitutional.

    • #8
    • September 18, 2019, at 4:10 AM PDT
    • 12 likes
  9. She Thatcher
    She

    Cato Rand (View Comment):

    This can’t be real. It has to be satire. It certainly isn’t constitutional.

    I don’t think the “it’s five o’clock somewhere” rule works, when it comes to April 1. I think it’s real.

    Eustace C. Scrubb (View Comment):

    Any word on whether the robber used the correct pronouns while addressing the bank hostages?

    I regret that I only have one like . . .

    • #9
    • September 18, 2019, at 4:31 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  10. Blondie Thatcher

    Eustace C. Scrubb (View Comment):

    Any word on whether the robber used the correct pronouns while addressing the bank hostages?

    Given that this is the great socialist state of California, when caught and convicted, he/she/it will get more time for the stupid PC crap than the bank robbery. On a positive note, we’ve found something the libs are more afraid of than the shotgun he used. “The mask! How dare you!”

    • #10
    • September 18, 2019, at 4:51 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  11. Vance Richards Member

    My first reaction was, “No . . . No . . . Come on, No!”

    It turns out that he could be charged with “violating the rights of indigenous peoples.” Unless these “indigenous people” had their money in that bank, I don’t see how their rights were violated. Also, the Day of the Dead tradition comes from the Aztecs and I do not know if Aztecs were indigenous to Santa Monica or not. Does that matter or has “indigenous peoples” taken on a broader “anyone but white people” meaning?

    • #11
    • September 18, 2019, at 5:02 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  12. SkipSul Moderator

    Yahoo News has long had a well earned reputation for tripe (which is probably being deeply unfair to tripe).

    http://www.surfsantamonica.com/ssm_site/the_lookout/news/News-2019/September-2019/09_17_2019_Santa_Monica_Bank_Robber_Wanted_for_Cultural_Appropriation_%20News_Site_Reports.html

    The Lookout called Santa Monica Police to verify the validity of the police press release quoted in the Observer article that was the basis for Yahoo’s report.

    “That’s completely bogus,” department spokesperson Lt. Candice Cobarrubias said.

     

    • #12
    • September 18, 2019, at 5:08 AM PDT
    • 12 likes
  13. Arahant Member

    ctlaw (View Comment):

    Of what ethnicity is the perpetrator? What form of illegal profiling makes the police certain that ze is not entitled to wear the mask?

    Those were the questions that came immediately to my mind when I saw that an unnamed suspect is being sought.

    • #13
    • September 18, 2019, at 5:20 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  14. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Yahoo News has long had a well earned reputation for tripe (which is probably being deeply unfair to tripe).

    [From the Santa Monica Lookout:]

    The Lookout called Santa Monica Police to verify the validity of the police press release quoted in the Observer article that was the basis for Yahoo’s report.

    “That’s completely bogus,” department spokesperson Lt. Candice Cobarrubias said.

    The Lookout reports Yahoo News got this bogus rumor from the Santa Monica Observer reporter Stan Greene:

    The Yahoo article is based on a story that ran Tuesday in the Santa Monica Observer.

    “Like Barbie, the masked gunman who knocked over a Wells Fargo Bank needs cultural sensitivity training,” the article by Stan Greene said….

    Greene — whose image accompanying the byline has been “removed for reasons of personal security” — quotes what he says is a press release issued by the Santa Monica Police Department…

    So Greene reported on a bogus police press release.

    This is not the first time Greene has reported bogus news for the Observer, the Lookout notes,

    July, 8, 2019 — A Santa Monica newspaper that sparked widespread outrage by speculating Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs had died of an opioid overdose explained this weekend why it removed the story…

    The Observer has a history of posting wildly speculative, and incorrect stories, in the past.

    In January, it posted a story under the headline, “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Will Retire from the US Supreme Court in January, 2019.”

    In December 2016, it ran a headline that read: “Kanye West Appointed Under-Secretary of the Interior After Meeting at Trump Tower.”

    Both stories were written by Stan Greene, who also wrote the story on Skaggs’ death that was removed.

    • #14
    • September 18, 2019, at 5:43 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  15. Stad Thatcher

    California has a law against cultural appropriation? Seriously?

    • #15
    • September 18, 2019, at 5:44 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  16. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor

    Stad (View Comment):

    California has a law against cultural appropriation? Seriously?

    It appears unseriously, fortunately.

    • #16
    • September 18, 2019, at 5:48 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  17. FightinInPhilly Thatcher

    Next time someone brings up “cultural appropriation” in casual conversation, ask them why they hate little girls in Japan. Because this sure aint her culture. And she CRUSHES it. :)

    • #17
    • September 18, 2019, at 5:51 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  18. TallCon Coolidge

    Reading Catch-22 at the same time that I’m reading articles like this is causing me fact / fiction problems.

    • #18
    • September 18, 2019, at 6:25 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  19. Kephalithos Member

    FightinInPhilly (View Comment): Next time someone brings up “cultural appropriation” in casual conversation, ask them why they hate little girls in Japan. Because this sure aint her culture. And she CRUSHES it. :)

    Ahem, like, that’s not cultural appropriation. That’s not problematic at all. ‘Cause, like, cultural appropriation is when a privileged culture steals something from a non-privileged one. She’s a Person of Color. She’s oppressed. So, like, she isn’t appropriating anything. Duh!

    • #19
    • September 18, 2019, at 6:29 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  20. GLDIII Temporarily Essential Thatcher

    Clearly we are living in the easiest of times. When tripe of this level of minutia reaches the level of serious consideration, it is time for a great conflagration in which our intellectual betters are unwillingly forced to man the front lines (are we overdue for another world war???) …… for a better understanding of what is important in life.

    I just wish they would stop dragging the rest of us along into their insanity.

    • #20
    • September 18, 2019, at 6:33 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  21. Western Chauvinist Member

    I think Stan Greene should get some kind of award. He certainly gets California’s zeitgeist right, if not the facts. And, besides, do we care about facts anymore? I don’t think so.

    • #21
    • September 18, 2019, at 6:49 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  22. Old Bathos Member

    But it was a Wells Fargo office, a company specifically founded to exploit the Anglo seizure of Mexican territory (California). If the robber is not himself of Mexican descent, couldn’t his lawyer argue that the robbery was a statement in support of legitimate grievances and thus the mask was an affirmative statement of solidarity which would take it outside the scope and intent of the statutory ban on cultural appropriation.?

    And isn’t the robbery itself the result of economic disparities in Santa Monica? In California? An indictment of our educational system? I put it to you, your honor and persons of the jury, isn’t this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you could do as you choose with my poor client but do you really want to sit here and badmouth the United States of America and all it should stand for?

    Free the man behind the mask, I say! Thank you.

    • #22
    • September 18, 2019, at 7:01 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  23. She Thatcher
    She

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    I think Stan Greene should get some kind of award. He certainly gets California’s zeitgeist right, if not the facts. And, besides, do we care about facts anymore? I don’t think so.

    Apparently not, at least if you’re on the Left:

     

    • #23
    • September 18, 2019, at 8:18 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  24. James Gawron Thatcher

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    But it was a Wells Fargo office, a company specifically founded to exploit the Anglo seizure of Mexican territory (California). If the robber is not himself of Mexican descent, couldn’t his lawyer argue that the robbery was a statement in support of legitimate grievances and thus the mask was an affirmative statement of solidarity which would take it outside the scope and intent of the statutory bar on cultural appropriation.?

    And isn’t the robbery itself the result of economic disparities in Santa Monica? In California? An indictment of our educational system? I put it to you, your honor and persons of the jury, isn’t this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you could do as you choose with my poor client but do you really want to sit here and badmouth the United States of America and all it should stand for?

    Free the man behind the mask, I say! Thank you.

    OldB,

    Masks, we don’t got no masks. We don’t need no stinkin masks.

    The customer service desk at your local Wells Fargo branch.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #24
    • September 18, 2019, at 9:08 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  25. Old Bathos Member

    James Gawron (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    But it was a Wells Fargo office, a company specifically founded to exploit the Anglo seizure of Mexican territory (California). If the robber is not himself of Mexican descent, couldn’t his lawyer argue that the robbery was a statement in support of legitimate grievances and thus the mask was an affirmative statement of solidarity which would take it outside the scope and intent of the statutory bar on cultural appropriation.?

    And isn’t the robbery itself the result of economic disparities in Santa Monica? In California? An indictment of our educational system? I put it to you, your honor and persons of the jury, isn’t this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you could do as you choose with my poor client but do you really want to sit here and badmouth the United States of America and all it should stand for?

    Free the man behind the mask, I say! Thank you.

    OldB,

    Masks, we don’t got no masks. We don’t need no stinkin masks.

    The customer service desk at your local Wells Fargo branch.

    Regards,

    Jim

    Heartbreaking to watch hero of the white patriarchy Humphrey Bogart shoot indigenous freedom fighters…

    • #25
    • September 18, 2019, at 9:25 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  26. Old Bathos Member

    She (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    I think Stan Greene should get some kind of award. He certainly gets California’s zeitgeist right, if not the facts. And, besides, do we care about facts anymore? I don’t think so.

    Apparently not, at least if you’re on the Left:

     

    Joe! He was always a champion of those who sought the overthrow the tyranny of factual integrity but he has recently reached out to the innumerate as another cognitively deformed constituency to be added to his following. All those years working in British coal mines as a youth may have cost him more than a few grey cells.

    • #26
    • September 18, 2019, at 9:30 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  27. James Gawron Thatcher

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    Heartbreaking to watch hero of the white patriarchy Humphrey Bogart shoot indigenous freedom fighters…

    OldB,

    I understand your concern. Here he is sexually assaulting a young innocent woman.

    Hopefully, the NY Times will do an expose on this right away.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #27
    • September 18, 2019, at 9:37 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  28. Old Bathos Member

    James Gawron (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    Heartbreaking to watch hero of the white patriarchy Humphrey Bogart shoot indigenous freedom fighters…

    OldB,

    I understand your concern. Here he is sexually assaulting a young innocent woman.

    Hopefully, the NY Times will do an expose on this right away.

    Regards,

    Jim

    LAUREN BACALL!! She was only 20 when that flick was made. Hell of a debut. 

    • #28
    • September 18, 2019, at 10:08 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  29. Gary McVey Contributor

    I knew it was a fake the second I heard about it, because I live here. It’s like seeing a quote from the HuffPo that gun owners literally worship their weapons; if you’re an actual gun owner, you’re probably less inclined to believe the story. If you’re an actual HuffPo reader, you bought it on sight. “Yes! It’s just sooo true of those people!!”

    EDIT: BTW, in case it’s not already obvious, the Observer and the Lookout are competitors who never have anything good to say about each other. It’s a frequent source of entertainment when they tangle.

    • #29
    • September 18, 2019, at 11:52 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  30. Henry Castaigne Member

    As always, Remy should be referenced.

    This is a real headline, Parents are Divided on Whether It’s Okay to Let Their Kids Dress as Moana for Halloween.  There is a similar controversy if white kids want to dress up as Black Panther.

    • #30
    • September 18, 2019, at 12:16 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
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