Friday, June 15, 2018
The term "Cultural Appropriation" is an anticoncept. As such, it should not be taken seriously and you should question the motives of people who use it.
What exactly is an "anticoncept"?
Ayn Rand had a good definition (I am not an objectivist btw but she was right about this):
Anticoncept: an “artificial, unnecessary, rationally unusable term, designed to replace and obliterate some legitimate concepts – a term which sounds like a concept, but stands for a 'package-deal' of disparate, incongruous, contradictory elements taken out of any logical conceptual order or context.”
To use the parlance of our times, you could define an anticoncept as, "a thing that sounds like it should be a thing but isn't really a thing." The term "Cultural Appropriation" fits this exactly. It cannot be logically defined or consistently applied.
The core reason is because cultures cannot own specific inventions or practices. Cultures can't really own anything. If Japanese people bow to each other all the time, it does not follow that they now own bowing. Other cultures may independently start bowing or may choose to copy the Japanese. The verb, "appropriate," means "to seize, steal, or take possession of." This is simply not possible with cultural practices.
Let's try to consistently apply the term "Cultural Appropriation," in the way that progressives generally mean. Consider some of their examples - the white guy at E3 playing the Japanese flute, white people wearing cornrows, etc. The implication is that people should only play music and dress in a way that matches their ethnicity. If this is the case, then it follows that the greatest cultural appropriators are not whites, but rather non-whites. All over the world billions of nonwhites are using technologies invented by white people. Africans and Asians wear western style suits. Hispanics and Native Americans speak English, eat at McDonalds. Thousands of Chinese kids around the world play Violin and perform classical music written by white composers.
The Japanese got their writing system largely from the Chinese. Are they guilty of appropriation? Perhaps the statute of limitations has passed. When you study history one thing you find is that civilizations have been borrowing from one another since forever. Whether it is noodles, writing systems, horses, clothing, languages - every culture has "stolen" bits from other cultures. In many cases the culture that had their practice, "stolen" is delighted because it signifies their growing world influence.
If we try to apply the term "Cultural Appropriation," consistently, we end up tangled in knots. Who owns the right to use a smartphone? Who owns the right to wear a pencil skirt? Who owns the right to enjoy Samba music? Do we need to know the ethnicity of the person who created these things? What if it was many people? What if the person who invented Samba music was of one race, but the people who spread and enjoyed the music were of a different race? There is no consistent way to divide up the things people do into discrete, "practices" that can be "appropriated." I slurp my noodles loudly sometimes when I eat ramen. This is typical of Japanese culture. Am I appropriating them or am I just annoying? Almost everyone on Earth is guilty of some form of "Cultural Appropriation."
Yet notice that the examples of appropriation I gave - the flute guy and the cornrows - both were aimed at a white person. This is a very basic thing to notice about the term. Only white people can be guilty of cultural appropriation. No one would dare criticize a black guy who performs Beethoven, or creates classical sculptures, or wears western clothing. No one complains that Japanese are "appropriating" Jamaican culture by wearing dreadlocks (I see them in the parks here in Tokyo every weekend.)
Rand also once wrote, "Don't bother to examine a folly --ask yourself only what it accomplishes." So what does the term "Cultural Appropriation," accomplish? In the past, progressives encouraged whites to adopt and appreciate foreign cultures to encourage more multiculturalism and diversity. Now they use the term "Cultural Appropriation" as a bludgeon to attack whites and only whites. When they accuse whites of "Appropriation," what they really mean is that they just hate the success and attention garnered to a specific white person at that time.
Often the motivation is rather petty. Consider the recent controversy over the white girl who chose to wear a Chinese dress to prom. She was not singled out and attacked because of the dress. She was attacked because she is pretty. If she had been an overweight girl with Down's syndrome, everyone would have called her brave and cool. The same is true of Justin Timberlake or Katy Perry. No one would care about their, "appropriation" if they weren't wildly successful and popular.
In general, the best way to understand complex sociological terms like, "Feminism," or "Cultural Appropriation," is NOT to trust the dictionary definitions parroted by the true believers, but rather to look at what people do.
Multiculturalism we are told is about bringing various peoples together to share and learn from one another’s culture. You would think we should encourage whites to wear traditional clothes from other cultures and learn about foreign customs. Instead they are being condemned for their insensitivity. So white people are thus damned if they do and damned if they don't. If they refuse to explore nonwhite cultures and traditions, they are deemed racist and ignorant. If they do explore those cultures, they are guilty of “appropriation,” and are being insensitive and demeaning toward minorities.
When an ideological system (in this case 'progressivism') finds a way to constantly condemn a single racial group in all possible scenarios, it becomes reasonable to conclude that the ideology in question is simply hateful of that particular group.