Thursday, May 3, 2018

The Perils of Cultural Appropriation

From time to time Tucker Carlson provides his viewers with a special treat. That treat is named Cathy Areu. Carlson calls her his special Sherpa, someone who travels up the mountains of politically correct thinking and reports back.

The irony is palpable, though Areu seems actually to believe what she spews. If she does, this makes her a zealous mental midget. With very big hair, incidentally.

If we did not hear it with our ears, we might imagine that those of us who denounce the dumbing down of American education by a brain dead educational establishment are making it up. The facts themselves, measured in educational outcomes, are so bad that, sad to say, we are not.

One understands the method behind this dereliction. If you keep students dumb and dependent you will have a much easier time controlling their minds. The truth is that if you want to learn how to think you should read writings by people who are great thinkers. You should avoid writers who cannot think. And you should not expect to learn how to think by reading the labels on soup cans.

Similarly, if you want to learn how to write, you should read the writings of people who are great writers. Reading mediocre, clotted prose will teach you to write sub-literate prose.

It makes no difference that they look like you or your mother, or that they do not resemble anyone in your family or in your identity politics cult. Great writing is great writing. Learn to live with it. Especially, learn to learn from it.

Obviously, this countercultural argument turns into fairy dust the minute you ask whether a non-Christian should ever study Newtonian physics, given that Newton was a pious Christian? And should a non-Jew study the theory of relativity, given that Einstein was a Jew. We recall a time when books written be Jews, regardless of merit of quality, were thrown on bonfires, the better to purge alien thoughts from pure German minds.

On last night’s Tucker Carlson Tonight show, leftist Sherpa Cathy Areu weighed in on the case of one Keziah Daum. Daum, you see, posed in her prom dress on her Twitter account. The dress was a cultural product of China.

Naturally, college students who have learned nothing more than how to behave like insolent brats attacked the high school debate champion for cultural appropriation. By their dim lights, and by Areu’s, non-Chinese Americans are not allowed to wear such things unless their consciousness has been sufficiently raised. That means, unless they understand that the dress is part of the systematic oppression of Chinese workers by predatory Western capitalist imperialists. Please do not write to explain that such is not the case: we are running on dogmatic belief, not on fact. And do not think that the dress represented a gesture of feminist rebellion against despotic authorities.

For the record, and in order for you not to become overly confused, cultural appropriationism says that what’s mine is mind and what’s yours is yours—culturally speaking. You can only borrow my culture with permission and only then if you have babbled suitably politically correct platitudes. Anyway, it’s all ancestor worship… meaning that you must cling to the products of your culture and must reject that anyone else from a different culture who exploits or uses them or even adopts them. Funnily enough, this makes cultural products into private property.

Daniel Greenfield gets at the essence of the issue on Front Page Magazine. (via Maggie’s Farm) He checks the reports on this unimportant cultural debate coming out of China itself, and finds the perfect title to explain it all:

Chinese Baffled by Marxist Dictatorship American Live Under.

Now that will make the chests of good American leftists swell with pride.

He quotes the story in the South China Morning Post:

Keziah Daum, an 18-year-old from Utah in the United States, who has no Chinese roots, was accused of “cultural appropriation” after posting photographs on Twitter that featured her in a traditional Chinese qipao, or cheongsam. 

The dress symbolised a silent protest to promote gender equality after the fall of the dynasties and the beginning of the republican period in the early 1900s, and was worn during the 1919 reformist May Fourth Movement.

The dress, in other words, made a political statement in 1919. Today’s it's a fashion statement... signifying female empowerment. 

Since you are undoubtedly curious, the SCMP addresses the more salient issue: what do today’s Chinese think of Daum’s dress. Apparently, they have nothing better to do with their time but to opine about American high school students’ prom attire.

“Very elegant and beautiful! Really don’t understand the people who are against her, they are wrong!” one person commented on an article by Wenxue City News. “I suggest the Chinese government, state television or fashion company invite her to China to display her cheongsam!”

“It is not cultural theft,” another wrote. “It is cultural appreciation and cultural respect.”

Weibo users added that Daum looked beautiful and criticised those who have accused her.

“Culture has no borders,” one wrote. “There is no problem, as long as there is no malice or deliberate maligning. Chinese cultural treasures are worth spreading all over the world.”

As it happened, the dress was banned during the Age of Mao Zedong and during the Cultural Revolution:

It fell out of fashion between the 1950s and 1970s, as those who wore it were judged as being bourgeois in a time of anti-tradition movements, but has since regained popularity.

With the recent promotion of traditional Chinese culture, the dress now embodies the idea of being ethnically Chinese. 

Peng Liyuan, China’s first lady and wife of President Xi Jinping, has worn a qipao several times on foreign visits.

There you have it… a gesture of respect for Chinese culture has been rejected as bourgeois by America’s young cultural revolutionaries. One thing we see: they are completely incapable of cogent thought.


sestamibi said...

Jeremy Lam tweeted: "My culture is not your goddamn prom dress!"

Sestamibi replies: "If your culture doesn't provide my dinner, a lot of your people's restaurants are going to go under."

Sam L. said...

"As it happened, the dress was banned during the Age of Mao Zedong and during the Cultural Revolution:..." It's an ANTI-MAO statement!!!111!! That'e even WORSE!!!11!!!!

whitney said...

That girl has a spirit of iron and fire I guess. Amazing she hasn't buckled under the pressure

autothreads said...

Jeremy Lam tweeted: "My culture is not your goddamn prom dress!"

Ronnie Schreiber aka Yaakov Rueven ben Aryeh Leib replies "Your first name is appropriated from Jews and you have also appropriated the European convention of putting family names last."

NB: Lam's original tweet had an F-bomb, not "goddamn".

Walt said...

To paraphrase T. S. Eliot, "Dare I eat a peach if I'm not from Georgia?"

Anonymous said...

Whitney @May 3, 2018 at 9:56 AM:

She will. Guaranteed. With a whole wake of pain.


Sam L. said...

Why so negative, Anon?