The Left’s new racism: cultural appropriation

Harry Styles as an Indian ChiefThanks to political correctness and multiculturalism, the vast majority of Americans and Europeans would never dream of saying anything negative about a racial or cultural group, other than straight white males or conservative blacks.  As to those last two groups, it’s always open season.  The rest of us, as I said, have been cowed.  But have we been cowed enough?  No!!!  A thousand time no.

Having weeded out and duly punished all overt statements regarding race, ethnicity or sexual orientation that could in any way be perceived as racist, sexist, or homophobic, the Left was in the scary position of being without a further crusade against free speech.  But really, it underestimates the Left to let something little like that stop them.

The newest crusade is the one against “cultural appropriation” (or “cultural misappropriation”).  Here’s the sin:  no white people are ever allowed to copy another culture.

Harry Styles, the heartthrob singer of boy group One Direction recently put on a feathered American Indian (no, wait, Native American; no, wait, North American Indigenous Person) headdress and Instagrammed the result.  It was quite obvious that he was not ridiculing Native American Indigenous People of North America.  He was, instead, admiring himself in a warrior’s headdress.  The usual suspects, however, went bonkers, accusing him of the newest evil:  “cultural appropriation.”

That story is a few days old, and I’ve been hanging onto it, looking for something else . . . and sure enough, I found it.  A theater in Philadelphia thought it would be exciting to stage Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar as a Japanese Bushido spectacle.  Makes sense.  For decades, producers have been putting Shakespeare in the Old West, the new slums, an imaginary 1930s fascist England, etc.  Shakespeare, after all, has the virtue of speaking to universal human things.

The race mongers, though, were not pleased.  A Japanese actor was absolutely furious that white actors would dare to misappropriate his culture:

Cultural appropriation

Summed up: You racist pig, you, for daring to copy aspects of my culture without (a) using only people from my culture and (b) doing it perfectly.

The theater organization responded as expected, groveling and calling for dialogue, instead of telling Hirano to take his hypersensitive self and walk away.

My translation shows who the real racist is: You dirty white people, you. You’re not good enough to aspire to my culture. I disrespect you solely based upon your skin color. Who do you think you are to pretend to be like me?

I think that’s about right.

(Sorry for the brevity, but I have to run.)

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  • JKB

    Dear Japanese person, 
    Don’t culturally misappropriate freedom of speech to speak out about cultural misappropriation.  
    And besides, regardless of the brochure, it sounds like they are doing an Asian Fusion version of Shakespeare, go protest P.F. Chang’s
    And in the immortal words of an American cultural icon, Foghorn Leghorn, “Go away, you bother me.”

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  • lee

    See recent Slate piece on belly dancing… though the comment section shows promise for the future of America: most of them think she’s a but and needs to get over it.

  • raymondjelli

    Talk about no guts. Kurosawa already did a Japanese take on Shakespeare with Ran based on King Lear. He also borrowed plenty of American ideas to make Japanese films. Cultural appropriation has been going on since very ancient times and makes job for anthropologists and archeologists as they trace the influences. Like all things academic and Leftist their arguments tend to mean they themselves should not exist. One we make sure all art and music is static and stays within the proper ethnic boundaries we can fire all the art critics, music critics, art history professors and so forth. Inspiration and experimentation is more about individualism anyway and isn’t suited for an Obama world.


    They can call it whatever they want and twist the words to suit the agenda of the month.
    It’s political/social autism – AND the clearest definition of autism is: It’s a disorder of neural development, characterized by impaired social interaction that is restricted and repetitive.

  • Gringo

     A Japanese actor was absolutely furious that white actors would dare to misappropriate his culture.
    We are talking about Japan, where the favorite sport is baseball.
    You know, the place where Vermont Curry is a popular food item and is also  an example of double appropriation- Vermont and India. What a combo.
    You know, the home country of Seiji Ozawa, that famed appropriator of Western music.

  • Ymarsakar

    Both the Chinese and the Japanese have very fine limits on what they consider their national patriotism, as well as culture.
    Thus, this is more of a diplomatic issue and a political one than a cultural or racial one. To the Japanese, nobody other than the Japanese are the Japanese. To actors though, they operate on pretend world.

  • Tara S

    I actually just read an interesting discussion the other day about white people appropriating the term “spirit animals.” Here it is, and if you don’t want to read the whole thing, at least take a look at the last response:
    (Not sure how to incorporate an HTML link here, sorry.)
    As an aside, I MIGHT understand if you’re objecting to somebody’s using a religious symbol, or a deeply meaningful traditional something-or-other, without giving any thought to it. I’m a Christian, and it does make me sad when people use crosses as fashion accessories without giving any thought to the meaning behind them (or, worse, as an ironic jab at Christianity). But I don’t think people are necessarily /wrong/ for doing it, and I certainly can’t drum up enough indignation to get angry about it, even though my faith is very important to me.

    • Tara S

      Oh, I should have warned for NSFW language at that link. Gratuitous use of the F-word ahoy, people. (Well, it’s Tumblr, so no surprise there.)

  • lee

    I’m also thinking that the Tokyo Ballet, the National Ballet of Japan and other Japanese ballet companies should close up shop. Not to mention orchestras performing classical music. Even works compose by Mamoru Samorugochi, because it’s still just appropriated. 

    • Ymarsakar

      A Japanese actor speaking English does not represent the national will of Japan. There’s a better case to be made that someone called Lee should get hit by Putin’s FIS because of Obama’s America.

  • Libby

    This has started with gender, too. Apparently Jared Leto has been getting flack for taking a role in Dallas Buyers Club that “should” have been portrayed by an actual transgender person.

  • sabawa

    I think the phrase ‘your panties are in a wad’  was invented for situations such as these.  Perhaps that’s the real rub……someone is upset, feeling out of sorts, and can’t quite put a finger on it so they dig hard at that guy over there.   Isn’t it ever possible to look at people wearing native garb or whatever it is and just think….ahhh, they like our style.   How nice?  

  • Charles Martel

    I don’t know how this got to me, but I found this  letter in my mailbox this morning from an enraged Grand Mufti of Jerusalem:
    Martel, pig killer of the Prophet’s (pbuh) proud warriors:
    You are herewith forbidden to appropriate Islamic culture’s most treasured and distinctive cultural practices. Failure to do so will result in the infiltration of your city’s public transportation system by unlicensed jihadist Somali taxi drivers:
    1. You may not behead with a clean cutting instrument. Doing so dishonors the Prophet’s (pbuh) clear instruction to always use a dirty blade.
    2. You may not lapse into illogic, as do your crazed feminists and Democrat “men” (Biden the Buffoon, Kerry the Gigolo, Obama the Gelding). Illogic (pbui) is the glorious purview of Dar-al-Islam.
    3. You may not beat your women with open or closed fists. Your debased literature, such as “50 Shades of Grey” (ptui) desecrates our time-honored woman-beating methods by reducing them to a mere means of sexual gratification instead of the Allah-praising activity the Prophet (pbuh) admonished us to engage in.
    4. You may not bomb Jews, even if Bill Ayers (ptui) feels the “need for some action.” The Prophet (pbuh) reserved that honorable service to Muslims only. Germans, Marxists, and self-hating Jews, no matter how fanatical or dedicated, may not culturally misappropriate the one thing we are better at than anybody else alive today.
    Martel, so that you may not totally lose heart, you are allowed those things that Muslim culture despises and considers shirk. They are:

    Your horrendous “God is love” parody of Allah, ruler of earth and Mongo
    Book publishing
    Toilet paper
    Pants on women (Hillary Clinton excepted)
    Pulled-pork sandwiches


  • Glenn

    I’m a long time resident of Tokyo, Japan.  No typical Japanese person that I know would care one iota about this production.  

    • lee

      That’s what I would suspect. I think any Japanese Theater people would find it interesting. Not quite the same thing but I saw productions of “View from the Bridge” in both Israel and France. Very interesting to see them–what they thought of Arthur Miller’s New York… Were the “culturally appropriating” American culture?

  • MacG

    Looks like the Dutch agree and do not want to be culturally appropriated

  • Danny Lemieux

    All over America, Asian students middle schoolers and high schoolers quietly and respectfully celebrated their newfound freedom from having to participate in culturally disappropriated orchestra and band classes.

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  • sailornaruto39

    While I do think this cultral appropriation PC bullshit thing needs to stop I think the Japanese guy had a valid complaint.
    How the hell are you going to have a japanese themed show and not have any japanese people and then a fully white cast stab the only black guy?
    That’s just poorly thought out.