Halloween is over for another year, but it is not quite as it used to be. This year, Disney’s Moana, an animated film about the adventures of a Polynesian girl, has been used by social justice warriors (SJWs) to highlight the issue of “cultural appropriation”, meaning that non-Polynesian fans of the film were out of luck if they wanted to dress up as their hero while avoiding being labelled as racist.
And a Polynesian girl is not the only costume considered off limits: an article which appeared on CNN’s website this week is a good example of how wide the net of cultural appropriation has been cast, and how easy it is to offend the hyper-sensitive left, listing as it does a number of costume choices which we are supposed to avoid for fear of treading on the toes of the SJW brigade.
According to the article, Blackface is considered “overtly offensive”, which is no surprise. In Britain anno 2017, if you black up your face you can be prosecuted for a hate crime. Leaving aside the absurdity of criminalising fancy dress, there are of course historical connotations to blacking up which are certainly racist in nature – but the social justice movement takes tings much further: they deny any allowance for seeing things in context. It follows that the act of painting your face dark is inherently racist, even if you are just a 10-year old white kid dressing up as Jay-Z for Halloween.
The author then goes on to identify “terrorist costumes and Native American headdresses” as obvious “bad ideas” for dressing up. Terrorists are certainly not nice guys, but neither were pirates or Vikings – are they off limits too? Then there are Native Americans. I suspect many kids are fascinated with the American Indians and their culture (I know I was) and root for them when watching old-fashioned westerns. How sensitive do you need to be to get offended by an 8-year old dressing up as his heroes? Put a feather in your hair and you are a racist? How about seeing it for what it is: an accolade, a celebration of someone else’s culture. What on earth is the problem? And it gets worse. Next up is men dressing up in “adult granny” costumes. Good old-fashioned fun? Not according to the SJWs. Citing Good Housekeeping, the article calls such costumes “transphobic”. Apparently, Walmart removed them from sale. Many a great comic is spinning in his grave.
The question, of course, is why Halloween (and fancy dress in general) has all of a sudden become politicized? This is the explanation we are offered:
In March, Kimberly Griffin, an education professor at the University of Maryland at College Park told Inside Higher Ed that students of color may feel more sensitive to or threatened by appropriations of culture as the climate of hate and social justice changes around them.
“While they have long experienced marginalization, Latino, black and Native American students are living in campus communities that are perhaps more openly hostile than they once were,” she said. “They are also managing and navigating political rhetoric and policies that are often at best marginalizing, and at worst, racist.”
What an earth is Ms. Griffin talking about? Is she seriously claiming that universities are more hostile to minorities than in decades past? That it was easier being a black student 30 or 60 years ago? According to her University of Maryland profile page, Ms. Griffin’s research interests include “access and college experiences of Black immigrants.” She can’t have been researching very hard. And what about outside college campuses, or other minorities? Was society more welcoming of transsexuals in the 1980ies? The only reason why people could even dream up such preposterous ideas is the politization of “social justice”, which is responsible for coming up with the concept of “cultural appropriation” in the first place. It is an invented transgression which is really just an excuse for being offended; an invitation to see injustice where none exists and a complete lack of placing things and actions in context.
The rampant SJW agenda is forcing us to see innocent deeds as politically motivated. It is forcing pre-teen kids to relate to whether they are white or black, when all they want to do is have fun with their friends. Do we really need to explain to a white kid why his black friend can be Usher, but he can’t be Jay-Z? The left sees actions which violate basic rights as being virtuous: taxation, they will argue, is not theft. On the other hand, using images or objects from other people’s culture – actions which violate no actual rights – they do see as theft, as if culture is somehow the private property of those who belong to a group which descends from whoever practiced it historically (and all of a sudden, property rights do matter to the left). To make the lack of moral consistency complete, they obviously do not extend this principle to anything from predominantly white cultures. So no, cultural appropriation is not a thing – it is an imagination; a tool for creating moral outrage and further an agenda of Cultural Marxism. Nothing else.