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Libertarians, Cultural Appropriation Bullies and Victimhood

Garry Reed combined a professional technical writing career with a passion for all things libertarian to become the Libertarian Opinionizer.

Cultural appropriation or cultural appreciation?

Cultural appropriation or cultural appreciation?

Commentary From Your Libertarian Opinionizer

When a culture's ideas don't get adopted into wider society, they die.
—Foundation for Economic Education

So much has already been written about the evils of cultural appropriation that it’s almost become a joke to everyone except the most hardcore progressive collectivist class war groupthink-identity victimhood-whining Social Justice Warriors (SJWs), many of whom are now assuming the title of Cultural Appropriation Bully (CAB).

For those hiding under rocks, the idea of this worldview is that anytime any member of a dominant society takes, uses, accepts or in any way whatsoever incorporates some item of a minority member’s cultural thing into his or her own cultural thing, it’s an act of evil and must immediately be publicly shamed.

Even the failure to publicly shame cultural appropriation must be publicly shamed.

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Defining Cultural Appropriation

No meaningful discussion can occur without defining what’s being discussed. Unfortunately, in attempting to actually define cultural appropriation, one has to wonder who owns their culture, who has the right to define it and how any definition can possibly be agreeable to everyone.

Here is one elite English establishment authoritative definition from the venerable Oxford English Dictionary:

Cultural Appropriation: Noun. The unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of the customs, practices, ideas, etc., of one people or society by members of another and typically more dominant people or society.

And here is one alternative definition from “the people’s own” Urban Dictionary:

Cultural Appropriation: “Cultural appropriation or cultural apartheid is an idea intended to keep the races and cultures pure. Contamination of the dominant culture by external influences must be rejected at all costs. Used extensively by the South Africans the idea fell into disrepute until revived by SJWs” (Urban Dictionary).


Origins of Cultural Appropriation

Cultural Appropriation is an invented modern version of an old Marxist thing in which the entirety of the world is divided into separate checkboxes, Oppressors vs Oppressed, Victimizers vs Victims, Privileged Groups vs Protected Groups.

In the US, all White people are automatically Victimizers, and non-White people are automatically Victims. This is starkly illustrated in the concept of “White privilege,” in which White people are privileged based solely on the Whiteness of their skin and nothing else.

While the original Old World European Marxism was based on class warfare between Capitalist Exploiter Bosses vs Capitalist Exploited Laborers American Marxists—calling themselves “left” or “progressive” or “Democratic socialist”—created an endless array of Oppressor-Exploitater-Victimizer shibboleths including racism, sexism, ageism, heightism, cissexism, homophobia, xenophobia, hatespeechism and many many more to be invented and named later.

shibboleth, NOUN, A custom, principle, or belief distinguishing a particular class or group of people, especially a long-standing one regarded as outmoded or no longer important (Oxford English Dictionary).

The American progressive worldview is that cultural appropriation—keeping in mind that only White people can possibly be racist—is a form of racism. In America, after all, racism sells better than classism.

Yet Cultural Appropriation Bullies out there don’t seem to care that if White Elvis and others like him hadn’t culturally appropriated Black soul, R&B and gospel music and Whitened it and introduced it as rock & roll to an entire nationwide generation of young people, Mowtown music might never have made it outside of Detroit and today’s rappers and hip-hoppers would likely not even exist today.

The bigger, wealthier, all-White Major League Baseball teams began buying out the contracts of Black players, beginning with Jackie Robinson in 1947, at prices well below their actual value, which led to the demise of the Negro Leagues.

Too bad there weren’t any CABs around back then who could have put an end to such despicable cultural appropriation activities and keep segregation alive, right?

Everyone builds on the culture they know, thereby helping to create ever new cultures. Everyone is an appropriator. So maybe everyone should just get over it.


Libertarians Take on Cultural Appropriation

Kitty Testa, writing in Libertarian Republic, took the high road and listed her “Top 5 Reasons Cultural Appropriation is a Beautiful Thing.” She first points out what ought to be considered a few incredibly simple facts of reality:

“Do you eat with a fork? Listen to music? Wear clothing and jewelry? Then you are a beneficiary of cultural appropriation, defined succinctly as “the adoption or use of the elements of one culture by members of another culture.”

She then proceeds to expand on each beautiful thing. Her top five reasons are:

  1. We’d all be living in caves if not for cultural appropriation.
  2. Fusion is better than friction.
  3. Cultural appropriation builds bridges instead of walls.
  4. Cultural appropriation increases economic success.
  5. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

In the Oppressor vs Oppressed scheme of logic, there are no individual rights, only group rights, and minority groups have more rights than majority groups.

Or, to paraphrase the pigs in George Orwell’s Animal Farm: All groups are equal, but some groups are more equal than others.


Positive Cultural Appropriations

Groups are made of individuals, and virtually every individual comes not from one specific, static, generic “people’s” or “society’s” or “ethnic” or “racial” culture but from their own personal mashup-up of a multitude of cultures. An individual might come from a culture consisting of Whites and Asians and Hispanics, Catholics and protestants and Jews, liberals and conservatives and other cultural backgrounds identified as small-town culture, rural culture, big crazy family culture, big-city culture, lower class, middle class, upper class or working-class culture and etc etc etc.

No one, especially in America, has come from one and only one culture, yet some people want to pin everyone down to just a single pre-identified culture.

“Cultural appropriation” is what has come to be known as a “social construct,” meaning that it’s something that exists not in objective reality but as a result of human interaction.

And everything that we call human culture is a result of centuries of human interaction. It’s still going on today and will hopefully—and almost certainly—continue as long as there are humans interacting with other humans.


We Are All Cultural Appropriators

Unfortunately for all of the Cultural Appropriation Bullies out there everyone is a cultural appropriator.

The earliest known human fossils so far come from Africa, making that continent “The Birthplace of Humanity.” As DNA science has become ever more refined and detailed we’ve discovered that every person on earth ultimately has African origins. And that includes all of the “indigenous peoples” in the Americas.

We Are All Africans
Discover magazine, 2016

This means that we all ultimately have the same culture: We all have human culture. This means when we pick up a tool, walk on two feet or cover our genitals we are guilty of cultural appropriation. It means everyone living today is guilty of cultural appropriation, including the Cultural Appropriation Bullies themselves.

Of course, this reality may be too logical, rational, reasonable, sensible for Cultural Appropriation Bullies who see the entire world through the prism of feelings, desperately trying to convince themselves how emotionally superior they are to everyone else.

So the only way libertarians can appeal to progressives out there in their Victimhood World is to remind them that libertarianism is a minority culture made up of the smallest minority of all—the individual—and therefore any negative responses from progressives or Cultural Appropriation Bullies puts them in the disreputable Oppressor category, making libertarians the favored Oppressed group.

The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.
—Ayn Rand

Black Racist Cultural Appropriation? Oops. In 2015 Africans accused Black Americans of cultural appropriation. A group of Kenyan men told Black Americans to stop appropriating African culture in films and videos released by the movie and music industries.

Coddled Campus Culture points out that no culture, even very isolated ones, has ever formed in a vacuum since culture is as much a product of exchange among disparate cultures as it is a product of internal innovation.

Cultural Appropriation Is a Good Thing: " 'Class struggle' is a powerful idea, and it’s entirely a function of group-identity. When you view people as individuals first, the differences between us seem minor and petty."

5 Reasons Why Cultural Appropriation Is Beautiful because it’s the very essence of the diversity, inclusion, acceptance and equality that progressives have been preaching at us for years. That includes sharing one’s culture, not restricting it.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2019 Garry Reed