Leftists and indigenous activists have cranked up the cultural appropriation issue to eleven by taking their grievances to the United Nations.
Always searching for new conflicts to be upset about, they now want cultural appropriation to be made a globally enforced criminal offense.
One of the people spearheading this is James Anaya—dean of the University of Colorado Law School, who insisted that the final UN document should: “obligate states to create effective criminal and civil enforcement procedures to recognize and prevent the non-consensual taking and illegitimate possession, sale and export of traditional cultural expressions.”
It seems the Left’s “celebration of multi-culturalism” is no longer cool. Instead they condemn the idea and instead call it “cultural appropriation.”
Cultural cross-pollinations in fashion, music, food and art can be exciting, interesting and creative when they come together in new and innovative ways. But, being the world’s biggest nags, they are now seeking to shut down businesses, artists, fashion designers, musicians, and just regular people living their lives and creatively re-interpreting various cultures.
On one hand many will say the argument about “cultural appropriation” is purely one sided. That the attack is mainly on people of white and European heritage who are not allowed to “appropriate” because of “white privilege.”
Thus white girls in Oregon are not allowed to sell Tacos, white people are not allowed to grow dreadlocks and white people shouldn’t wear sombreros during Cinco de Mayo.
The way I see it, it’s simply sour grapes. Often times it comes down to the fact that these activists just want a cut of the money or the success derived from the use of those influences.
For instance, in 2012 there was a lawsuit brought by the Navajo Nation against Urban Outfitters for “appropriating” the name Navajo and for using what they considered to be Navajo patterns on items like a hipster panty, a flask, and some socks. They finally reached a settlement in the fall of 2016.
Navajo leader Russell Begaye then released this statement: “We applaud [Urban Outfitters] for acknowledging the validity of the Navajo Nation trademark and are glad we have settled this matter. The Navajo Nation is proud of its strong history and welcomes working in collaboration with [Urban Outfitters] and other retailers to highlight our unique culture.”
A suitably chastised Urban Outfitters then gushed that…“As a company, (Urban Outfitters) has long been inspired by the style of Navajo and other American Indian artists and looks forward to the opportunity to work with them on future collaborations.”
But here it is, nearly a year on, and if you go to the Urban Outfitters website to see what exciting new collaborations Urban Outfitters and the Navajo Nation have come up with, there is nothing at all associated with Navajo or Native American anything. And all those “wonderful” and “inclusive” statements above ended up as meaningless lip service. All this ruling actually did was shut down designers who admired and were inspired by Native American art.
Now, if you want to go to the Navajo nation and buy their items that’s fine, but the point is that they didn’t come up with the products that the young, urban, multi-cultural, liberal youth of today really wanted to buy. Urban Outfitters did. And for that they were punished.
The current mentality is almost like those murder suicide cases: “If I can’t have you, no one can.” Oh, the lament of the sore loser. It seems that having pushed us into the reality of a multi-cultural society, the left is imploding and is now trying to destroy what it once promoted.
What we are witnessing at the extreme end of the cultural appropriation agenda is cross-cultural, artistic mass murder/suicide. Imagining the many creative productions that would have been shut down and lost if today’s cultural appropriation thought police had been around in the past gives an idea of just how idiotic the whole debate is:
The most obvious ones are in the field of music as Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Eminem and for that matter any musician who is not black or a person of color would now be accused of “appropriating” black music. In art, the great French painter Paul Gauguin would have been admonished for “appropriating” Polynesian culture and women.
And, for that matter the entire Tiki/Polynesian Pop Culture phenomenon of the 1950s and beyond would never have happened. No Tiki bars or rum cocktails for you whitey!
Any foods that are considered “fusion” foods have clearly been “appropriated” also, and any chef, cook or company that dare make a food that they don’t share a bloodline with is also apparently “appropriating.” Gee, I made curry the other day… are the curry police going to come arrest me for criminal intent?
And then, of course, there is the fashion industry. Where does one begin listing all the cross pollination of cultures in fashion? It is endless and timeless—almost all fashion is inspired by other cultures and eras.
And to turn it around, maybe the Left could expand the whole appropriation concept to say that if the Navajo are living in houses rather than teepees, and driving cars, and not always wearing traditional dress, that they too are guilty of cultural appropriation.
And how about people of color? Can it also be said that they are “appropriating” phones, computers, planes, cars, medicine, clothes, and certain musical instruments because they were invented, made and designed by people of another race or ethnicity?
Cultural appropriation is a ridiculous notion and considering making it a criminal offense is pure insanity. It’s a crime against creativity, intelligence and innovation, which, in my book makes it a crime against humanity.
For those people who feel they have been wronged, why not take your culture and any other culture throughout history and create, innovate, manufacture and share! Instead of shutting down people, ideas and creativity, do something for yourself and contribute to this big wide world.