Matteo: Stop stealing my culture

Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

As an education reporter in the 1990s, I frequently covered cultural fairs at elementary and middle schools. This was a way for students to learn about and experience cultures that were not their own. Students would prepare ethnic foods, report contributions in literature, technology and other areas as well as dress in costumes that were unique to the cultures they were representing.

I saw a lot of smiling, learning and understanding at these events. Hand wringing, frowning and accusations of cultural theft were noticeably absent at the events that I covered. Today, the left has taken this once positive event, which actually promoted cultural understanding among young people, and has turned it into something that they find despicable and offensive.

Accusations of theft from so-called progressive individuals who take offense at someone wearing a costume from a culture that is not their own are commonplace in today’s woke world. Despite this stance, those who subscribe to this hypocritical ideology are the first ones to make the claim that it’s ok for someone to change their gender or dress as the sex they believe they are vs how they were born.

Isn’t it a bit odd, given the premise that if you act in a way that is different from how you are identified by these self-serving appropriation police, you are engaging in some sort of larceny?  If a biological man dresses as a biological woman or a biological woman dresses as a biological man, isn’t that sexual appropriation? I’m guessing that the caveat here involves how the person “identifies,” so if it is a “genuine” desire to copy the mode of dress of someone you are not, it’s not theft. That would appear to be the only defense that could be provided for the reason why dressing in cultural garb is theft because you don’t really identify as that culture; it’s just for show.

When Kim Kardashian came under fire for wearing braids or wearing a kimono, cultural appropriation accusers were quick to take to Twitter (such a courageous act) to condemn her for her hairstyle or the fact that she wore clothing that didn’t conform to her own ethnicity.  Bad Kardashian!

So let’s play the cultural appropriation police game and expand their definition of appropriation as the prohibition of wearing clothing, grooming (as in cleanliness of appearance, not indoctrination by pedophiles) using technology or engaging in any behavior or lifestyle that doesn’t conform to the ethnicity in which you were born. In other words, you can’t use technology, dress, or use expressions etc. that are not a part of your ethnic heritage.  You can’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day if you aren’t Irish, or Chinese New Year if you aren’t Chinese. So, in addition to cultural appropriation, we will add linguistic appropriation, holiday appropriation, and technological appropriation and will put this all under the category of “lifestyle” appropriation.

Given this “logic” the only people who are allowed to use paper are Chinese people since paper was first conceived in China by Cai Lun. The only people who are allowed to read mass-produced books should be Germans because Johannes Guttenberg invented the first printing press. If you go to the doctor and have your heartbeat heard by a stethoscope, you better be French because this was an invention of Rene Laennec of France. The only people allowed to use batteries are Italians because the first battery was created by Alessandro Volta, and since we’re discussing copying things, only the Welsh can use copy machines because the first copy machine was created by Welshman, George Stephenson.

The list goes on and on, but the point is the absurd nature of claims of theft by those who believe that it is ok for children to change their bodies, but it’s a crime for people to change how they dress.

I guess that proponents of the notion of cultural appropriation have never heard the proverb that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” As society is broken down into all of these splinter groups who have nothing better to do but find fault, blame, criticize and censor, who benefits from this type of totalitarian attitude? If one admires a mode of dress, a lifestyle or something about someone from another culture, why is it harmful for that person to adopt it?  Once again those who are staunchly in support of choice when it comes to reproductive rights have a very odd view of a person’s freedom to choose what to wear or the hairstyle they believe makes them look and feel attractive.

Ardent critics of people accused of cultural appropriation are those “wise women” of the View (sarcasm intended) whose identity politics dominate everything that comes out of their mouths. Two of the members could be accused of “name appropriation” as Sunny Hostin’s original name was Asuncion Cummings, and Whoopi Goldberg’s original name was Caryn Elaine Johnson. Goldberg, given this left-wing logical conundrum, might also be accused of religious appropriation since her name change was also accompanied by a change in her religion.

The left-wing loonies have a very odd way of understanding theft. They are the first ones to justify shoplifting, which is true theft, but will get their collective panties in a wad over a non-Mexican wearing a sombrero on Cinco de Mayo. They will defend looters but will chastise Halloween partygoers for their choice of costume. Should I feel guilty for my desire to eat Chinese food if I’m not Chinese? At what point does this madness end?

The constant finding of fault and subsequent seeking to blame others or accuse them of theft, but ignoring real theft is common to people who live in fantasy lands. They create new words to maximize the good feelings they get from claiming they are oppressed and have some kind of catharsis when they point fingers and accuse others of being insensitive. Their labeling, name calling and censorship of conservatives are ok, but if they were treated in the same manner they’d curl up into the fetal position and cry about injustice.

With all of the serious issues facing the country and a midterm election on the horizon, one would think that there are far more important things to worry about, but the fashion police are ever-present. With Halloween a few weeks away, they are licking their chops at how they can feign offense by the choices people make for a holiday that is all about fantasy. Sadly, I guess when you live in a make-believe world 365 days per year, you can’t tell the difference between what is real and what is not.


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