Much ink has been spilled on the phenomenon called “cultural appropriation” – or rather, the way today’s social justice warriors have now identified this as a great “sin,” and use the standard shaming and peer-pressure techniques to shut down anyone who borrows from a culture that isn’t “theirs.” And yet, this is how cultures have always evolved – at least as far back as Roman times, and beyond into the borders of prehistory. Where did the strange and unnatural idea come from that cultures were static things that could not be experienced or dynamically merged, and what are the implications?

There are a ton of logical problems with the basic Cultural Appropriation mindset, of course – starting with, how do we determine which culture is rightly someone’s birth culture? Is it family? Is it DNA? If it’s DNA, how much should qualify? And, if this line of inquiry is vaguely disturbing, it’s meant to be – it’s the same kind of argument that was once used to determine whether a person was black in the old South. But assuming we can get past that noisome misuse of genetics, is there any real point to the SJW outrage over cultural appropriation?

Let’s first look at what the social justice warriors themselves use as a justification for this shaming practice. The claim is that the cultures being unjustly “appropriated” are fragile, and that by “stealing” them, the “stealers” are depriving the “authentic” representatives of that culture of just compensation. Remember, for example, the recent case of a pair of women in the Seattle area who started a burrito cart — and were eventually driven out of business because they were boycotted. Reason? Cultural appropriation! The women were white, you see, not Mexican.

This is bad enough reasoning – because the strength and vitality of a cultural practice is best measured by how many people choose to adopt it, and thus the SJW theory would seem intensely counterproductive at first glance. Look deeper, however, and one finds that the goals of the Cultural Appropriation pogrom are not as stated. Oh, for certain, many SJWs don’t get beyond the “cultural appropriation is bad” level of facile thought. But I’m convinced that these SJWs are, at best, what’s commonly known as “useful idiots.” There is a core of Leftists that are driving the PC engine — perhaps the same core who have been so successful at changing campus culture to the point where free speech is forbidden if anyone objects to it for any reason. These Leftists, who are ensconced in academia and journalism, have a single overriding goal: the disassembly of the edifice of Western Civilization, one brick at a time. Their targets include cultural achievements such as freedom of expression, the justice system, and equality under the law.

But why stop there? In making “cultural appropriation” a “sin,” this group is trying to turn what remains of American culture into a “dead” culture that nobody practices. They are fighting the ideal of a “melting pot” not because they wish to preserve threatened cultural practices, but for the opposite reason: they wish to destroy what had been America’s majority culture, and have it die out.

This isn’t my original idea. Indeed, this was an explicit strategy that the Soviet Union used to try and destabilize the United States during the Cold War. The strange thing is that it appears that the Soviet Union actually succeeded — albeit a full generation after the Berlin Wall fell.

Karl Wright

About Karl Wright

I am a long-time software engineer, with wide-ranging interests including music, the sciences, politics, economics, and medicine. I've been active for a decade in the open-source community and I work for a major mapping company.


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