It appears we don’t actually have a general thread for this particular pernicious piece of PC bullshit, so here goes:
Who polices culture to prevent appropriation? Is prevention even necessary?
The above article is thankfully rather critical of the whole cultural appropriation fad. That is not always the case. The funny thing is, when you fanatically “protect” some poor native culture from being appropriated, you may well be shooting them in the foot.
Imagine the following scenario: my people and I all dress in khaki, we proudly wear a kruithoring-en-voorlaaier badge as symbol, we walk around with a Bible under the arm, etc. etc. In short, we look like real Boere. Just across the border in Kwazulu, everyone dresses traditionally, live in huts and look very Zulu.
Now, imagine the Zulu are fiercely defensive about their culture, and they forbid me and my folks from ever wearing their kind of dress, or using loanwords from their language, or using Zulu decorative patterns in our clothes or houses, etc. We, on the other hand, do not mind at all if Zulu folks appropriate any bits of our culture that they like: they can convert to Christianity and read our Bible, they can wear our kind of clothes if they like, they can speak our language, etc, etc.
Now tell me, in a hundred years, which of these two cultures is going to be the one that remains standing? It almost follows from a sort of cultural law of thermodynamics: if you have two containers with a membrane between them that only allows particles from A to pass to B, but not the other way round, then everything ends up in container B. If you allow “oppressed” people to freely contaminate their culture with mine, but do not allow me to engage in reverse contamination, then before long the oppressed culture will have gone the way of the dodo.
Well, that may actually be a good thing, so perhaps we should not complain too much about the cultural appropriation police. I for one would much rather have the Zulu adopt my culture than I have any wish to adopt theirs.
But of course, the whole thing isn’t really about who owns which culture; it is just one more way to bash evil white people like me. I could decide to respect other cultures by solemnly undertaking to henceforth never appropriate any of them: I will not learn Zulu, I will never use loanwords, I will not use their decorations, etc. etc. I will completely ignore them and all other non-western cultures. Will that satisfy the PC police? Nope, because then I am ignoring and marginalizing these poor oppressed folks. I.e. there’s no way to win; damned if you do, damned if you don’t.