The Intellectual Inconsistency of Championing Diversity While Condemning “Cultural Appropriation”

Mark J. Perry – July 16, 2018

Frequent CD commenter Morganovich shared some comments by email yesterday, which inspired the Venn diagram above. With permission, I’ve taken the liberty of expanding Morganovich’s commentary supplemented with some of my own comments but giving him full credit for the main thrust and most of the text below. Here’s Morganovich:

I had a moment of clarity last weekend and realized something. The very same folks that love and laud the benefits of “diversity” (while never really explaining or proving what those benefits are) are the same ones who will hector you to death for engaging in what they call “cultural appropriation.” How can this not be seen as the most fundamental contradiction and blatant intellectual inconsistency (see Venn diagram above)?

The main benefits of cultural diversity would seem to result from being able to selectively adopt the best and most interesting ideas and practices (e.g., food, fashion, music, language, etc.) from everyone and every subculture in a society and imitate and use them – out of admiration for the diversity those subcultures have to offer others.

At one point, eating a burrito in most parts of America was probably both rare and weird. Then, burritos and Mexican food got enthusiastically “appropriated” by Americans, became absolutely mainstream cuisine over time (e.g., Chipotle). To our collective benefit, a foreign culture became less strange and more accepted by Americans, to the point that salsa eventually started outselling ketchup.

Isn’t this what we want? Isn’t this what any subculture should want? If people say “Hey, that’s a very attractive style of dress or hair style! I’d like to dress like that or wear my hair like that!” they are paying you a huge compliment of admiration and imitation, not trying to steal or “appropriate” anything from you.

For example, there was the recent uproar when Utah high school student Keziah Daum was harshly criticized and accused of cultural appropriation by some for wearing a Chinese-style dress to her prom . . .

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