Putting “cultural appropriation” in its place

I’m sure many readers know of the recent demise of a burrito shop in Oregon, after its proprietors were accused of ‘cultural appropriation‘ (CA) for using recipes they’d gathered in Mexico.  CA is the latest politically correct ‘buzz word’, and is running rampant in social justice warrior circles.

Brad Torgerson recently put CA firmly in its place.  Here’s an excerpt.

We’ve all seen the amusing Facebook meme: There are two kinds of countries in the world — those which use the metric system, and those which have landed on the Moon.

You could also easily say: there are two kinds of civilization in the world — the ones which culturally appropriate, and the ones which get left behind. Maybe even die?

It’s 2017, yo. Get your woke-ass panties out of your crack. Nothing you eat, read, listen to, drive, wear, or do for a living, was created in a vacuum. Each and every bit of your modern existence, is the result of people borrowing and stealing good ideas from somebody else. Doesn’t matter if it’s Hong Kong, or Paris, or San Francisco — every modern city is a gleaming, rich example of what happens when cultural appropriation is carried out with gusto.

Consider the nearest Chinese food establishment, employing Mexicans in the grill, a Filipino girl at the register, and serving food which bears little resemblance to anything anyone in China was eating a century ago. Because once people figured out how to jazz things up for an American palate, there was no stopping the culinary freight train. It was Mongolian Beef and General Tso’s from coast to coast. Ka-ching, ka-ching.

Did anyone ever ask the general if his recipe could be used for this purpose?

Hell no!

And it doesn’t matter anyway. The general’s descendants are over at KFC, eating the colonel’s chicken. While listening to South Korean hip-hop. Wearing synthetic clothing made from artificial fabrics invented by a company founded by a Frenchman. That same company also supplied almost half of the Union Army’s gunpowder, during the American Civil War. Gunpowder: another Chinese invention, imported to the West via Mongolian and Arabic means, and originally used for fireworks, as well as rockets. Rockets, which entered liquid-fueled prominence thanks to a New Englander named Goddard, as well as a German named Werner von Braun, who competed with a Russian named Sergei Korolev — to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of carrying hydrogen bombs to the other side of the world, but which put human beings onto the lunar surface instead.

So, there you have it. From Americanized Chinese food to Armstrong’s “One small step for man”. A cavalcade of glorious cultural appropriation, end to end.

There’s more at the link.  Go read the whole thing, and use it as ammunition if you run into CA fanatics in your area.



  1. Cultural Appropriation is what we do, it's built into our language! English doesn't just borrow words from other languages, it waylays them in dark alleys, mugs them and goes through their pockets for loose grammar.

  2. Clear Brad hasn't talked to enough astronauts. Some of them have collected things formed in a vacuum. Some have even created things in a vacuum. 😛

  3. A Hawaiian tiki bar & restaurant has recently been shut down for the same reason, once more in Oregon. These people are insane, and I'm disgusted that the owners are grovelling and apologizing for it.

  4. Consider for a moment the fireworks some of my neighbors were setting off a couple of nights ago, celebrating a USAian holiday (in glorious defiance of state and local laws).
    I'm pretty sure they bought their fireworks in Mexico, and that the fireworks were manufactured in China.
    Now, a fireworks factory in China may not sound culturally misplaced, but the style of colorful aerial shells we were seeing is of European origin (my history of pyrotechnics is rusty, but Italy springs to mind); development of display fireworks as we know them has passed hither and yon among Europe, Japan, and the U.S., with much of the manufacture ending up back in China where it all started.
    So! Celebrating with "illuminations" far more sophisticated and colorful than the Founders could have imagined (the chemicals for such things not having been available in 1776), largely developed as hand-crafted items in Europe and Japan, mass-produced in China, and smuggled in via Mexico.
    Sounds like a win all around, except for the Blue-Nosed Biddy Brigade.

  5. The sincerest form of flattery is imitation. CA is no different. If another group likes something I do enough to copy it, I must take that as a compliment. Why is this so hard for some to accept?

  6. Don't confuse the issue. Just stop it. This has nothing to do with anything but beating down Western Civilization. Nothing else.

    These attacks are directed only at the West- you know, the culture that invented and produced about 90% of all the advancements cherished by the world.

  7. Considering that both culture and appropriate are derived from Latin words, it is a rather ironic term.


  8. Read some books by James Burke. I'm currently reading "The Pinball Effect" but other, better known examples, are "Connections" or "The Day the Universe Changed." They are full of examples of one thing leading to another across cultures and across the world.

    I suppose if you can't accomplish something yourself stopping someone else is a way to feel superior. Idiots.

  9. suggest you not converse with the fools.
    it doesn't do you any good and only annoys the pig.
    they don't care about their ostensible cause.
    they just want to make as much trouble as possible.
    ignore them or have them arrested and get on with real life.

  10. I've said it before, I'll say it again. If cultural appropriation (in the way it's used today) is a thing, then I never want to see another one of these people eating a pizza, or a bowl of spaghetti, or fettuccini again without a DNA test and Elis Island records documenting the fact that they are first or second generation Italian immigrants. I want them out shutting down every Pizza Hut, every Dominos, every Little Caesar's, and every one of these newer hoity toity pizza joints (you know the ones that don't have sauce, they serve you a pie with sliced tomatoes on it instead). Once they have successfully shut down every chain and commercialized pizza joint in the country, then I'll believe they're serious about cultural appropriation.

  11. Let's put it more bluntly: we don't actually have any use for those cultures aside from what is useful to us.

    We will continue to "appropriate" what is useful to us.

    Nota bene to the shrill voices: if you care about "authenticity", convince whatever passes for your national government to come up with a "denomination of origin controlled" certification for the useful products.

    Otherwise, consider yourselves very, very lucky.

    Finnish people typically remind me that the only word from the entire Finnish language that has been "borrowed" (to use their preferred phrase) for use in English is the word "sauna".

    Anyone foolish enough to argue about "cultural appropriation" deserves what will happen to his or her culture as a result: people will cease to care about its made-up contentiousness, and will damn well leave it alone.

    Except, of course, for the tasty food.

    You can't have American-style "restaurant menu diversity" for Leftists without it. 🙂

  12. As someone who is genetically Han Chinese, I am unequivocally a Westerner. On the most fundamental level, I value and support the philosophical and moral underpinnings of Western culture. On the foolish superficial level of these taco-recipe bullies, I like (in no particular order) the transistor, the microprocessor, the internet, air conditioning, the electrical grid, clean running water, flush toilets, the internal combustion engine, automobiles, aircon in automobiles, antibiotics, vaccination, germ theory of disease, general anesthesia, CT scanners, MRI scanners, airplanes (though I hate what you have to go through to get on a commercial flight these days), radio, recorded music, baroque music in general, the printing press, print books, laser printers, flash memory, etc etc etc.

    So if you want to play the "this is part of my culture, EXCLUSIVELY" game then go right ahead and keep your taco recipes. Take them back with my profound apologies. But I demand that in return you give up all of the above (a by no means exhaustive list). I'll stick with MY culture and the stuff that comes with it. Idiots.

  13. Reblogged on Gunsmoke and Knitting (with links). Thanks for putting the issue back into perspective.

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