The Southern Poverty Law Center goes after cultural appropriation

How far the mighty have fallen, and how well the termites have dined! I am, of course, referring to the odious Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), once an important voice against racism and a major player in dismantling it in America. With tons of money but not so much work to do these days, they’ve taken on a distinct Authoritarian Leftist cast, making lists of “anti-Muslim extremists” that include Muslim reformers like Maajid Nawaz and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. (The SPLC quietly took down that list when Nawaz, a Muslim, threatened to sue.)

They also stash their millions of saved bucks in offshore bank accounts, which is legal but sleazy. You can see my posts on the SPLC here.

But now it’s not enough for the SPLC to make little lists of “Muslim haters”, for they’ve decided to start tut-tutting about cultural appropriation. Get a load of their recent tweet and the website they run:

I don’t think anybody who celebrates Cinco de Mayo thinks or intends for their celebrations to encapsulate “all of Mexican culture.” Yes. there can be stereotypes, and I deplore those, but I don’t know who has the right to distinguish between good or bad cultural appropriation.

If you go to the page they link to at “tolerance.org,” you find first that this is a project of the SPLC, though it’s in small print at the bottom of the page. Then you get a snooty little lecture about cultural tolerance that touts one incident of Mexico-bashing (an unwise attempt by Anglo students at a California high school to exacerbate tensions with Mexicans by wearing USA-flag teeshirts on Cinco de Mayo), but that also gives us the usual but bogus definition of cultural appropriation as “borrowing + power” (my emphasis):

Most of the festivities surrounding Cinco de Mayo in the United States are textbook examples of cultural appropriation, relegating the vast history and culture of Mexican people to a few novelty items. Mexican culture cannot be reduced to tacos, oversized sombreros and piñatas.

Cultural appropriation occurs when a person or other entity—a sports franchise, for example—claims as their own an aspect of a culture that does not belong to them. Doing so can, knowingly or unknowingly, deny the authenticity of that culture, particularly if it belongs to a marginalized group, and it can send harmful messages rooted in misinformation, prejudice and stereotypes.

Well, the incident the SPLC describes is manifestly not cultural appropriation but instead simple bias against Mexicans, despite the SPLC saying it’s an “example that shows how far the celebration of Cinco de Mayo has come from its original purpose of honoring Mexicans.” And yes, there can be cultural appropriation that is bigoted and harmful, but the Cinco de Mayo celebrations by non-Mexicans rarely cross that line. And why is the SPLC lecturing us on these things? It’s a task far removed from what they used to be good at.

And there’s a lot of stuff like this, too, which is meant to apply not to colleges, but to secondary schools:Should the SPLC be lecturing schools on the urgency of amplifying LGBTQ Asian identities in the classroom, and constantly? I don’t think so.

If you want to donate to an organization fighting for civil rights, I’d suggest the ACLU, not the SPLC. I wouldn’t give a penny to that offshore-cash-stashing pack of Pecksniffs.

h/t: John B.

87 Comments

  1. GBJames
    Posted May 7, 2018 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    Cultural appropriation is pretty much the same sort of crime as blasphemy.

    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted May 7, 2018 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      I would have said the same mainly about “hate speech”.

  2. Posted May 7, 2018 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    “But [b]noq[/b] it’s not enough for the SPLC”

    Typo.

    • Posted May 7, 2018 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      That’s ironic, pointing out a typo and using the wrong kind of brackets for the mark up…

  3. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted May 7, 2018 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Well, cultural appropriation CAN involve misinformation and stereotypes, but one source of ambiguity regarding the issue is that sometimes even when it does, it is still not malicious!
    The prime example there would be “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”.

    Furthermore, simply wearing the garb of a culture makes no assumptions about it either way, unless it is a stereotype. But while sombreros ARE a stereotype, the much controverted prom dress really is not!

    My favorite piece of bad though harmless cultural appropriation. When very young, Igor Stravinsky wrote the jazz-based “Ebony Concerto’. He had only seen jazz in sheet music, but never heard it performed. It’s actually fairly awful (I once had it on an vinyl LP), but I don’t think was malicious or created any harm.

    • Historian
      Posted May 7, 2018 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

      I’m not sure how you characterize “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” as an act of cultural appropriation except perhaps that it was written by a white women. Although the novel had many stereotypical characters, the essence of it was true. That is, it revealed to the people of the North the inherent cruelty of slavery, a situation the slave South tried its best to suppress.

      • JonLynnHarvey
        Posted May 7, 2018 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

        I was focused mainly on the stereotypical characters, many not just perpetuated by the novel but actually created by the novel, the mammy and the pickaninny.

        However, you are right that ‘appropriation’ is an inappropriate category.

        • Posted May 7, 2018 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

          I’m not sure how you can create a stereotype since a stereotype is, by definition, a cliched representation of a class of people. It’s only a stereotype when other people take it up. You can’t accuse the novel of using Uncle Tom stereotypes since those stereotypes didn’t exist prior to the novel.

          It’s like criticising Samuel Butler for using the ‘hackneyed’ opening line ‘It was a dark and stormy night’.

          • JonLynnHarvey
            Posted May 7, 2018 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

            True. (Although it was Edward Bulwyr-Lytton who originated “It was a dark and stormy night”.

            One can say I think that UTC was indirectly responsible for ingraining certain stereotypes into the American psyche.

            It’s more a case of problematic cultural depiction than appropriation.

        • Robert Bray
          Posted May 7, 2018 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

          What ‘Historian’ said + the reality that ALL of Stowe’s characters are stereotypes. [And, by the by, the novel was printed via stereotype plates on machine presses, allowing the inundation of more than a million copies in a very few years.]

  4. Posted May 7, 2018 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    … one incident of Mexico-bashing (an unwise attempt by Anglo students at a California high school to exacerbate tensions with Mexicans by wearing USA-flag teeshirts on Cinco de Mayo…

    Tensions at that school had been exacerbated by both sides, including employing the display of US & Mexican flags. Yet the school only prohibited the display of the US flag. The 9th District’s ruling in that case was atrocious, showing a disregard for the 1st Amendment, with a specious argument to circumvent the 14th Amendment.

    • Posted May 7, 2018 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      The only thing worse than cultural appropriation is apparently wearing your own cultural apparel.

      • Posted May 7, 2018 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

        Those anglo students were T-shirting down, while the latinx students were F-bombing up.

  5. John Crisp
    Posted May 7, 2018 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Oh dear. On the other hand, though I’m not an American, the ACLU’s support for Citizens United strikes me as deeply misguided, and probably more significant in its impact on US politics as a whole.

  6. DW
    Posted May 7, 2018 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    So you can’t wear shirts with the American flag on them in American schools on the 5th of May because that is “Mexico bashing”, AND you can’t celebrate Cinco de Mayo because that is cultural appropriation.

    • Posted May 7, 2018 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      Welcome to the Kafka novella of the SJW dystopia.

    • Adam M.
      Posted May 7, 2018 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      Not only that but it also seems opposite to say that stereotyping a group is cultural appropriation while defining it as “claim[ing] as their own an aspect of another culture that does not belong to them”. If you’re stereotyping then you aren’t claiming it add your own…

    • Posted May 7, 2018 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

      Nice summary of the situation!

    • AC Harper
      Posted May 8, 2018 at 9:17 am | Permalink

      It will soon be only appropriate to drink green beer on any day except St Patrick’s day.

  7. Posted May 7, 2018 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    From Tolerance.org:

    “Teach them about the long history of struggle in Mexico, a country that has been at war many times to protect its land and its people from conquistadors and the politics of Manifest Destiny.”

    They reify Mexico into some eternal, sentient being.

    Uhh, there was no “Mexico” when the conquistadors came, and it was the descendants of those conquistadors — who’d realized their own version of a ‘manifest destiny’ — who so gallantly failed to fight off the evil American imperialists.

    I’ve heard more accurate summaries of history from that cartoon dog and his Wayback Machine.

    And seriously, it’s always ‘struggle’ this and ‘struggle’ that. Can’t you all give it a rest once in a while, maybe with a margarita and some chips & salsa?

    • Historian
      Posted May 7, 2018 at 11:58 am | Permalink

      Make no mistake about it. The Mexican War (1846-1848) was beyond doubt a war of American imperialism, provoked by President James K. Polk for the purpose of acquiring new territory, particularly California, and opening these acquisitions for the expansion of slavery. Many Americans, mostly in the North, realized this and opposed the war bitterly. The aftermath of the Mexican War began the process that ended in the Civil War as the question of the expansion of slavery became the overriding political issue.

      • Posted May 7, 2018 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

        Please — it was a clash of two expansionist nations, both culturally European & indigenous-exploiting. That Mexico lost only makes it the unjustly ‘oppressed’ party in the alternate reality of the cultural marxists.

        • Historian
          Posted May 7, 2018 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

          I’m afraid your viewpoint is the alternate reality. Mexico had no claims on any American territory except perhaps a certain part of Texas. The war was provoked by James K. Polk. I find it amusing that right wingers such as yourself cannot resist bringing Marxism into every discussion, no matter how irrelevant it is.

          Here is one description of the cause of the war.

          “The primary causes of the Mexican-American War were mainfest destiny, westward expansion, economics, and slavery. Throughout the nineteenth century, Americans believed in manifest destiny, asserting that it was the United States’ right to expand westward and conquer territory despite the rights of the indigenous people already residing on the land. In the election of 1844, presidential nominee James K. Polk promised to re-annex Texas if he was elected President. Following the campaign, newly elected President Polk adopted the same policy of his predecessor, John Tyler, and aimed to annex Texas and other territories in the West. In addition, several American citizens previously settled in Texas since they believed the United States would eventually annex the territory. By settling in Texas, these individuals planned to sell their land at higher prices to Americans once the territory became part of the United States. Additionly, the settlers were able to profit from trade opportunities in the West. Another cause of the war was slavery. American citizens in the south wished to gain more “slave states” in order to increase their political power.”

          https://www.mtholyoke.edu/~jasingle/index.html

          • Posted May 7, 2018 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

            “Mexico had no claims on any American territory except perhaps a certain part of Texas.”

            Wait…wasn’t the period in California between the early 1820s and 1848 known as the “Mexico Period” where much of the current state was a possession of Mexico?

            • Posted May 7, 2018 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

              Oh, wait (me)… I think you were saying Mexico had no claims on territory the U.S. had already decided was theirs? I think I misunderstood you as it seems unlikely you would not have considered California’s history.

              • Historian
                Posted May 7, 2018 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

                At the start of the war California belonged to Mexico. As its result, the United States acquired it.

              • Posted May 7, 2018 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

                “At the start of the war California belonged to Mexico. As its result, the United States acquired it.”

                Ok, then please square this statement with;

                “Mexico had no claims on any American territory except perhaps a certain part of Texas.”

                I think I am missing your point.

              • Historian
                Posted May 7, 2018 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

                For mikeyc:

                The Polk Administration believed in the concept of Manifest Destiny, which stated that the United States was destined to expand to the west coast. California belonged to Mexico; the United States wanted it. War was a way to achieve this end since Mexico didn’t want to sell it to the United States. The United States had recently annexed Texas, which had achieved independence from Mexico in 1836 and established itself as an independent republic. Thus, it became a state and the Republic of Texas not longer existed. The Texans supported annexation. However, the United States and Mexico disagreed as to the southern boundary of Texas. This dispute was used by Polk as the pretext for going to war.

              • drew
                Posted May 7, 2018 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

                Right, but Mexico conquered California shortly before the US took it from them. Doesn’t that put them squarely in the imperialist camp as well?

                I don’t argue the point that the Mexican-American war was one of imperialistic expansion but both the US and Mexico at the time were each racing to wrest control of land away from indigenous peoples.

                It seems disingenuous to claim that one imperialistic power was victimized by another imperialistic power because their previously stolen land was stolen from them in turn.

          • Historian
            Posted May 7, 2018 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

            By the way, Lincoln vehemently opposed the war. I guess that made him a cultural Marxist.

            • Craw
              Posted May 7, 2018 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

              He did, he called it wicked. But that is orthogonal to the claim Mexico was also an expansionist power which had fought its own wars of conquest.

              • GBJames
                Posted May 7, 2018 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

                There are precious few nations that haven’t been involved in wars of conquest. It is a central feature of human history.

              • Historian
                Posted May 7, 2018 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

                I do not know what wars of conquest Mexico was engaged in. When Mexico won its independence from Spain, California and other lands in the now American southwest came under its jurisdiction. It was Spain, not Mexico, that conquered these lands. In any case, the issue at hand is whether the United States used force to conquer territory legally owned by Mexico? The answer is yes. Of course, many nations have engaged in imperialism. One only needs to look at the history of Africa. It is historically false to argue that the United States somehow was different from these other nations. They were all looking to conquer territories for reasons of expansion and access to raw materials.

          • XCellKen
            Posted May 7, 2018 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

            I have known Matt for several years from a couple of other sites. To call him a “Right Winger” is a gross moisrepresentation

            • Posted May 7, 2018 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

              When you’re on the radical left, everyone else on the political spectrum looks ‘right wing.’

          • Posted May 7, 2018 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

            1) I’m not a conservative;

            2) I brought neo-marxism, with its inability to perceive anything except through its narrow lens of oppressor-oppressed, into the discussion;

            3) It was eminently relevant;

            4) How do ya think Mexico owned California and Texas in the first place?

        • Posted May 7, 2018 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

          The fact that Mexico was built just as much on genocide as the US was is inconvenient for the narrative.

          • Historian
            Posted May 7, 2018 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

            Whether or not Mexico engaged in genocide is totally irrelevant, a distraction to the issue at hand. The question is whether the United States started a war with Mexico to gain territory that the latter legally owned. The answer is unquestionably yes.

            • XCellKen
              Posted May 7, 2018 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

              The Native Americans might dispute the legality of the Spanish, and later Mexican, claims to the land in question

            • Posted May 7, 2018 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

              The question I raised was whether the neo-marxists at tolerance.org were correct to: 1) conflate the Aztec city states with the modern Mexican Republic, or;

              2) portray the Mexico of 1846 as a valiant, noble underdog struggling against an evil imperialist oppressor — as opposed to one of two competing expansionist states, which had recently conquered its southern neighbors in Central America, had aspirations to conquer Cuba, and was scheming to retake a province that had rebelled in response to Mexico’s heavy-handed rule.

              • Historian
                Posted May 7, 2018 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

                I am not going to waste any more time rebutting your bizarre view of American history. But, I will just say that in contrast to the Walt Disney “Davy Crockett at the Alamo” view of the Texas Revolution, a primary reason for the revolt was that the Anglo residents wanted slavery allowed in Texas, which the Mexican government prohibited. When the revolt succeeded, slavery was enshrined in the Republic of Texas’ constitution.

                The Mexicans were not valiant or noble, but neither was the American government in 1846. The fact is that military force was used to strip Mexico of about half its territory. A very significant minority of Americans in 1846 considered the war evil, which it was.

              • Posted May 8, 2018 at 9:54 am | Permalink

                So far, the only view I’ve expressed about American History has been to observe the US was expansionist in the 19th century.

                My only comment on the Texas revolution was that Mexico’s administration of its Tejas province was heavy-handed — a statement of fact. But I will add that slavery was one, but not the only factor, and that Mexican residents of Texas also supported the revolution.

                If your definition of “evil” is ‘expansionist’, then pretty much every nation in the 19th century was ‘evil’, Mexico included.

                You seem to fixate on the resulting introduction of (Evil) slavery into Texas. Yet Mexico’s conflict with the US was not about its opposition to slavery, so cannot earn it ‘Good’ status, especially considering its gross social inequality and treatment of indigenous peoples.

                Overall, like the neo-marxists at tolerance.org, you seem to view history as a power struggle between Good vs. Evil players. That is a simplistic, ideologically-driven, and faulty approach. The world is much messier than that.

              • GBJames
                Posted May 8, 2018 at 7:02 am | Permalink

                Seems to me that you guys are in some sort of violent agreement.

              • Posted May 8, 2018 at 9:58 am | Permalink

                Impossible! I’m an evil right-winger, slavery apologist, and Fess Parker fanboi.

  8. Historian
    Posted May 7, 2018 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    If a person or group of one culture mocks, demeans, or stereotypes people of another culture then you do not have cultural appropriation; you have cultural misrepresentation and that should be condemned. Cultural appropriation is a good thing when one person or group of a culture honors another culture by adapting the latter’s traditions to enrich its own. This business about certain people “owning” a culture is ridiculous and dangerous.

    I suspect that the SPLC is unwittingly contributing to the fracturing of American society. Blatantly ignorant of history, it seems to think it is a good thing for people to think their primary loyalty lies with their culture rather than society as a whole. No nation can experience harmony with such a mindset. Ultimately, the society will descend into chaos. On the right, Trump and his appeal to white nationalism is contributing to this situation. The bonds that are holding together American society are fraying. Few people seem to care enough to counteract this trend. Indeed, most of them are pulling at the threads. But, when the ground opens up, many of them will regret their ignorance and foolishness.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted May 7, 2018 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      A recent poll showed that 25% of the population has not read a book in the past year. If you can get 25% to admit to this it is very likely higher, more probably 35%. And if a person had not read a book in the past year, that could probably be extended as well. Trump admits he is one who does not read and it shows. Jefferson insisted a well educated public was essential to a democracy.

    • Paul S
      Posted May 7, 2018 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      That’s overly broad. RCC is a culture, they even have their own country to hide pedophiles. Nazism was a culture as well. Stereotypes can be true.
      Just because I’ve mocked a culture doesn’t mean I’ve misrepresented it.
      A persons culture is like religion and tattoos, if you keep it to yourself I don’t care what you do. If you want to show it off in public, that’s your choice, but you don’t get to dictate how I respond. I may like it, I may not, but either way, you’ve invited my response.

    • nicky
      Posted May 7, 2018 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

      Excellent point, mocking other cultures (wearing moustaches and sombreros etc.) has nothing to do with ‘cultural appropriation’. It maybe loathsome and, more often I guess, just bad taste, but appropriation it is not.
      As said earlier, cultural appropriation is taking something from a culture, making money out of it, and not sharing the benefits with the originators. A quite clear concept.
      The pecksniffers have reduced a useful term to meaninglessness again.
      Bravo, SPLC! (Oops, that ‘Bravo’ almost certainly is ‘cultural appropriation’) How idiotic can one get?

      • GBJames
        Posted May 7, 2018 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

        I disagree. Your definition is NOT a quite clear concept.

        Culture is shared ideas. There are no ideas that in any sensible way “belong” to one culture and don’t “belong” to another.

        People share ideas. We call these ideas “culture”. Nobody owns any of them (except in the world of copyright and trademark law).

        I was going to agree with you with regard to mocking people. But even there I have trouble. And I suspect you, too, are fine with mocking people… some of the time. (I’m going to wager that you don’t have a problem with mockery pointed at Pat Robertson or Donald tRump.)

        • nicky
          Posted May 7, 2018 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

          Ok, maybe not that clear a concept, what is clear is that mocking people is something different. In most of the discussions I miss the ‘appropriation’ part: taking away something and leaving the originators in the cold.
          Yes, I occasionally do mock people, flatearthers, fubdamentalist believers, especially if we’ll educated, etc. Indeed, I have no trouble mocking Mr Robinson or Mr Trump. [The latter is kinda dangerous though, mocking him because he’s a moron might lead us to underestimate him. He’s ‘streetwise’, a good conman, fraudster and money launderer, very smart there. After all he conned millions of USians into voting for him. In a corrupt political system, he feels like a fish in water, an eel in the swamp.]

          • nicky
            Posted May 8, 2018 at 12:13 am | Permalink

            And yes, if I had the skills, I would mock the SPLC, with relish!

    • freiner
      Posted May 7, 2018 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

      I think this is very well said. I do, however, tend to associate a negative connotation to “appropriation,” invariably connecting it with some form of exploitation. (nicky’s comment following yours also seems to suggest this.)On the other hand, I’m not sure what term to use for the “good thing” form that results in non-exploitative cultural enrichment.

      • Adam M.
        Posted May 7, 2018 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

        It’s meant that way, since “appropriate” basically means to take by force. It’s a propaganda term. But in fact nothing is actually taken away from anybody when cultural “appropriation” happens.

        I think “imitation”, “cultural appreciation”, or “cultural fusion” describe the reality better, depending on the case.

  9. Jon Gallant
    Posted May 7, 2018 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    The idealists who work at the Southern Poverty Law Center are not exactly poverty stricken themselves. The top employees of the center were compensated as follows in 2011 (from its 2011 tax return at
    http://990s.foundationcenter.org/990_pdf_archive/630/630598743/630598743_201210_990.pdf )

    Chief Trial Counsel: $306 K
    Development Director: $144 K
    Director Legislative policy: $131 K
    Senior Fellow $134 K
    Director Legal $140 K
    Deputy Legal Director $116 K

    • Historian
      Posted May 7, 2018 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      I do not consider such salaries as exorbitant, considering what executives in most large corporations make.

      • nicky
        Posted May 7, 2018 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

        Yes, but they are supposed to be a non-profit organisation.
        I do a lot more ‘charitable’ work on my own, with much less remuneration.

        • Posted May 7, 2018 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

          It’s their jobs Nicky. They do not seem to be over paid.

          • Paul S
            Posted May 7, 2018 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

            Agreed, if it’s their job they don’t seem overpaid. If they are employed elsewhere and this is compensation for part time charity work I could see some concern.

          • nicky
            Posted May 8, 2018 at 11:08 am | Permalink

            It’s my job too, full-time.

        • Posted May 7, 2018 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

          Employees of non-profits still need to make a profit for themselves.

          Those salaries would not be out of line, were the recipients actually doing anything but fomenting hatred and rage.

      • Posted May 7, 2018 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

        Most large corporations don’t pretend their business model is based on anything other than making a profit.

        • Historian
          Posted May 7, 2018 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

          Maybe your ire should be drawn to non-profit universities that pay their football coaches a million dollars or more a year.

  10. DrBrydon
    Posted May 7, 2018 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Doing so can . . . deny the authenticity of that culture . . . .

    I have yet to read a definition of cultural appropriate that convinces me that it’s even a thing. That “can” is typical waffling. Does it “deny the authentity of that culture”? What would that even mean? I think what they are struggling to say it that inaccurate representations of national cultures can be insulting. (What is the term for when accurate representations are insulting?) We know that even intentional insults aren’t equally offensive to different people. This seems like just another outrage accumulation mechanism.

    • Max Blancke
      Posted May 7, 2018 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

      It is also worth noting that most of the specific things that people grouse about in Mexican appropriation were introduced by Europeans.
      The sombrero is a Spanish hat. Tequila is a distilled spirit, which was a process unknown to precolumbian Americans. Big mustaches? Food normally served at a US “Cinco de Mayo” celebration almost invariably includes cheese, beef, chicken or pork, sour cream, rice, garlic, and anything fried in oil.

      That works both ways, of course.

      An Aztec from 1450 would find modern Mexican culture, religion, and food almost completely foreign. A Roman from a thousand years earlier would be more at home.

  11. Posted May 7, 2018 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    I am fortunate to live in a town that has a 43% Hispanic population, so I can attend Cinco de Mayo celebrations without appropriating any culture. I get to enjoy authentic Mexican-American events offered by people of Mexican origin. It also is nice to celebrate any victory over the French, who I hold greatly responsible for getting us involved in Vietnam, though we have been worse than a colonial power throughout the world. And I haven’t forgotten that they did help us with our revolution against Britain.

  12. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted May 7, 2018 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Wikipedia reports that

    “In 1986, the entire legal staff of the SPLC, excluding Dees, resigned as the organization shifted from traditional civil rights work toward fighting right-wing extremism”

    The original focus was to fight white supremacy and poverty, not right wing stuff in general.

    Their best recent achievement may be their suit against a privately run juvenile prison in Mississippi.

  13. chris moffatt
    Posted May 7, 2018 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Celebrating Cinco de Mayo has nothing to do with cultural appropriation; it is merely another opportunity to commemorate an occasion on which the execrable french imperialists were handed their culs on a plate.

    • Posted May 7, 2018 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      Bloody Frenchies, trying to tell the Spanish what they can or can’t do in their own country.

      • chris moffatt
        Posted May 8, 2018 at 9:43 am | Permalink

        Well spanish imperialism is another story but Mexico was independent a while before the battle of Puebla.

        Other dates among many others to celebrate without ‘cultural appropriation’ are 6/23/1757 (Plassey), 7/26/1758 (Louisbourg), 9/13/1759 (Quebec), 8/3/1798 (Nile), 10/21/1805 (Trafalgar). However we do give the frenchies credit for 6/11/1942 (Bir Hakeim)

  14. Barry Lyons
    Posted May 7, 2018 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    I had a cup of black tea this morning. I understand that the birthplace of tea is China. So what is a white guy like me in NYC doing culturally appropriating the Chinese? Who do I apologize to? In the meantime, if there are any readers here of Chinese heritage, please accept my apology.

  15. Davide Spinello
    Posted May 7, 2018 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    What is happening to the SPLC is the predictable consequence of students graduating from postmodernist university programs: some of them get good jobs and metastasize once serious institutions with authoritarian racist and sexist identity politics.

  16. thompjs
    Posted May 7, 2018 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Here in Houston all Mexican restaurants are solidly for cultural appropriation as long as us Gringos order plenty of margaritas

    • Posted May 7, 2018 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

      Yep. A Mexican restaurant in my neighborhood, owned and run by a large extended Mexican family (who also own several taqueria trucks here in the city which make the best tacos this side of the Pecos), had a huge colorful advertising displays for weeks running up to Cinco. On the day itself they had live mariachi music outside on the patio so the neighborhood could join in. I ate my fill.

    • XCellKen
      Posted May 7, 2018 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

      I drove past Ninfa’s on Navigation Saturday. Millenials in line to enter the restaurant. A band playing in the esplanade in the street. Hispanic residents of the neighborhood milling about. Everyone seemed to be happy. But what do I know ???

      And on an unrelated note, I am friends with Hugo Ortega, owner of the award winning Hugo’s Restaurant.Next time I see him, I’ll ask him what his authentic Mexican take is on Cinco de Mayo

  17. grasshopper
    Posted May 7, 2018 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Cultural appropriation: another victimless crime. I hope that my previous sentence derives only from Anglo-Saxon root words. And my previous sentence too. Et cetera, et cetera.

  18. chewy
    Posted May 7, 2018 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    I’m getting one or two mailings a week from SPLC, which I stopped supporting in protest of the Hirsi Ali slander. They have upped their junk mail game. I now write DECEASED and send stuff back, knowing of course that the only mail they will pay attention to is mail with money. It is sad. My parents supported them back in the day, and I did to as a family tradition. Never again.

  19. Thanny
    Posted May 7, 2018 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    You don’t need to hedge. The concept of “cultural appropriation” is 100% ridiculous. There is no redeeming value in it whatsoever.

    First, the word “appropriation” means taking possession of something and denying it to the original owner. Copying is not appropriating.

    Second, the very nature of culture is one person copying another. That’s literally what culture is.

    I’d also add that the word “stereotype” is very often misused. Stereotypes are neither untrue nor negative. If a given trait isn’t found in a group, then it isn’t a stereotype.

    Of course, most things called “stereotypes” fall into three categories:

    1) Actual stereotypes, which are only called that when unflattering. They are neutral in character, and accurate about a sizable proportion of the group in question.

    2) Caricatures, which are exaggerations of actual stereotypes, intended to offend.

    3) Fabrications, which aren’t true and therefore not stereotypes.

    Lastly, it is entirely acceptable to make fun of a culture. Any culture. It’s actually desirable, because being able to laugh at and with each other is how tensions between different groups are released. Needless to say, there’s a difference between poking fun and outright denigration. The problem is that SJW types seem utterly incapable of recognizing this difference, and therefore acknowledging that it exists.

  20. docbill1351
    Posted May 7, 2018 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    I must be a bad person. I made margaritas, guacamole dip and jalapeño cheese crisps for dinner on May 5th.

    No sombrero because I couldn’t find it. How does one lose a sombrero?!

  21. Filippo
    Posted May 7, 2018 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    “They also stash their millions of saved bucks in offshore bank accounts, which is legal but sleazy.”

    Well, they have at least one thing in common with Mitt Romney.

  22. Steve Cameron
    Posted May 7, 2018 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    What, I have to wonder, is the SPLC’s position on St. Patrick’s Day?

    Since the Irish have by and large successfully integrated into greater American culture, everyone gets a pass I suppose? It’s only wrong when you’re “punching down”?

    Begorrah! Being one quarter Irish myself I deplore the way non-Irish people feel entitled to flaunt shamrocks and cover themselves in green, all the while not caring a whit for the proud Gaelic people and the sacred traditions of Eire.

    • Sigmund
      Posted May 8, 2018 at 3:37 am | Permalink

      It’s far worse than that.
      St Patrick’s day was originally a holy day that celebrated the missionary who brought Christianity to Ireland. The religious connections have been replaced in recent decades by a generalized celebration of drinking – including some weird regional variations that have no real connection with Ireland (green beer?).
      However, if we are talking grade A cultural appropriation, how about another celebration day with Irish origins – Halloween.
      Can the non-Irish (or, rather, non Irish/Scottish/Welsh) celebrate Halloween without first gaining permission from the Celts?
      But, of course, modern Halloween is a mixture of Irish pagan culture plus various other traditions including those from the USA and Mexico.
      If I need permission from the owners, who exactly do I speak to?

      • Posted May 8, 2018 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

        St. Patrick is also credited with the (admittedly legendary) feat of driving all the snakes from Ireland. Commemorating a guy who is responsible for a case of ecocide seems a bit weird. 😉

        (Cf. St. George and the murder of the last dragon in England – dragons are intelligent so “murder” :))

  23. eric
    Posted May 7, 2018 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    Cultural appropriation occurs when a person or other entity—a sports franchise, for example—claims as their own an aspect of a culture that does not belong to them.

    I disagree with that definition (I think “earning a profit off someone else’s idea” should be part of appropriation). But even so, this would probably be a fine definition if they actually used it.

    The problem is, they don’t. Drinking a Dos Equis on Cinco de Mayo is not claiming an aspect of Mexican culture as ones’ own. Wearing a qipao to a prom is not claiming an aspect of Chinese culture as ones’ own. These are not ‘ownership’ activities, they’re simply uses. If someone were to say “hey, you can’t drink a Dos Equis today, that’s my thing!” they might have a point. Or if Ms. Daum ran around in qipaos every day and got ticked off at any other girl who copied her look/style, then yeah, you’d have a case for her ‘claiming as her own’ this Chinese cultural dress. But she didn’t do that. And nobody on Cinco de Mayo gets upset when everyone else celebrates Mexican cultural motifs along with them.

    So…IMO SPLC’s definition stinks, but worse, they don’t even apply their own definition correctly.

  24. Pablo
    Posted May 7, 2018 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    Facts = opinion + power


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