Tuesday, April 4, 2017


Shlaes and Cultural Appropriation
"Cultural appropriation" is a new and wonderful term that might define the attitudes of our current culture. On one hand we demand acceptance of all groups. And we expect that they will, to some degree, "fit in." But that "fitting in" must be a one way street. The newcomer might begin to have some of our qualities, but our taking on some of theirs is not right. It is "cultural appropriation," a kind of social plagiarism. According to one self appointed expert, "cultural appropriation" is generally defined as taking something from someone else’s culture–an image, a prop, a term–and degrading him and it by making that thing your own. After all, anything the larger culture does is sort of degrading anyway, right?
Imagine an Asian guy wearing a sombrero, a blond in a kimono, Jaso's dreadlocks. These are not social accents or non-sequiturs or anachronisms, they are social crimes.
Amity Shlaes has a funny take on this.
"Well into the 20th century everyone knew what liberalism stood for: freedom, property rights, equality of opportunity, markets–”the liberal system of free exportation and free importation,” as Adam Smith put it. Liberalism was common sense; in terms of political real estate it represented the precious middle ground. The liberalism of yore didn’t emphasize groups but rather individuals. Liberalism and autocrats didn’t mix, for there was an inherent civility to this liberalism. Americans discussed issues politely because they respected one another, individually. Those politicians who, in contrast, fought for rights of groups (senior citizens, labor, women) were known, whatever their party, as progressives." 
She is complaining that Progressives have "appropriated" liberalism.

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