Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Quick Thoughts

So "cultural appropriation" is in the news again...

... thanks to literary fiction writer Lionel Shriver, who caused a ruckus over a speech she recently delivered at the Brisbane Writers Festival that politely - but firmly - criticized the rhetoric of the regressive left. I for one applaud Shriver for her audacity and agree 100% with her remarks. "Cultural appropriation" - like many concepts born of "social justice" zealotry - takes a tiny germ of truth and then seeks to push its applications to the very edges of absurdity. It obviously behooves us to treat other cultures - including subcultures within our own society - with respect. But "respect" means we should work hard to be accurate and fair; it does not mean we should wall these cultures off from all outside curiosity. Indeed, to attempt to accomplish the latter is outrageously counter-productive. First, in suggesting that these cultures cannot withstand the outsider's explorations, SJZ's are implicitly suggesting that these cultures are inferior to ours. After all, nobody is seriously arguing that, say, Lin-Manuel Miranda has damaged white American culture by embracing Alexander Hamilton and transforming him into a hip-hop icon (and, in my view, a deserving Broadway sensation). So let's think about this: Do we really believe that white American culture is uniquely robust while every other culture is exquisitely fragile? Secondly, Americans of European extraction are still the majority demographic in the United States; how, then, will minority cultures ever become visible and clothed in dignity if white folks aren't permitted to enjoy aspects of those cultures in their own pursuits? Racial harmony and human solidarity come from empathy, and empathy comes from stepping into the shoes of the Other -- and from no other source.

Meanwhile, regarding the presidential campaign...

... Hillary Clinton has been having a rough week. Personally, as a person with a debilitating autoimmune disease who still manages to nail her job, I think it's a little weird that we're obsessing over Clinton's health and not over her manifest corruption in other matters. Clinton is - despite all tongue-and-cheek speculations to the contrary - a human being, and human beings get sick. On the other hand, the Clinton campaign royally deserves mockery for the cagey way in which it's handled the whole health question. Just be honest, okay? For Christ's sake, it's not like the US president has to be able to drop everything and run a marathon!

It was also not a smart move to claim that a significant chunk of Trump's supporters belongs in a "basket of deplorables". I'm no Trump fan, but I still think this characterization of the Trump camp is slanderously inaccurate. Sure: Trump does attract alt-right provocateurs, and some of those are objectively racist white nationalists. But I think Trump has also attracted frustrated working-class whites who are looking for someone - anyone - to pay attention to their problems and give them a voice -- not to mention a lot of vocally reluctant supporters who just fear Clinton more. I encourage everyone - but especially out-of-touch urban elites - to sit in fly-over America for a spell and actually listen to the people who live there before throwing out careless judgments. Oh, and also? First cast the beam out of thine own eye, Ms. Clinton. The left has its own problems with "deplorables"; clear out your own house and we will clear out ours.


  1. And Hillary attracts her own "basket of deplotables". The objectively racist "Black Lives Matter" folks come to mind. . .

  2. You point to the exact problem with the basket of deplorables remark. When you say x% of so and so's supporters are such and such, you end up insulting 100% of those folks. In Hillary's case, one suspects that basket includes anyone who doesn't think her record of non-achievement makes her the best qualified person to ever run for the office. I have no doubt her disdain for voters is not limited to just those supporting Trump.

    As to her health, yes the problem is the campaign's inability to handle the truth. Their go to position is to lie as long as they think they can get away with it. In that sense, they are a reflection of their candidate.