If Westerners can't do yoga and Cinco de Mayo parties, can we have our polio vaccines back?

With news that even yoga classes are being cancelled due to fears of Westerners appropriating from other cultures, I am led to wonder -- why don't these prohibitions go both ways?  If as a white western male, I can't do yoga or host a Cinco de Mayo party or play the blues on the guitar, why does everyone else get to feed greedily from the trough of western culture?  If I can't wear a sombrero, why do other cultures get to wear Lakers jerseys, use calculus, or even have polio vaccines?  Heck, all this angst tends to occur at Universities, which are a quintessentially western cultural invention.  Isn't the very act of attending Harvard a cultural appropriation for non-Westerners?

I say this all tongue in cheek just to demonstrate how stupid this whole thing is.  Some of the greatest advances, both of science and culture, have occurred when cultures cross-pollinate.  I have read several auto-biographies of musicians and artists and  they all boil down to "I was exposed to this art/music from a different culture and it sent me off in a new direction."  The British rock and roll invasion resulted from American black blues music being dropped into England, mutating for a few years, and coming back as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

Or here is an even better example:  the movie"A fistful of Dollars".  That was an American western with what has become a quintessentially American actor, Clint Eastwood.  However, it was originally an Italian movie by Italian director Sergio Leone (it was not released in the US until 3 years after its Italian release).   But Sergio Leone borrowed wholesale for this movie from famed Japanese director Akiro Kurosawa's Yojimbo.  But Kurosawa himself often borrowed from American sources, fusing it with Japanese culture and history to produce many of his famous movies.  While there is some debate on this, Yojimbo appears to be based on Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest, a classic of American noir fiction.


  1. morganovich:

    if westerners can't do yoga, can indians play cricket? can dominicans and cubans play baseball?

  2. John_Schilling:

    I'll let them have the polio vaccine. But no complaining about cultural appropriation on the internet. Complaining about stuff on the internet was invented by nerdy white guys, so per standard cultural appropriation theory only nerdy white guys are allowed to complain about anything on the internet.

  3. STW:

    Just once I'd like someone to say, "Don't be stupid," and go on with what they were doing.

  4. dmon:

    Sure. As long as they use hand carved bats, play only in natural light, wear hand sown uniforms and walk to the ballpark.

  5. W Wolf:

    Because without double standards, liberals would have no standards.

  6. Tom Lindmark:

    History is a tale of cultural appropriation. Imagine if the clan that discovered fire had been able to disallow any others' use of their invention.
    Apropos your previous post on the bonfires burning on college campuses, one has to wonder why any commercial enterprise would risk intrducing students espousing or maybe even exposed to the current ethos into their business.

  7. m1shu:

    I said the same thing about flying airplanes.

  8. J K Brown:

    Instead, like all the world's earlier explosions of invention, it, in the words of one of the phenomenon's most acute observers, "fizzled out." One unique characteristic of the eighteenth-century miracle was that it was the first that didn't.

    The other one, the real reason that the threads leading from Rocket [the first steam locomotive] form such a challenging knot, is that the miracle was, overwhelmingly, produced by English-speaking people. Rocket incorporates hundreds of invention, small and large --safety valves, feedback controls, return flues, condensers -- to say nothing of the iron foundries and coal mines that supplied its raw materials. If one could magically edit out those steam engines invented in Italy, or Sweden, or --more important -- France, or China, Rocket would still run. If the same magic were applied to those invented in England, Scotland, Wales, and America, the platform in the Science Museum would be empty.

    That is a puzzle for which there is no shortage of proposed solutions (see Industrial Revolution, Theories of, above). The one propose by the book you hold in your hands can be boiled down to this: The best explanation for the preeminence of English speakers in lifting humanity out of its ten-thousand-year-long Malthusian trap is that the Anglophone world democratized the nature of invention.
    --Rosen, Willam, 'The Most Powerful Idea in the World'

    Of course, we can throw in equality of women, the end of slavery, freedom of religious practice, equality under the law, representative government (for all), individual liberties, etc. as having been culturally appropriated from Western White, mostly Anglosphere, culture.

  9. John O.:

    What ever happened to the melting pot? Did things just get too weird when they found their cultures appropriated by the evil corporations for some holiday for Hallmark to print cards for and adult beverage makers to get us to drink to? What it comes down to is the people in charge don't want the melting pot any more as it allows unfavorable white people to make it all icky and instead want everybody to be divided and detached from one another because the melting pot ideal is a bad neighborhood full of violence through hurt feelings. Seperate but Equal was the "bestest" idea that ever came out of the 19th Century for being adapted to the 21st Century.

  10. rjriediger:

    At the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, there is an exhibit that shows which artists influenced later artists who then made their own contribution to the art form. Progress comes from building on the ideas of others. Idea-segregation kills progress, which is why the jungles of Papua New Guinea and elsewhere are full of isolated people groups living in technological & cultural pre-history.

  11. BobSykes:

    When I mentioned this to my lefty, yoga wife, she was so conflicted she couldn't even speak.

  12. srinivasmurty:

    Talking about calculus, math, and science in general, perhaps useful to know who discovered the concept of zero.

  13. J K Brown:

    Even all the harping on diversity is a stolen 19th century European idea. Here is a late 19th century author commenting, in a footnote, on the diversity of languages and the waste of such effort.

    The multiplicity of languages is due to the policy of international hate, inaugurated by the nations of Europe to promote the selfish purposes of rulers. Barbarism is diversity; civilization is unity. The human race is one, provided it is civilized, and it should have but one language. Language is a tool, and time consumed in acquiring skill in the use of more than one tool designed for the same end, is wasted. The standing armies of Europe obstruct the way to unity of language. The time will come when all civilized peoples will speak one tongue, probably the English. Then language will cease to be a mere vain accomplishment, and become what it ought always to have been, the simple means of familiarizing the mind with things, and of the communication of knowledge.
    —Charles H. Ham, Mind and Hand: manual training, the chief factor in education (1900)

    Of course, if we go by 'Firefly', we'll curse in Chinese.

  14. marc biff:

    Thank you for the zero,how about the rest of the world thanking western civilisation for most of everything else.

  15. Whitehall:

    Only Czechs can play czeckers?

  16. MrNewCastrati:

    I'd like out DDT back as well.

  17. @bradoplata:

    Why aren't the protesters protesting in their native tongue?

  18. teapartydoc:

    I'm having trouble getting the courage up to tell my wife I won't be able to play mah-jongg with her and her friends any more.

  19. MichaelSmith:

    The whole notion of "cultural appropriation" is absurd. No property is taken or improperly "appropriated" when a member of one culture adopts a practice or value that originated in another culture. And it is simply beyond absurd to suggest that a discovery of some rationally better practice by a member of one culture should not be employed by those of another culture. Man's ability to learn from others is a key to progress, not "cultural theft". God, but the leftists are desperate to manufacture grievances, which is only a confession that they have no actual, valid issues to advance. They should simply be ignored.

  20. Pteromandias:

    I'm sure they would come back with some variant of the definition of racism that depends on power to exercise it. You can't culturally appropriate if you don't have the power to oppress or some such fertilizer.

  21. Donald Campbell:

    Cultural Appropriation has been the human norm since Ogg's tribe stole the secret of fire from Nog's tribe.

  22. DaveP.:

    ...he said, while speaking English, without any irony whatsoever.

  23. Rdm42:

    Of course is could be argued that the zero inventors really belong to NO modern culture, as the ancient culture of the Indians, Babylonians and perhaps Mayans are not really analogous to any modern culture. So we nee to segregate ideas by TIME as well. Unless a culture has remained monolithically similar over time, its not allowed to even keep any of its own ideas or culture. Once it changes a certain percentage, it then will have to purge itself of all connections to its past. Dear lord, that means all of us have to give up spoken and written language and fire now!

  24. Croak:

    Good news, you'll soon be off the hook, there's a SWAT team to take care of that for you.

  25. JimB1000:

    The taliban would say, "Stick your vaccine. We would rather watch our children die than use it".

  26. comatus:

    Can Indians play cricket? Why, yes. Yes, they certainly can.

  27. comatus:

    Well I certainly would not blame Leibnitz and Newton on this one. Those Who Invented Zero had it appropriated by Those Who Invented Nothing. And they're taking credit for it, too.

  28. srinivasmurty:

    I had to dumb it down to written English, as opposed to "spoken". With my accent, I'd have gotten into trouble for not being intelligible enough and return the language! Probably Sanskrit, Tamil, or Hindi would have been alternatives, although it would have made it very tough for everyone here.

  29. Col. Harrumph:

    Hey Bob, pocket that trick!

  30. ubik:

    Now I have to read Red Harvest.
    Don't leave out Joseph Campbell. We all steal from the myths of the past.
    Glad no one minded too much until idiocracy finally came upon us.

  31. Donald Campbell:

    In general I don't like Kipling's poetry, and that one is darker than most.

    In this case, we have again let the progressive western-haters form the basis for debate. It is not cultural appropriation, it is cultural sharing. I posted badly with the verb stole. Share would be better. Ogg's tribe did not deprive Nog's tribe of the ability to make fire.

    It used to be called imitation - the greatest form of flattery.
    It is now cultural appropriation - the stealing of culture.

  32. Bob Marley:

    Forget vaccines, how about electricity?

    By all means we should help these knuckleheads down the logical road to ruin.

  33. Gringao:

    I loved "Ran" despite it being a naked ripoff of "King Lear."

  34. BozoerRebbe:

    "American black blues" - played on the guitar, which is Spanish, and the harmonica, which is German.Oh, and many of the original blues masters did arrangements with rumba and other Latin beats. About 90% of music is "culturally appropriated".

  35. tps:

    Good logical points. Here is another:

    We often hear something along the lines of "America's borders are the product of war, and therefore not legitimate." The other day someone brought this up and I asked her, "Name me one country whose borders are not the product of war." She was utterly flummoxed.

    When her husband (picture Pajama Boy all grown up), said "Iceland," I shot back, "So of all the countries in the world, the only thing you could come up with Iceland? And you're wrong, because it was conquered and influenced by those peace-loving Vikings."

    You could have heard a pin drop. Before I left, I added, "Vomiting up bumper stickers without knowing much about anything is dangerous when you say it to a conservative because we are actually educated."

    Try it.

  36. orthodoc:

    I'll take the rule of law, property rights, limited government, and universal literacy for $1000, Alex.

  37. Jim:

    Which ones, red dots or "woo-woo"? It's important. And on opposite teams too?

  38. JRCrum:

    Oh, I want my baseball hat back (you can keep your 'football'), internal combustion engine, and christmas is ours to keep...

  39. mike_s:

    Why do you have a lefty wife? That must be hard. Had one once.

  40. mike_s:

    You do realize that everyone here is being very tongue in cheek? We could care less who "invented" the concept of zero or any other dam thing. It's the idiots on the left who seem to think it maters.

  41. Not Sure:

    " God, but the leftists are desperate to manufacture grievances..."

    Without them (grievances, not leftists), they're (leftists, not grievances) not relevant to- well, anything.

  42. Mr_Miyagi:

    To help me from misappropriating from non-Western cultures, would all of you foreigners from third-world countries who daly sneak across our borders to live here please return to your countries of origin so that I am no longer tempted to eat your food in restaurants or enjoy the pleasure of knowing and celebrating your customs and festivals along with my own? Thank you very much.

  43. Eric Atkinson:

    Works for me.

  44. setsun:

    Now now. It's not liberals that are the problem.

    What you're thinking of is the authoritarian left.

  45. random geek:

    This has been me reply since the kerfuffle started. Vaccines, internet, cell phones, industrial farming? All merely products and processes, the culture created them, but they aren't the culture. White european culture is known as 'Western Civilization'. If they want us to leave their hip-hop, sombreros and yoga alone, I assert that they must abandon their rights to voting, free speech and the other cultural elements that are unique to western civ.

    Or else, just put on their foolscaps and 'stupid' signs.

  46. Tehy:

    it's all about 'recent history' somehow, those things happened long ago and most critically aren't talked about a lot so they ' don't count '

  47. fotini901:

    Appropriation and appreciation are different things, and it comes down to respect. A whole lot of y'all need to learn the difference.