The principal achievement of the crusade against cultural appropriation is to turn every form of cultural interaction into a site for conflict. This idea of appropriation has as its foundation the conviction that culture is the sacred property of its moral guardians. It is based on the premise that unless cultural artefacts, practices, rituals and even food are used in a reverent and respectful manner, then something akin to religious sacrilege has been committed. Such a pious attitude towards culture does not merely apply to religious rituals and symbols; it also applies to the most banal features of everyday existence, such as the label on your shirt or the snack you are eating.
The constant demand for respect and culturally correct behaviour actually serves to desensitise people to the distinction between rituals and practices that are genuinely worthy of respect and those that can be taken in one’s stride. If the demand for respect for everything becomes automatic, then making distinctions between truly important practices, such as a religious ritual, and trivial ones, such as eating a curry, becomes complicated and even meaningless.
Two things especially amuse me here. One, how innocent I was six years ago, as I considered Aseem Shukla some sort of weird outlier, little suspecting what a harbinger of madness he was! Two, the thought of an old-school white separatist — as opposed to the new progressive variety — watching all this unfold. Is he amused or bemused at the thought that the sons and daughters of the liberals he hated are doing his work for him? Or perhaps he’s muttering softly to himself, “Branding. It’s all about branding.“