I’d like to be very upfront about this: I am a big advocate of cultural appropriation in virtually all its forms. The more humans experiment with cultures outside of their own, the more we can learn to understand and appreciate each other.
Sure, there’s misinformed, poorly chosen forms of cultural appropriation, but in the scheme of things, World War III isn’t going to happen over Kylie Jenner dressing up as an Eskimo. Sadly, rather than focus on serious crises facing humanity — like an environmental apocalypse or Turkey shooting down a Russian fighter plane that could actually lead to World War III — liberals have concerned themselves with pressing issues like banning college yoga because of “oppression and cultural genocide” and not having safe spaces for offended students filled with fluffy pillows (yes, literally).
As if this mass hysteria couldn’t get any sillier, there’s a new form of appropriation now on high minded liberals’ list of banned behavior: cutting your living costs.
Yes, cutting down your living costs is now a form of “cultural appropriation” that is apparently deeply offensive to the poor. In an article in The Establishment — a site that runs headlines like “Dear Hollywood Reporter, Here’s What You Can Do With Your White Guilt,” and “The Troubling Erasure Of Trans Parents Who Breastfeed” — July Westhale has declared that downsizing and “low income living” is “problematic” because it seeks to glamorize poverty. She writes:
From dumpster diving to trailer-themed bars to haute cuisine in the form of poor-household staples, it’s become trendy for those with money to appropriate the poverty lifestyle—and it troubles me for one simple reason. Choice…..
This idea of “returning” to a “simple life” is one I struggle with. After all, there aren’t any glossy photos of the Palo Verde Mobile Home Park where I grew up, enticing people to live more simply and own less furniture as a means to becoming happier.
Of course it is sad that Westhale grew up in poverty, and she makes some valid points about the fetishization of trailer park culture in places like San Fransisco, but the basic premise of her argument is basically ridiculous. In an age where our insatiable consumerism is threatening to destroy the planet and our work culture is busily ripping up the social fabric of society, we should be appropriating the hell out of the “simple life” in as many ways as humanly possible. Westhale is outraged at the Tiny House movement — a relatively new trend of radical downsizing where people leave their oversized houses and move into efficient homes that usually are no more than 500 sq ft. This is unacceptable to her because these people could live in bigger houses if they wanted to, but want to appropriate the lives of poor people because they feel it will make them happier.
Rather than praising people who have come to the conclusion that if we don’t all take radical steps to simplify our lives and stop buying shit we don’t need, liberals are now more concerned about hurting the feelings of poor people than the survival of humanity as a species. Just as Indians probably couldn’t care less whether disabled American students get free yoga classes, poor people in America probably aren’t concerned whether liberals are downsizing their homes. After all, they have real problems to contend with — like being poor.
If liberalism wants to survive in the 21st century, this type of nonsense really needs to stop.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.