Yoga Banned: Cultural Appropriation Zealots Are Creating A New Apartheid

Cultural Appropriation - Can I Wear A Bindi

Today’s virtue-signalling, totalitarian student activists will stop at nothing to let everyone know just how enlightened and considerate they think they are, and how backward and oppressive they consider the rest of us to be

If you haven’t heard the term “cultural appropriation” before, you can expect to hear it a lot over the next few years. And if you have the misfortune of living anywhere near a university campus, you may even hear it shouted in your face by a raucous student protester, high on their own self-importance.

In fact, even if you’re not committing the modern day sin of cultural appropriation right now, you are almost certainly guilty of doing it at some point over the past twenty-four hours. Go and do your penance now. I’ll wait.

Cultural appropriation is the latest verbal weapon used by virtue-signalling lefty student activists – snivelling Millennial egotists who arrived at university only to find the worst oppression and discrimination already vanquished by previous generations, and who are now desperately casting around for a new cause to justify their Chinese-manufactured Che Guevara t-shirts.

Let’s put it like this: are you a white person who likes rap music, or who (heaven forfend) listens to music by white rappers from Eminem to Iggy Azelea? Then you’re a white supremacist cultural appropriator. By appreciating or assimilating something from outside of your own ethnic community, you have plundered the culture of your downtrodden minority friends and neighbours, making light of their most sacred and noble traditions for your own carefree amusement. Didn’t realise that’s what you were doing? Doesn’t matter, you’re still guilty.

Or maybe you really fell in love with Thai cuisine when you were on that round-the-world trip, and now you love to cook Thai-inspired meals at home, with your non-Thai hands, in your non-Thai kitchen, for your non-Thai friends. That’s cultural appropriation too. Shame on you. If you are a white American you should subsist entirely on cheeseburgers, barbecue and other culturally appropriate fare. God help you if you’re a Cockney but not mad for jellied eels.

Stay away from that lasagne if you’re from Idaho or Utah – can’t you see how eating pasta belittles and marginalises Italian Americans? And as for ordering Kung Pao chicken from your favourite Chinese takeout, why don’t you just start reading aloud from Mein Kampf in the town square, you nasty little fascist? Clearly you have no feeling for the mental safety of Asian Americans, who might feel mocked and excluded by your thoughtless foodcrime.

You get the idea. Before doing anything, first get out your Hierarchy of Privilege and remind yourself exactly where you fit on the Spectrum of Oppression. White and male? Tough luck, you can sample only from those other white, male cultural pursuits. Black, disabled and of undefined gender and sexuality? Then the world is your oyster – at least in the surreal world of academia.

Cultural Appropriation - Fourth Wave Feminism.jpg


And now the Stepford Students are coming to take away your Yoga classes, because chances are you aren’t from India – and therefore you are guilty of the cultural appropriation of Indian culture.

From Brendan O’Neill’s weary report in The Spectator:

Just when you thought uptight, fun-dodging, thought-policing millennials couldn’t get any worse, they go and brand yoga as racist. Apparently, when white people bend themselves bonkers while humming or thinking happy-clappy thoughts, they’re not only being self-punishing saps: they are also ‘culturally appropriating’ a practice that has ‘roots in Indian culture’.

That’s according to student leaders at the University of Ottawa, who put pressure on a yoga teacher at the uni’s Centre for Students with Disabilities to call off her yoga classes. She was told ‘there are cultural issues of implication involved in the practice’. In these people’s minds, in which the Offence-Seeking Antenna is forever turned to High, a white person doing yoga is not that different to a white person donning blackface and singing ‘Mammy’.

O’Neill goes on to point out:

The PC rage against cultural appropriation is ultimately a demand for cultural segregation, for black people, white people, Latinos, gay people, women and every other racial, gender or sexual group to stick with their own culture and people and not allow themselves to be diluted by outsiders.

Gay men have been condemned by the National Union of Students for ‘appropriating black female culture’. Barmy NUS officials think it’s the height of racism for a gay guy to talk about having an ‘inner black woman’. The irony being that it’s hard to think of anything more racist, or at least racially divisive, than the ideology of cultural appropriation: its obsession with cultural purity echoes some of the darkest political movements of the twentieth century.

It’s easy to dismiss these incidents as merely a case of a few activists getting a bit too carried away, or going a bit too far. But incidents such as these are happening more  and more often, on both sides of the Atlantic.

Whether it is British students shutting down a debate about abortion and trying to get Germaine Greer banned from campus, or pampered Yale students insisting that the point of university is not to learn but rather to feel warm and snuggly, these stories are becoming more extreme, more frequent and ever more ludicrous to the uninitiated.

This is in large part because the authorities – university chancellors, society presidents and anyone else called upon to be an auxiliary parent to these toddlers-with-diplomas – too often reward this hysterical behaviour by apologising for offending the Stepford Students and giving in to every one of their tyrannical demands. Which then encourages the next crop of baby-faced tyrants to make even more outrageous demands in the name of creating a “safe space”.

With their accusations of “cultural appropriation” and unquestioning embrace of the politics of identity, these student activists are starting to create a New Apartheid – on their university campuses and in their hermetically sealed social circles of likeminded social justice warriors. Their overriding concern with protecting the “purity” of various minority cultures resembles nothing so much as the anti-miscegenation laws of the last century. And all of this they do without a hint of irony.

These students are nothing so much as High Priests of the Politics of Identity. Like other clergy before them, they derive their power from claiming the exclusive ability to speak on behalf of their secular god and telling the rest of us what we must believe and say. But in place of stoning or crucifixion being the penalty for blasphemy we now have new, modern shamings carried out on social media.

In a famous scene from Aaron Sorkin’s show The Newsroom, the lead character described the American Tea Party – with their intolerance of dissent and insistence on ideological purity – as being like an American Taliban. But I wonder if the real progressive Taliban can’t actually be found on our university campuses, in our student union bars and in the front row of your nearest anti-austerity rally, shouting “Tory Scum!” at terrified old ladies.

If we let these fragile young tyrants win, we will eventually all be ghettoised, forced to keep strictly to our own “communities” (community being defined strictly by racial or religious criteria) and only allowed to engage with other people in the controlled environment of “safe spaces“, where our speech and behaviour is micromanaged to ensure that we do not “trigger” anybody else with the problematic “microaggression” of our mere presence.

Yes, there is a dangerous radicalisation process taking place on our university campuses today. But deluded young radicals are not only rallying to the black flag of ISIS – we should also mark those who drink so deep from the well of Social Justice that they would make us all slaves to their cause.


Yoga - Cultural Appropriation

Top Image: Northmont Surge

Middle Image: 4th Wave Feminism

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13 thoughts on “Yoga Banned: Cultural Appropriation Zealots Are Creating A New Apartheid

  1. thelyniezian November 26, 2015 / 2:35 PM

    Ultimately though it boils down to liberty and freedom of expression, as well as trying to avoid the idea (common in lefty pseudoprogressive circles) that you can actually try to stamp out racism by applying much the same thinking which created it. Really all this is- as is much of “multiculturalism” to my mind- is nothing less than a form of informal apartheid by the back door.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Samuel Hooper November 26, 2015 / 3:02 PM

      Agreed – all that these student activists are doing is elevating our differences of race, gender, sexuality or what have you over the many more things that we have in common as fellow countrymen and human beings. This can only lead to the fragmentation of our society into a splintered coalition of warring special interest groups, each pleading for favoured status because of various historic oppressions, both real and imagined. It undermines our society, and apartheid really is not too strong a word to describe it.

      Thanks as always for contributing to the discussion!


  2. thelyniezian November 26, 2015 / 2:33 PM

    There are, to my mind, a few very limited cases where “cultural appropriation” might be classed as inappropriate, such as when Native Americans have their sacred traditions misused or they are basically turned into a cartoon stereotype, when they’ve already had to put up with plenty of crap from “white” colonial types over the years. And, perhaps, it’s easy to misunderstand what people like this are and are not going on about. However as in this case it can also get out of hand, too. (Given the Native American example, I’ve seen some people crying foul over cultural appropriation who don’t even seem to know the difference betwen a war bonnet and any other example of wearing feathered headdresses, such as carnival attire, which has nothing to do with Native Americans of whichver tribe or nation it is that uses them.)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mickey November 26, 2015 / 11:15 AM

    I love eating Sushis.

    Am I anti-japanese ?

    Ok, I’m just kidding, but this article is just stupid !


  4. Arthur Taylor November 25, 2015 / 9:03 AM

    Here’s a balanced, well researched article from Slate on the same topic. Despite being written by a foaming-mouthed liberal who believes there is such a thing as cultural appropriation, the article agrees with your conclusions; that the student body overreacted in this case, and that their actions are more about provincialism than cultural sensitivity. It seems that some people’s understanding of the topic is “jejune” (but I guess that applies to both sides of the aisle 😉 ).

    “Ordinarily, it wouldn’t be worth commenting on a single incident of college student overreach.” – wise words.


    • Samuel Hooper November 25, 2015 / 2:12 PM

      Arthur! Hope you are well, and thanks so much for reading/commenting!

      Good Slate article – I had pretty much stopped reading Slate after a run of pretty weak articles, but this one is – as you say – balanced and supported by evidence.

      I should add that I don’t deny the phenomena of cultural appropriation – clearly it does happen in all manner of ways and contexts. I just question the right of any self-appointed group, or clerisy, to police the culture and stamp out anything that they do not like with their petitions or social media shamings.

      I find the retreat into identity politics, with its paper thin egos and constant search for offence, to be a bad thing. I think that suppressing free speech and equating being offended with being physically harmed will be hugely damaging to the children and young adults growing up in this culture. And I also think that – as the Slate article points out – it smacks a bit of imperialism, believing that other cultures lack the agency to have been part of the spread of their own traditions and fashions, that it was always something “done to them” by the all-powerful West. I’ve never been able to square that naked condescension with the claim of the SJWs to love and respect other cultures.

      And while you’re quite right to highlight that commenting on individual cases of student overreach is unfair, those who have suffered through my blog over the past year will recognise that this is part of a growing trend in the Anglo-American world. It’s easy not to notice, so long as these people are all cocooned on university campuses, but at some point they will graduate and enter the labour market – and there aren’t enough jobs in their “safe space” of academia for them all.

      Perhaps its selfish of me, but I worry less about what will happen to their delicate egos when they collide with the real world, and more about what happens once they start becoming managers, professors, politicians, artists and respected arts critics themselves. Because then we could find the authoritarianism of the Students Union and the restricted freedoms of the Safe Space replicated across whole swathes of our society.


      • Arthur Taylor November 25, 2015 / 5:10 PM

        That’s a well articulated response – thank you. And as a reader who has been following your posts over the last year, I think it summarizes pretty well the point of all your social-justice-themed articles without recourse to belittling groups of young people who are obviously muddling their way through very difficult and complex topics (with varying degrees of success).

        I’m not sure I agree with the Brendan O’Neill view of the world that “identity politics” is egocentric and insular. Nor do I agree with your characterisation of SJWs and their ilk as having paper-thin egos. If anything, what SJWs are bravely pushing for is more empathy and connection against quite fierce resistance, but they sometimes do it in a clumsy way. Privilege is real, and it really does blind people to the rest of humanity’s daily (often awful) experience. Of course raising awareness of social justice issues can be divisive, but as you acknowledge with cultural appropriation (and as I’ve previously commented about consent), the issues are real for many people in many situations.

        I personally don’t worry too much about the world that these people will build. Of course I have a biased viewpoint as a manager and amateur SJW myself – I think my company is an awesome place to work. And yes, we try to be environmentally conscious and socially aware, we accommodate people who don’t eat animal products in our catering, we shout down / terminate the employment of people who regularly make racist, sexist, -phobic or otherwise insensitive remarks. One might say that our office is a “safe space”. And people who want to spew hate and espouse bigotry are welcome not to work for us thankyouverymuch. What a terrible world it would be if the same were true in the rest of our society…


    • Sally May 29, 2016 / 10:33 PM

      Fun. That’s what everyone’s getting upset about. Someone wants to use a culture’s identity, their symbol for fashion so someone else can come up to them and say “that’s cute.” Pathetic.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Markus July 8, 2017 / 4:00 AM

        That’s all you took from this? Pathetic.


      • Markus July 8, 2017 / 4:01 AM

        That’s all you took from this? Pathetic.


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