About that ‘cultural appropriation’

David Marcus of the Federalist ponders the likely response to U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren among those who complain about so-called cultural appropriation.

I have taken to these pages in the past to defend practices that progressives pejoratively call “cultural appropriation.” By now we all know the phrase and that it refers to people (mainly white people) using elements of foreign cultures including costumes, music, food, or, frankly, anything without permission. In most cases the outrage over cultural appropriation is silly, but this week Sen. Elizabeth Warren has opened herself to a charge of cultural appropriation that seems a bit more serious. Will the left hold her to account? Or will her politics earn her a pass?

We now know through Warren’s DNA test that she is about 1/1000 Native American (either from North or South America), or roughly as Native American as Chief Wahoo. During her academic career, Warren changed the identification of her race from white to Native American on the basis of family legends about an Indian ancestor.

Warren didn’t wear a headdress for Halloween or don the jersey of a certain subpar NFL team from Washington DC. She claimed to be of Indian descent to the extent that she described it as her racial identity. Whether it was her intent or not, she did so in a way that was quite likely to increase her professional opportunities. She didn’t appropriate some aspect of Indian culture; she appropriated the whole thing.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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