The left has taken cultural appropriation charges to the extreme, attempting to run people out of business for making food that ‘doesn’t belong to them’ or their cultures.
The left has a long and disturbing track record of financially punishing anyone who fails to conform to their social standards and rules. As in most things, they are also hypocritical about it; this is why bakers who refuse – on conscious grounds – to participate in a same-sex wedding ceremony are sued out of business and into bankruptcy while fashion designers and hair stylists who refuse to serve Republicans are hailed as heroes.
On top of their bullying stance on social issues, and how private citizens conduct their businesses, the left has put quite a bit of time and effort into rooting out and shaming examples of “cultural appropriation” – forcing a new, politically correct segregation on people in the name of “tolerance.”
When these two forces collide, the results are disastrous for the targets of the left’s ire and social justice virtue signaling. This week, the crosshairs fell squarely on Kali Wilgus and Liz “LC” Connelly, owners of Kooks Burritos, a pop-up Mexican food cart. Or, they were. Kooks was featured in the Willamette Week and a week later, the business was shut down…despite being popular and well-received. Why? The perpetually offended among us accused Connelly and Wilgus of – you guessed it – cultural appropriation for allegedly “stealing” tortilla making techniques from residents of Puerto Nuevo, Mexico. Connelly and Wilgus went to Mexico on a road-trip and learned some techniques by speaking with locals and watching them work.
The Portland Mercury accused the women of “erasing and exploiting” the “marginalized identities” of the Mexican women for “profit and praise” and called the closure of the business a “victory.” A victory for who? The writers at the Portland Mercury and their social justice-minded readers, maybe. But it’s a loss for Connelly, Wilgus, and a free and prosperous society. The Portland Mercury also accused the city of having a history of underlying racism (Portland hasn’t had a Republican mayor since 1980). Mic.com said the women are “white folks profiting off people of color.”
The closure of Kooks renewed a heated debate, with one Facebook commenter noting, “Good old Portland. Ethnic food served by Americans is now cultural appropriation. My favorite Louisiana restaurant this side of the Mississippi is owned by Vietnamese people. If some angry little social justice warrior were to think he’s going to get between me and a bowl of Cajun crawfish, he might as well prearrange his emergency services.” Another pointed out the women didn’t actually steal recipes, but “reverse-engineered her own tortilla recipe in her spare time.”
In America, the notion that a person of one ethnic group cannot make. or enjoy, food from another ethnic group is absurd. If we want to parse who can and cannot use, wear, eat, or make certain things, this is a dangerous route. Will the left go around policing pizza joints, demanding the guys slinging pepperoni in the back prove their Italian ethnicity? Will sushi restaurants need all-Japanese staffs? No burger joints better have ethnic staff because that would be appropriating American cuisine, right? We have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Owning and operating a business of our choosing – whether a bakery or a taco stand – surely falls under the last two. And will the left give up use of the Internet? Its inventor, after all, is Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee, a London-born computer scientist. Isn’t it cultural appropriation to use the web if you’re not of Berners-Lee’s same ethnic group?
This is, of course, a silly suggestion. Cultures thrive and advance from taking, sharing, and modifying the traditions and innovations of other cultures. A culture that isolates itself is a culture that will fail to thrive. The Orwellian mentality behind the “cultural appropriation” push should be offensive and scary to anyone who enjoys and appreciates other cultures. The left doesn’t want you to; in fact, doing so is racist, according to them. You’re exploiting minorities. Or something.
The only way to stop this nonsense is to look at the backlash against the left’s insanity that happened in 2012. When it was revealed Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy opposed same-sex marriage, the left called for a boycott and – once again – financial ruin of the chain. Fed up with this bullying behavior, customers staged an appreciation day that netted the company a record-setting day in terms of turnout. While some opposition to Chick-fil-A pops up now and then, the left was largely silenced by a peaceful show of force from other Americans.
Connelly and Wilgus are only guilty of bowing before the fascist leftists who sought to destroy their business. They let the left win, and that’s a setback for all of us who fight for free thought and free association. These intolerant, racist, and segregation-loving “progressives” need to be stood up to and told off; when they try to silence or shut down a business, civil- and sane-minded individuals are duty bound to stand up for that business and the right of its owners to operate freely in a free country.