How Many Words Can You Write before You're Guilty of Cultural Appropriation?

The Politically Correct Culture Police are at it again, and the insanity that defines what they call cultural appropriation has finally reached beyond simple comprehension.

I first became aware of this when nonsensical snowflakes began condemning milk-white revelers – even including young kids – dressed up for Halloween as an Asian or South Seas princess from some Disney cartoon film.  Somehow, even the children (but especially the adults) were stealing what it means to be Asian or Samoan or whatever, and this was wrong.  As a phenomenon, cultural appropriation got worse when colleges began to cancel yoga classes because yoga is the exclusive domain of Indians (not "our" Native American/First Peoples Indians, of course, but "their" original, from-beyond-the-Indus Indians).

To my shocked dismay, this insanity has now reached into my realm: the world of writers.  More specifically, a blizzard of easily offended snowflakes are now busy condemning novelists for writing about characters who are not from their own narrow cultural corner.  To make this clear, if some of the great authors writing in English were active today, Mark Twain couldn't write about Huck Finn's boon companion, Jim, the escaped slave.  Rudyard Kipling couldn't write about Gunga Din or Kim.  Shakespeare – perhaps at the very top of the Ten Most Wanted Cultural Appropriators – couldn't write about a Moorish general or a Danish prince.  And let's not even think about Caesar or Romeo and Juliet – after all, the Bard wasn't Italian.

In this context, it might seem silly (well, honestly, in any context, it seems silly).  But in the context of fiction, apparently it is impossible for a God-fearing white guy like me to write about:

  • Women
  • Blacks
  • Hispanics
  • American Indians
  • Gays or other members of the ever expanding LGBTTQQIP2AA brigade
  • Non-Christians – especially Muslims
  • Middle Eastern Islamic terrorists

This causes me a bit of a problem, because my next novel actually includes people from a number of identity groups I don't belong to.  Of these, the only one I can claim is the adopted character who might or might not be American Indian.  He's someone I'm allowed to write about, because I am adopted, and I've been told I have Seminole heritage.  However, I realize that since I can't prove this heritage, that American Indian bit might offend some snowflakes, even as they worship whitebread non-Indian Indian Elizabeth Warren for her claimed but never proved "other-ness." 

Apparently, all the rest of my primary – and most of my secondary – characters are cultural appropriations I'll have to purge from my book, lest I risk offending someone.  I must do this because cultural appropriation is fast becoming at least a "career" (if not a personal) capital offense. 

English novelist Lionel Shriver pointed this out in a recent interview with Mark Steyn (she already has one strike against her for culturally appropriating what is largely deemed to be a masculine first name).  She's guilty of igniting a firestorm of criticism by defending – at a writer's conference, not a #MeToo rally – a novelist's right to write about anybody and anything.  With Shriver and the rest of my fellow novelists now firmly in the snowflakes' cross-hairs, we're fast approaching the stage where the only acceptable novel will be one that is, essentially, an autobiography, told narrowly in the first person.  It can contain no characters other than – in Shriver's case – well educated and articulate Englishwomen of a certain and elevated social stratum.  In my own case, in my future novels, I can write only about middle-class, middle-aged college-educated white guys with working-class roots. 

Even I find that boring.

The First Amendment guarantees us, among other things, freedom of speech and of the press, two elements that essentially define the writing of a novel – or, for that matter, even this essay into insanity.  Yet the fast growing regiments of lockstep snowflakes are busy melting every time a serious author crosses the line into cultural appropriation.

My novel will even include a romance between the lead character and his adversarially inclined (and thoroughly politically incorrect) new detective agency partner.  She is, after all, a white, heterosexual woman, and therefore almost automatically politically incorrect.

I had long hoped for the time when the radical, whack-a-doodle extreme cultural left would go too far, and I think, in the matter of cultural appropriation, they have finally achieved this goal.  Before writing this essay, I ate at an Italian restaurant, secure in the certainty that my grandfather was Italian.  However, while looking for a parking spot in that same strip mall, I'd considered several Mexican and Central American restaurants.  However, I demurred, fearful that eating a burrito might make me guilty of cultural appropriation, and therefore not morally or ethically qualified to explain this situation to you. 

Henceforth, I'm apparently doomed to frequent whitebread American hamburger joints and funky Italian eateries.  That's it.  No more great egg fu yong at Wo Fat's, no more carne asada with to-die-for chunky salsa at Macayo's – and, apparently, no more fictionalized gay black tech-wizards, pushy Hispanic broads, Marion Ravenwood clones, or murderous Middle Eastern Islamic terrorists, either.

Ned Barnett is a writer and ghostwriter, writing coach, editor, and book-promoter who is currently helping to launch a new – and not politically correct – publishing company in Las Vegas.  He can be reached at ned@barnettmarcom.com.

The Politically Correct Culture Police are at it again, and the insanity that defines what they call cultural appropriation has finally reached beyond simple comprehension.

I first became aware of this when nonsensical snowflakes began condemning milk-white revelers – even including young kids – dressed up for Halloween as an Asian or South Seas princess from some Disney cartoon film.  Somehow, even the children (but especially the adults) were stealing what it means to be Asian or Samoan or whatever, and this was wrong.  As a phenomenon, cultural appropriation got worse when colleges began to cancel yoga classes because yoga is the exclusive domain of Indians (not "our" Native American/First Peoples Indians, of course, but "their" original, from-beyond-the-Indus Indians).

To my shocked dismay, this insanity has now reached into my realm: the world of writers.  More specifically, a blizzard of easily offended snowflakes are now busy condemning novelists for writing about characters who are not from their own narrow cultural corner.  To make this clear, if some of the great authors writing in English were active today, Mark Twain couldn't write about Huck Finn's boon companion, Jim, the escaped slave.  Rudyard Kipling couldn't write about Gunga Din or Kim.  Shakespeare – perhaps at the very top of the Ten Most Wanted Cultural Appropriators – couldn't write about a Moorish general or a Danish prince.  And let's not even think about Caesar or Romeo and Juliet – after all, the Bard wasn't Italian.

In this context, it might seem silly (well, honestly, in any context, it seems silly).  But in the context of fiction, apparently it is impossible for a God-fearing white guy like me to write about:

  • Women
  • Blacks
  • Hispanics
  • American Indians
  • Gays or other members of the ever expanding LGBTTQQIP2AA brigade
  • Non-Christians – especially Muslims
  • Middle Eastern Islamic terrorists

This causes me a bit of a problem, because my next novel actually includes people from a number of identity groups I don't belong to.  Of these, the only one I can claim is the adopted character who might or might not be American Indian.  He's someone I'm allowed to write about, because I am adopted, and I've been told I have Seminole heritage.  However, I realize that since I can't prove this heritage, that American Indian bit might offend some snowflakes, even as they worship whitebread non-Indian Indian Elizabeth Warren for her claimed but never proved "other-ness." 

Apparently, all the rest of my primary – and most of my secondary – characters are cultural appropriations I'll have to purge from my book, lest I risk offending someone.  I must do this because cultural appropriation is fast becoming at least a "career" (if not a personal) capital offense. 

English novelist Lionel Shriver pointed this out in a recent interview with Mark Steyn (she already has one strike against her for culturally appropriating what is largely deemed to be a masculine first name).  She's guilty of igniting a firestorm of criticism by defending – at a writer's conference, not a #MeToo rally – a novelist's right to write about anybody and anything.  With Shriver and the rest of my fellow novelists now firmly in the snowflakes' cross-hairs, we're fast approaching the stage where the only acceptable novel will be one that is, essentially, an autobiography, told narrowly in the first person.  It can contain no characters other than – in Shriver's case – well educated and articulate Englishwomen of a certain and elevated social stratum.  In my own case, in my future novels, I can write only about middle-class, middle-aged college-educated white guys with working-class roots. 

Even I find that boring.

The First Amendment guarantees us, among other things, freedom of speech and of the press, two elements that essentially define the writing of a novel – or, for that matter, even this essay into insanity.  Yet the fast growing regiments of lockstep snowflakes are busy melting every time a serious author crosses the line into cultural appropriation.

My novel will even include a romance between the lead character and his adversarially inclined (and thoroughly politically incorrect) new detective agency partner.  She is, after all, a white, heterosexual woman, and therefore almost automatically politically incorrect.

I had long hoped for the time when the radical, whack-a-doodle extreme cultural left would go too far, and I think, in the matter of cultural appropriation, they have finally achieved this goal.  Before writing this essay, I ate at an Italian restaurant, secure in the certainty that my grandfather was Italian.  However, while looking for a parking spot in that same strip mall, I'd considered several Mexican and Central American restaurants.  However, I demurred, fearful that eating a burrito might make me guilty of cultural appropriation, and therefore not morally or ethically qualified to explain this situation to you. 

Henceforth, I'm apparently doomed to frequent whitebread American hamburger joints and funky Italian eateries.  That's it.  No more great egg fu yong at Wo Fat's, no more carne asada with to-die-for chunky salsa at Macayo's – and, apparently, no more fictionalized gay black tech-wizards, pushy Hispanic broads, Marion Ravenwood clones, or murderous Middle Eastern Islamic terrorists, either.

Ned Barnett is a writer and ghostwriter, writing coach, editor, and book-promoter who is currently helping to launch a new – and not politically correct – publishing company in Las Vegas.  He can be reached at ned@barnettmarcom.com.