This year for Halloween, one of my daughters is dressing up as a cat; the other is dressing up as a Native American. You can imagine which one is going to cause controversy. (Or maybe PETA will get mad too. You never know.)
Growing up, these outfits would have been fine, hardly noticeable. They’re pretty basic costumes. But now, days before Halloween, liberals are decrying costumes such as Native Americans, Disney’s “Moana,” (she’s from ancient Polynesia) and who knows, maybe Santa Claus — because of “cultural appropriation,” a phrase that’s so overused it means zilch. If that were the only rub this year, it might make sense in the land of liberal-logic, but on top of it, the Left has doubled down on the insistence that gender is non existent (there are 63 kinds now), undocumented teenagers can have abortions, yet these same teens should enjoy a deviant sex life.
Why is the Left banning cultural appropriation -- often innocent, exaggerated occurrences -- while promoting things that are actually harmful?
Disney’s “Moana” is a cute kids movie with two great leads who can’t stand each other when their adventure begins, and of course, find friendship, inner peace, and save the Polynesian people at the film’s conclusion. My kids got a kick out of it when they first saw it. Young girls always want to mimic the main character and this is no different -- “Moana” costumes are popular and in abundance this Halloween.
Except apparently Teen Vogue, Redbook, People magazine and several other publications warned this might be offensive, and eight year-olds should choose something less culturally-appropriated, like, you know, a pilgrim. Or a turtle (Is that safe?). This Redbook piece explains why it might be a poor choice to let your child dress as “Moana:”
If you missed the mark when you were younger, maybe think about using this Halloween as an opportunity to teach your kids about the importance of cultural sensitivity. If your child's dream costume feels questionable, don't just throw up your hands and hand over your credit card. You're the parent here, and the onus of what your child wears falls on you. If your kid wears a racist costume … you're kind of wearing it too.
The author further ties this desire into our current political climate, implicating President Trump.
Our President is a hate group apologist who tries to ban refugees from seeking asylum in our country, simply because of their faith. Meanwhile, Black Americans continue to be killed by police, and anti semitic voices feel louder and more powerful than they have in decades.
So what does this have to do with a seemingly innocent princess costume? Pretty much everything. It's important to align with, and stand up for, people of color and minorities, and a key part of that is showing respect for their cultures. To pretend to be a racial, ethnic, or religious minority when you're not makes light of their history — and reinforces a deeply problematic power dynamic, wherein white people use, then discard, pieces of cultures they've subjugated for centuries just because they can.
This woman, born in Fiji, tells folks how to help their kids dress like Moana without actually culturally appropriating her, and offending the Polynesian culture, and it includes tips like “Do not under any circumstances paint your child’s skin brown.”
If liberals are good at one thing, it’s maintaining the importance of political correctness. This concern over costumes seems incredibly overstated and exaggerated. While I’m sure there are children throughout the world who have been occasionally offended by a costume, the entire idea of an artistic experience, from playing dress-up and having fun to appearing on Broadway, is to pretend, to play, to re-create oneself for a period of time. Most kids do this just for fun and not out of malice, spite, or even to make fun of another culture. On this, the Left needs to simmer down; there are bigger issues at stake.
Though I disagree with the amount of angst the Left is showing over culturally appropriated Halloween costumes, I might show some empathy and engage in the debate if they seemed genuine or consistent in their ideology. But they, of course, do not. Just this last year alone, everyone from Democrats to progressive publications have promoted a wide array of behavior from questionable and offensive to downright dangerous or abusive.
Women’s Running magazine featured its first “transgender” woman runner on their cover in June. Last year Redbook ran a story titled none other than “My Son Became My Daughter--And Then My Husband Became My Wife.” Teen Vogue’s summer issue included an anal sex how-to guide, complete with illustrations. They also produced a guide that included gifts to give a friend post-abortion. Even Good Housekeeping promoted young kids giving in to gender dysphoria and transitioning at an extremely young age, before we let most kids walk across the street. This pediatrician said even though allowing kids to transition is more common, it’s akin to child abuse because it’s so dangerous.
Any one of these issues itself is a political, legal, emotional, and psychological can of worms. Every single one is harmful individually or to society and has been proven such anecdotally and through formal research. Not only is Halloween once a year, but these issues are ongoing -- a tsunami of cultural waves constantly slamming against the shores of traditional morals.
There’s something disturbing, if not pathological, about the progressive Left nitpicking and pearl-clutching over a seven-year-old wearing a $20 “Moana” costume from Target -- far away from any ancient Polynesians, I’m guessing -- while simultaneously promoting dozens of genders, no gender, teenage abortions, and other predicaments which are eroding our collective society’s sense of morality and responsibility.
In fact, liberals work so hard at condemning and stirring up dust over things such as “Moana” or Native American costumes, one wonders if the whole concept of cultural appropriation, or the incredible overreaction to the concept, is just a ruse. I can’t imagine a smart person actually believing a six year-old kid intentionally wants to offend her friends or classmates. If so, they’re even more ignorant than it appears.
If they realize that, deep down, then the entire debacle is a gaslighting technique to distract the rest of the world from all the agendas they are currently serious about propagating, such as gay marriage (check), transgender bathrooms (check), undocumented aliens having abortions (check), government-funded transitions for transgenders (check) and more. In fact, liberals are so successful about engaging aspects of the cultural, legal, and socio-economic wars they care about, it makes me wonder if they actually know cultural appropriation is as absurd as it sounds -- they just want to see if they can make you bluster and apologize and return the Moana costume to Target.
Well, some people might do that, but others, like our family, are too busy trying to limit the scope of the progressive appeal and influence, and all I could find at the store was a Native American costume (presumably since everyone else is so sensitive to cultural appropriation they dare not don it).
To my daughter’s credit, and the surprise and chagrin of progressives everywhere, she purposely chose a Native American “costume” after a visit to colonial-era Jamestown, where she spent hours sketching tepees and learning about their culture. It was out of curiosity she chose that particular outfit, not appropriation.
But don’t tell liberals that -- they might think she’s as sensitive as she is intelligent, just like the rest of conservatives that liberals are constantly trying to shame.
Nicole Russell is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. She is a journalist in Washington, D.C., who previously worked in Republican politics in Minnesota. She was the 2010 recipient of the American Spectator's Young Journalist Award.
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