The Downside of Diversity Quotas

There’s a row going on in South Africa between a black former rugby player, Ashwin Willemse, and two white former players Nick Mallett and Naas Botha. The video in the link shows Willemse objecting strongly to suggestions from the other two that he was a “quota player” during a post-match discussion on the South African Supersports channel. He then walks off the stage, saying he refuses to be criticised by people who played in the apartheid era. There was obviously a build-up to this which the public hasn’t yet seen, and without knowing what’s been said by whom it’s difficult to say if Willemse is overreacting or not.

Naturally, this being the modern South Africa, people have leaped in on both sides even if they couldn’t have named a single Springbok player before last weekend. Given this is all happening 23 years after Nelson Mandela famously handed the Webb Ellis trophy to Francois Pienaar while wearing the Springbok jersey, it’s rather depressing. Fans and pundits always have idiots among them, but I’d have hoped former players would have the sense not to bring race into any discussion on South African rugby, especially on television.

However, my main point is that this is a good demonstration of how damaging diversity quotas are. I don’t know if Ashwin Willemse was selected to the Springboks on merit (I never saw him play) but the fact that quotas for black players existed leaves the door wide open for people to accuse him of being a quota player. And no matter how good the player is, there will always be some who think they were only picked because they were black. I’m sure there are people out there insane enough to think Bryan Habana was only picked because he was black; the problem with quotas is nobody knows for sure who is there on merit and who is there to make up numbers, and it hands ammunition to the group’s enemies. As I said in this post:

The real losers from affirmative action policies aimed at helping minorities is not people who fall outside the designated groups but genuinely competent minorities who not only have to sit alongside less-capable colleagues of the same sex or skin colour, but now have their own competencies called into question.

As Ashwin Willemse is finding out, this question mark can hang over their heads for a long time indeed. I suspect we’re going to have a lot of highly capable women in the corporate world retiring in frustration after never having quite convinced everyone they were there on merit. This is what happens when you select some who aren’t.


Hidden Purposes

Yesterday two stories were brought to my attention, which share a connection. Here’s the first:

All new police officers in England and Wales will have to be educated to degree level from 2020, the College of Policing has announced.

It said the training would help address changes in crime-fighting.

Prospective officers can either complete a three-year “degree apprenticeship”, a postgraduate conversion course or a degree.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council said the changes would “help modernise the service”.

Many people are unhappy with this, saying it will remove yet another formerly respected career path for the working classes. They are probably right, but this is a feature not a bug. As I wrote here, New Labour and their successors made it central policy to get more women into the professional workforce, and for more people to go to university. Well, a generation later we now have lots of middle class graduates, but what are we supposed to do with them? A sizeable chunk will have graduated with liberal arts or other degrees which are near-worthless to an employer, yet these people have been sold the lie they can expect professional employment anyway. One answer is to stuff them into state institutions and provide them with what passes for a career, sitting in pointless meetings, dreaming up rules, and shoving paper around, and that’s what’s happened. Eventually the institution in question will become little more than an employment scheme providing what is effectively welfare to the dim but entitled middle classes, its core function forgotten. I’ve provided plenty of examples in support of my opinion that the British police long ago stopped being police in the commonly-understood meaning of the word, and this latest announcement is fully consistent with that. Consider this statement:

The college’s Chief Constable Alex Marshall said the feeling was the nature of police work has changed significantly and officers were just as likely to be “patrolling online” as on the street.

“Cyber-enabled crime has increased,” he said, “So has the need for officers and staff to investigate and gather intelligence online and via information technology.”

He also said protecting vulnerable people has become a “high priority”, with officers now spending more of their time working to prevent domestic abuse, monitor high-risk sex offenders and protect at-risk children.

Even investigating a pub fight – which used to mean interviewing the victim, perpetrator and the bar staff – now also extends to researching videos, pictures and comments published online.

You don’t need a degree to be able to research videos, pictures, and comments online. Nor do you need one to work with vulnerable people. What this is about is shifting police work from the wet, windy streets to comfortable chairs in front of computers in air-conditioned offices – the type of job the government promised graduates with worthless degrees from mediocre universities. Also, I am sure it is no coincidence that this shift is occurring a few years after the police made considerable efforts to recruit more women, and made policing an attractive career choice for young mothers. It is a lot easier to comprehend this latest move if you understand what the British police is actually for.

Here’s the second story, provided by Phil B in the comments:

Germany’s armed forces are suffering from severe shortages of weapons and equipment that put the country’s ability to meet its Nato commitments in doubt, a parliamentary watchdog warned yesterday.

The German military is “not equipped to meet the tasks before it”, Hans-Peter Bartels, the parliamentary commissioner for the armed forces said as he presented his annual report.

Operational readiness is “dangerously low” and the country’s ability to take over a frontline Nato taskforce next year must now be “in question”, he warned.

The current purpose of the German army is not to defend Germany from outside attack or to fight anywhere. It could be argued that until 2011 it was a way of deferring university or employment for young men by making them do national service, but nowadays it doesn’t even do that. Its true purpose can be divined from these two paragraphs, though:

The hard-hitting report was seen as a direct attack on the current defence minister, Ursula von der Leyen, who is said to be unpopular with troops.

Ms von der Leyen has presided over a series of shortage scandals during her time at the defence ministry, at the same time as introducing initiatives such as creches and flexible working hours for soldiers.

So it’s basically an employment scheme for the progressive middle classes, much like the British police. Last November I wrote this about the US army:

In part, the purpose of the military is to serve as a vehicle (one of many) for progressives to enact their deranged fantasies as part of an overall aim of undermining society and the institutions on which it depends as far as possible.

I don’t know if this applies to the Germany army – is it even possible to make German institutions more progressive so they can undermine the country further? – but it certainly applies to the British police. So there’s it’s other purpose.

Does the BBC story make a little more sense now?


Incentives Matter

This is probably a good thing:

Women are backing out of divorce cases because settlements are becoming less generous, experts have said.

Fewer wives are being awarded income for life and they are increasingly having their divorce settlement limited to a few years.

This is making some of them back off from going through with a split, law firms say.

In a landmark case in 2014, the High Court ruled that judges should prioritise a “transition to independence”, even if this involved “a degree of (not undue) hardship”.

Back around the time of the global financial crisis, I heard somewhere that the divorce rate had dropped in London as women found their husband’s asset pile, and by extension their expected payout, was suddenly worth a lot less. As Tim Worstall is fond of pointing out, incentives matter and it has been obvious for a long time that many women initiate a divorce in the hope of securing a hefty settlement rather than working to save the relationship. The law now recognises this, hence the divorce rate at the margins has fallen.


Prodnose Priests

Last October I said:

A couple of years back I realised that middle-class snobbery is what drives so much social and political campaigning these days. Probably the best example is the campaign to reduce sugar in people’s diets – for their own good, of course. It is always fizzy drinks and sugary snacks that get cited, never fancy desserts.

Who is trending on Twitter this week, leading the charge in campaigning for the government to introduce new laws aimed at restricting certain foodstuffs in the name of tackling obesity?

I’m sure the lower classes, who are forever blamed for putting a burden on the NHS with their delinquent lifestyles, are delighted to have former Etonian and Oxford graduate Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall telling them how to live. Naturally, multi-millionaire Jamie Oliver is four-square behind him:

Albeit looking rather porky himself. Maybe he should do a little less meddling in other people’s lives and hit the gym? And speaking of Jamie Oliver:

Mr Oliver told BBC Breakfast that he does not ban junk food in his home, but that it is only eaten by his children as a “treat”.

Ah, so he’s free to feed his own fucking brats whatever shit they demand, but the choices of other parents ought to be reigned in by the government.

I’ve said this before, these dickheads would be a lot better off going to church. There they can do all the moral posturing they like, and receive assurances of their virtue from someone who is paid to deliver them. People are fond of saying that religion has declined in Britain, but I disagree: all it’s done is take other forms. The prodnosery, meddling, hand-wringing, and moral sneering at those considered less virtuous is alive and well, it’s just the clothes worn by the high priests are different.


Irrational Fears

A few weeks ago, when the fuss about the two black men being asked to leave Starbucks was at its height, the ZMan remarked that many American liberals genuinely believe there is a major demographic actively looking to lynch black men, even in New York, and is only kept from doing so by heroic progressives (or something). I doubt any black people believe this, even the lunatics who crop up in academia; the ones who perpetuate this nonsense without anything to gain personally seem to be white liberals who don’t know much about anyone other than white liberals. Now it’s certain there are black men who come to harm at the hands of whites, not least prosecutors who like chucking them in jail to advance their careers, but I thought it an odd mindset to carry through life. How do these people go about their daily business believing they’re surrounded by millions of people who are looking to murder some random black guy the moment they think they can get away with it?

Then last week I came across something similar in a discussion related to this post, where I said:

Modern men and women want to enter into something as complicated as a relationship but expect to be able to exit at the push of a button as if it never happened. I’ve seen women declaring love and talking earnestly with a man about long-term plans and then a few days later end the relationship by phone and block all communication saying “it’s best we both move on”, like some toad of a politician who’s been caught breaking the law. Men do the same thing, and it puts a serious question mark over anything which happened prior to that: if you’re prepared to pull the plug and run away like that, it was probably never serious in the first place – and he or she is certainly not ready for the give-and-take of a proper relationship. I’ve always seen a refusal to talk as simple cowardice.

I’ll not link to the actual discussion, mainly because I generally like the other stuff the lady in question has to say and I don’t want to bad-mouth her on my blog (by contrast, deranged and rather unpleasant feminists like Laurie Penny and Natalia Antonova with large public followings are fair game). But here’s what she said:

No one is EVER owed your attention, your friendship, your time, or access to you. So, yes, you can & should block/mute/ignore people. Especially exes. They can turn nasty so easily. Safety first.

The sentiments in the first part I covered well enough in this post, and I was surprised to see them expressed by someone who isn’t an obvious headcase. And while I know that people can turn nasty, can you imagine going into a relationship with “safety first” being the key driver? Isn’t dating supposed to be fun? I responded as follows:

Ah, this is where we disagree. A relationship is by definition a set of mutual obligations where you *do* owe each other (within reason). This is even captured in the wedding vows.

Which was met with:

Absolutely disagree. Even in marriage. If you no longer wish to be with someone, you are free to leave. If they can keep you prisoner that is a recipe for abuse.

So what on earth is the point in entering into a relationship – of any kind – where there are no mutual obligations and one party can just walk away whenever they feel like it? So I responded:

I believe you have moral obligations to one another to at least try to fix things and not just walk out. Otherwise there’s not much point going into a relationship in the first place. Granted there comes a time when you just need to leave.

And this was the reply:

Nope. You NEVER have moral obligations to the other person to try to fix things up. Nor do you go into the relationship like a prison sentence. You always have a right to be free from violence, abuse, rape, etc. This is non-negotiable. I don’t care what words were said.

At no point did I suggest a woman should stick around in a relationship while being subject to violence, abuse, and rape. I just said that, in most normal circumstances, you have a moral obligation to at least try to work things out. But it appears there are women out there who operate on the assumption that violence, abuse, and rape are likely to feature in a relationship and adjust their entire approach to men accordingly. The default setting of some women seems to be “this man could rape and abuse me, so for my own safety I consider I owe him nothing whatsoever”. As a worldview, it’s an odd one even by the standards of those featured on this blog and it makes me wonder how people navigate even basic social conventions with opinions like this. Quite staggeringly, the same person said a few months ago:

I don’t have a boyfriend. I wish I did. I have been unlucky in that regard.

Unlucky. And on another occasion I remarked:

I’ve *never* met a woman too physically unattractive to get a boyfriend, it’s always for other reasons that they’re single.

And the response was:

Sometimes it’s just bad luck.

The woman in question isn’t some purple-haired tattooed nutter who treats being raped as a handy entry on a CV, she’s fairly normal on many topics including the lunacy of third-wave campus feminism. Yet this is her view of men and relationships. Between this and feminists’ habit of being blindsided by sex pests if they mouth the correct political platitudes, something’s gone badly wrong somewhere, hasn’t it?



Here’s a story:

GPs should be based in gyms in a bid to tackle Britain’s growing obesity crisis, public health experts say

“For too long the NHS has shouldered the burden of society’s unhealthy lifestyles. A radical and imaginative move like this could empower people to take responsibility for their own health and move towards an NHS focused on prevention over cure.”

More than one in four adults in the UK are now obese and obesity-related conditions cost the NHS more than £1billion a year.

Studies have shown British adults lead increasingly sedentary lifestyles, which is fuelling the obesity crisis.

Last month, University of Liverpool researchers revealed that living a “couch potato” lifestyle and staying desk-bound all day at the office for just two weeks triggered a decline in health which could spiral into weight gain and health problems like diabetes. But exercising and being active throughout the day reversed symptoms within a fortnight.

Now experts believe making access to exercise easier could encourage more people to take it up, reducing the burden of obesity on the NHS.

Britain is a nation of obese land-whales who don’t get enough exercise, putting an intolerable burden on the NHS. Okay, got it. Here’s another story:

Remember the “beach body ready” adverts that were banned by the Advertising Standards Authority a few years ago?

The infamous bright yellow billboards by Protein World read “are you beach body ready?” alongside the image of a slim, blonde woman in a yellow bikini.

[They] received a huge amount of backlash about the body image message they were sending – in a nutshell, the internet unanimously decided they were body shaming.

Which is why one plus-size fashion brand’s latest campaign has been a breath of fresh air.

Mimicking Protein World’s original 2015 adverts in colour scheme and style, navabi’s campaign champions women of all sizes as we get further towards beach season.

It features models including Bethany Rutter, navabi’s own social editor, Stephanie Yeboah, otherwise known as NerdAboutTown and Lauren Tallulah Smeets, also known as Curvy Roamer.

The billboard will appear in London’s West End this week, in addition to navabi’s website dedicated to the campaign.

So showing slim women in a bikini constitutes “body-shaming”, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being fat, and indeed it should be celebrated.

So which is it? The two stories are somewhat contradictory, yes? Actually, no. The first thing to understand is none of this is about health, nor problems with how society views women. The “health experts” in the first story are concerned primarily with increasing their own power, prestige, and incomes; similarly, NHS employees are mostly interested in making their lives easier, either by working less or getting paid more. Both groups enjoy using their positions to tell millions of people how to live, which coincidentally looks an awful lot like middle-class snobbery.

Those who complained about the original Protein World advert and are praising the navabi one are primarily interested in promoting their lifestyle choices, forcing people to approve them instead of subjecting them to ridicule. They don’t care whether they are healthy or not, they simply don’t like the usual public reaction to X, Y, and Z and think society should change its views to align with theirs.

Far from being contradictory, the two campaigns are wholly consistent in that both are run by a handful of grifters who think they get to tell people how to live and what they should think. That today’s chosen subject matter appears to bring the respective efforts into conflict overlooks the principle aim of each campaign: you must do as we say. This is why you get people supporting both NHS policies on obesity while simultaneously celebrating fatness.


Another casualty of identity politics

This story is worth reporting, but not in the way the Washington Post has chosen:

The three D.C. students couldn’t believe the news. They’d developed a method to purify lead-contaminated water in school drinking fountains, and NASA announced last month that they were finalists in the agency’s prestigious high school competition — the only all-black, female team to make it that far.

The NASA competition called on students to find creative ways to use space technology in their everyday lives. The teens said they considered dozens of ideas but settled on a water purification system because they noticed some water fountains in their school could not be used because of potential lead contamination.

They worked at the Inclusive Innovation Incubator — a technology lab focused on diversity and entrepreneurship near Howard University — where they volunteer, and their mentor at the incubator encouraged them to compete and supervised them on weekends as they built a prototype.

The teens purchased two jars, placing meters in each to test the purity of the water. In one jar, the teens place shards of copper in the water — with the copper acting as the experimental contaminant. An electric fan spins the water while filtering floss — a type of fiber — collects contaminated particles. Once clean, the water is transferred by a straw into the second jar. The meters verify that the water is clean, and the teens said they trust their system so much, they drank the water.

This is a fantastic achievement for which the three girls ought to be extremely proud. Here’s their picture.So what’s the rest of the story? This:

The next stage of the science competition included public voting, and the Banneker High School students — Mikayla Sharrieff, India Skinner and Bria Snell, all 17-year-old high school juniors — turned to social media to promote their project.

But while the teens were gaining traction on social media and racking up votes, users on 4chan — an anonymous Internet forum where users are known to push hoaxes and spew racist and homophobic comments — were trying to ensure the students wouldn’t win.

The anonymous posters used racial epithets, argued that the students’ project did not deserve to be a finalist and said that the black community was voting for the teens only because of their race. They urged people to vote against the Banneker trio, and one user offered to put the topic on an Internet thread about President Trump to garner more attention. They recommended computer programs that would hack the voting system to give a team of teenage boys a boost.

Which is pretty appalling however you cut it, but I suspect it is a symptom rather than a cause. In the era of affirmative action and identity politics, a lot of people would assume these three girls had advanced in the competition because they were black and female, rather than because their invention was any good. If you are going to promote people on the basis of their membership of a minority group rather than their competence, pretty soon people will question whether any member of a minority group is competent and deserving of their position.

As I’ve argued on this blog before, what is so insulting about efforts to help women in STEM fields is that it ignores the millions of women who have done very well in STEM without affirmative action or other patronising policies which lower the bar. The real losers from affirmative action policies aimed at helping minorities is not people who fall outside the designated groups but genuinely competent minorities who not only have to sit alongside less-capable colleagues of the same sex or skin colour, but now have their own competencies called into question. Some time ago a very capable female engineer was invited to attend a management training course reserved only for the best and brightest in the organisation. She confessed she felt uncomfortable because she found it full of women, and she hoped her being female wasn’t the only reason she’d been asked to attend. She wanted to be there wholly on merit or not at all, and I could understand why.

The online abuse targeting the three girls in the story above is unsurprising given how gender and race have been elevated above human achievement in the era of identity politics. At some point, those who fall outside the designated victim groups will start to push back and much of it will be unpleasant. Not so long ago few would have doubted these girls deserve to reach the finals of the NASA competition, and they would have been held up as an example to aspiring black and female students. Instead their achievements are being doubted and the competition, along with everything else, turned into a political circus. It’s a shame the Washington Post chose to make the story about idiotic racists on obscure web forums rather than the appalling effects on society of the poisonous identity politics they’ve done so much to promote.



During yesterday’s post on cultural appropriation a thought occurred to me which I decided to turn into a separate post. This is the relevant part:

Like most teenagers or young men, this kid doesn’t know who or what the hell he is, and he’s latched on to his parent’s culture in order to give himself some sort of identity.

It’s important in life to figure out who you are, to carve out an identity for yourself that you’re comfortable with. A large part of teenage awkwardness comes from not being who you want to be and subsequently trying to force the issue instead of waiting to see who you actually become. In my post I gave examples of foreign kids in my school adopting alternative, fantastical identities for themselves, and all teenagers do this to a degree. I have a colleague whose daughter I met when she was 13, only she was convinced she was 21. She attempted to have adult conversations and made a decent fist of it for a few minutes before coming out with something childish and you’d be reminded she was just a kid. It came across as a bit ridiculous, but at that age it didn’t matter. As a teenage boy I remember faking various quirks and character traits in the hope it would make me more interesting (it didn’t). I think everyone goes through this, trying to work out who they are and what identity they’re comfortable with. As I’ve mentioned before, the period between ages 19 and 23 were crucial for my development, having gone into it as a boy and coming out a reasonable approximation of a man (albeit still a work in progress). By the time I was 25 I had a pretty good idea who I was in most respects; I remember somebody at a corporate event telling me I should take part in some activity or other because it was “character building”. I replied that my character was already built, thanks all the same. I might be an obnoxious, opinionated, annoying troublemaker who has deep-rooted issues with authority figures, but nobody has ever said I lack character. By the time I was in my early or mid-thirties, it was locked down and I knew I’d never change. Thankfully, I was happy with who I was and still am.

The same isn’t true for everyone, though. Pretty much all men I know are married with kids and their identities are carved in stone, but I know women who are still uncertain who they are and what they want to be. These aren’t youngsters either, most are in their thirties and sometimes forties. Some have been in a succession of relationships since their early twenties, leaving them with no time to define themselves independently. I spoke to one friend recently like this, and I said she needs a period of being by herself, living independently, so she can figure out who she is and what she wants and only then finding her next boyfriend. Without knowing who you are yourself, how can you expect to find a compatible partner? I’ve noticed a lot of women think their identity will only be complete once they have a partner, happy to leave a whole chunk of themselves blank for the next guy to define. I remain unconvinced this is a route to a happy relationship.

However, one’s identity can change during a relationship, although probably not completely. Over time, a married couple will start to define one another which is very good for the stability of the relationship but can be a problem if it ends. I am good friends with a widow and she’s had to take substantial, deliberate steps to carve herself a new identity having decided, quite understandably, that she didn’t want to be defined for the rest of her life as a heroic, grieving widow. To this end she did some things which were well within her character, but would have been quite out of character were she still married. The more disapproval she got, the more content she was that she was moving on. I am happy for her.

This topic is also relevant to my recent post about single women who “go travelling” alone in middle-age. I’ve noticed this cohort often don’t seem to know who they are, which is not surprising: many have been shoved into the meat-grinder of corporate life and found themselves wondering what the hell they’re doing there. They ask their male colleagues why they’re there, and they reply “for the wife and kids, of course. What about you?” Having spent a decade establishing themselves as a corporate high-flier, it dawns on them they’d rather do something more meaningful, but what? There are no obvious answers, which is why you see them wittering on about spirituality and travelling to exotic locations, where they post pictures of the food on Instagram. It’s a last-gasp effort to build a different identity, and no less forced than a skinny white teenager inserting rap lyrics into his everyday speech.

The other mistake people make is to take shortcuts, and this is far more common than you’d think. Consider how many people on social media leap onto a bandwagon without understanding any of the underlying issues, merely to give themselves some sort of identity and purpose. The narrator in my book expressed skepticism of how deep Katya’s feminist convictions actually ran; she could spout boilerplate feminist soundbites, yet had entered into a disastrous marriage with a polyamorist in order to secure a US residency permit. Hardly the behaviour of a committed feminist, you’d think. When you scratch the surface of modern feminism and movements like MeToo, you see most are using it as a badge of identity in the absence of any other which people might find interesting. This is doubly true for any men involved.

Others take shortcuts of a different kind, which I mentioned in this post:

There is a section of society out there which is not completely stupid (but not particularly bright either) who lack the talent, work ethic, and self-discipline to enter into professional or corporate environments and so attach themselves like parasites to the genuine arts world in order to give themselves some sort of identity.  The problem with the arts world – as opposed to say, law, engineering or music – is there is no quality control: anyone can tag along, dress up in costumes, get drunk, take some photographs, and claim they’re an “artist”.

What else is dying one’s hair a stupid colour, covering oneself in tattoos, or growing a silly beard other than a cheap attempt to convince others you have an interesting personality? Out of all the hipsters you see, how many have actually bought into the lifestyle and will stay that way, and how many have just joined in because working minimum wage in a coffee shop aged 30 is otherwise seriously uncool?

What identity you end up with is important, but not so important as ensuring it is one you arrive at naturally and are comfortable with. I’m surprised how many people are out there who either don’t know who they are, or are pretending they’re someone they’re not. You can spot them a mile off, and they don’t make for a pretty sight.


TfL’s Signs

Some thoughts on this:

I can imagine it’s quite annoying for many women to have random blokes coming up and telling them they’re beautiful. Some guys have the panache and character to pull this off but most – me included – just come across as creepy. Learning whether you’re any good at this direct style of pick-up artistry is something all men should learn before they’re twenty-five and abandon it if they’re not. Even if you’re not trying to hit on her, a simple compliment needs to be delivered with tact and most people aren’t much good at it when it comes to brief encounters with complete strangers. That said, if they are not a complete stranger and you already have some sort of relationship with that person, then why not compliment them somehow?

However, Dina Rickman’s comment is pathetic: giving a compliment, no matter how cack-handed, does not constitute sexual harassment unless it accompanies other words and actions which by themselves do. I know nothing about the woman but I suspect she’s typical of the sort of modern feminist who grossly exaggerates things in order to gain attention and talks about herself while pretending to be concerned for others.

What bugs me most, though, is that this sort of stuff is being written on the board at all. Yes, I know Brits are eccentric and such informal behaviour makes the world more colourful, but I’m someone who admires stone-cold professionalism from companies on which we rely, rather than cutesy, fun-loving larks. This is especially true for companies whose customers often experience severe disruptions, sometimes as a result of staff strikes. Lest you think I’m a killjoy, let me say I think the colourful fabric of Britain is under more threat from the criminalisation of words, thoughts, and jokes and the endless assault on such pastimes as smoking, drinking, and having fun than my views on TfL’s information boards.

So, enough of the lifestyle advice: just run the damned trains. If nothing else, it’ll give the feminists one less thing to complain about.


Cultural Appropriation

A day or two ago the utter stupidity that is “cultural appropriation” raised its ugly head on Twitter, triggered by this post:

A Chinese American bleated about how his culture was being disrespected, and a giant pile-on ensued. Now the whole notion of cultural appropriation is so inherently dumb it’s not even worth explaining why, but it’s interesting to see who is complaining of it and why.

The vast majority of Chinese and Chinese Americans did not care one whit about this young lady’s dress, and there was an outpouring of support from those demographics when they saw what was happening. I suspect most of the vitriol being directed at Keziah Daum was driven by women wanting to put a pretty young woman down; if she’d been some obese creature with a face full of fishing tackle, tattoos, and purple hair with all sorts of woke tweets in her timeline, nobody would have said a word. But instead she was a pretty young thing looking to have some fun, and that will never do. Complaints of cultural appropriation are just an excuse to bully people and force them into submission, and this most recent case is no different.

However, there is a little more depth to it than that, which these two tweets hint at:

In short, the children of immigrants have an identity crisis and often a giant chip on their shoulder as well. Here’s a picture of the dickhead who started it all:

He’s dressed like a white boy who’s just smoked some hash and is thinking of eating a Tide pod to impress just the sort of girl who looks cute in a prom dress. Like most teenagers or young men, this kid doesn’t know who or what the hell he is, and he’s latched on to his parent’s culture in order to give himself some sort of identity. I expect a mainland Chinese would laugh in his face if he tried to pass himself off as Chinese, yet Americans probably don’t think he’s all that American either – not least because he probably insists he isn’t whenever he wants to look cool and edgy.

I saw a similar thing when I was at boarding school in the UK, when the intensely privileged offspring of powerful Africans would act as though they were from the New York ghetto, and talk about their countries in a way which made one think they were from Wakanda. In a way it was a defence mechanism, having found themselves (in many cases) dumped by their families in an unfamiliar environment. One lad was the umpteenth son of Zambia’s Frederick Chiluba, a highly charismatic lad with a good heart, but whose behavioural problems led to him being expelled (unfairly, IMO). Half the time he seemed to be living in a fantasy world in which he was a gangster or rapper, and a lot of the younger black kids looked up to him and emulated his behaviour, changing their accents when appropriate. It wasn’t just the Africans: a spectacularly thick and spoiled Korean kid who was fortunate enough to have rich parents would talk about his life in Korea as if he was member of their version of the Yakuza. He had a rather camp Spaniard for a mate who would start every bloody sentence with “Ina Thpain…” and told us all about he would go knife-fighting in gangs in Barcelona during the holidays. These kids had serious identity crises, even more than normal teenagers, and would cling to elements of their culture like a lifebelt, filling in the yawning gaps to the point their lives as described to others were mostly fantasy.

To be fair, all teenagers live in a fantasy world to some degree, and exaggerate ethnic or cultural ties if it gives them a slight edge in the interesting-ness stakes. Hell, I went through that boarding school making out Wales was very different from anywhere else making me oh-so special, simply because there were no other Welsh-born people there. Thankfully most people grow out of it, but in modern western culture people are encouraged to nurture grievances both real and imagined and blubber about them on social media. A feature of modern society is that so many adults seem stuck in adolescence; sensitivity over one’s supposed “culture”, and how others perceive it, is just another example of that. The furore over Keziah Daum’s dress was a symptom of this, not a problem in itself.