Letters to the Editor

Appropriation: noun, the action of taking something for one’s own use, typically without the owner’s permission. (Source: Oxford Languages)

In the United States, we have a culture aimed directly against any sort of appropriation. Leftists dictate that any appropriation is abhorrent. White men can not dress up as Native Americans lest they appropriate Native American culture. Actors can not take on roles of people who are different than themselves; they risk appropriating the struggles of those who have different traits. Straight women are not allowed to act as gay women, and kids who listen to rap music are chastised for stealing a culture that is not their own.

These facts of life, this rulebook for interactions and expressions, are whimsical remnants of idiocy. This can be observed simply by asking for a consistent standard. Take the actors’ predicament. An actor acts. The job description is in the name, but the situations surrounding the job are fast changing. In August of 2020, Caucasian actress Jenny Slate gave up her voice acting job as the black Missy on the show “Big Mouth” because she didn’t share the same skin color as the cartoon she voiced. Mike Henry is better known to most as the voice of Cleveland Brown, a black character on the set of “Family Guy.” In September of the same year, actor Mike Henry, the voice of black character Cleveland Brown  on “Family Guy” stepped down for the same reason as Slate. “The Simpsons” took it a step further — they announced they would no longer have any white actors voice non-white characters. Hollywood took a similar tact, with actress Octavia Spencer and lawyer Jay Ruderman lamenting the acting of disabled roles by able-bodied people.

Here’s the point: an actor acts, and the reason they have to act is because they are not the person they represent. When Robert Downey Jr. puts on the Iron Man suit, he doesn’t become Tony Stark. When The Rock puts on swim trunks, he doesn’t become a lifeguard from BayWatch. Rather, they do what actors do best: they act like they are.

Another way to examine the inconsistency of appropriation is to propose a similar situation. For that situation, I hereby create gender appropriation, an appropriation represented deep within the Leftist party through transgenderism.

The premise is ridiculous, but the logic that leads to “gender appropriation” is the same that leads to cultural appropriation. Where cultural appropriation stems from the adoption of a trait not unique to one’s culture (a white guy wearing native headdress), gender appropriation is born from the use of the opposite sex’s traits (a man wearing a dress to feel like a woman). Both of them borrow traits from the other. Both of them do so often without the other party’s consent. Both of them revel in the other’s traits at the expense of their own. So what’s the difference? There isn’t one.

I would like to make one thing abundantly clear. I have no problem with transgender people. To feel trapped in the wrong body and affixed to the wrong gender must be agonizing. However, I believe in binary sexes, sexes that can not be changed by makeup or hairstyle or surgery. But that doesn’t mean I can not be friends with those who disagree. Rather, I am trying to make a point- one that shows there is no consistent standard on the left. One that proves that any talk of appropriations is extremely misguided.

Transgenderism isn’t gender appropriation any more than acting is cultural appropriation.  Listening to rap music or enjoying a cup of coffee aren’t appropriations either. All are products of hundreds of years of intertwined culture and innovation. They are things we should be proud of, not things we should assign to certain people.

When used to describe the United States, the term “melting pot” has slowly changed to “a mosaic” in textbooks. I’m partial to the first term. Mosaics split colors and shapes into factions. They form an image not by mixing and blending different colors and spirits together, but rather by crushing tile and assembling a jagged image that starkly separates each piece from its companion. A melting pot accepts any and all objects that enter it. It is heated by the fire of a thousand nations, and its product is strengthened by the unique merits of the materials that compose it. What goes in is not the same as what comes out, but what comes out is united. What emerges is a stronger material, a better metal. Diversity is weak without some semblance of unity. And unity comes from accepting all cultures and traits and objects as one thing alone: American.

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