Image

Mark Steyn

Steyn on the World

The Appropriations Committee has Passed Sentence

My old friend Jonathan Kay was unable to resist some snide and bitchy Tweeting when CRTV dumped me two months ago, so I can't deny the malicious old queen in me would quite enjoy reciprocating now that he's out as editor of Canada's allegedly prestigious magazine The Walrus. But, alas, my better angels are with Sheila Gunn Reid on this one:

While I should be enjoying the left eating themselves, I think every time the shutuppery bullies win is a bad thing.

Agreed. And the shutuppery is accelerating: It's just claimed its second Canadian magazine editor in a week - over "cultural appropriation", which like everything else these days started off as some obscure fetish only plonking humorless fringe Marxists cared about and then suddenly, in nothing flat, reared up like the shark in Jaws and started chewing up everyone on the beach. The Great Australian Wag Tim Blair explains what happened:

Earlier this month... the imaginatively-titled journal Write [published by the Writers' Union of Canada] presented an extremely helpful guide to our future under politically-correct rule.

The trouble began when Hal Niedzviecki, editor of [Write, the magazine, wrote a mild and cogently-argued opinion piece. In it, Niedzviecki revealed his personal concerns about the red-hot PC issue of cultural appropriation.

Basically, Niedzviecki cares very little for it.

"In my opinion, anyone, anywhere, should be encouraged to imagine other peoples, other cultures, other identities," he wrote.

"I'd go so far as to say there should even be an award for doing so – the Appropriation Prize for best book by an author who writes about people who aren't even remotely like her or him."

But as they advise in the Creative Writing courses: Write what you know - or else. Mr Niedzviecki's fellow Writers' Union of Canada official unionized writers didn't care for the cut of his appropriative jib. Alicia Elliott, a graduate of York University's Creative Writing program and former winner of Enbridge's Aboriginal Writing Challenge, said she was "literally shaking" after reading his piece. The last time I was "literally shaking" was when I overdid it in the gas-sniffing round of the Aboriginal Cultural Appropriation Awards ...whoops, you can't say that, can you?

So, as Tim Blair puts it, Hal Niedzviecki found himself "culturally appropriated right out of a job".

Then Jonathan Kay wrote a column suggesting that perhaps we need to kinda sorta have a debate on cultural appropriation before it all gets out of hand - and he too found himself culturally appropriated right out of a job. When an extremist hatemonger like Kay calls for a debate, all reasonable moderate people should call for him to be fired, and destroyed, and hounded from public life.

These aren't oil-patch newsletters or cookery magazines that find themselves sideswiped after carelessly dabbling in an issue that's of no particular relevance to them and decide to cut their losses before it leads to advertiser boycotts and falling stock prices. Both magazines pride themselves in being dedicated to the craft of writing and were addressing the central question of what it is a writer is free to write about. To me the only answer to that is: Everything. To Messrs Kay and Niedzviecki's bosses the answer is something far more mean and shriveled.

As the bestselling novelist Lionel Shriver put it when I interviewed her on this subject a couple of months back:

I have so little time for the concept of cultural appropriation, meaning that, as it applies to my occupation, you don't have the right to assume that you know what it's like to be someone other than yourself. Which is what fiction writers do.

Exactly so. As I said to Lionel:

Rudyard Kipling can write Indian and English characters, and Salman Rushdie can write Indian and English characters, and may the best man win.

But even to have to point that out is a defeat: As we agreed, the minute you have to state something so butt-numbingly obvious as that Shakespeare wasn't a Prince of Denmark or a Moor of Venice, you've lost. We've all lost. We're in a mad world, where it seems entirely normal for literary magazines to rule on what fictional characters a novelist is permitted to conceive.

Unlike the two Canadian editors, Lionel Shriver didn't go the perhaps-we-ought-to-have-a-debate route. She decided to throw the whole cultural-appropriation thing back in the appropriators' faces and appeared on stage wearing a sombrero. Naturally the organizers of the so-called "literary festival" stampeded to dissociate themselves, and most of the literary bigfeet could muster no more than tepid and equivocal support. Lionel is nobody's idea of a right-wing loon, but she recognizes, in a way that Kay and Niedzviecki did not, that you can't tiptoe up to this issue and meet the Appropriation mutaween halfway. "Screw off, you totalitarian tossers" is, in fact, the only reasonable response:

As I said, Lionel is nobody's idea of a hardcore right-winger like yours truly, but she's discovering that, when you need 'em, the respectable writers like, say, Francine Prose are never quite there for you. Jonathan Kay is likewise no right-winger, certainly not compared to his splendid mum Barbara. If memory serves, Jonathan has introduced me on stage in Toronto on two occasions, for both of which he volunteered his services. But more recently he has been on a bit of a political odyssey - to the point where he helped Justin Trudeau "write" his memoir. (It's not cultural appropriation if a francophone Liberal, or presumably a Pushtun warlord or a Bhutanese yakherd, pays an anonymous ghost-writer to pretend to be him.)

Over here on the far right, I'm always happy to have people meet me halfway. Indeed, at the moment, on everything that matters - trade, war, health care - there's very little agreement over anything on the American right. But on the left it's different. Increasingly, their view is that the great questions have been settled, there's only one correct answer, and you have to get all of them right - because an 80 per cent ally is, to the new mutaween, a 20 per cent enemy, as Niedzviecki and Kay have discovered.

As it happens, there's one almighty cultural appropriation going on right now. Indeed, it's a heist. The United Kingdom has become the acid-attack capital of the world. Female genital mutilation is practiced in "medical" clinics from Michigan to Melbourne. The taharrush has spread to Cologne and other Central European cities. Ritual beheading has come to French Catholic churches and upstate New York. And if you protest, "Look, I totally deplore all this cultural appropriation. I think it's outrageous that Britain and America and Australia and Europe are culturally appropriating acid attacks and FGM and beheading and honor killings", you're told, "No, no. That's diversity. It's vibrant. What's not to enjoy? It's a beautiful mélange - just like this new Homeland Security proposal to ban laptops from cabin baggage on translatlantic flights, because a western cultural artifact is being appropriated and weaponized in the cause of eastern jihadism. What a rich cultural co-mingling..."

Jonathan Kay thinks I'm a bit boorish and vulgar when I go on about such things. So I was hoping someone would maybe write a novel or make a film about it.

But that novel can never be written - because, under Writers' Union of Canada logic, only a Muslim could write it. Because in a vibrant diverse world, the one place that can't be diverse and vibrant is a work of art.

There's no internal consistency, no logic, no philosophical principle here. Only - as two Canadian editors learned last week - the brute power of a totalitarian left ever more inimical to the only diversity that matters: diversity of thought, diversity of expression.

Those who wish to reduce art to identity-group propaganda are deadly serious, and we could use a few more Lionel Shrivers. It's time we all donned sombreros and saddled up our donkeys to head these guys off at the pass.

~If you're a Founding Member of The Mark Steyn Club, feel free to hit the comments section below - or shoot Mark a tough question during his live Q&A session this Wednesday - 4pm Eastern, 1pm Pacific, 9pm London, 10pm on the Continent, and some ungodly hour on Thursday morning Down Under.

from Steyn on the World, May 15, 2017

 

The Incoming Roar

An all too typical week in 21st century headlines

Continue Reading

The Big Shut-Up

One of the most malign trends of our time is the ever more open refusal by one side to permit those on the other side to speak. As I always say, I don't care what side you pick on the great questions of the age - climate change, gay marriage, Islam, transgendered bathrooms, whatever - but, if you're on the side that says the other guy isn't entitled to a side, you're on the wrong side...

Continue Reading

A Great Statue, a Third-Rate Poem

Just to round out our coverage of this month's Munk Debate on the great migrations sweeping across Europe, here's my closing statement: UKIP leader Nigel Farage went first, very effectively; then Columbia historian Simon Schama, who chose to read out the famous "Meditation XVII" from John Donne's Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions; I was up next; and finally former UN Human Rights Commissioner Louise Arbour, who insisted that there's no difference between the once supposedly unassimilable Irish ...

Continue Reading

Market Forces

The following column appears in Australia's Herald Sun: On Saturday morning, I recalled a conversation over the summer with a German lady who had "found herself on the receiving end of some vibrant multicultural outreach..."

Continue Reading

Silent Night

The Middle East's beleaguered Christian minority ...and the silence of "Christendom"

Continue Reading

We Shall Fight on the Beaches

Here's the passage from America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It that got me in hot water with the totalitarian hacks of Canada's "human rights" commissions...

Continue Reading

Moderation and the Santa Clause

In today's Toronto Sun, Andrew Lawton pays his own anniversary tribute to America Alone...

Continue Reading

"Our Canadian Braveheart"

For my appearance at Parliament House in Canberra, I had the great privilege of being introduced by Australia's Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop. The last time she introduced me she had to sit through my version of "Kung Fu Fighting"...

Continue Reading

Live in Melbourne!

Steyn on stage for a rollicking 40 minutes at a gala night on his Australian tour

Continue Reading

The Blunder Down Under

Yeah, I know I said I was taking the summer off for some overseas research, but I can't resist commenting on Saturday's Australian election, which proved to be as big a fiasco as one could concoct for usurper Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull: It's not clear anybody will have a majority in the lower house, while the upper house is awash in independents and fringe parties (including the return of One Nation's Pauline Hanson) with little incentive other than to devise ever more excruciating ways to ...

Continue Reading

Just For Laughs Festival (Toronto branch)

As Douglas Murray writes in The Spectator: Hardly anything is less likely to keep people reading than to mention an exciting evening in Toronto. But stick with me...

Continue Reading

The One-Stop Shop for All Your Terror-Sentimentalizing Needs

One headline sums up all these stories

Continue Reading

Wanted: More Warts

Christian Kerr interviews "provoc­ative Canadian commentator Mark Steyn" in the weekend edition of The Australian about all the fun stuff...

Continue Reading

Toss Another Western Society on the Barbie?

Australia's population has just hit a new high of 24 million. But, as in Britain, Canada, France and elsewhere, the question is what's driving that population growth...

Continue Reading

Hold the Mohamed Salad

Yesterday was Sir John A Macdonald Day in my native land. Calgary got an early jump on the festivities, with a two Mohammed salute: A brazen shooting in Calgary, after a gunman opened fire inside TEN Nightclub. One person was shot, while bullets grazed by other unsuspecting patrons. As Tracy Nagai reports, two of the club's bouncers are now being called heroes. So what's up with that? Drunken brawlers getting out of hand? Drug dealers? Ted Cruz's psycho right-wing siblings mistaking the heavily ...

Continue Reading

When the Arab Spring Blooms in Paris and San Bernardino...

The "Facebook Revolution" five years on

Continue Reading

Imagine There's No ...Imagination

What kind of parochial solipsist would think that "Imagine" is an appropriate response a day after mass murder?

Answer: Apparently everyone in the western world...

Continue Reading

Jihad on a Tray

All Islam, all the time...

Continue Reading

The Clock Ticks On

"If You See Something, Say Something" - unless it's something that might get you accused of Islamophobia, in which case keep it to yourself...

Continue Reading

There's a Bear in the Sand...

The end of a very strange week

Continue Reading

Following the Leaders

From Trump and Sanders to Corbyn and Turnbull - via a somewhat less certain leadership scene in Canada

Continue Reading

Violent Extremistan vs the dar al Gay

Snapshots of the world: ~From Politico: On Friday evening, the White House was glowing with pride. The Obama administration bathed the north side of the executive mansion in rainbow-colored light to celebrate the Supreme Court's Friday ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges...

Continue Reading

Nothing Another 42,000 Airstrikes Can't Fix

At Friday's Department of Defense press briefing, Brigadier General Thomas Weidley gave it the full Baghdad Bob: In Ramadi, after a period of relative stability in the tactical situation, Daesh [Isis] executed a complex attack on Iraqi Security Forces today. These forces were able to repel most of these attacks, but some gains were made by Daesh in previously contested areas... Iraqi Security Forces, as well as federal and local police, continue to control most of the key facilities, ...

Continue Reading

Living History

"Countering Violent Extremism" - and encountering it...

Continue Reading

Where's the Lead in the Pencil?

The cover of this week's Charlie Hebdo (right) shows Mohammed shedding a tear and holding up a "Je suis Charlie" sign under the headline "Tout est pardonné" - all is forgiven. The illustration is unclear: Is Mohammed forgiving the secular leftie blasphemers? Or are the secular lefties forgiving Mohammed and his murderous believers..?

Continue Reading

A Non-Essential New Year

A Happy New Year to all our readers around the world...

Continue Reading

Elections Matter?

"Elections matter," declared President Obama in his 2012 victory speech. "Elections matter," he reiterated shortly before the 2014 midterms.

But it turns out they don't. Not to him...

Continue Reading

A Death in Syria

President Obama dishonors an American's death

Continue Reading

The Will to Fell

The 25th anniversary of Eastern Europe's prison breakout

Continue Reading

The Strong Horse

From General Maude to ISIS: The rise and fall of the western Middle East

Continue Reading

Young Turks

In the Netherlands, a "moderate Muslim" is someone who thinks Isis is a Zionist front group

Continue Reading

Darkness Falls

One hundred years ago today - at dusk on August 3rd 1914 - Sir Edward Grey, the British Foreign Secretary, made a famous observation that endured across the decades...

Continue Reading

The Shot Heard Down the Years

One hundred years ago today - June 28th 1914 - Gavrilo Princip shot the Archduke Franz Ferdinand...

Continue Reading

Leaving From Behind

Back in the real world, Republicans don't lose wars and Democrats don't lose wars; America loses wars...

Continue Reading

Helicopters on the Roof

In May 2011, in the wake of Osama bin Laden's death, CNN's Fareed Zakaria wrote a column headlined "Al Qaeda Is Over"...

Continue Reading

Alone Again, Naturally

Mark's bestselling book is more timely than ever, from Japan to Britain...

Continue Reading

All Quiescent on the Western Front

In the London business paper City AM, John Hulsman writes: The greatest global political risk can't be found in Kiev, eastern Ukraine or any of the other hotspots that get the media so excited. It lies in the perception of Western weakness...

Continue Reading

East of Suez

The British withdrawal ...and America's

Continue Reading

Settled Science, Iced In

Steyn returns to the Speccie

Continue Reading

Funeral Spice

"I don't want to be emotional but this is one of the greatest moments of my life," declared Nelson Mandela upon meeting the Spice Girls in 1997. So I like to think he would have appreciated the livelier aspects of his funeral observances. The Prince of Wales, who was also present on that occasion in Johannesburg, agreed with Mandela on the significance of their summit with the girls: "It is the second-greatest moment in my life," he said. "The greatest was when I met them the first time." His Royal Highness and at least two Spice Girls attended this week's service in Soweto, and I'm sure it was at least the third-greatest moment...

Continue Reading

Surrender in Geneva

Worse than Munich

Continue Reading

American Ineffectualism

For generations, eminent New York Times wordsmiths have swooned over foreign strongmen, from Walter Duranty's Pulitzer-winning paeans to the Stalinist utopia to Thomas L. Friedman's more recent effusions to the "enlightened" Chinese Politburo. So it was inevitable that the cash-strapped Times would eventually figure it might as well eliminate the middle man and hire the enlightened strongman direct...

Continue Reading

The Princess and the Brotherhood

After midday prayers on Wednesday, just about the time the army were heading over to the presidential palace to evict Mohammed Morsi, the last king of Egypt was laying to rest his aunt...

Continue Reading

Obama's Melting Wings

In Enniskillen, Berlin and beyond, gassy platitudes only get you so far...

Continue Reading

The Less Unwon War

Ten years ago, along with three-quarters of the American people, I supported the invasion of Iraq. A decade on, I'll stand by that original judgment. ...

Continue Reading

An unstable truce with the Axis of Crazy

I greatly enjoy the new Hollywood genre in which dysfunctional American families fly to a foreign city and slaughter large numbers of the inhabitants as a kind of bonding experience...

Continue Reading

William & Kate have nothing on Obama

From the New York Daily News:

"Snooki Gives Kate Middleton Advice On Being A New Parent."

Great! Maybe Kate could return the favor and give Snooki and her fellow Americans some advice,,,

Continue Reading

U.S., Europe on different paths to same place

The Eurovision Song Contest doesn't get a lot of attention in the United States, but on the Continent it's long been seen as the perfect Euro-metaphor. Years before the euro came along, it was the prototype pan-European institution and predicated on the same assumptions. Eurovision took the national cultures that produced Mozart, Vivaldi and Debussy, and in return gave us "Boom-Bang-A-Bang" (winner, 1969), "Ding-Ding-A-Dong" (winner, 1975) and "Diggi-Loo-Diggi-Ley" (winner, 1984). The euro took the mark, the lira and the franc, and merged them to create the "Boom-Bang-A-Bang" of currencies...

Continue Reading

Facebook also a loser in Egypt

So how's that old Arab Spring going? You remember – the "Facebook Revolution"...

Continue Reading

THE YEAR ACCORDING TO STEYN

From Arab Spring to American Autumn, Weiner twitpics to federal diapers, the Pundette has compiled an excellent round-up of Mark's view of 2011

Continue Reading

THE LESSON ACCORDING TO LUKE

Our lesson for today comes from the Gospel according to Luke. No, no, not the manger, the shepherds, the wise men, any of that stuff, but the other birth: But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. That bit of the Christmas story doesn't get a lot of attention, but it's in there – Luke 1:13, part of what he'd have called the back story, if he'd been a Hollywood screenwriter rather ...

Continue Reading

THE LESSON ACCORDING TO LUKE

"Useful stories" we forgot the usefulness of

Continue Reading

THE FRAUD OF "YOU'RE NOT ON YOUR OWN" ECONOMICS

The President's wretched speech in Kansas

Continue Reading

THE SQUANDERING OF THE UNIPOLAR MOMENT

What does America have to show for its investment in Egypt and Afghanistan?

Continue Reading

ARAB SPRING, COPTIC WINTER

As the Jews learned long ago, and the Copts are realizing now, Egypt has spent 60 years getting worse, and is now getting worser.

Continue Reading

IN THE DANGER ZONE

"It's the end of the world as we know it," sang the popular musical artistes REM many years ago. And it is. REM has announced that they're splitting up after almost a third of a century. But these days who isn't? The Eurozone, the world's first geriatric boy band, is on the verge of busting apart. Chimerica, Professor Niall Ferguson's amusing name for the Chinese-American economic partnership that started around the same time REM did, is going the way of Wham!, with Beijing figuring it's the George Michael of the relationship and that it's tired of wossname, the other fellow, getting equal billing but not pulling its weight.

Continue Reading

GAGGING US SOFTLY

In this anniversary week, it's sobering to reflect that one of the more perverse consequences of 9/11 has been a remorseless assault on free speech throughout the west. I regret to say that, in my new book, I predect this trend will only accelerate in the years ahead. The essay below was written as last week's National Review cover story: To be honest, I didn't really think much about "freedom of speech" until I found myself the subject of three "hate speech" complaints in Canada in 2007. I ...

Continue Reading

THE DEMOGRAPHY OF DEBTORS

HAPPY WARRIOR from National Review The other day, Abdul Qadir Fitrat, the governor of Afghanistan's central bank, fled the country. The only wonder is that there aren't more fleeing. Not Afghans; central bankers. I mean, you gotta figure that throughout the G-20 there are more than a few with the vague but growing feeling that the jig's up big time. Round about the time the Afghan central banker was heading for the hills, the Greek central banker ventured some rare criticisms of his government ...

Continue Reading

Image

The Mark Steyn Club

Member Login

Email:

Password:

Not yet a member of the Mark Steyn Club? Join now!

Follow Mark

Facebook  Twitter  YouTube  Join Mailing List

Search SteynOnline.com

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

© 2017 Mark Steyn Enterprises (US) Inc. All rights reserved.
No part of this website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied, modified or adapted, without the prior written consent of Mark Steyn Enterprises.