woman in sombrero with margarita Racism? Cultural appropriation? drink-play-love

Go ahead, wear that oversized sombrero!

Getting carried away with the liberal sin of political correctness

I’m often accused of being a liberal (as if that were an insult) and a radical leftist (among other things not fit to print), and I get why.

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I side with liberals and progressives on most matters of public policy because conservative policy ideas are mostly bromides of feckless, fustian rubbish. Don’t get me wrong, though: while I am very political, I am decidedly not ideological.

Which brings me to Cinco de Mayo. As usual, it came and went here in Mexico with barely a notice, kind of like Arbor Day in the United States. I went to the bank, went to work, and my kids went to school. I also read the dumbest article in my life, written by a fourth-generation Mexican-American, entitled “On Cinco de Mayo, here’s how not to be racist.”

The author went through the usual banal litany of things not to do in order to avoid the liberal sin of “cultural appropriation” – don’t wear oversized sombreros or Mariachi outfits, and don’t host Mexican-themed parties, among other things.

The author was apparently deeply offended by non-Mexicans celebrating with these distinctly Mexican pop-culture symbols, and thought all Mexicans should be too.

Which is funny. I’ve lived in Mexico for 15 years. While you could probably find one if you tried hard enough, I’ve never heard of a Mexican being offended by anything mentioned in the article (or anyone dressing up as Zorro or Frida Kahlo on Halloween, for that matter).

I don’t know, perhaps the author is too far removed from the reality of Mexican society, or drank too deeply from the well of liberal Kool-Aid that is political correctness.

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The author did not apparently realize, nor did her editor, that racism is very different from “cultural appropriation.” The latter is a silly ideological shibboleth of the Left, firmly rooted in political correctness, not racism.

If you get bien pedo on margaritas while wearing a sombrero, you’re not a racist, or for that matter even a cultural appropriator.

If, on the other hand, you don a sombrero in the Home Depot parking lot with a sign that reads “Build that Wall!” you are, at the very least, an ignorant and misguided hillbilly xenophobe.

The Onion, my favorite satirical rag, recently ran a piece that explained why Cinco de Mayo was not a celebration of Mexico’s independence but rather the Battle of Puebla: “because Diez y Seis de Septiembre was too clunky to catch on with beer distributors.” That’s the spirit, and funny.

So, lighten up, liberals, you didn’t appropriate anybody’s cultural intellectual property by drinking a Corona while wearing a sombrero on Cinco de Mayo.

Glen Olives Thompson is a professor of North American Law at La Salle University in Chihuahua, a specialist in law and public policy and a frequent contributor to Mexico News Daily. Some of his other non-academic work can be viewed at glenolives.com

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  • David Nichols

    Well said Glen,
    I have lived in Manzanillo since 1987 and can count on one hand the number of my Mexican friends who have ever had a fiesta on 5 May…and a majority don’t even know what this “holiday” celebrates.
    Certainly none care if I wear a sombrero, sin embargo el tamano de esta, but when I wear my gorra de futbolistas Las Aguilas aqui, eso Es una problema para mi…!

  • Asher Kipton

    I wonder why we never hear of Mexicans, Native Americans or African Americans having a jolly fun time getting together and pretending they’re white Americans. Almost makes you think that cultural appropriation might be something a little more complex than a “silly ideological shibboleth of the Left.”

    But enough of that boring stuff. It’s way more fun to put on an oversized sombrero and down margaritas than it is to ponder why it’s typically the culturally dominant group that finds it amusing to stereotype, trivialize and mimic the dress and mannerisms of a culture that’s marginalized or oppressed.

    Have another tequila shot and if anyone complains then just throw out the usual tiresome and trite: “Lighten up! We were only having a bit of fun! Surely no one would be offended would they? Don’t be such a politically correct bore!” Hmmm… Maybe cultural appropriation is a little closer to racism than we’d like to admit?

    • mikegre

      Well, if you’re so overwrought about cultural appropriation, may I suggest our Mexican neighbors forgo wearing shoes?

      • Garry Montgomery

        We do, as much as possible. But what’s your point?

    • Garry Montgomery

      Be aware the article was written by an obviously left-wing-nut college professor who clings to the border for fear of Mexicanism

    • Glen Olives

      I think the problem with iliberal liberals who chatter on about cultural appropriation is that otherwise politically moderate people roll their eyes; they alienate people could otherwise be allies on important racial and social justice issues. Mexicans are not offended non-Mexicans celebrate Cinco de Mayo, nor in my view should they be. Similarly, I’ve never heard of an Irish person complaining about cultural appropriation when non-Irish people celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

      • Asher Kipton

        What I get from the article is the message: “People, you are fine to continue trivializing, stereotyping and mocking the Mexican culture! Don’t even consider that some Mexicans may find it offensive and insulting. Mexicans aren’t individuals – they all think and act the same….and guess what? I know how they all think! And I know they’re not offended by cultural appropriation.”

        Now THAT attitude is undeniably superior and elitist…..or worse. By suggesting that members of a group act and think homogeneously it draws a circle around them and says they’re separate. They’re not like ALL OF US – they’re different.

        Social justice is clearly not your area of expertise, but if you’re going to write about cultural appropriation it might have been worth trying to get a little more in-depth understanding of it. You know, things like the importance of context. And the power dynamics involved when a dominant culture takes on stereotypical elements of a culture they systematically marginalize. All tedious “chatter” I know, but it would have prevented you from making the laughable comparison between Cinco de Mayo and St Patrick’s Day.

        And if you’re still unsure what cultural appropriation is all about, I’d suggest looking again at the publicity in the media of various members of the “build the wall” brigade drinking themselves under the table on margaritas and having a great time being Mexicans for a day. This, if nothing else, should show you why cultural appropriation isn’t just a bit of harmless fun. It tells people that it’s ok to love the culture but remain prejudiced against its people. In other words, it lets white Americans say to Mexicans: “We want your tequila and your sombreros and your other stuff, but we don’t want you!!”

        • Glen Olives

          I think you may have read a different article. I very specifically said that celebrating Cinco de Mayo was NOT in fact cultural appropriation. If it is, as you more than suggest, the logical conclusion must be that celebrating St. Patrick’s Day by non-Irish is as well (you didn’t mention why that analogy is “laughable”), as would be Asians celebrating Christmas, ad infinitum; the logical conclusion that we must all be trapped into the culture in which we were born. I think this is the perfect example of the absurdities of iliberal liberalism lead to. Notably, I very specifically made the distinction of a racist Trump supporter wearing a sombrero. If you did read this op-ed, you did so very selectively.

  • The article you read obviously was something from above the Rio Bravo. PC runs wild up there due to your fellow lefties. It doesn’t down here. Big difference. That it does not run wild down here, or even exist for the most part, is something we must celebrate daily. I do.

    • Glen Olives

      Agreed.

  • Garry Montgomery

    ” conservative policy ideas are mostly bromides of feckless, fustian rubbish” . . . ah, a college professor? Of course! and his biased bent shows through.

  • alance

    I love the term cultural appropriation and other ridiculous snowflake ideas. The absurdity of political correctness cost Clinton the election and may be the death of the English language as we know it. Forget about the freedom of speech. Political correctness will be the death of American culture.

    God bless Mexico.

  • K. Chris C.

    Collect that rainwater while you can. The US tyranny is fining and even imprisoning Americans for collecting rainwater on their properties.

    “Strict regulations and restrictions have been put in place over the
    last century. Currently, nine states have laws restricting the
    collection of rainwater, but the severity of those laws differ.

    The issue of illegally harvesting rainwater went viral in 2012 when a
    64-year-old man, Gary Harrington, was sentenced to 30 days in jail in
    Oregon [for “illegal” rainwater collection reservoirs on his property].”
    –AccuWeather

    An American citizen, not US subject.

  • Crewlaw

    Yes my fellow Americans, put on all the sombreros you want and say “seeeeeenior” a lot too. I mean, if some guy named Glen Thompson says that’s not reinforcing an old worn out offensive stereotype of a whole country and its people, then it must be just fine. Indulge yourselves, pobrcitos, god knows you should show no restraint while ‘celebrating’ another country’s holiday.

  • Mike S

    “Political correctness” is an attack phrase used by the right to disparage liberals. Bill OReilley and Shane Hannity were good at that. But PC is practiced in different forms by both the left and right. The conservatives are unaware of their version:

    “…conservatives have their own, nationalist version of PC, their own set of rules regulating speech, behavior and acceptable opinions. I call it “patriotic correctness.” It’s a full-throated, un-nuanced, uncompromising defense of American nationalism, history and cherry-picked ideals. Central to its thesis is the belief that nothing in America can’t be fixed by more patriotism enforced by public shaming, boycotts and policies to cut out foreign and non-American influences.

    Insufficient displays of patriotism among the patriotically correct can result in exclusion from public life and ruined careers. It also restricts honest criticism of failed public policies, diverting blame for things like the war in Iraq to those Americans who didn’t support the war effort enough.”

    Alex N

    • Glen Olives

      Yes, you’re right about that: political correctness cuts both ways, although conservatives will never admit that. For them, being political correct is tantamount to being ideologically pure, which must include hyper-patriotism.

  • Alex Double

    That’s the way to do it!!

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