Trump says they’re all rapists. Some people in Arizona applauded Crazy Joe’s roundups of everybody with an accent, darkish skin or a vowel on the end of their name. But yesterday, on the fifth, people held parties, drank Coronas with a wedge of lime, ate guac without peas and maybe wore a sombrero.
Most of the festivities surrounding #CincodeMayo in the US are textbook examples of cultural appropriation, relegating the history and culture of Mexican people to novelty items. Mexican culture cannot be reduced to tacos, oversized sombreros and piñatas. https://t.co/kffsaJWPUJ
— Southern Poverty Law Center (@splcenter) May 5, 2018
It’s absurd enough that a once-honorable group has allowed itself to become a parody in search of a mission, but what could be gained by shifting from condemning lynchings and unmasking the Klan to scolding party-goers for enjoying a taco?
Of all the piddling complaints that bring ridicule down on the unduly passionate, cultural appropriation is the biggest head-shaker. If we can share in the horror of police killing black guys, we just can’t get worked up over a white girl in hoop earring. If this causes you to lose sleep, then get Ambien because the only cure for your horror is drugs.
This isn’t real. This isn’t violence. But most importantly, this is the way to accomplish two things that probably aren’t intended: first, to the extent people are concerned about serious harms caused by inequality, you lose their concern. You drive them away by making such a bit of trifling nonsense into such a huge deal. You scold them. You shame them. You tell them they’re evil racists for having a party, for having some Mexicano fun because somewhere there’s some teary-eyed Mexican whose feelings are hurt because you’re wearing their sombrero, and you’re not a Mariachi. Poor baby.
Your scolding hasn’t changed their minds, made them see that by drinking a Corona, they’re “reducing” Mexican culture to a cartoon. That’s because they’re not, except to that very small cohort of social justice warriors who will believe anything. There will, these days, always be someone, somewhere, who takes offense at everything.
The rest of us have no plan to live in their miserable world. We want to have some fun, celebrate the culture (even if we do it wrong, according to the officious scolds) and enjoy some guac. Why? Because it’s delicious. If your complaint is that we’re not allowed to enjoy foods of other cultures, you’re fighting a battle that you will not only lose, but will invoke the enmity of all. Do you think Mexicans running restaurants won’t serve dinner to patrons who don’t pass a purity test?
The other thing you accomplish is driving away those who have no animus toward Mexicans. You prove that the forces of equality are a bunch of over-reaching, petty crazies. If the option you present is to be scolded by the ideologically pure for not meeting your degree of “respectfulness,” and screaming racist at people who don a sombrero for fun, then you’ve lost us.
Sure, there are people who hate Mexicans, believe Trump when he says they send all their criminals here and assume every Mexican is an illegal. But that’s not the vast majority of Americans, who see them as people, some good, some not, but just as welcome as anyone else. And these are the people you’re going to scream at, attack, for letting their kids swing at a piñata?
If you want people to be welcoming, accepting of others, because in your obsessively ideological view this must be rammed down their throats as Mexicans can’t manage to be accepted as people without your shrill admonitions, it would be far more effective for everyone to enjoy Cinco de Mayo, to embrace that little piece of Mexican culture as a good time. Fun Mexican culture is a far more useful game-changer than outraged Mexican culture.
And as for you, Southern Poverty Law Center, I remember hearing Morris Dees speak years ago, back when your mission was focused on serious issues, on life and death issues, and found him enormously inspiring. People are still dying, yet you put Christina Hoff Sommers on a list of misogynysts?
I get it. You’ve been seized by the ideological purists, who spend their days and nights turning over rocks to find heretics to out. You’ve gone from lynching blacks to torching the unorthodox. In the process, an organization that once held great, and well-deserved, respect has reduced itself to a joke, scouring the internets for people using unapproved words and standing up for that one person somewhere who will always be offended.
It’s a terrible shame to see SPLC spiral down the bowl this way. Maybe you need a day off, time to take a step back and remember why you exist, for serious issues and real harm. Chillax. Have a Corona with a lime, some guac, and maybe take a poke at a piñata. It’s fun and makes you appreciate Mexicans even more.