Preventing “Cultural Appropriation” and the Demand for Ethnoracial Purity

The University of Michigan has recently announced that it seeks to hire a “bias incident-prevention and -response coordinator” whose job will entail the creation of “cultural appropriation-prevention initiatives.” In other words, it will be this individual’s job to decide under what circumstances white students taking yoga classes, or wearing hoop earrings, have committed that newly minted sin. Professor Fred Baumann responds with an open letter to the university’s president, Mark Schlissel:

It occurred to me . . . that the last official I know of whose job was to prevent cultural appropriation was Hans Hinkel. So who was he? When the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, as you may know, every Jew in any cultural position was fired. My father was a young assistant director at the Berlin City Opera and he and his boss, Kurt Singer, also a Jew, lost their jobs. My father had the idea of telling the Nazis, “Okay, you say we’re a different culture; well then, you logically need to allow us to have our own cultural institutions.” Out of that came the Jewish Cultural League, which was headed by Singer, and was able to carry on Jewish cultural life with Jewish artists for Jewish audiences until after the beginning of the war.

My father directed operas but was also the “internal censor.” The man he worked with to make sure that the Nazis were okay with what was being performed and didn’t think the Jews were appropriating Aryan culture was a special commissioner for “cultural particulars” named Hans Hinkel. Now I gather you are taking up the same line of work. From Hinkel to Schlissel, or so it appears.

Unfair? Well, President Schlissel, it grieves me deeply that you seem to have so little memory of the past. . . . Cultural purism is folly and its genesis is invariably chauvinist and very often racist. So why, oh why, are you encouraging the rebirth of this hateful thing?

You have 2 free articles left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Anti-Semitism, Arts & Culture, Nazism, Political correctness, University

The Syrian Civil War May Be Coming to an End, but Three New Wars Are Rising There

March 26 2019

With both Islamic State and the major insurgent forces largely defeated, Syria now stands divided into three parts. Some 60 percent of the country, in the west and south, is in the hands of Bashar al-Assad and his allies. Another 30 percent, in the northeast, is in the hands of the mostly Kurdish, and American-backed, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The final 10 percent, in the northwest, is held by Sunni jihadists, some affiliated with al-Qaeda, under Turkish protection. But, writes Jonathan Spyer, the situation is far from stable. Kurds, likely linked to the SDF, have been waging an insurgency in the Turkish areas, and that’s only one of the problems:

The U.S.- and SDF-controlled area east of the Euphrates is also witnessing the stirrings of internal insurgency directed from outside. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, “236 [SDF] fighters, civilians, oil workers, and officials” have been killed since August 2018 in incidents unrelated to the frontline conflict against Islamic State. . . . The SDF blames Turkey for these actions, and for earlier killings such as that of a prominent local Kurdish official. . . . There are other plausible suspects within Syria, however, including the Assad regime (or its Iranian allies) or Islamic State, all of which are enemies of the U.S.-supported Kurds.

The area controlled by the regime is by far the most secure of Syria’s three separate regions. [But, for instance, in] the restive Daraa province in the southwest, [there has been] a renewed small-scale insurgency against the Assad regime. . . .

As Islamic State’s caliphate disappears from Syria’s map, the country is settling into a twilight reality of de-facto division, in which a variety of low-burning insurgencies continue to claim lives. Open warfare in Syria is largely over. Peace, however, will remain a distant hope.

You have 1 free article left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: ISIS, Kurds, Politics & Current Affairs, Syrian civil war, Turkey