Among the many silly ideas of young leftists who want to appear good without the hassle of doing good, “cultural appropriation” stands alone. Since it’s spreading among American undergrads at a bubonic pace, it deserves a closer look.
According to Fordham law professor Susan Scafidi, cultural appropriation is “taking intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions or artifacts from someone else’s culture without permission. This can include unauthorized use of another culture’s dance, dress, music, language, folklore, cuisine, traditional medicine, religious symbols, etc.”
Right here on NRO, Katherine Timpf has chronicled a smattering of recent appropriation crises: Westerners eating sushi, studying yoga, wearing toe rings. Professor Scafidi explains that appropriation is worst when “the object of appropriation is particularly sensitive” and religious in nature. Like yoga, which began as religious meditation, or toe rings, which — according to the online magazine Everyday Feminism — began as matrimonial accoutrements in the Orient.
Something else that has been appropriated from its religious origins: diatonic music — that is, virtually all modern music. The major and minor scales began as “church modes,” developed in the early churches of Europe. Church modes evolved from the Temple music of Jerusalem — along with harmony, whose first historical appearance appears to have been the antiphonal hymns sung by the two choirs of Levites who stood and sang opposite each other in the Jewish Temple.
Young non-Christian, non-Jewish leftists must renounce music.