Social Justice

Halloween Is for Irish People Only; For Anyone Else, It’s Racist Cultural Appropriation

A year ago, lecturer Erika Christakis wrote an email criticizing Yale’s attempt to control students’ Halloween costumes. Christakis suggested that students, as adults, are capable of policing themselves, that the boundary between acceptable and unacceptable costumes is contestable, and that Halloween is holiday meant to allow people to indulge in certain transgressions. Students harassed her until she left her job. You can watch here as a mob of students at Yale University surrounded her husband, Nicholas Christakis, to browbeat him into submission after he stood up for Erika.

What’s ironic about all of this is that almost all of these Yale students, though desperate to prevent racist and insensitive cultural appropriation, would later go on to engage in insensitive, racist cultural appropriation themselves, as they have done year after year since early childhood.

Let’s be clear: Halloween is for Irish people and for Irish people only. Or, more precisely, it’s for people who are of sufficiently robust Gaelic descent. If you are not Irish, but you celebrate Halloween, then you are engaging in racist cultural appropriation.

If you know anything about Irish history (I assume the Yale students in question do not), you know that the Gaelic people have been systematically oppressed, murdered, raped, enslaved, starved, and abused. Even the word “Halloween” stems from cultural imperialism and genocide, as the Christian conquerors replaced the authentic holiday of Samhain with their Christianized holidays of All Hallows’ Day and All Hallows’ Eve (i.e., Halloween).

Samhain is a rich holiday with a noble and storied tradition. It’s a holiday that belongs to a formerly (and to some degree, currently) oppressed ethnic group. Yet most people in the US and Canada, and many in Europe, Mexico, South America, and elsewhere, feel free to appropriate this sacred festival for their own purposes. They mock it by wearing inauthentic costumes, drinking too much (itself a racist mockery of the drunken Irish stereotype), and exchanging inauthentic store-bought candies instead of the traditional treat.

Again, for non-Irish person to participate in Halloween at all is equivalent to a white person donning a traditional Native American headdress or wearing blackface. The American Halloween tradition, which encourages everyone to mock and insult the sacred Irish festival of Samhain, is at least as insulting as Chief Wahoo, the “Redskins” name, or the Blackhawks’ logo.

I sure hope the woman with her fist raised in the picture below did not trick or treat at any point in her life. If she did, she’s a racist, and she owes Irish people an apology. If she has celebrated Halloween, I hereby give her the middle finger, and I expect a written apology immediately.

As we all know, the norm at American universities is that anyone who is slighted is thereby entitled to make demands. On behalf of people of Irish descent everyone, I demand Yale University take the following actions:

1. Yale University’s President Peter Salovey must immediately issue a memorandum explaining the festival of Samhain to students and urging students not to participate in Halloween celebrations unless they are of at least 50% Irish descent.

2. Yale University must create an Irish studies program to bring to light the long history of rape, slavery, murder, conquest, and theft the Irish have suffered at the hands of the English and others. The Irish studies classes should also highlight the mistreatment of Irish immigrants to the United States. All Yale students must take at least one such class in order to graduate.

3. Professor Christakis should be fired immediately, without tenure review, for his part in perpetuating and legitimizing the racist appropriation of Samhain.

4. Any student of non-Irish descent who participates in any form of a Halloween celebration should immediately be placed on suspension, and should be required to attend 2 weeks of cultural sensitivity classes.

5. Yale University should make a commitment to hiring at least 10 faculty of Irish descent within the next 2 years.

6. Yale University must have a day of remembrance on campus in which speakers are invited to discuss the atrocities and attempted genocide the Irish faced at the hands of the English.

  • KevinDC

    Is there a term for the social justice equivalent to Poe’s Law? If not, there really needs to be.

    • Jason Brennan

      That this would be interpreted as a reductio rather than a serious argument shows just how deeply entrenched and legitimized anti-Irish racism is.

      • Puppet’s Puppet

        God bless you Irish-Americans for being the last group in this country to know what America is all about. You came from a part of the world that thought of you as barely human, endured all matter of ugly stereotypes when you came here, and pulled yourself into prosperity, all while having the most raucous fun embracing the most ridiculous, over-the-top stereotypes that anyone has ever fashioned, and inviting the rest of us in on the festivities. Unlike the rest of us identity-group citizens, you have the brains to know that a WASP chick staggering down Fifth Avenue with a giant leprechaun hat and a “kiss me; I’m Irish” button isn’t a sign of oppression; it’s a sign of success. My hat is off to you. I’ll still be out of your neighborhood by 10, because I’m brown and I ain’t stupid, but my hat’s off to ya.

        • Ciara Ní Mhurchú

          We in Ireland don’t consider those Americans as Irish. Irish are born and bred here in Ireland.

          • Jim Geary

            actually anyone of irish decent can apply for irish citizenship.

          • Ciara Ní Mhurchú

            Not true. However a Yank with an Irish passport is still a Yank who happens to have an Irish passport.

          • Elizabeth Mccloskey

            Afraid not Jim.

          • Marc Pleau

            That’s not true Ciara. dont be a divisionist. The people have suffered enough…the Irish in North America, if you CARE to remember, were refugees from a FAMINE. Thnks for playing, but, Go fuck yourself.

          • Ciara Ní Mhurchú

            No one cares Marc! The irish emigrants are people we care about but their Yank born ancestors, we couldnt care less!

          • MarbleChess

            You must have bad teeth and a drinking problem. You’re ugly as fuck. Yanks would call you a, “butter face”, except, you look fat.

          • Ciara Ní Mhurchú

            And their kids and grandkids are Yanks. Got it yet?

          • Marc Pleau

            well, I was trying to be nice before, but’I I see ya nothin’f but a ragin’ Cunt. So, go suck the barb off a barnacle, ya ragin’ cunt!

          • Marc Pleau

            you dont speak for anyone, that just your opinion.

          • Conor Phillips

            As another Irish person I have to agree with Ciara. No one I know would consider Americans of Irish ancestry as being fully Irish. Being such requires having been raised here, being a part of the modern culture, the mindset etc.

            You may be of Irish ancestry but that doesn’t mean you spent years learning Irish in our school system, went to the GAA matches and know what it is to love your county, that you endured the recession, that you live and breathe our pop culture, our jokes, our, philosophies, that you know who we are in this day and age.

            None of this is to say that we don’t care about those of Irish descent, I love meeting and hearing their stories; it brings me close to my history. But you have to accept that it’s not the same.

          • Marc Pleau

            well, I want to tell you to fuck amach too….but then you redeemed your self in the end. Believe it or not. We are descendants of Irish People. so…..whether you want to accept us or not. We’re over here singing your louanges… the least you could do is be grateful. Otherwise, seeing as there are 10x as many People of Irish Descent in North America as there is in Ireland…..we could just as easily all decide to come back home. & thrust you so called Pure Eyre out. Cast you off to Rockall…or someshit, much in the same manner as the Anglo Twats cast out OUR Ancestors from Ireland hundreds of years ago. All you are doing is making enemies of your distant relatives. and people that wont be as respectful when they come visit their Homeland in the Olde World. You could be gracious. But instead, your just the same as the Anglos.

          • Conor Phillips

            There’s no need to be so hateful Marc. Jesus Christ, I gave you an honest answer relaying how people I know typically feel about the matter. I never questioned your heritage; of course Irish descendants are of our home. That will never change and no I’m not against that! No one is! We love everyone who is Irish! Your existence is an important part of Ireland’s heritage, of why it is what it is today. We love it when you guys come here and likewise I know many who love to visit their old family relations in North America.

            What people are referring to is the difference that comes with having grown and been raised in entirely different cultures. I have some Danish connections in my family but does that mean I’m also Danish? Of course not! I grew up in Ireland!

          • I’m of Irish descent (Canadian, not “Yank”) and I have to agree with Ciara and Conor. But understand, numbskulls aside, that there is most definitely a romanticism amongst us descendants. There is something about the Irish I find infinitely attractive and I’m trying to think of why, but I can’t find the words. I am of Pennsylvania Dutch origins on the maternal side, and I have little curiosity about that ancestry. I do love your country; I was there in 2014, and fell in love (and with a UK Ancestry Visa I could actually live in Northern Ireland). When I visited, I found an absolutely stunning country and a hardy, friendly (most of the time) people. I live in the States now. But all things Irish intrigue me. I really can’t say why. There’s an Irish arts center here in NYC and they actually teach the language. It’s on the bucket list. There is something special about Ireland. I just can’t put it into words.

          • MarbleChess

            You are not Inuit, Metis, or of the First Nations. Canada also had/has an indigenous population to be respected.

          • And your point is? Indigenous populations are to be respected? But I am not because you have assumed you know my heritage? You’d be surprised. What exactly do you think you know about my heritage?

            You remind me of the type of person who thinks that there are no blue eyed, blond haired Cubans. This is nothing less than racist dialogue on your part.

          • MarbleChess

            YES! They are to be respected! What the hell is wrong with you?! You are Euro-Canadian. Why is this so damn difficult to get through your thick skull?

            You must be one of those jackasses that believes the French and British are “native” to Canada.

          • MarbleChess

            And what tribes are all “Americans” from? Sioux, Apache, Comanche, Oneida, Navajo…etc?

          • Elizabeth Mccloskey

            Ciara stop using the term Yank…some Americans are ok with it but some find it offensive , and your tone suggests you are using it in a derogatory manner.

          • MarbleChess

            You are so unbelievably stupid. If you are not a NATIVE AMERICAN, then you are not NATIVE AMERICAN. News flash, idiot, …there are more “Irish” in America than Ireland. Get over it and stop being a bitter bitch.

            Do you know what NATIVE AMERICAN means? No, you don’t, cause you are what yanks call, “a dumb bitch”.

          • MarbleChess

            Your grandkids hopefully will not look like you.

          • Emma

            So what basically you’re insinuating is that because I’m American, but my family immigrated from Ireland (and a couple other white countries, to be fair.) I shouldn’t be allowed to appreciate current Irish culture but rather the culture from the date my ancestors immigrated and before that, but nothing after? If That’s what you mean, fair enough. But to cut us off from the far history is sort of alienating. We’re already in a country we dont have any culture ties to minus modern culture. I used to miss Ireland as a kid, I’d obsess over the history and the beauty of it all, I even tried to learn the language once but it turns out I’m not very good at languages (took Spanish like five times) and it made me feel a lot more closer to my family, and a lot more like I had a solid background like my friends who’s family were from other countries did. Just because our family moved and yours stayed doesn’t make us less connected. In my opinion.

          • Ciara Ní Mhurchú

            You can appreciate it all you want however here in Ireland, you’re just another American tourist.

          • Elizabeth Mccloskey

            Those are your opinions Ciara …and I have to disagree with them 100% . As far as I am concerned even if a person is 1% Irish they would still be welcomed here as a son/daughter of Ireland.

          • MarbleChess

            Irish-Americans are just that…Irish-Americans. They are NOT INDIGENOUS NATIVES, Chinese, Hispanic, or Black, ya fuckin’ fool.

          • Charming.

          • MarbleChess

            Are you part of the Apache, Cherokee, Comanche, Choctaw, Hopi, Navajo, Sioux, etc (and the list goes on)?

            Then you’re a European, Asian, or African-American. You need to brush up on your world history. Many towns and cities in the United States are named after Native American tribes.

          • You’re replying to me but I’m not sure what you’re asking me. If I were a Sioux descendant, what would your point be? If my husband is Hopi, does he get more respect for that? Why does anyone get respect because of who they descended from? It seems to me your present day character and behavior is more or less deserving of respect than your ancestry. Over 50% of the world has been enslaved by men (I’m speaking of women who have been chattel for centuries). Simply because a person does not know the “history of the land” does not imply they are not respectful; they could simply be ignorant. Many of us are not historians and don’t care to engage in bickering over who is more or less deserving of respect because of their victimhood status.

            What I was responding to was your words that are not respectful or understanding of the people you are engaging with in the present. If you can’t do that NOW, how do you expect to engender respect in your audience for issues relating to the PAST? You do not display respect for the people you are engaging with right now.

            We all descend from people who have been oppressed in one way or another. That does not confer upon any of us special status. In fact, your comments below about “fat and ugly girls” demonstrate your callousness and cruelty to women who suffer from weight-related medical issues (and a certain ignorance regarding how people come to be that way).

            You can’t demand respect when you exhibit none. It doesn’t work that way. And if you want to convince a person of your point of view, I can tell you that throwing out ad hominen attacks only weakens your position, whatever it is (because it becomes obscured by your behavior).

            Try explaining what you’re trying to say without insulting people. It could be more effective and I for one would listen. I really would — unless you’re simply using this forum to be aggressive and to bully. That would suggest that you are unable to make an argument without aggression.

          • MarbleChess

            Then you are a NATIVE AMERICAN of the Sioux tribe. If you are of Irish descent, you are “Irish-American”. What is difficult about this concept?

            Respect? Do you know what happened to the Native Americans? Every kid in the 5th grade does.


          • MarbleChess

            Unless you are disabled, you are fat because you eat too damn much and don’t exercise. Period.

          • Look up PCOS. Learn something here.

            Beyond that, I know what happened to the natives in America. It still does not explain your insulting language and disrespect, and does nothing to further whatever argument you appear to be trying to make (and you’re making it poorly). That’s all for today. I have to do therapy with people motivated to behave in a civil fashion (and then I’m going to tattoo that dream catcher on my arm after work just for giggles). I’m going to appropriate. Sue me.

          • MarbleChess

            That’s under disability. Being fat has nothing to do with being Native American- NOTHING. I don’t need to sue you lol Come here with that on your arm and you’ll get an earful by many, and some will ask you what tribe you are from. You WILL look like a complete idiot…probably one with a fat ass, too.

            Clearly you do not know history, moron. This must be Ciara. If you can’t handle insults, you must be a snowflake.

          • MarbleChess

            Again, this is about identity. You can eat a cake a day-I don’t care. STAY ON TOPIC.

          • MarbleChess

            No one cares what the hell you have. This is about identity. Insult, and be insulted.

          • Must have hit a nerve there. Best of luck to you. You need it.

          • MarbleChess

            Like you need Jenny (or a face/brain transplant). Enjoy, narcissist.

          • MarbleChess

            Would you tattoo a dream catcher on your arm? Do you even know what that is?! No, you wouldn’t. It’s cultural appropriation of NATIVE AMERICAN culture. How Euros don’t know this is astounding.

            You are NOT smarter than a fifth grader!

          • Elizabeth Mccloskey

            Yes we do Ciara . Stop being antagonistic.

          • MarbleChess

            We in America don’t care what the fat and ugly girls think.

          • MarbleChess

            Guess we should culturally appropriate NATIVE AMERICAN ceremonial attire since we aren’t “Irish”. Dumbest bitch on the internet award goes to, Ciara!

        • MarbleChess

          The Irish became police officers, firefighters, and nuns. That is how they “made” it, after much discrimination and low-skilled employment, such as cooking and cleaning. Never mind the journey to cross the damn Atlantic.

      • ytzpzvgk

        This is not just a joking matter. The sad matter of the racism of Richard Jensen is a good example of how deeply entrenched the hatred happens to be. Jensen still has his tenure after publishing completely wrong information to serve his agenda.

      • Pochy

        I think Americans should stop using the term “Home Rule” because of its negative connotations in Irish History.

        • MarbleChess

          Are we talking about Native Americans, Asian-Americans, African-Americans, or European-Americans?

          You are aware that “America” didn’t start out as….”white”, aren’t you?

  • Hansjörg Walther

    Stop appropriating the language that rightfully belongs to the English.

    • Jason Brennan

      This is different. We are a colonized people and our language was taken from us.

      • Hansjörg Walther

        [With a deep sniffle:] No one respects the Irish more than I do, Paddy. I actually meant Americans.

      • Hieronymus Bosch

        It must be rough. How do you carry on?

      • The Night Rider

        The English language wasn’t even written before Irish scholars taught the English, when they found them living in muckshacks on the other island, how to read and write. See my comment above, the English are, at best, equal to the Irish only.

        • paul nash

          I wonder then why later there were so many mud huts in Ireland in Tudor times? The English language developed into modern English some centuries after the early Irish Christian missionary work.

      • Ciara Ní Mhurchú

        Youre American! You havent been colonized! Languages can be learned. You just arent interested enough to learn it.

        • Marc Pleau

          wow, eh. you are truly unfriendly. What is your problem anyway.

        • MarbleChess

          The American Revolution. You are so unbelievably stupid. Before that? Smallpox blankets given to the Native Americans by the Europeans.

      • MarbleChess

        You mean, like the NATIVE AMERICANS? Trail of tears and smallpox blankets. Learn some damn history.

        • Jason Brennan

          Who are the Native Americans? I don’t think I’ve ever head of them. What’s smallpox?

    • The Night Rider

      It was Irish scholars who taught the Angles to read and write, when they first found them on the other island. So while they had a rudimentary language, it was the Irish who brought it out of the oven. They also taught the English how to build stone houses with foundations as opposed to muck and bracken shacks.

      The only thing the English ever had on the Irish was numbers, manpower. All of the important stuff of the British Empire, the thinking, the logistics, the accounts, was handled by the Scots, who are essentially Irish anyway.

      • Hansjörg Walther

        I am all for stopping that kind of cultural appropriation, too. The English should refrain from reading and writing. And tear down their exclusively Irish stone houses (how about concrete, though?).

        • xinit

          I believe concrete is Roman.

          • Soarintothesky

            Well, they used naturally baked limestone from near Naples. It was the Welsh who invented modern concrete.

      • Soarintothesky

        The Monks at LLanilltyd had something to do with it too.

      • garner

        You do realise stone wall masonnery existed well before England and Ireland were different countries, in one sentance: fuck off paddy!!!

        • Elizabeth Mccloskey

          OMG were did you learn your history… England and Ireland have always been separate countries. England keeps stealing our land and we keep trying to get it back !

          • garner

            Not our fault you paddies aren’t able to rule themselves…

    • Marc Pleau

      Says the Viking. CLASS A appropriators !!!

    • Elizabeth Mccloskey

      Touche…….oh flip that’s french !

  • Mac

    Well as an Irish person, born and bred, I’d like to invite you all to continue to celebrate our festival of Samhain.
    If you have culture why not share it with the world I say.

    • Hansjörg Walther

      If it is not cultural appropriation, it is cultural imperialism. When I was a kid, no one in Germany knew about Halloween, let alone how to celebrate it. Now it is all over the place. My neighbors already put pumpkins on the stairs. That’s how you ram your culture down our throats. (If my neighbors read this: it looks so beautiful, thank you. And also thanks to the Irish, what a great tradition.)

      • Mac

        Cultural imperialism? I think not.
        BTW pumpkins aren’t Irish tradition. Try turnips for a more authentic look.

        • Vina Mc Mahon

          Have you ever carved a turnip?? The immigrants who decided to use pumpkins instead were some of the smartest people in history!!

          • Mac

            Ain’t that hard. Pumpkins are more common here now of course. We exported Halloween but imported pumpkins.

          • David Argentium

            Why yes, yes I have. Tough as shite but still works. And you can boil up your turnip inards with some taties and cabbage and a bit of bacon and have dinner the same day.

        • Hansjörg Walther

          Of course, only Americans can be cultural imperialists. They also stole Christmas trees from Germany and then invented Christmas pickles as a “German” tradition. What have the Americans ever done for us? I mean apart from the Marshall Plan, iphones, jazz, the Berlin airlift, Operation Little Vittles, rock ‘n’ roll, …

          • Hieronymus Bosch

            …the personal computer, the internet, the airplane, hip hop, blues, etc. you know, the small things

          • 😉

          • Mac

            Odd statement given our history of imperialism in Europe.

          • Hansjörg Walther

            You are appropriating our German sense of humor here. Zis is not funny.

          • Mac

            I apologise. I didn’t realise Germans had a sense of humour 😉

          • Hansjörg Walther

            Many people were against legalizing it. Up to 30 minutes on weekdays, but not on Sundays and national holidays.

          • OMG! I had two very good German friends. One of them passed a couple of years ago, but the other is still alive. And it takes a lot to make her laugh!

          • Hansjörg Walther

            Humor is no laughing matter.

            (And apologies for exposing you to passive joking.)

      • Actually in Germany, St. Martin’s Day used to be All Hallows Eve. Ancient German Heathens most definitely celebrated it and also carved jack o lanterns although turnips rather than pumpkins were used.

        • Hansjörg Walther

          Is this from the Odin Caricature Contest?

          • There is some joking here I know but I take my religion and ancestral Gods very seriously and so should you.

          • Hansjörg Walther

            So do I as an atheist.

          • Hansjörg Walther

            P. S. And thanks for the reply. In another comment I wondered whether there was some connection because the traditions looked so similar.

    • I’m on board! But let’s not share Christmas; nailing the poor guy to the cross was a bad idea. He should have run away instead. Save yourselves!!!

  • I don’t think this will have the impact that you’re hoping it will for a few reasons:

    1. The development of Halloween as a contemporary “holiday” is a lot more complicated and historically unclear than simply it being appropriated from Irish pagans. We have so little reliable information about Celtic pagans of that period, that it is questioned whether or not a widespread “end of summer” Celtic holiday was even a thing, and we do have evidence to suggest that the practices around All Hallows Eve originated independently within Christianity.

    2. If All Hallows Eve was created or shifted to more easily supplant an Irish festival happening at the same time, this is a fundamentally different practice than cultural appropriation. Appropriation is taking aspects of one culture into one’s own, while this practice served to bring Celtic pagans into Christian culture. Both, I would say are, in their consequences, wrong, but they are different practices.

    3. The idea that contemporary Irish face systemic oppression in the United States rests on some shaky ground. We do not, for example, get shot down disproportionately by police or arrested disproportionately for crimes, specifically drug crimes. We are not deported en masse. We are not currently being threatened to be deported en masse. We are not routinely denied service, nor is there a movement to give people the right to deny us service. Anti-Irish sentiment is definitely a part of American history, and that should not be forgotten, but it is not an issue facing contemporary Americans of Irish descent. The best example I can think of is the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, which is an example of an appropriated holiday that does reinforce negative Irish stereotypes that many college students do celebrate hypocritically. But the stereotypes played out there do not have a lasting impact on how contemporary Americans of Irish descent are treated in wider society. So, while annoying, I wouldn’t say it is a vector of oppression. By and large, Americans of Irish descent are considered white and have all of the privileges therein.

    4. Samhain is also still celebrated by contemporary neopagan Americans (and neopagans elsewhere in the world). It’s fairly common to be observed in some fashion by most neopagans, I would say, but most notably contemporary Druids, Celtic Reconstrucionists, and Wiccans. The holiday has different meanings and rituals depending on who is celebrating and what their priorities are, but we all take from what we know of historic celebrations of the end of summer.

    Cultural appropriation, historic Irish American discrimination, systemic oppression, and the way ancient pagan/Celtic rituals manifest in contemporary society are complicated, nuanced topics. I think there is certainly room for critique in how college students and those at Yale handle these topics and respond to them, but the reductio doesn’t really work here for lack of that acknowledgement.

    Full disclosure: I am a practicing Druid of Irish American descent, and I observe Samhain.

    • fionnchu
      • Exactly.

      • Akil

        It’s not a joke at heart; it’s a self-serious point framed in a manner that’s meant to come across as witty. Don’t cop out just because someone made a legitimate, serious, informed counterpoint that you don’t know how to refute in substance.

        • Michael Philip

          she hasn’t made a counter-point

          • PrincessOfTheCrystal

            she literally debunked everything the article was asserting. it’s baseless. the whole article is one big “hey non-white people, did you know nothing about your lives matters because of this one weird technicality?”

          • So my native religion is a “weird technicality” to you? I suggest you stay out of our traditions. You are not welcome in them.

        • aaronsingleton

          It was obviously intended as a joke. I think someone had a humorectomy recently.

          • King Goat

            A joke of course, but like most satire it did have a serious point at its heart as Akil said, namely the idea of cultural appropriation is silly, right?

          • aaronsingleton

            Of course it is silly. If everyone begins to adhere to that standard, where does it stop? But I didn’t need a joke to illustrate that for me.

          • King Goat

            What standard? If someone makes a joke-satire to poke fun at an idea being hotly debated, it’s not remarkable that someone might defend that idea in response.

          • aaronsingleton

            Look, we’re never going to agree. So how about we just part ways here, What do you say?

          • King Goat

            I’m glad you got on the Internet to get to that!

          • aaronsingleton

            To get to what? That I will never agree with you? Run along now and go try and appear intelligent on another comment.

          • King Goat

            A bot too much, eh?

    • Nathan Scott

      Get outa here you uncle Tom.

      • Akil

        Ah, you again. Well, that’s a really persuasive rebuttal, I must say.

      • Pochy

        Tam. Uncle Tam

    • Sean II

      Funny, you don’t look Druish.

    • William L. E. Freeland

      “We do not, for example, get shot down disproportionately by police or arrested disproportionately for crimes, specifically drug crimes.”

      What is the data supporting this. I think this is likely incorrect, possibly at very strinking levels, particularly if the methodology of Roland Fryer is (correctly) used. Strong claim and I’m skeptical, but could be wrong. Is this an assumption or have you examined the data?

      On economic matters of disperate impact, I know for a fact that the evidence supports racism having a deep and striking effect, granting disperat outcome as a legit standard.

      I think a lot of your premise on the state of Irish in America is a faulty premise. Are you sure, over and above critique, that you’re right about this?

    • Irfan Khawaja

      @Gina Luttrell: Forget the details of Brennan’s satire. The larger point he’s making is that it’s not clear what’s wrong cultural appropriation, or even what counts as a case of it. I rarely agree with Brennan, but he’s right on both counts. He’s right about the larger point even if he’s wrong about Halloween and the Irish.

      You seem to know the subject, so let me ask you a broader picture question that gets us past a pointless debate about the origins of Halloween: if you had to recommend a handful of readings explaining what “cultural appropriation” is, and why it’s supposed to be wrong, what would they be? (Preferably explaining both things to a skeptical audience.) I’m sympathetic to multiculturalism, but on my understanding of it (and not just mine), multiculturalism seems to *require* cultural appropriation. I see no reason to dial back my commitment to multiculturalism, and have never seen a good reason to reject cultural appropriation. Maybe views like mine are totally incoherent, but if so, I’d like to see an argument for the relevant conclusion. What should I be reading?

      • Sure, let me see what I can round up, and I’ll hit this back tomorrow with a more detailed response and some articles. Do you prefer academic readings, explanations for the wayman, or a mix of both?

        • Irfan Khawaja

          Thanks. I prefer academic readings. No rush.

        • aaronsingleton

          What is a wayman? And here I always thought it was “layman”. Silly me.

          • King Goat

            Do you think it’s a typo maybe?

          • aaronsingleton

            Doubtful. It is so funny when blowhards attempt to demonstrate their intellectual superiority and then fail when using common words. Just doing my part in serving some humble pie.

          • King Goat

            Lighten up, Francis. Typos are kind of common on the Internet.

          • aaronsingleton

            Typo? The L and W keys are a bit far apart for that excuse, no? Who the fuck is Francis?

          • King Goat

            “Typo? The L and W keys are a bot far apart for that excuse, no?”

            They’re a bot apart?

          • Irfan Khawaja

            You hit both L and W with the ring finger in standard position, and it’s easy to confuse the two. I understood what she meant. BTW, humble pie is best served cold, not served while looking and sounding like a fucking idiot.

          • Hansjörg Walther

            It might be a gesture of resistance against appropriating the alphabet from the Phoenicians.

          • Just…for the record:

            I was bitten by a dog and was without the use of the majority of my left hand when I typed this comment originally. I was using a mix of hunt-and-peck and voice dictation, which often produces unreliable results.

        • We shall wait with baited breath for that. Maybe it is time you actually did some research Gine Luttrell, instead of parroting inaccurate politically correct talking points as part of your anti racist virtue signalling.

      • Akil
        • Irfan Khawaja

          I need something higher caliber than either of those. Whether the author intended it or not, the first article implies that a Syrian refugee who comes to the United States is engaged in “cultural appropriation” when she learns English. (That’s a nearly trivial deductive implication of the author’s definitions of “culture” and “cultural appropriation.”) The implication would be that no immigrant should ever “appropriate” anything from the culture to which she’s moved, regardless of the survival value of doing so. Very convenient if you’ve spent your whole life “belonging” to a single culture, but not possible if you’re an immigrant of any kind anywhere. On the author’s view, a Syrian refugee in the US, Canada, Greece, or Germany should just keep speaking Arabic to everyone, even if no one understands her, even if her house is burning down and she needs to call the fire department, even if she’s in labor and needs to got the hospital, even if she’s just been robbed and needs the police…

          I recently signed up to work with Syrian refugees here in New Jersey. I start pretty soon. It’s my explicit intention to help them learn how to become successful cultural appropriators, so that they don’t go broke, go homeless, get robbed, get cheated, or starve to death. If there’s anything wrong with doing that, I’d love to know, but the first article, which sounds like it was written by and for little children, doesn’t tell me anything worth knowing.

          The second article starts with a disarming confession of failure, and descends from there:

          “To be honest, I don’t know that there is a thin, straight line between them [cultural appropriation and cultural exchange].

          “But even if the line between exchange and appropriation bends, twists, and loop-de-loops in ways it would take decades of academic thought to unpack, it has a definite starting point: Respect.”

          It’s an inauspicious start, and it isn’t redeemed by anything that comes later. If this was the best that could be said on behalf of the “cultural appropriation is bad” thesis, the only justifiable verdict would be: ridiculous. I’m open to considering a better case. As long as it IS a better case.

          • King Goat

            I’m not sure why acknowledging that there can be a fine, even somewhat blurry line between X and Y means that any idea about there being a distinction is wrong.

            Furthermore, the guiding principle you quote the author as citing strikes me as quite reasonable. I’ve often thought the costume controversy could be reduced to simpler ground if the ‘colonial studies’ type of rhetoric was dropped and it was instead framed in more common sense terms like: is your costume an honest attempt to pay respect towards or an attempt to make fun of a group (especially a group suffering from contemporary or relatively recent negative stereotyping)?

          • Irfan Khawaja

            She’s not just saying there’s a blurry line. She’s saying that for all she knows, there’s no line whatsoever. This is on top of insisting that…there’s a line, and she going to tell you what it is. It’s as though someone said, “I’m confused as hell, but don’t hold that against me–and now, back to my ferocious denunciations of you.”

            The issue here goes well beyond the costume controversy. For decades, those of us who have defended multiculturalism have had to face bigots who insisted that Western Culture was superior to all the rest, and that there was no sense in our internalizing or appropriating the products of any culture but “ours.” We’re members of Western Culture, so let’s stay that way.

            Now that the Western Culturalist have been on the defensive, their left-wing incarnation has stepped up, offering up an even dumber version of the same bigoted arguments. What they’ve done is to take the worst instances of racist caricaturing (e.g. blackface), *equate* that with cross-cultural exchange as such, and fabricate an entire mythology intended to prove that we should all just sit tight in our little cultural boxes for fear of contaminating ourselves or others with cultural exchange. Maybe Luttrell has something to offer that provides a defensible gloss on the idea, but in the versions of it I’ve seen, the whole “cultural appropriation” meme is *literally* an objection to the idea that a “member” of one culture can “appropriate” any product from “another”–as though cultures were clubs, their “products” were private property, and cultural borrowing was theft. What is that but the left-wing version of the alt-right?

            This afternoon, I ate kung pao chicken at a Chinese place that offers Thai and Japanese food as well as Chinese. I drove there in my foreign made car, listening to Australian music (AC/DC), then drove back to my office at a Catholic-Franciscan university. I’m not Chinese, Australian, European (like my car), Catholic, Christian, Palestinian, or Italian. And yet here I am, appropriating from all of those “cultures.”

            In other words, in about fifteen minutes, I’ve committed a long list of Cultural Appropriation Felonies, as did the Chinese business owner hawking his culturally appropriated teriyaki chicken. That sounds totally absurd, as though it couldn’t possibly be what they anti-appropriation people are opposed to. But in years of listening to and reading these people, I’m more than a little unclear what they’re trying to say. Interpret them charitably, and they always manage to insist that you’re not going “far enough.” They don’t just seem opposed to blackface, the Wash Redskins, the Cleveland Indians, Columbus Day, insensitive Halloween costumes, etc. *I’m* opposed to those things. No, *they’re* opposed to cultural exchange as such. They have this ridiculous picture of what a culture is, followed by a series of ridiculous normative assumptions about what the “members” of these “cultures” are and are not permitted to do. They then feel free to attack as “racist” anyone who violates their unargued strictures, as though their doing so somehow helped the prospects of “indigenous peoples.”

            But I spend a fair bit of time with “indigenous peoples,” and anti-appropriation-type views are hardly ubiquitous among them. You couldn’t tell from listening to these anti-appropriation people that Palestinians under occupation are avid connoisseurs of Kevin Hart and Dave Chappelle, that Iraqi youth idolize Megadeth and Metallica, or that young Pakistani girls under patriarchy idolize the likes of Katy Perry, or (…long list). But by anti-appropriation strictures, ALL of this is “cultural appropriation.” And maybe it is. But why is it wrong? Are we really supposed to believe that white people are the only cultural appropriators on the planet?

            I’m not a big fan of Brennan’s, but this time his point is entirely well taken. Someone had to step back and ask these anti-appropriation people what the hell they were talking about. Even if everything he says about Halloween is wrong, he has a point. And it has yet to be answered.

          • King Goat

            “She’s not just saying there’s a blurry line. She’s saying that for all she knows, there’s no line whatsoever.”

            That’s not right. She says: “I don’t know that there is a thin, straight line between them”

            That’s not saying that there’s no line, just that the line is not a firm, inflexible one. Her use of the term thin is an unfortunate choice of words since it works against her point, but her subsequent use of the word straight strongly suggests she was simply eschewing a bright, clear line.

            “What they’ve done is to take the worst instances of racist caricaturing (e.g. blackface), *equate* that with cross-cultural exchange as such, and fabricate an entire mythology intended to prove that we should all just sit tight in our little cultural boxes”

            If you take only the most extreme version of any idea of course it seems ‘extreme.’ Did you find the Yale letter that Brennan notes is what he’s responding to here to fit within the extreme interpretation you’re offering? It didn’t mention things like enjoying music or food from another culture as appropriation, it specifically objected to things like stereotyping costumes such as blackface, red face, or equivalents.

            The claims subsumed under the term ‘cultural appropriation’ (which, as I’ve said is a poor fit for the costume controversy imo) that I’ve seen span the range from silly (a non-Asian chef serving Kung Pao is doing something wrong) to more defensible (white musicians like Elvis Presley created rock’n’roll) to what strike me as obvious (a white guy painting himself red and wearing a headdress and war paint to go to a Halloween party or football rally is doing something easily seen as offensive to Native Americans). But that’s true of lots ideas. Rather than rejecting all versions, and the concept overall, better to reject it only where it’s silly.

      • Michael Philip

        I agree with Irfan. There isn’t anything wrong with cultural appropiation

      • PrincessOfTheCrystal

        He’s not though because most of the issues with Halloween costumes are very blatantly racist and appropriative ones – like blackface, or just outright wearing a culture as a costume. Like dressing up “as a Mexican”. I honestly don’t like the idea of dressing up “as an Irishman” either if I’m honest about it. But at least it doesn’t affect us as much. You’re talking about how it’s not always clear, and maybe nuanced, but this whole way of thinking shows a lack of nuance and understanding for individual circumstance in the first place.

      • Hey! Sorry for the delay here. Contrary to what most folks on the thread (not you) seem to think, I do have things to do other than argue with people on the internet. I’m still using voice dictation for the most part, so please let me know if something just doesn’t make sense.

        ANYWHO. To start off: the issue with Halloween costumes is actually two issues in one. The first is cultural appropriation, which is what we’ve been talking about and I will give my sources on later in this comment. The other, much more serious, and I think much more obviously wrong issue, is that many people use Halloween as an opportunity to don costumes that are racist caricatures. We are talking black face and brown face; we’re talking some roads and giant mustaches. There have been some people dressing up as Standing Rock protesters clearly as a way to satirize them, that sort of thing. Dressing up as a racial stereotype in order to demean and make fun of people of that race has a long and sordid history and has contributed to the dehumanization of those people. For contemporary peoples of those races, seeing those depictions likely feels deeply disturbing.

        The issue of cultural appropriation can be sub-divided into three groups: Does it happen, is it wrong, and what can be done about it?

        It seems to be a common belief among critics of cultural appropriation that the term arose from people talking on Tumblr. This is very much not the case, as the issue dates back at least to the mid to late 90s. That is when this book, Borrowed Power, was published. ((I was particularly amused on page 8 with the block quotes the other peoples out for critics of a cultural appropriation. They sound very familiar, lol.))

        The book sets out in it’s first chapter a pretty robust definition of cultural appropriation and how politics and power play into how it works in society. I think you might find that helpful, and it may be the kind of in depth definition (I presume) you’re looking for. The first 20 or so pages are available on Google books. I’m just going to use their definition of cultural appropriation, which is contained in the first 16 pages.

        If we use professors Ziff and Rao’s framework, I’d say that the current topic of conversation about appropriation revolves largely around the 3rd and 4th complaints: Deprivation of Material Advantage and Failure to Recognize Sovereign Claims (pp 14 and 15). I would add, contemporary discussion has pointed out that the perception of uniqueness also leads to social and material advantages. While not material gain per se, using cultural artifacts as accessories to enhance one’s image (which for some people is the source of one’s income), can gain a member of the dominant culture a status of creativity that benefits them, while the people who originated those ideas gain nothing from it and are often ridiculed for it.

        When one reads the examples that the authors give for cultural appropriation, it seems clear to me that a appropriation is definitely a thing that exists. Some contemporary examples may include white people wearing dreadlocs, the wearing of Native American headdresses, use of elements of jazz, hip-hop, rock, all of which were pioneer by black artists, etc. Appropriating Blackness: Performance and the Politics of Authenticity talks specifically about white people appropriating, obviously, blackness (begins on p 4). This piece talks about how the prevalence of color blind ideology leads to more appropriation in hip hop.

        There’s a lot more around that I’m sure you’d find interesting or useful, if you can get into an academic database. The concept is old, and I get the impression that the idea that the phenomenon exists is more or less a given in most academic circles.

        Obviously, a lot of it is complicated, has lots of nuance, and will probably be beyond the scope of the discussion we are trying to have here. But I did not want to end the comment without addressing the last bit of this: That is, if we assume the cultural appropriation is damaging and is wrong in some circumstances, what can or should be done about it?

        There, I think one should look to personal accounts as well as academic sources. While of course there are limitations to what American law can and should do, and I agree with those limitations and probably think there should be more, one can still critique in action and advocate for it to be socially unacceptable, without desiring it to be illegal. I think that’s fair game. That said, I think that efforts to do so need to be done with a complete and full understanding of all of the effects that appropriation has on the subordinate culture. For example, when older immigrants are asked about appropriation, they often see it as a good thing. A very common source of hostility that immigrants typically receive when moving to the United States is the smell of their food. Neighbors very calmly complain, but for them to management, which makes housing more difficult, etc. When foods like Chinese food, Indian food, Ethiopian food, are not only come in place but lauded, those complaints and housing problems vanish and in fact that gives them an opportunity potentially to get material gain themselves.

        This can obviously extend to any cultural artifact. Once someone has appropriated it and white people have given their approval of it, the stigma against native people wearing it or did performing it may go down. And that might be more important to some people than having that artifact be appropriately attributed to their culture. But this isn’t always the case.

        That doesn’t necessarily mean that any and all critiques of cultural appropriation of this type are wrong, just that the topic is complicated and needs to be treated with the nuance that is endemic to the issue itself. This is where I think it is very appropriate and necessary to critique college students in their responses to ideas of cultural appropriation. Whether they seek administrative/legal solutions or social ones, the solutions they attempt to bring forward need to be done with a full understanding of what is happening so that we can limit the harms while not sacrificing the potential benefits. They often are not. “Thou shalt not appropriate” isn’t nearly a good enough answer, IMO, and I think that many people who do a lot of work with this idea would agree with that.

        To bring it all the way back to the core issue at hand, the issue of Halloween costumes is, to me, a much easier clearer line to draw. Depicting racist stereotypes for funsies should not be OK. And while I’m sure many people simply don’t think about the implications of what they’re doing, I do also think that racist Halloween costumes could also be demonstrative of a larger social problem and how people see members of other cultures and races. As we have seen in this election cycle, latent racism is still a large problem in the United States. People have found different ways of expressing it, but it still there.

        But that’s a whole other topic. 😉

        I hope this was helpful as a way to get you started into some more robust explanations and understandings of cultural appropriation. I will likely not return to the thread, as I’m working on other things that I need to get done. Thanks for the honest inquiries. 🙂

        • Brian

          Some interesting points. When it comes to jazz, rock etc I think appropriation is a good thing. It inspires artists around the world to come up with their own take. Just as a back artist can be inspired by an Italian Renaissance painter. I also agree that costumes like blackface are inappropriate, the question is what should the punishment be and who makes the rules. If a 19 year old white person wears a Native American headdress for Halloween you should criticize them to a point but no government or school should punish them. Throwing them out of school, limiting their future employment, bullying them online solves nothing.

        • Irfan Khawaja

          Delay is obviously not a problem, since I lost track of my own request, and forgot to check back for your response until now, a month after you posted. Anyway, thanks for the time you put into this, and I will be sure to read these…soon, whatever that means.

          • ALISON BOWLES

            I’ve never seen a costume that is described above. When I was growing up, we dressed as ghosts or princesses or a character from a tv show or film. Irfan, have you seen anyone doing blackface? It has to be adults doing this (Halloween was over for me once I became an adult but I guess some adults who still celebrate it might engage in racist stereotypes but I’ve never seen such a costume in my life). Who does this and where is it done that it would get ANY attention?

    • Vina Mc Mahon

      Samhain was a new year festival, not an end-of-Summer one. The Celtic peoples began the year on the first of November, which is still considered the first day of Winter here (our words for September and October literally translate as “middle-autumn” and “end-Autumn”). Samhain himself was their equivalent of the Greek god Hades, and the belief that the cycle of life started at death has been documented, so a massive hooley to celebrate that and dressing up and lighting bonfires to chase off the minions who slipped through the barrier between the worlds is pretty obvious — as is kids blaming their own acts of divilment on said minions.

      I for one am happy that this tradition and evidence of it’s origins have survived, unlike so many others that were erased in the 700 or so years between 1169 and 1922.

    • Akil

      What she said. Keep fighting the good fight, Gina. 🙂

    • Rose Bounds

      <3 to hear a little truth tellin' here! Well said. You nailed this perfectly and you're accurate on every point. I'm am also of Irish descent (and native American) and a practicing pagan in the Celtic tradition, and while most people over simplify the history, it really is a nuanced and highly complex topic that should be studied and honored. As to the article itself well that felt like trumped up neo-liberal outrage…. and I am as Left and Liberal as they come and proud of it. But I still use logic and understand the complicated tangles that weave my ancestral histories. They guide all I do. And yes, we Irish invited everyone to our parties. We throw badass parties. You can't appropriate what was freely offered. And just now, we're also Americans.

      • Dragoon23

        As long as you don’t try to throw the kind of Party Matholwch did for Bran the Blessed; Irish parties are usually good fun.

        • Soarintothesky

          Da Iawn!

    • Hieronymus Bosch

      You’re pretty dumb for a smart person

      • aaronsingleton

        “Wayman” indeed.

    • lujlp

      Just looking for an excuse to continue engaging in your bigotry arent you?

    • Excuse me? Blacks are NOT disproportionately arrested for crimes nor are they oppressed. They commit just the same amount of crime whatever country they live in including Black African nations. They are arrested more because they commit more crimes. Actually we have a great deal of evidence about Samhain and you have no idea what you are talking about regarding that either apparently. I think you should go live in a Black African nation yourself, without a gun. You might learn something.

    • Jeff R.

      If Irish Americans were being discriminated against, would that make Brennan’s complaint more reasonable? How?

    • PaulOtt

      “We do not, for example, get shot down disproportionately by police or arrested disproportionately for crimes, specifically drug crimes. We are not deported en masse. We are not currently being threatened to be deported en masse. We are not routinely denied service, nor is there a movement to give people the right to deny us service.”

      I’ll take these one by one.

      “shot down disproportionately by police” I assume you refer to African Americans here. Blacks kill other blacks at a much higher rate than whites killing whites. In other words, there are more violent criminals among blacks (most often committing those crimes against other blacks). When you say they are disproportionately shot by police, are you considering the extremely high number of black victims of black crime, or are you saying disproportionate to the overall numbers of blacks and whites in a national population.

      “arrested disproportionately for crimes, specifically drug crimes” If you look at the history of drug enforcement, you will find black lawmakers at the front of the movement. They believed drugs to be a danger to black society, and implemented laws that targeted these particular problems. How is that the enforcement of these laws is now called systematic oppression?

      “deported en masse” If you want to argue systemic oppression based upon country of origin, then I’ll give you this point, although it hasn’t happened in 50 years.

      “routinely denied service” Are we still talking about systemic oppression?

      “a movement to give people the right to deny us service” You mean like BLM blocking off bridges based on color?

    • garner

      I can find you a hand full of laws in britain, that say that you can shoot an Irishman any day of the week except on Fridays (we weren’t gonna shoot you papists whist preying that wouldn’t be civil), ha, the good old days!!!

    • C.Day

      Actually a correction about the Irish contemporary system comment:

      Though americans of Irish decent are widespread across the country, the overwhelming majority of Americans of Scotts-Irish decent live in or around the eastern united states – especially in regions adjacent to the Appalachians mountains. These are literally a few million people who live in a world no one talks about, and a disproportionate amount of them live in poverty, violence, drugs and in environments with a high rate of criminal arrests by police. There is no news reporting this, there are no statistics, no one cares; this is the forgotten america.

      I’d wager that if we had hard data that was truly accurate (and not just what has been chosen to be given) on how many white men are being arrested everyday in this country in these rural areas vs. african american men in urban areas – that we would find that in actuality, MORE white men are being arrest every day than black men. That just as many (if not more) white men are being treated brutally, and without their rights. The difference is, that while more white men are being beaten and arrested than their african american counterparts, FAR less of those men are being sent to prison afterwards. This accounts for why there is a vastly higher ratio of african american men in prison vs white men. But as we all know, prison is only the last stop; the arrest, the causes, how the police handle things, and the jail stay are what is never spoken of in most these places. In rural america the police are the law and they can literally do whatever they want – little has changed since the days of jim crow in this regard (except that now its white drug addicts and first offenders being abused).

      HOWEVER, it’s important to point out that this is irreverent; as the argument people like yourself focus on, is the treatment and arrest rate of black americans being some how worse than it is for white peoples. And as a whole, that is a grossly untrue generalization. My point of argument is that in this context, if you have a massive population of white americans (mostly of Scotts-Irish decent) living in thousands of communities that are rural and out of sight – then you can have far more of these people being mistreated, subjected to poverty, drugs, police brutality; and the same people can be treated just as bad as the worst cases of police on black violence we hear in our mainstream media. All of this, going on every single day without anyone hearing about it because no one cares. These communities do not keep the same kind of records, and people do not speak outwardly like they do in metropolises or middle-class communities. More importantly, there is absolutely ZERO national reorganization or representation of it. AS I said, that is why we call this group of several million Americans the “forgotten america”.

      There is no naacp for white people, especially those in poverty who live out of sight of the big cities and middle american communities; there are no civil liberties movement within the white male community; there are no special title VII concessions for a young white male growing up in poverty in west Virginia or Kentucky, or Arkansas (none that truly compete with what we’ve seen proactively lauded at others); he is not looked at the same way a female or a person of color when he applies to a ivy league institution (yet one could easily argue that as often the first member of their family to attend/graduate collage, his ‘needs’ vastly outweigh that of the average student). Whereas schools the nationwide regularly ‘pad’ their campuses with a certain predetermined (%) percentage of females x minorities (something they openly admit too, and which ironically according to statistics, anglo-peoples are quickly becoming a minority in this country). That poverty stricken white boy in west Virginia who’s family lives off of $14,000 a year must compete for positions reserved for children of legacies and parents who make in one year the lifetime wealth of the prior students entire family.

      Just in my own world of experience. Not too long ago of a man outside Bristol va/tn who was arrested on possession charges, failed to show up in court after he was released from jail. What do the police do? They bust down the door of his elderly mothers house with a warrant. The man in fear grabs a small kitchen knife, and claimed to hurt himself – instead of talking him down, they leave and called the swat team (a ragtag group of badge toting, gun loving, over-weight good ol’ boys, in riot gear & flack jackets, and carrying large shotguns and rifle with cylinders of ammunition). There was a standoff for more than a hour, and then the entire team shot up the small house. Almost 20 men, openly fired at the house for more than 4 minutes. Thousands of shots where fired through the front of the house with such force that many left the back wall of the small house, and the neighbors house had spread in it. His mother was killed because she refused to leave her own home, and the police completely washed over the event. The man had no guns, no weapons beyond his mothers knife, no criminal history of violence, and he made not threats of police harm. the small town police had little training but wore the superiority and moral/legal power that comes from no accountability. As normal the whole event was live on wcyb news, and as usual no body cared, the event was just normal life. The police strongly censored what the team was allowed to film, and much of it was not allowed to be aired. There where no facebook protests from young liberal students with hashtags #whitetrashlivesmatter, no youtube videos with thousands of people bickering about injustice or police incorrectly exorcising a misuse of lethal force where they – and just as quickly the video was gone from even wcybs website. Things like this happen every day in small towns all over the country, and ‘normal’ people forget that there are literally thousands of small towns full of millions of people living spread out over that massive part of the united states that occupy that thousands of miles ‘in between’ the cities on east/west coast and far north/south.

      So no, injustice IS colorblind.The difference is, that educated and entitled liberal minded americans ARE. I hate to remind other caucasian americans of this, but: not all of us reaped benefits from the american whites history of extortion and slavery. Contrary to popular belief, ‘white privilege’ is not a inherently god given universal right to all whites, for which is only skin deep. White privileged is a product of class-ism, and it is purely a class (and upbringing) issue – not all whites are entitled to it, and (while there ARE exceptions, people who have risen to prominence – escaping the vicious cycle of poverty, hopelessness and mediocrity) for millions it has been consistently denied for generations. For the majority of americans of scotts-irish decent, we got no lucky breaks. Widely speaking, almost none of our ancestors owned slaves or governed over inheritances or large dwelling, or owned the railroads and banks. The history of the scotts-irish is as those who served for these people – the ones toiling away to pay the bankers, and working in the mines, and under the heavy hand of the land owners, and in the factories, and growing crops for wealthier men. The majority of scotts-irish came to this country as slaves themselves, indentured servants, child labor, criminals or escaping a country that was under religious and martial law (where their sister/wives/daughter where literally raped, and their homes burnt to the ground, whilst their food stolen from them as they watched their children and parents die in front of them of starvation – HUNDREDS of years of this, far longer than american slavery). They came here, settled as farmers or laborers, and the descendants of these peoples are to this day largely low wage hard working americans who feel it is WE who get the shaft. Because we get lumped in with the ‘evil whites’ who “hurt poor minorities, and ruined the world”. However, within our own racial group, the scotts-Irish were looked down on and suppressed, whilst their poor ‘white trash” descendants are looked down in a different way, as uneducated and stupid hillbillies/blue-collars even to this day (and by more americans than care to actually admit it openly or even to themselves).

      Even the subject it unfairly handled. Poor whites are literally the only group left in the united states that can ge openly slanders and made fun of. Hillbillies, white trash, carnies, blue collar yokals, I’ve heard it all. While everyone gets made fun of these days, there is always some SJW’s swooping in says “that is bad” – doesnt even matter what it is: you gay? Fat? Skinny? Black? Disabled? Cuban? Homeless? Doesn’t matter. But look at those funny hillbillies missing there teeth and drinking bear in wife-beaters on their front porch step – yup, must be inbred and uneducated, therefor stupid.


  • Hunter Swogger

    Tremendous satire. 10/10

  • Sean II

    I’m certainly no friend of the outlook being mocked here…but far from being self-parodying hypocrites, SJWs actually have a pretty consistent system. It’s mostly based on two simple rules:

    1) “The villain in history is the Western European cishet male.”

    2) “Among everyone else, the claim to victim status is inversely linked to present day social status/success.”

    Thus groups who fare poorly in the modern world – Native Americans, Sub-Saharans, NEMA Muslims – are allowed to use cultural appropriation arguments, even as the same would be laughed at coming from Micks and Krauts.

    Think of it this way: the culture war is like a giant lawsuit, in which various plaintiff classes are vying to maximize their damage claims against a common defendant. That’s why no one cares when the defendant tries to come back stating damages of his own.

    Note: the magnitude of historic suffering has nothing to do with it. The Irish were twice targeted for genocide in the past 500 years, but they’re doing pretty well now, so no one gives a blighted spud for their bullshit. No, the contest is all about who’s suffering now.

    • Heretic2011

      Well that, and the Irish aren’t a bunch of pussies.

    • King Goat

      It makes sense that those who are worse off today would be more sensitive, for reasons similar to why punching down is usually seen as more unseemly than structurally similar punching down. Poking some fun of the happily married guy’s marriage seems different than poking fun at the recently (and let’s say badly) divorced guys marriage (or failure thereof).

      • Sean II

        North East and Middle Africa. It’s a region where many typos occur.

        • King Goat

          Would that include Egypt, which has a higher GDP per capita than Ukraine, India, the Philippines, Honduras, etc.?

          • Sean II

            Don’t jack the thread.

  • 1st Amend.

    Seems legit, considering the atmosphere on campus.

  • Andy M

    Not just the Irish of course. The Gaels celebrated Samhain so you should also be including the Scots in your list of people who have had their culture appropriated.

    Or was your intention to claim the Samhain holiday exclusively for the Irish and thereby do some appropriation of your own, to make a point perhaps?

    • Vina Mc Mahon

      If you want to get into it..
      As it’s a Celtic festival you also need to include the Welsh, Bretons, and some English*, and going even further back bring in the Mediterranean countries up through Switzerland.

      (* AKA the Angles. But then the Saxons came over and ruined the craic there…)

      • Hansjörg Walther

        In the Western part of Germany you have something that is similar (bonfires, children go from house to house and get candies), but it’s on November 11 and leaves out all the scary stuff, Christian appropriation if you will:

      • Arwen Jayne

        You forgot the Scots too.

  • Heretic2011

    Humanity desperately needs a bottleneck.

  • Sharon Sloan

    All there is missing is #satire at the end. Quite a few comment take this far too seriously, and aren’t having the craic the way they should be 🙂

    • Sean II

      Meanwhile others recognize the intended satire but find it lacking in bite.

      To put it bluntly: Jason’s version is better expressed and much more full bodied, but this same basic joke has been a staple of Republican Uncles since last fall.

      • Puppet’s Puppet

        In general, this recent turn to the whole commenting (often with witty humor) on timely topics thing, as opposed to the more theoretical stuff, is still not this blog’s forte. It’s a different skill to master. I certainly don’t mind it–I look forward to most any post here–but it’s definitely not its forte.

        • Sean II

          “Cutting edge satire” and “tenure track professor” are two things that don’t naturally go together.

          Don’t get me wrong: by relative standards Brennan is a fearless iconoclast. He’s also not stupid, so there are some taboos he’s not going anywhere near.

          Which is, I think, your point: this post kind of ends up working as a blowback satire of academia itself.

          Because only there would it be fresh and new and daring to ask “what kind of zaniness might ensure if we applied this SJW logic to a WHITE ethnic group?”

  • John Noonan

    hahahahaha Are all you serious commenters serious? If your not even better! Well done! Very funny article!

    • DerekJR321

      I can’t believe people are going into deep discussions about this. It was a joke aimed at showing how stupid the SJW’s are.

  • Lyn

    I like the premise of this article but Sorry… the Irish/Celts were not the only pagans to celebrate this time of year. For example, In Scandinavia it was called the Alfablot or Elf Sacrifice… Check out this video from

  • King Goat

    ” Yale’s attempt to control students’ Halloween costumes”

    It was a letter sent by student groups *asking* their students to try to be respectful to their fellow students by not going in blackface or it’s equivalent.

    • Akil

      I agree. The offending conduct at Yale was the demand of many students’ that the Christakises be removed from their positions at Silliman College and their overblown claims to have been genuinely harmed by the mild-mannered dissension expressed in Erika Christakis’ email, not the original email sent by an office of the Yale administration. (BTW, I’m pretty sure it was and email from the administration to the student body at large that prompted Mrs. Christakis’ email, not an entreaty from campus student groups.)

      • Michael Philip

        i disagree. it’s an attempt at control much like all the silly nonsense about “cultural appropiation”

        • King Goat

          Ipse dixit is *kind* of an argument, I guess.

      • King Goat

        I think the treatment of the husband certainly horrible. I don’t think it was wrong to ask for Mrs. Christakis’ to stop serving in her capacity as essentially head RA. The job of a resident’s life director might not include publicly musing about whether student’s complaints about blackface are valid or not.

    • DerekJR321

      Except no one goes as black face. It was their “attempt” at controlling and micro-managing every aspect of peoples lives. Everything’s offensive these days. Problem is, these little poofters don’t know what real offense is.

      • King Goat

        The letter clearly listed black face (and there have been quite a few blackface incidents on colleges recently) and it’s equivalents (‘red face’, or wearing ‘war paint’ and headdress, for example) as its focus of concern. Of course if you read into the message something worse than what it actually says, then it looks worse. That’s how that works.

  • Akil

    FWIW, at least one sympathetic scholar/commentator has interpreted this piece as *not* being reductio ad absurdum:

    • Michael Philip

      doesn’t matter

  • Jgorish

    Gaelic should be required of participants.

  • Ivriniel

    So let me get this straight. The author says that Samhain was an exclusively Irish festival and that the Catholic Church put All Saints day on November 1 to co-opt it? This makes no sense. Why would a single festival celebrated by people from an obscure island on the very edge of Christendom be important enough to get this treatment? What’s more, Pope Gregory III, who’ve put all All Saints Day November 1 was Syrian. I doubt he gave much thought to what the Irish were up to, as the church was already up and running there and he was focused on St Boniface’s missionary work among the Germans. In addition before the Pope set the official date as Nov. 1, there is evidence that Irish Christians celebrated All Saints Day On April 20. It was Christians in Great Britain and the Germanic countries that favoured Nov 1.

    Finally, Halloween as celebrated in North America is a syncretic festival, with elements seeming drawn from a variety of cultures. Trick or treating is thought to come from a tradition of people begging for soul cakes, a practise found in England, Germany, Austria and Flanders, for example.

    Also observing Halloween used to be common as a celebration in England, until it got mixed in with Guy Fawkes Day.

  • John Nott

    Bollocs! Every culture takes from others. Halloween is simply an excuse for doing scary and funny things and it is a ttadition on it’s own. It is not racist, it is simply a cultural expression. If it comes from something that others feel and do differently, then those others csn celebrate or not according to their wishes.

  • Lindao01

    As an Irish person I say please continue to celebrate Halloween if you like. We (mostly, you’ll always get the odd grump) don’t mind at all. Oiche Shamna 🙂 It’s actually celebrated a little differently here now compared to when I was a child in the 90’s. We have a more Americanized and capitalistic society now so I guess it’s down to that.

  • David

    Is this satire? Tell me this is satire. If this is satire, it’s mildly witty if more than a bit petulant. If this is NOT satire…

    Almost all of our major holidays are appropriated. Christmas came from Saturnalia (Roman) and from Yule (Pagan,) Easter came from ancient fertility rites (why an Easter bunny? Because bunnies are notorious for screwing their brains out, which was the original purpose of the holiday,) basically every Christian holiday is appropriated from a pagan holiday. Thanksgiving is a sham because we give thanks to people we still, to this day, treat like garbage.

    This is all very annoying, but as someone who has actively participated in multiple Samhain rituals (and yes, I do have the necessary Irish/Gaelic ancestry, and I am a pagan, though it’s never bothered me in the slightest when non-Gaelic individuals–or even non-pagans–have taken part, you racist fuck,) I can tell you that your entire approach here is formulated on intellectual impotence.

    Your solution to divisiveness is for people to be segregated entirely by their race, religion, nationality to the point we can’t even share things with one another. I’m fine with educating people on the origins of things, and think we should do more of that. But, as it seems that you’ve been in an authoritarian coma for your entire life and have completely missed the point, it may help to inform you that sharing and borrowing things is how we learn about each other and better understand each other. It’s how we understand that while we may dress different our celebrate different holidays or look different, we are all people, and the world has always been a better place when we learn about each other and share in each other’s cultures.

    Yeah, there are respectful and disrespectful ways of doing this, but I don’t think blanket segregation to the point of fascist tribalism is going to solve a whole lot of our problems, do you? As someone who, by your words, is one of the chosen few who can celebrate Halloween, because of my racial and religious purity in regard to the holiday (and you’re calling OTHER people racist?!) Halloween doesn’t offend me. What offends me is when ignorant fascists try to further segregate and separate everyone in the guise of protecting… (Okay, I seriously don’t know who you think you’re protecting with this one, but you’re full of shit of you think it’s anyone.)

    All your bigoted, hateful ideas would accomplish is a world so focused on who has the right to look a certain way or talk a certain way our celebrate which holidays that we could never experience anything beyond what we, by our race, religion, and our country of birth are told that we can experience, and we could only do that much because it’s already a stereotype and that’s what “people like us” (whoever that may be) are”supposed” to be doing. Talk about putting everyone on the planet in a tiny stereotypical box.

    There’s no room for liberty in that kind of world for anyone. The entire point of your article is that only the Irish/Gaelic can celebrate a holiday. You are the problem, and you are an embarrassment to anyone who gives a shit about cultures and peoples other than their own. On behalf of people who don’t want cultural, racial, or xenophobic segregation, fuck you and your bigotry and stop pretending it has anything to do with respecting others. Also, stop telling black people they can’t celebrate Halloween, you fucking loon.

    • jdkolassa

      Uh, yeah, it’s satire. The author is mocking the people who cry “cultural appropriation!” whenever some white chick eats a taco.

      • Sean II

        Course of our culture:

        1976 hipster: “Here, have a taco. Broaden your culinary horizons. Don’t be so damn white bread.”

        1996 hipster: “Does that thing have wheat flour in it? Oh please, it is NOT an authentic taco at all.”

        2016 hipster: “Everytime your lips touch that taco, you’re gnawing away at the right of brown people to exist. Stop. Just. Stop.”

  • Brian Geary

    I agree completely. The Saint Patrick’s Day is another disgusting, bigoted display of both cultural appropriation AND stereotyping. People who have not a drop of Irish in them demand to march in the parade, wear and wave the Irish flag, and wear buttons that say “Kiss Me I’m Irish”, though they are not. That’s cultural appropriation. They drink, deck themselves in ridiculous green clothing, head to toe, put on fake red wigs and bears, adopt ridiculous accents to make fun of the way Irish people speak, carry shillelaghs, and so on and so on. Imagine for a moment that this was a Jewish or African parade, and people wave plastic Israeli or Kenyan (for example) flags that they later tossed into garbage cans; if they wore kippahs and daishikis while adopting fake, caricatured Jewish and African accents, or wore afros and black face, and sidecurls. Imagine if they got drunk while claiming that all Jews and /or Africans were drunkards. That would never be allowed. But Irish people are supposed to put up with these insults why,, exactly? Because there is a double standard.

    • King Goat

      I would think Kenyans would love it if Americans took a day and celebrated things Kenyan waving Kenyan flags around, even if at the end of the day they discarded them. Most Americans pre-Obama probably didn’t think of Kenya twice in any given year.

  • are you holding your map upside down?

    • King Goat

      No, but you’re quite right I flubbed that musing quite bad, too early in the morning for it I guess. Mea culpa.

  • Shawn Leslie

    By writing this nonsense, the author of this is obviously mocking the English and their language. This author is showing his racism by mocking what can be done with their sacred traditional language. Only people of at least 50% English decent should be allowed to write using the English language. Especially if it is complete an utterly ridiculous bullshit. And even more so when the author hasn’t the faintest idea about the complete history and origin of Hallowe’en.

    • Dragoon23

      Yeah, buy you English are culturally appropriating the French/German/Frisian and Latin that makes up your Language… so stop it!

  • Dragoon23

    Just to offer a slight correction, It’s not Irish.. It’s “Native British/Celtic”; Samhain was Irish, Isle of Mann and Dal Riada Scotland, while In Welsh Strathclyde/Henn Ogledd or Welsh speaking Scotland it was the same as in Wales, where it is called ” Calan Gaeaf”, Cornwall ” Kalan Gwav “, in Britanny in Northern France ” Kalan Goañv “

    • Soarintothesky

      Unwaith eto, Da Iawn!

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  • paul nash

    This is the most ridiculous fad I’ve ever seen and reflects badly on US education. Presumably these people also want to reverse the adoption of black musical culture, and logically you might want to include a raft of Greek cultural imports including democracy.

  • Daniel Gleeson

    Just wanted to flag a common misconception that is alluded to in this article (even if the overall article is tongue in cheek).

    The Irish slavery thing is a complete myth. It is being hyped by white supremecists to create false comparisons to actual slavery and the horrors experienced by millions of Africans.

    Read more here:

    • lujlp

      No, it isnt, people of all skin colors have been slaves

      Also slavery didnt start in america, slavery didnt end in america, slavery is still going on right now on fact

  • Gavin Soady

    This is the most ridicoulis thing I have ever read. …
    It’s just some asshole having a whinge and deciding to be offended…
    As someone who is born and bed Irish I invite every Yale student along with everyone in the entire world to join in any and every celebration that’s in good spirits, no pun intended ;).. if you came to Ireland you would be more than welcome to join in celebrations..
    And just because you’re not able to visit it definitely shouldn’t stop you having the fun and craic with Irish culture is world renowned for. ..

    • lujlp

      Its so sad to see a person inviting his own oppression

      • Gavin Soady

        What a ridiculous statement….Celebrations are for everyone… the fact you agree to segregate your culture is the cause of the problem…
        This is how the feeling of being offended came to be…
        If you have a little think… that’s right with your brain not your pre-programmed response….
        Being offended is a choice.. a choice that started with you assigning a ‘value’ in this case to something you believe is a cultural heritage and nobody other than the publicly assigned consensus as being ‘Irish’ should partake…

        What makes is Irish and only Irish… Its borders???

        The entire country did not become simultaneously aware of Halloween or all hallows eve or Samhain…

        It started in a village.. then spread to another village then to a town… then a county then a province..and so on…

        and now it is continuing to spread…

        I am happy and proud for anyone to join in any celebration originating in my country… as I said before if you came to Ireland you would not only be welcome to join in by encouraged and probably forced in some places ;).

        Saying only Irish people should celebrate Halloween is like saying only Turkish people should celebrate Christmas…

        So keep your talk oppression to yourself…

        Your only threat of oppression is your own fear of oppression …

  • Stephen

    Hi Jason,

    Sorry if someone has already made this point; I didn’t have time to read all of the comments carefully.

    I take it your argument is roughly this.

    (1) If the practice of Halloween-black-facing-at-Yale (BF) is morally bad for (the best of the) the reasons that some Yale students think it is, then the practice of Halloween-in-the-US-in-general (HG) is morally bad for those same kinds of reasons.

    (2) HG isn’t morally bad for those reasons.


    (3) BF isn’t morally bad for those reasons.

    I don’t see why anyone would accept (1).

    I take it that many of the Yale students who opposed BF were thinking along this line:

    (YS1) BF involves people dressing up as black people in ways that (in most people’s minds) invokes negative stereotypes of them and have been used historically to denigrate them.

    (YS2) All else being equal, dressing up as a kind of people in ways that (in most people’s minds) invokes negative stereotypes of them and have been used historically to denigrate them is morally bad.

    (YS3) All else being equal, BF is morally bad.

    The premise that corresponds to (YS1) for HG fails because HG involves people dressing up as something or other in a way that (in most people’s minds) invokes no negative stereotypes of the Irish and has not been used historically to denigrate the Irish. So, the Yale students’ argument doesn’t extend to HG. (It would extend to HG if HG was primarily people making their skin look pale, freckling their faces, coloring their hair red, using Irish accents, staggering around pretending to be drunk and begging, etc. But that’s not at all what HG is.)

    So, (1) is false.

    Do you think that the YS-argument does extend to HG? I don’t see how it would. One might say that anyone who asserts (YS2) should object to any kind of “culturally appropriation”. But I see no reason to think that—unless we define “cultural appropriation” in a way that would exclude HG from its extension.

    Do you think that the YS-argument does not approach what (some of) the Yale students who opposed BF had in mind? What else would they have been arguing? Surely they were not objecting to other people participating in a culture they see as their own—after all, there are surely many parties at Yale where mostly white students listen to hip-hop music and dance in ways that emerge from black culture, and surely most of the students who opposed BF hadn’t been actively opposing such parties.

    Again, I don’t see why anyone would accept (1).

    To be clear, the claim that your central argument fails does not suggest that the Yale students who opposed BF last year got everything right. Two points of error made by some students are worth emphasizing. First, that BF is morally bad doesn’t imply that defending BF is morally bad—but some seemed to think it does. Second, that BF is morally bad doesn’t imply that some particular set of policies should be adopted regarding BF—indeed, doesn’t imply that the university should adopt any policy about BF—but some seemed to think it does. But failure to draw these distinctions does nothing to impugn the Yale students’ opposition to BF, and certainly doesn’t suggest that one who opposes BF should oppose HG.

  • Sean II

    This was not a great comment for you. Let me offer a couple suggestions:

    1) Don’t do that thing where you pretend a single (and very debatable) counter-example does violence to a robust generalization, well-documented average, etc.

    If someone says something everyone knows, like maybe “Ringo Starr was dead weight in terms of the Beatles’ songwriting” – don’t be that douche who rushes in to say “Oh, I dunno…Octopus Garden works pretty well on an ironic level”.

    Why not? Because even if that’s true, it doesn’t answer. The other guy’s point is that John, Paul, and George are in one category, Ringo entirely another…and all you’ve done is toss out an exception that proves the rule.

    In this case, I made a comment containing an obviously true premise – that North Africa and the Middle East aren’t very successful at the game of advanced civilization. These are not nice places to live, and everyone knows it.

    So let them know it, and let everyone move on to more interesting points.

    2) Don’t pretend ignorance of obvious terms. Don’t, for instance, make out like you can’t understand what “East Asian” means. That’s just totally obnoxious. Everyone knows that term refers to an ancestry group comprising China and its offshoots, Korea, and Japan. Plus kinda sorta Tibet and Mongolia, depending on the context.

    3) Don’t lie. That is, don’t say shit even you don’t believe.

    There is no campus anywhere in America where dressing up as a redneck would actually spark a protest. You know this. Everyone does. Everyone – including you – knows that the eligible complainants for “Halloween costume offended me” are black, hispanic, muslim, asian, indigenous, to a lesser extent female. That list does not include white dudes.
    Please note the common theme in these suggestions, which could perhaps be combined into a single rule:

    Don’t write comments whose only conceivable purpose is to fatigue your opponent by forcing him to laboriously prove the obvious.

    Because that wastes everyone’s time, it clutters up threads, it adds nothing to the substance of discussion, and it generally drags down the level of the conversation to a point where a genuine battle of ideas becomes difficult to sustain (as if it wasn’t already so!).

    The vast majority of people who read this blog would gladly stipulate a) that MENA is not a thriving region, b) that East Asian refers to east asians, and c) that whites qua whites are not really eligible to complain of cultural appropriation.

    Don’t waste THEIR time by disputing these clear and obvious points.

    • King Goat

      If you make a generality about a group, then if the most prominent member of that group doesn’t fit under your point, that’s a sloppy generality (and shows the problem with such casual use of generalities).

      You cannot get more North East Africa than Egypt, and it’s the most populous, most known nation in the area. And your generality doesn’t hold for it. It’s as if you said last year ‘the NFC South is a a division of losing teams with offenses with non-running quarterbacks.” That’s true-except for the Panthers, who went 15-1, to the Super Bowl and had Cam Newton.

      Here your generality is a real, on topic problem. Not only is Egypt in the top half of countries worldwide, but theyve a history that’s been widely recognized as the earliest high point in civilization. That matters in this debate. You’ll not find Egyptians in America reading the character in Watchmen take on the mantle of Ramses II saying ‘oh no, the appropriation!’, instead they’ll say ‘that’s right!’ Because this is all about which groups have had acknowledged contributions and which have long, and until recently, suffered from negative stereotypes.

      • Sean II

        Very disappointing response. So let me try a different approach.

        Goat, have you ever wondered why you almost never get up-votes here?

        Even when you’re defending a locally popular position, readers of this blog hardly ever give you the thumbs up.

        Have you ever wondered why?

        • King Goat

          Talk about disappointing, what is this, the middle school prom contest? Brennan’s a conservative guy who baits liberals with, as you say, standard Republican Uncle red meat. His comment had like 25 up votes up thread. Of course a liberal defending ‘pc’ isn’t going to get many upvotes (do you see any posters here taking that position with many up votes?).

          You’re just trying to avoid conceding that yes, it’s demonstrable fact that academic communities get upset about stereotyping white groups too and that Egypt just is different than Eitrea in ways relevant to our discussion.

          • Sean II

            So you have wondered about the lack of votes for your comments, but you’re pretty sure it’s just a matter of ideological bias.

            No, that can’t be it. You frequently argue positions that are quite popular with the left leaning and centrist libertarian readers here.

            The question is: why don’t you at least get votes from them?

            What other explanations have you entertained?

          • King Goat

            I haven’t wondered at all because why wonder at the obvious. Liberals defending ‘pc’ aren’t going to get upvotes here. As I said its demonstrable that every other person on this thread defending it also has very few.

            I comment on other sites like Volokh and Inside Higher Ed and get plenty ‘upvotes’ there, if your really so worried about that.

            But you said “There is no campus anywhere in America where dressing up as a redneck would actually spark a protest. Not even Arkansas State.” and I supplied you with two counter examples that aren’t going away because you’d like to change the subject. So how about you address my original point about how sensitivity to these white groups fit into your grand theory of the subject.

            As to Egyot, it’s profoundly silly to say it’s unsuccessful in the game of advanced civilization. They were the first advanced civilization in history! And that matters in this discussion, it’s why Egypians and others react to ‘cultural appropriation’ if their heritage differently than would be the case if involving Eritreans.

          • Sean II

            That’s interesting. You do get lots of votes at Volokh and Higher Ed, just not here.

            Have you considered: what if those other two blogs are built for a different sort of discussion than this one?

          • King Goat

            What if they’re…different audiences? Nutty idea, I know.

          • Sean II

            Alternate explanation: maybe you don’t get a lot of votes here because…

            …you tend to start and otherwise get yourself into a lot of pissing contests, in which you quickly become indifferent to the quality of your comments, and insensitive to the pettifogging impact you’re having on the thread.

            Has this never occurred to you?

    • Kermit of Calaveras

      Argh.. I loved the article, enjoyed your discussion, but my daily alloment of humouring ran out there (being mostly german) and I have to just simply and very bluntly correct some $%@ you are talking there. Plenty of people lived very nicely in NEMAwhatsit countries, aswell as Syria, Lebanon, etc. before the region exploded. Some still do very well. Your brushing over the poverty in eastern european countries just really, really lowered my enjoyment of your debating prowess. Ever sat in a gypsy’s hovel, in a gypsy settling somewhere in Poland? Not the nice simple but “real” houses, some communities have, with proper dust roads in between, garden walls, garden plots, just kind of dismal for lack of education, prospects, jobs, etc, no – but things with a self made foundation, some sides to it and an approximation of a roof? I visited some musicians there, that played in a friends’s club in Berlin once. Well, that’s just one example, of one particular way to live shittier than many of the poorer Egyptians. Right inside the mighty and rich EU.. I haven’t been to Ukraine, nor Moldova, Romania, but nah, the “Tunisians are worse off” argument is just trash! Being opinionated is fun, but being misinformed ruins your style.. I really liked this discussion, up to that. Bit nasty, at times, but fine preparation for crushing real life opposition.

      To all: Can’t bother to correct typos, if you need to get wound up about that – feel free! I make lots of them!

  • xinit

    This is quite a modest proposal. Well done.

  • Robert Davis Hicks

    I’ll contest this argument by saying almost every culture in the western world has a day of celebration centered around the end of October. Día de los Muertos and other celebrations of the dead have stemmed back to many different heritages and cultures celebrating the ones who have come before them and create Hallowed grounds where people’s spiritual presences linger where their physical presence once lingered. People have been holding masquerades to honor the dead dating back to Roman times, Egyptian times, and many other ancient cultures.

    Also Chief Wahoo and other sports names were adopted in honor of Native Americans not to disparage. The only people who find those symbols offensive are non-Native American people or people of ignorance. Chief Wahoo is actually tribute to the first Native American to cross the ethnic barrier in Major League Baseball and he played for Cleveland. So saying people are disrespectful to Indians for adorning his face on their jerseys to in honor him is about as ignorant as saying people are disrespectful to black people for allowing baseball players to wear “42” on their sleeves in honor of Jackie Robinson.

    Though it is human nature to people pre-determined assumptions based on self-determined facts rather than exploring all the information available to find out the truth, before deliberating their opinion.

    • Robert Davis Hicks

      And I guess using that logic, the Dallas Cowboys are offensive to actual cowboys and the 49ers are offensive to gold miners and the Broncos are offensive to horses, and the Buccaneers are offensive to pirates and the Yankees are offensive to people who live in the northeast. So let’s just stop naming teams so that we don’t risk offending anybody, cuz God forbid it is terrible for someone to feel emotional for or against an issue. So let’s just rename all the teams after letters of the alphabet. Instead of the Steelers and the Lions, it will be Team S versus Team B, because the name Steelers might be offensive to actual steel mill workers and Lions might be offensive to actual lions in Africa.

      Go Team A though!

  • El

    As an Irish person from Ireland, fuck off.

    • Jason Brennan

      False consciousness.

      • El

        Oh, we’re appropriating Marxist terms? That express literally the opposite of your line, which is that the Irish worker ought to align herself with the nation-state that facilitates her exploitation, rather than her entire class – the only force in the world that can liberate her?

        The fact you think you’ve freed yourself from post-colonial (or even colonial) mentality, while identifying with a state and concept of race that were literally created by imperialism, is truly funny 😀

    • Gavin Soady

      Well said 😉

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  • Jean Thompson

    Halloween is Scottish.

  • Joshua Cj Cohen

    I can only assume you write for free. I can’t inagine anyone paying you for this tripe. Maybe find a hobby? And I know this will be dismised as not on topic but, really, this topic isn’t worth discussing.

    I live in Japan. Guess who loves Halloween? The Japanese! Going to lecture them too? Grow up and stop being so petty.


    • Jason Brennan

      Of course, anti-Irish is dismissed once again.

      Your post is the equivalent of me denying the holocaust while wearing a yarmulke in jest.

      • Joshua Cj Cohen

        Fantastic satire. Sorry for not recognizing it immediately. Well done.

  • Ray O Reilly

    This is ridiculous. The people of Ireland do not in any way care if other places celebrate the holiday of Halloween using silly masks and getting drunk. The holiday over here is just an excuse for a day off by 99% of irish people. We place no significance on it nor do we care to change that. We dress up in silly masks as children for candy and we set off fireworks. It’s an excuse to go watch a fire being burned and having a fancy dress party. This is far too politically sensitive. Our cultural tradition has changed from the roots of this holiday, it’s practically unrelated. This is what culture does. It has changed and nobody over here is bothered by that.
    The horrible past of the treatment we endured is in no way related to this holiday. We were colonized and won back our freedom. A silly holiday makes no difference to this and does not need any special place of significance in peoples thinking.

    • Jason Brennan

      Sounds like post-colonial casting off of identity to me. Sad what the English have done.

  • Joshua Cj Cohen

    Or this is some well written satire. If so, well done.

  • Spirit33

    I can see your point, and you made me think. But, I feel it’s going to be impossible to turn back the clock, especially by trying to punish people. That is only ever going to incite more anger, which will prevent people from actually listening! Half or more will respond by celebrating Halloween all the harder – right or wrong. You know it.

    Cultural change and exchange has been happening over the last two millenia – and likely previous millenia. Sometimes, it happened and happens wrongly and was taken by conquerors and war criminals and that should absolutely be taught and noted. But. It’d be impossible to stop the kids trick or treating all over my country, or to stop the free flow of ideas entirely. It would be like trying to hold back the ocean with a soup bowl.

    What we MIGHT be able to achieve, is teaching about where these things came from and why it can make others feel bad and why some costumes should just be off limits. Teach thoughtfulness.

    I do wish that people in general could share culturally and be inspired by one another in art and performance and celebration with a feeling of sharing instead of just taking, and being taken from.

  • Olaf-Thorgrim Aka-Michael S-Ka


  • Olaf-Thorgrim Aka-Michael S-Ka

    by the way all blacks are part irish…..thanks to cromwell

    read history

  • jstrummer

    When I was a libertarian, I didn’t quite realize just how many libertarian commitments were really just expressions of a kind of particular cultural conservatism. This post makes clear that that’s what libertarianism is.

    • Jason Brennan

      That you interpret this as satire shows just how racist you are. You are a bad person.

      • jstrummer

        I’ll consider that response, and give it the weight it deserves from some guy writing about how black women are too unsophisticated to vote.

  • PrincessOfTheCrystal

    Has anyone noticed that even when particularly dire issues are being faced by various marginalised community & consequently receive spotlight in the media – like the issues with Standing Rock and the Pipeline – you still get these articles about how the problems of various minority groups somehow aren’t real? It’s almost as if the people writing this stuff have no concept of sensitivity and are shielded from most of the negative experiences of the world in an ivory tower.

    Oh wait, this is a (right) libertarian site. Of course that’s the case. The take home from all of this anti-SJW shit is “but what about me and my problems, other people don’t matter.”

    • Jason Brennan

      I don’t tolerate the legitimization of racism or oppression. You are a shitty person and I hope you learn your lesson.

      • PrincessOfTheCrystal


        • Jason Brennan

          I bhfocail eile, is é seo an am cuí chun labhairt faoi seo.

    • Jeff R.

      To what dire issues are you referring?

  • PrincessOfTheCrystal

    Also I’m Irish and observe some folk beliefs syncretic with a monotheistic religion(i.e. the same sort of place Halloween supposedly came out of). And I say this is bullshit.

    • Jason Brennan

      Tá tú tar éis glacadh le mentality daor mar gheall ar coilíniú.

  • dab

    Samhain (under various names) is not just an Irish holiday, it is a *Gaelic* holiday and was celebrated not just in Ireland, but Mann, Scotland and Wales. So it is very much and painfully ironic cultural appropriation to say that it belongs only to the Irish.

    • Jason Brennan

      Bhí mé chun rudaí a shimpliú do mo lucht féachana, ach ar ndóigh Aontaím.

      • dab

        So, I get that, but as Gina pointed out below, this is an extremely nuanced subject with a lot of complex sub-issues. I think that for this, simplification is a disservice to both subject and audience.

  • Gina Berry

    As an Irish pagan, I agree with Mac from an earlier post. I celebrate Samhain while my Scots-Italian Christian husband celebrates Halloween. Neither of us sees a problem with our situation. I will admit that celebrating Halloween before I converted was a lot more fun. Samhain isn’t a lighthearted holiday to my faith the way Halloween is in America. It’s quite serious and to us it’s the day where the veil between the world of the living and that of the dead is thinnest. I really don’t see how little kids dressing up and going trick-or-treating or adults wearing costumes and getting drunk while enjoying a holiday with a different name that just happens to be on the same day as Samhain is something that we Irish should see as racist or offensive.

  • SparkleBunny

    “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

  • Samhain or Halloween was practiced by all European Heathen folk and still is. It is not just for the Irish, however it most certainly is not for the arrogant “people of color” who think they are going to direct our holiday whilst calling *us* culturally insenstive. Only Europeans are invited to our ancestral rituals.See here and here.

    • Soarintothesky

      And dare I mention Diwali.

  • I would think it is cultural appropriation for non-Satanists. Which is why so many Democrats feel free to celebrate it.

  • Pingback: Political Correctness and Cultural Appropriation Panic Are Killing Halloween | Michigan Standard()

  • Sonic tooth

    not sure if this is satirical or not but im Irish, living in Ireland and i have absolutely no problem with anybody enjoying/celebrating Halloween. in fact, its Americans that made Halloween the fun festival that it is…. btw, while im here, most Irish people have brown hair (not red), ,most modern teens to 40 yr old irish have very little interest in catholicism and yes we do party alot but so do the Brits/Dutch/Germans yet we are the ones incorrectly accused of being a nation of alcoholics…we are a fairly liberal people, unlike our Irish-American cousins, who are stuck in a Celtic fantasy land that doesn’t exist anymore (thankfully)…. one more thing we don’t live on potatoes. i remember years ago seeing some “funny” lounge singer guy on a major U.S chat show singing “Irish peoples brains are made of corn, theyre all drunk before theyre even born”. it was one of the most offensive things ive ever seen, yet everyone laughed.

    • Jason Brennan

      caillfidh pobail coilínithe minic a bhféiniúlacht barántúla.

      • Sonic tooth

        i have no time for that headwrecking language, English is my language, and dont give me this post colonial theory bullshit either

  • Mark Lucey

    As a full blooded irish man who can trace his roots back to celtic times i here by call on all nations to help the irish nation to celebrate our festival of samhain and to bring it back to the traditional values of inviting our ancesters to come and join us from the other world. Inclusion is the only way forward exclusion never works out we need to embrace each others cultures and support each other standinh side by side in the fight against all oppression.

    • Gavin Soady

      Well said..

  • GlynnD

    Great article Jason, I’m from County Derry and as you’ve probably read in the last few days Derrys Halloween festival is rated as the best in the world (USA Today)
    As far as I or anyone (most) here Ireland are concerned, Halloween or the original pagan festival of Samhain can be celebrated by anyone, anywhere or any race or creed without it causing offence in any way shape or form. To be honest if you asked the average Irish teenager what they where dressing in up for Samhain they would look at you like you where mental. Though you made some good points regarding the oppression we suffered at the hands of the English and in the states but none of that has any connection to the celebrating of Halloween.

  • Grainne Doherty

    This is a bit late but oiche samhain shona duit my fellow Irish man. 😀 You seem to know a fair amount about the Irish history long past but how well do you know Irish history of the 60s,70s and 80s. Like why didn’t the Irish Americans do more to help their supposed people during the Northern Ireland Troubles when they where suffering discrimination and oppression you talk about so much in your article. Why when Bernadette Devlin came over to America looking for support for the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland she felt like this: ‘My people’—the people who knew about oppression, discrimination, prejudice, poverty and the frustration and despair that they produce– were not Irish Americans. They were black, Puerto Ricans, Chicanos. And those who were supposed to be ‘my people’, the Irish Americans who knew about English misrule and the Famine and supported the civil rights movement at home, and knew that Partition and England were the cause of the problem, looked and sounded to me like Orangemen. They said exactly the same things about blacks that the loyalists said about us at home. In New York I was given the key to the city by the mayor, an honor not to be sneezed at. I gave it to the Black Panthers.’
    Ireland and Irish-Americans have nothing in common anymore and that is sad. The Irish where at one stage in history discriminated against and what you should do with that knowledge is not go crying on about how someone is celebrating your holiday but see people in the black lives matter movement and the Native Americans protesting at Standing Rock and remember that Irish people where at one stage in History in their postilion and offer them a helping hand because until you realize that you know nothing of what it means to be Irish.

    • Josephus Jones

      This was satire.

  • Dean Allen

    I went from flabbergasted, to amused, when I realized this is satire.

  • GlynnD

    Hi Jason, why was my post removed??

  • Bobby Ring |-/

    .. Is this satire?

  • Lilith

    Youknow, I love to fake-Irish dance.
    And I’m Dutch.
    But I always anounche; ‘It’s fáke people!’ before I start and I never accept compliments from people that try convincing me that it was réálly Irish dancing.
    Because it wasn’t, I was just making random moves and jumped up and down.

    This way, I can show off my imitation, I can get some exercise, I am enjoying myself, I am entertaining others, yet the credits for réálly learning this dance, still go to the irish.

    And that’s as far as I’ll go. If an Irish is insulted because of that, they can kiss my shiny hiney.

  • Shane Gildernew

    Ciara is a twat. I had to move to America 31 years ago because of the brits. Are you from the republic or the north? My American kids have Irish passports and sing Wolfe tone songs. Love their granddad who is a terrorist in Ireland and are as Irish as her.

  • Kenneth James Abbott

    If you knew anything at all about Irish history, you’d know it never had “Christian Conquerors”–at least not until the Norman invasion, and by that time Ireland was solidly Christian and had been for centuries.

    In fact, the British Isles showed a definite pattern–monks and priests would travel, preach, and convert, then pagan invaders would “un-convert” everyone at swordpoint, and the monks and priests would slowly convert ’em back.