Meet Yasmin Abdel-Magied: racing car engineer; hijab-wearing Sudanese-Australian activist; special snowflake – and author of what is without question the worst article ever written by anyone in the history of the universe.
When I first tweeted about this atrocity last week many readers followed my link in disbelief that any article – even one written by a hijab-wearing Sudanese-Australian special snowflake activist, published in the “Komment Macht Frei” section of the Guardian – could really be quite as bad as I claimed.
But then they read it. Some even got as far as the bit where Yasmin writes…
The stench of privilege hung heavy in the air, and I was reminded of my “place” in the world.
…and finally they realised that I had not lied. Many subsequently retired to their studies with a bottle of whisky and a pistol, having recognised that a world where someone like Abdel-Magied gets taken seriously enough to have her views published in a national newspaper (and get featured on a TED talk, with over 1.6 million views) is no longer a world worth inhabiting.
Yasmin’s article – which I strongly recommend you don’t read: it’s the newspaper equivalent of the cursed videotape in The Ring – is a prolonged, victim-y whine about the horrors of cultural appropriation, prompted by her experiences at an Australian literary festival in which she objected to a talk by the US-born novelist Lionel Shriver.
Shriver, author of We Need To Talk About Kevin, is not impressed by Generation Snowflake’s obsession with cultural appropriation. Though she didn’t actually wear a sombrero on this occasion (she has in the past), she found plenty of opportunities in her keynote speech at Brisbane Writers’ Festival to mock the ludicrous SJW fad.
So far, the majority of these farcical cases of “appropriation” have concentrated on fashion, dance, and music: At the American Music Awards 2013, Katy Perry got it in the neck for dressing like a geisha. According to the Arab-American writer Randa Jarrar, for someone like me to practice belly dancing is “white appropriation of Eastern dance,” while according to the Daily Beast Iggy Azalea committed “cultural crimes” by imitating African rap and speaking in a “blaccent.”
The felony of cultural sticky fingers even extends to exercise: at the University of Ottawa in Canada, a yoga teacher was shamed into suspending her class, “because yoga originally comes from India.” She offered to re-title the course, “Mindful Stretching.” And get this: the purism has also reached the world of food. Supported by no less than Lena Dunham, students at Oberlin College in Ohio have protested “culturally appropriated food” like sushi in their dining hall (lucky cusses— in my day, we never had sushi in our dining hall), whose inauthenticity is “insensitive” to the Japanese.
“Mama, I can’t sit here,” I said, the corners of my mouth dragging downwards. “I cannot legitimise this …”
My mother’s eyes bore into me, urging me to remain calm, to follow social convention. I shook my head, as if to shake off my lingering doubts.
As I stood up, my heart began to race. I could feel the eyes of the hundreds of audience members on my back: questioning, querying, judging.
Well I do hope they were judging – preferably wearing squares of black cloth on their heads, as I know I would have done had I been there. My worry is, though, that a fair few of them would have bought into Abdel-Magied’s brand of race- and religion-hustling, cry-bully narcissism because, unfortunately, it’s the way quite a few people think these days.
Here, for example, is one Lovia Gyarkye writing in the New Republic in a piece titled “Lionel Shriver shouldn’t write about minorities.”
The lack of nuance in her September 8 speech at the Brisbane Writers Festival proves that she mostly doesn’t get it.
In an attempt to advocate for fiction without boundaries, Shriver, best-selling author of We Need to Talk About Kevin and Orange Prize winner, declared the criticism of cultural appropriation “a passing fad” and claimed that “membership of a larger group is not an identity.” Instead of stopping there, she colored her borderline offensive comment with examples: “Being Asian is not an identity. Being gay is not an identity. Being deaf, blind, or wheelchair-bound is not an identity, nor is being economically deprived.”
My question for Shriver is: If these labels are not identities, if being gay or disabled is not a part of who you are, then why are hundreds of people abused, shamed, and killed everyday because of them? Why are these individuals barred from exercising certain rights and privileges, if these traits, as we will call them, are not important parts of the self?
“Lovia Gyarkye is an intern at The New Republic” it explains when you click on her (? his? its?) name, wondering in who in hell could have written such half-baked tosh.
And sure, it is something of an act of cruelty drawing attention to the work of a child who clearly should never have been let near a computer keyboard let alone had its feeble-minded musings published even online. But then again, Lovia obviously wants to work in journalism, and the sooner and more vigorously it can be dissuaded from doing so, the better for all humanity.
As for Abdel-Magied, it really would be nice to think that the shame and humiliation of having her Guardian article circulated on the internet in order for it to be laughed at by people like you and me would chasten her into doing the right thing and vow never to bother the world with her tedious opinionising ever again. But you only have to look at the epic self-regard she displays in that TED lecture (see above; or rather don’t: you’ll have nightmares for months) to realise that no criticism is capable of denting her weapons-grade sense of entitlement.
In an interview shortly to be released on my new Breitbart podcast, I spoke to Claire Fox, author of I Find That Offensive about Generation Snowflake and the rise and rise of terrifying Me, Me, Me characters like Abdel-Magied.
The mistake we make, Fox warned, is to treat them as a joke – when in fact they are far more dangerous than funny.
Well it’s not going to stop me laughing at them but I do see her point.
There is something warped beyond measure in arguing, as Abdel-Magied does, that it is wrong for authors to inhabit the characters and experiences of people from different genders or races because cultural appropriation.
By that token, Shakespeare could never have written the character of Ophelia or a whole play about a Moor called Othello.
“Everyone’s entitled to their opinion”, as the phrase – very popular with the All Must Have Prizes/Circle Time generation – has it.
Well perhaps. But if that opinion happens to be so ill thought-through, poorly argued, whiny, needy, constrictive, selfish, ugly, ignorant, flat out wrong and probably quite dangerous too, then they deserved to be called on it and relentlessly, mercilessly mocked till they never spout such unutterable bollocks ever again in their special snowflake lives.