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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review December 5, 2013 / 2 Teves, 5774

Katy Perry's dance should remind us to let artistic expression bloom

By Cathy Young





http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Singer Katy Perry's Japanese-style performance at the American Music Awards has sparked a storm of outrage, with accusations of racism and "cultural appropriation." While concern with racial and cultural sensitivity is admirable, this controversy cheapens real racism. Moreover, Perry's critics miss the fact that "appropriation" is the lifeblood of culture. To attack it is to attack free expression and, perversely, to promote cultural segregation in progressive guise.

Perry's act in a kimono costume against an Asian-themed backdrop has been likened to blackface minstrelsy or caricatures of buck-toothed Asians. But it was nothing of the sort. Granted, it was not a recreation of authentic Japanese song, dance, or costume but an adaptation of Japanese visual style (with a dash of Chinese); yet, far from being mocked, the cultural sources were treated as elegant.

Some charge that Perry's use of the geisha image to go with her single "Unconditionally," in which a woman assures her lover of her unconditional love, exploits stereotypes of the submissive Asian female. But Perry's exuberant singing and bold dance movements hardly seemed submissive, and even her lyrics are not about docility: the woman tells the man to freely show his insecurities because she'll accept him as he is.

Of course, to Perry's detractors, any white American using material from a non-Western culture is guilty of theft and exploitation; on the Everyday Feminism blog, writer Jarune Uwujaren slings such pejoratives as "interloper" and "mooch" (except only when a person pays tribute to a culture by invitation from that culture's members).

But all culture is the product of cross-pollination and interbreeding. American culture is the ultimate mongrel. European culture is a stew of ethnic traditions mixed with borrowings from ancient Rome, Greece, Israel, and Egypt as well as later non-Western cultures.



To cast Japanese culture as a victim of Perry's rapaciousness is ironic. Medieval Japanese culture borrowed from China. Modern Japan has adapted Western cultural material, in everything from anime films based on such sources as "The Little Mermaid" to celebrations of a secularized Christmas.

That's different, critics say, because the West is an oppressive juggernaut. As psychiatrist Ravi Chandra puts it on his blog at the Psychology Today website, "This kind of 'costume' is acting out a power relationship," since "whites have historically held power."

This argument disregards the fact that many non-Western countries have their own history of imperialism and racism, and insultingly casts other cultures as victims of the evil West. Thus, non-Western consumption of Western and especially American popular culture is treated as an imposition.

Politically correct zealotry is leading some well-meaning Americans to worry about even respectful engagement with other cultures. Salt Lake City Tribune writer Erin Alberty wonders if it was racist to dress as China's Empress Dowager Cixi for Halloween. Some college students fret about committing "appropriation" by studying a non-Western culture or language. If white supremacists had concocted a plot to protect European culture from "impure" influences by appealing to progressive sensibilities, they could not have done better.

Thankfully, racial or ethnic caricatures are now seen as unacceptable. But denouncing something as innocuous as Perry's performance, which no Asian-American group has criticized, can only promote backlash and polarization. True diversity, to borrow a Chinese phrase, is about letting a hundred flowers bloom-including Perry's artistic expression.

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Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Cathy Young is a regular contributor to Reason magazine, Newsday and Real Clear Politics, where this first appeared. Comment by clicking here.


© 2013, Cathy Young. This originally appeared in Newsday.

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