The Germans bombard British positions on April 24, the second day of fighting. In the foreground is a British dressing station for wounded troops.
April 23 1917, Arras–After their initial successes, the British attack at Arras ended within a few days; they had suffered heavy casualties and had run up against the strongly-defended and increasingly-reinforced German rear positions. Furthermore, the goals of the offensive had largely been achieved; important tactical gains had been secured and the Germans had been diverted from the French attack on the Aisne. However, it soon became clear that the French offensive was failing, and Nivelle wanted a resumption of the attacks at Arras to relieve pressure along the Aisne. The British, who had been considering further attacks for tactical objectives, agreed.
On April 23, the British attacked again near Arras; the Canadians at Vimy were (for now) not involved. The British were largely successful, at first. However, the Germans had learned their lessons from the prior weeks’ battles (and had changed commanders), and were ready to counterattack that evening, driving the British back in many places. The British did retain many of their gains, but at high cost; there would be no repeat of their victory of two weeks prior.
I don’t know what you’re specifically referring to, but my thoughts on cultural appropriation are essentially this:
The concept arose in response to situations where you had a colonial ruling class sort of dabbling in what they saw as the quaint local customs (or sometimes buying in whole-heartedly), while not allowing the people to practice their own cultural traditions. That’s fucked up, obviously.
It then expanded to include things like this:
Which is stereotypical racist fuckwittery.
But the concept is now often used to decry things like this:
…simply because the artist used ideas from another culture. And that’s a step too far for me. (The above picture is from Sita Sings the Blues by Nina Paley, which I just talked about in detail here.)
So what’s the difference? Well, in the first example, the main problem was the legal (and often violent) retribution for people practicing their own culture. In the second example, the main problem is stereotyping–in other words, reducing an entire culture to a stupid costume.
Cultural appropriation is a misnomer for both those issues. The problem was never people reproducing, playing with, or internalizing ideas from other cultures. The problem was active oppression and stereotyping, respectively.
Cultural mixing is good. It’s what’s produced most (if not all) of the artistic and intellectual renaissances in history. A notable example is the Islamic Golden Age, which led to, among other things, modern mathematics. (I gushed a bit about that here.) And cultural mixing and sharing ideas is integral to many of the greatest pieces of art in history.
We cannot and should not apportion the entire world into ideas or stories or actions or clothing or fucking flower crowns, determine which culture owns each of these things, and then forbid anyone else from using them. That’s absurd and impossible and relies on an ideology that is basically Nationalism, which is something that leads to bad places you may be familiar with:
On a personal note, as an artist I also have to ask: where does it end? I’ve heard people complain about, say, the “gay experience” being co-opted. Is a straight person not allowed to write gay characters? What about a bisexual? Should men not write female characters? Should white people not write black characters? Should cis people not write trans characters?
Am I only allowed to write about bisexual half-Jewish cis women who are 26 years old and from the west coast of the US?
If you follow the logic, it goes to weird places, is what I’m saying
Can’t we instead just ask people to do their research, avoid stereotypes, and be respectful (and not violently oppress people, but I hope that goes without saying)? I’m pretty sure that would solve the problem.