After spending just a few moments on a college campus or scrolling through a Twitter timeline, it’s easy to pick up the term “cultural appropriation.” Cultural appropriation is generally defined as the theft of an element of one cultural narrative by someone who does not belong to that same narrative. It is said to involve selectively choosing particular elements of the culture, while effectively ignoring other elements, for the purposes of popularity or convenience. I’ve heard it used to decry everything from Elvis music to cartoon character costumes, and even to sushi made by non-Japanese people.
Appropriation is a major buzzword for leftists, but I think it’s worth taking a look at how liberals perform their own act of appropriation on matters far more serious than popular ethnic foods or hairstyles. Liberals are eager to accuse others of this phenomenon, yet they themselves appropriate Christian faith and culture for the sake of political expediency. They distance themselves from Christian values, deriding conservatives who attempt to uphold their faith, and attempt to diminish, or even remove, Christianity’s presence in the public sphere. It is these same people who criticize shortcomings in the faith of the conservatives using their faith in God to guide their political ideologies.
Christian conservatives are mocked and called religious bigots for their supposed lack of humility, both personally and in the mainstream media. Just a few weeks ago, Jimmy Kimmel Live featured a segment in which an actor dressed as Jesus read Republican presidential candidates’ quotes on immigration and the war on terror, implying the widely accepted, though false, notion of conservative bigotry. (I’ll keep waiting for the segment featuring Muhammad, but apparently it’s only funny when Hollywood mocks Christians.)
Are liberals exempt from being called bigots when they apply the same religious narratives they mock and portray as insignificant to political affairs? Is it not appropriation when one halfheartedly invokes Christian ideas of love of neighbor in regards to issues like immigration reform, but not to issues like abortion?
I frequently see criticisms by liberals that run along a line of fallacious logic like this: “Conservatives are pro-life, but they don’t help the poor/won’t legalize all the illegal immigrants/won’t let in all the Syrian refugees.” Criticisms like this come from a sheer lack of understanding of what conservative policies are actually about.
Take, for instance, the issue of abortion. Since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, there have been over 58.5 million abortions performed in the United States. Conservatives are actively against abortion, recognizing that it is unequivocally and unarguably the murder of a class of individuals with the same God-given rights as any other human being. Liberals support this government-sanctioned mass murder as a woman’s so-called right to choose, and accuse conservatives of relying on emotion and religious faith, rather than science, to guide their beliefs. They dehumanize life that is sacred, and avoid the truth that their policies allow millions of babies to be killed each year. Yet, these same people accuse conservatives of bigotry for opposing abortion, on the grounds that conservatives want to protect the unborn but supposedly don’t care about those who grow up to suffer in poverty. They conveniently remember their Christian values when they can spin conservatives’ beliefs against them. Frankly, it is not that conservatives are uncaring or ignorant of the real struggles faced by the poor. By trying to grow the economy by sound methods, they look for ways to allow for the formations of conditions necessary for those struggling to pull themselves out of poverty. Is it a perfect system? By no means. But at the very least they attempt to give people the chance at better life, compared with “pro-choicers” who have no regard for the would-be choices of the voiceless unborn. Instead, liberals pass laws to silence millions who are robbed of the opportunity to live and build their lives, and then criticize conservatives as being not Christian enough. This is a sad double standard that needs to be addressed, especially given the further hypocrisy of liberals who want to stray from the presence of Christian beliefs in a modern, supposedly more inclusive America.
A similar situation arises with the recent refugee crisis. National security issues demand that leaders balance logic with compassion, and this is precisely what conservatives are attempting to do. Liberals have a grandiose notion that just letting these people in will solve everyone’s problems. I’m sure we would all like to believe that, but we live in a world that is incredibly, and ever increasingly, dangerous. We need look no further than the November terror attacks on Paris and the New Year’s Eve mass sexual assault in Germany to see the clear risks of letting refugees into our nation without considering consequences. It is not un-Christian to be logical. In fact, Catholic Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Germany recently called for a reduction in the number of refugees taken in by his country, stating that a solution to the crisis requires “charity but also reason.” There is a fundamental lack of understanding by liberals about the fact that the responsibility of the U.S. government is first and foremost to protect American citizens. To take an action that could potentially compromise that duty would be a mistake and abuse by the federal government. This is not because conservative leaders who believe so lack humanity, but because they recognize that the solutions that seem the simplest often are not. Rather than simply letting refugees, who could be dangerous, into our country, conservatives look to foreign relations and actions in the Middle East that could stabilize the region, protecting both locals and our own citizens. Conservatives are working to balance charity with reason, rather than their liberal counterparts who call for charity in areas in which it is convenient and politically expedient for them to do so.
A very similar debacle arises when we look at illegal immigration, as conservatives are perceived as uncompassionate due to their opposition to retroactively declaring a clearly criminal act to be free from punishment for purely political reasons. Aside from their considerations of national security, there is also another moral facet of the debate that is constantly overlooked by liberals: that is, the humanitarian effects of the message we send to foreign nationals when we continually let in illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrants face a dangerous journey from their homelands into our nation, with extremely high risk of kidnap, violence, and sexual assault. It is estimated that as many as 80 percent of women and young girls will be raped while trying to illegally immigrate here. Liberals have used tragedies like this to justify legalizing illegal aliens, particularly child migrants, but they fail to recognize that such policies are actually a major cause of the tragedies’ perpetuation. The problem is that we keep legalizing illegal immigrants, sending struggling people in other countries the message that despite the fact that crossing our borders would violate our laws, we will take them in. These people then send their children or themselves across the border often with vicious coyote smugglers who perpetrate terrible crimes against the migrants who believed their risks would pay off with citizenship. If we send a message that sending people across the border will be an unnecessary risk for them (because they will not be granted citizenship), we can stop the tragedy at its roots. Conservatives want to send a message to other countries that our borders are not completely open; risking your own or your children’s lives to the high probability of abuse during the journey would be an unfulfilling risk. Sound immigration policies, whether they be workplace citizenship verification, increased border patrol, or yes, even a wall, would send the right message to people of other countries to stop breaking our laws and in turn protect themselves from what becomes a grave humanitarian crisis as they attempt to cross the border. These policies would help would-be illegal immigrants, rather than letting them be exposed to danger at the border. Yet, it is somehow conservatives who are not “doing the Christian thing” by being “compassionate” toward all peoples.
No one is perfect in their expression of religious faith, that much is true. But to
mock, denounce, and reject Christian faith at every turn and then use those same religious ideas against those who firmly believe in and try to uphold them is shameful. Liberals appropriate the idea of Christianity to fit their agendas only when it is convenient and politically expedient for them to do so, calling conservatives hypocrites while being active hypocrites themselves. The Pope’s recent alleged criticism of Donald Trump’s immigration policies has opened up religious dialogue between conservatives, and has been hijacked by liberals as a means for criticism of conservative policies at large. I would challenge anyone on the left who invokes the Pope’s statements on this matter, while still actively promoting immoral and unjust actions like abortion, to reassess what it means to be Christian before they point condemning fingers at those who try to uphold the faith and its general principles every single day.