Ralph Linton puts cultural appropriation in perspective

Jonathan Zimmerman unearths a classic piece by Ralph Linton that nicely illustrates the absurdity of obsessing over cultural appropriation:

Our solid American citizen… slips into his moccasins, invented by the Indians of the Eastern woodlands… He takes off his pajamas, a garment invented in India, and washes with soap invented by the ancient Gauls…

puts on shoes made from skins tanned by a process invented in ancient Egypt and cut to a pattern derived from the classical civilizations of the Mediterranean…

His plate is made of a form of pottery invented in China. His knife is of steel, an alloy first made in southern India, his fork a medieval Italian invention, and his spoon a derivative of a Roman original…

waffles, cakes made by a Scandinavian technique from wheat domesticated in Asia Minor. Over these he pours maple syrup, invented by the Indians of Eastern woodlands…

he settles back to smoke, an American Indian habit, consuming a plant domesticated in Brazil in either a pipe, derived from the Indians of Virginia, or a cigarette, derived from Mexico

he reads the news of the day, imprinted in characters invented by the Semites upon a material invented in China by a process invented in Germany. As he absorbs the account of foreign troubles he will, if he is a good conservative citizen, thank a Hebrew deity in a Indo-European language that he is 100 percent American.