Cafeteria American

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I had the rare treat of listening to the utterly ironically named “MPR News with Keri Miller” earlier this week. And by “treat” I meant “update of the notion that Keri Miller is the one “journalist” in the Twin Cities that’d be ill-advised to tell Esme Murphy “dial back the shilling for the DFL and Big Left, you Big Left Shill, you””.

Anyway – she had a show on Tuesday featuring a Hindi woman talking the co-option of Yoga by non-Hindi. Not “decrying” it, per se – just urging people to be aware of, and perhaps learn something of, its Hindi roots.

Pull quote: the woman, Suhag Shukla, describing the various non-Hindi permutations of Yoga, including…:

SHUKLA: “…even Christian Yoga!”

MILLER: (In the background) (Disgusted, mocking snork)

Now, Ms. Shukla has a point – part of her culture has been appropriated. Like solstice trees and Chow Mein and polyrhythm and virtually everything else about every culture in the world that hasn’t been isolated from every other culture in the world, “appropriation” is a two-way street.

As someone who’s lost eighty pounds and wants to gain some flexibility and joint resiliency, I’m interested in yoga (although I haven’t done it yet). As a Christian, I have only intellectual interest in Hinduism. You wanna talk, Ms. Shukla? We’ll talk.

But since Keri Miller – and by association, the modern progressivism for which she shills – is the venue that brought me and Ms. Shukla together, let’s talk appropriation.

Big Left, like a suburban housewife going to an agnostic Hot Yoga class in a strip mall in Minnetonka, appropriates the convenient parts of the American experiment – the fun parts, like free speech and privacy. Like that housewife, or the Cafeteria Catholic, or the Allah-carte Muslim (actor, comedian, and observant but not fundie muslim Rami Yusef’s term, and I love it), they leave out the inconvenient parts – the citizen as self-sufficient atomic political unit, with the same rights, powers and responsibilities in microcosm of actual states are. The whole “government by consent of the governed” and “Free Association of Equals” bit.

If you want to practice the fun parts of the American experiment – immigrating to a country with freedom and opportunity, getting paid to be on the radio, free speech and waving signs about? Then pay some thought to the complex stuff – the tension between order and liberty, the moral right of the free market versus the stifling moral decay of socialism.

It’s a fine day for that, isn’t it?

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