The War On Plaid

tartan ribbonNovember 30th was St. Andrew’s Day* and I’m declaring war on plaid.  Why?  Last week, after seven unoffending years, a free yoga class at the University of Ottawa, in Canada, was cancelled because of “cultural issues.” (Call it “cultural appropriation.”)  WTF?  Apparently, Downward Dog is a symbol of oppression.  Too bad, so sad — you’re probably better off doing Tai Chi, anyway.  (Ooops!)  But that’s not my point.

If the progressive world wishes to fight for the rights of an oppressed minority, they need look no further than the mean streets and heathery footpaths of Scotland.  Trapped on an island with the great bogeyman of European cultural tyranny, the English — and their minions, the Welsh — we Scots have been getting oppressed for so long it looks like normal to the rest of the world.  And the litany of shame is long.

For centuries, Scots have smiled through the tears as we’ve endured offensive and degrading nicknames like Mac, Jock and Plaidie.  We’ve been objectified in the media — from Brigadoon and Scrooge McDuck to Groundskeeper Willie (I’m not even going to mention Fat Bastard.) and repeatedly portrayed as stupid, cheap and brutal alcoholics who can hardly speak English.  I’m looking at you, Robin Williams.

Our national symbol, the thistle, has been belittled as a weed.  Our music has been lampooned as the missing link between sound and noise.  Our food has been ridiculed as the worst in the world (by the World Health Organization, no less.)  Our underwear (or lack of it) is the subject of mocking public speculation.  Our very name has been appropriated across the planet for a child’s game, hopscotch; a candy flavour, butterscotch; and a transparent adhesive, Scotch tape.  When Mel Gibson turned our national hero William Wallace, into a paint-stained, historically inaccurate, shouting Australian, the world cheered and gave him 5 (FIVE!) Academy Awards — and no voice was raised in Scotland’s defence.

Our national game, golf, an ancient, pastoral activity of poor shepherds, was stolen from us.  Appropriated by the world, it has been transformed into a highly competitive, pay-to-play commercial sport.  It is now the hobby of the very rich — an icon of capitalist success that represents the in-your-face power of the 1%.

However, it is for the tartan that we must weep.  The very symbol of the Scottish family, the intricate, hand-woven patterns were passed down, mother to daughter, for untold generations.  The tartan is a visual reminder of that strongest bond of Scottish familial culture — the clan.  No croft was too humble, no laird was too bold, no Scot or her children were too far from home not to honour the tartan and wear it with pride.  And what did the world do?  PLAID — that’s what!

Ripped from the humble looms of Scottish cottages, PLAID is now synonymous with bad taste all over the world, from those ugly Burberry umbrellas to the ratty, little shirts hipsters wear.  Cheap hotels, discount furniture stores, bargain clothing outlets are all awash in godawful, hideous PLAID.  There’s no end to it, but it must end.

So I’m declaring war on PLAID.  I call on all colleges and universities to ban PLAID from their campuses, and I call on all thinking people everywhere to go to their closets, their linen cupboards, their basements and recreation rooms, and pull the PLAID from your homes.  Pile your PLAID in the streets, and on December 31st, the great Scottish celebration — Hogmanay — burn it.  Burn it so the light from a million fires might reach into the dark night of ignorance and free the Scottish soul from this horrible ordeal.  We must end this cultural nightmare — now!

*FYI, St Andrew’s Day is the Scottish equivalent of St Patrick’s Day — with more booze and less brag.

How To Play “Cultural Appropriation”

family-gameThese days, Cultural Appropriation is trending everywhere. You can read about it here, but I’ve discovered an interesting fact: “Cultural Appropriation” isn’t real.  It’s a game invented by middleclass, university undergrads with time on their hands.  It’s quite simple and very similar to the “You’re a Racist” game; however, the scoring is slightly different.  A player must first ambush some unsuspecting white guy — doing just about anything beyond eating Kraft Dinner — and accuse him of Cultural Appropriation.  While the white guy is still wondering WTF, the player must then try and light up the Internet by generating enough traffic to attract the attention of the mainstream media.  There is no limit to the amount of venom or indignation the player can use.  Name calling is allowed, and as in the “White Privilege” game, there are no penalty points for bullshit.  Scoring is simple: more hits equal a higher score and Facebook “likes” don’t count. (Did they ever??)  There are bonus points if  the white guy apologizes and/or eventually just gives up trying to explain.  Also, all bonus points are doubled if the unsuspecting white guy is associated with a brand name corporation.  Points continue to accumulate through the 48 hour news cycle but stop immediately when the story appears on Huffington Post.  The player wins when the white guy’s activity or event is cancelled; however, NO points are awarded if the player doesn’t immediately bitch about the lack of cultural diversity in Western society.  In that scenario, the game resets itself and the player must start again.

Like all holier-than-thou games — including “Sexist, Sexist, I Found a Sexist” and “Homophobes are Everywhere” — ” Cultural Appropriation” is derived from the classic “Stereotyping White People” game which has been a sophomore sport since the mid 60s.  And although we’ll probably never see the great college tournaments of the 80s and 90s again, we can all still enjoy hours of liberal guilt just playing these games for fun with our friends.  Good luck, and good gaming!