Culture Clash

Beyond the Burqa: America’s Role in Regulating Taste

September 29, 2010

In December last year, a young man was thoroughly beaten in front of 4 million people after expressing his German-American pride through brand names. Joe “The Southside Strangler” Brammer walked out to the octagon on The Ultimate Fighter—along with his entire crew—sporting Iron Cross-emblazoned Hoelzer Reich gear. Politically correct UFC fans were furious. Despite the company’s backpedaling denials, Hoelzer Reich has numerous neo-Nazi associations, including logos of eagles clutching swastikas, “Blood and Honor” insignias, and an informal sponsorship of hate-rocker Ed Wolbank.

In response to the outrage, all Hoelzer Reich apparel has been banned from most major MMA leagues. According to president Dana White, the UFC maintains a “zero-tolerance policy” for “idiocy” and “white power racialists.” Of course, some fans pointed out that Cain Velasquez—whose “Brown Pride” tattoo covers his chest—fights in the UFC octagon without a Manssiere. Apparently, the UFC does not consider pride in one’s Mexican heritage to be…ahem…“racialist.”

Of course, these prohibitions on appearance are not unique to America or France.  Poland has recently outlawed communist chic such as red stars, hammers & sickles, and Che Guevara T-shirts. Nightclubs from New Orleans to Melbourne, Australia, have banned Ed Hardy attire—a brand favored by Jersey Shore guidos and various douchebags across the globe. And of course, women in numerous Muslim countries have been prohibited from wearing anything remotely sexy—upon penalty of public beatings or death—since the days of the Bedouin nomads.

Is there no hope for a universally tolerant society?

Beneath the rhetoric of “community,” “dignity,” and “equality,” there lies a more primitive motive for policies such as the Burqa Ban. While the notion of a “post-racial” society is plausible in certain locales, I can think of no culture that is post-tribal. We cling to team colors or military uniforms, to the chador or haute couture, to turbans, bandanas, or cowboy hats as a way to maintain tribal identity. Tribal affiliations are signified by superficial symbols, and the collective memories evoked by Islamic, Nazi, communist, American, ghetto, Guido, or homo aesthetics are simply a cerebral extension of caveman-level revulsion.

In the West, antagonistic tribes have been getting on in relative peace for the better part of six decades, but our ability to transcend the instinctive preference for those like ourselves is obviously limited on both local and national levels.  Not every tribe will be welcome to the collective campfire.

While citations and social exclusion are a much more civilized way to eliminate undesirable appearances than the ancient solutions of stones and spears—still employed in the global backwater—the primal instinct remains the same. Humanity’s inner ape screeches to expel that which doesn’t belong. Therefore, the realistic options for any unwanted minority are fairly clear: assimilation, evacuation, or confrontation.

Take it from a chronic misfit: Those who challenge the cultural chimpanzee should prepare to have poo flung in their faces. If you’re gonna be so bold, don’t be a fucking whiner. Just bring your baby-wipes and take it like a sport, ’cause it’s bound to be a shitty day.

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