Moderates, they are not

From time to time, when Muslims are mentioned in online discourses, I see comments like this:

“If Muslim extremists want to behead you, the moderates want the extremists to behead you!”

This obviously scorn-worthy opinion reminds me of a recent blogpost I made, which talks about how reluctant people are to call a physically non-aggressive person a bigot, even when they explicitly call for discriminations and violence against the “others”.

Both cases are similar in that they want to brush off the harsh labels. But, their motivations couldn’t be more stark.

Some people are opposed to calling certain others “bigots” because they want to make the situation looks nicer than it really is. Either they idolise the bigots, or they just want to feel positive all the time because they are too spineless to confront reality.

Meanwhile, those who call some Muslim extremists “moderates” want to make Islamic extremism looks mundane. They want to depict us as the most degenerate creatures, so degenerate that even the supposedly most peaceful among us are still violent. They want to depict the world – at least, a part of it – to be more evil than it really is.

This used to bewilder me. How can anyone do such blatantly dishonest fuckery and think they can get away with it?

Well, that’s because they can.

Yes, there are times when we need to be highly technical with our lies. But, we live in a world where so many people hear what they want to hear, where identity politics trumps truth.

If what you say is what people want to hear, it will spread like the Indonesian wildfire which palm companies started. Your zealous fellow ideologues will also take every single one of your words as the gospels, not to be desecrated by facts.

Unfortunately, if you want to spread lies, simply spewing them is more than enough.

From all of the anti-Muslim bigotry expressions I have encountered, this is one of the most effective; it is very empowering to bigots while also looking very harmless for morons.

I wonder if this kind of bigoted rhetoric has also applied to other groups. From what I observe, bigots either lump their targets as giant monolithic organisations or blatantly depict them as non-humans with deceptively human appearances. I have yet to find expression of bigotry comparable to “moderates being extremists”.

Maybe such thing is common and I am not paying attention. But, I hope this is a rarity. I already have too many reasons to be cynical of humanity.

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So, you think you are anti-bigotry and extremism?

If I ask you what bigotry is, I am sure your answer would be something like, “the demonisation of (an) entire group(s)”. If I ask you what extremism is, I am sure yours would be something like, “the embrace of extreme views and/or actions”. Everyone can get the gist what both words mean.

Well, not really.

If you condemn someone for demonising an entire group of distinct human beings, then you are anti-bigotry. If you condemn someone for justifying the brutalisation of innocent people just for achieving certain goals, then you are anti-extremism.

Well, not quite. You are anti both IF you apply those attitudes to literally every person, including yourself.

If you condemn certain Muslims for being extremists and yet you justify the killing of innocent Muslims by American government OR you condemn American foreign policy and yet you justify the deaths of Americans in 9/11, you are not anti-bigotry and extremism.

Not only you see those groups as nothing but giant monoliths, you believe it is acceptable for anyone to kill the people simply for sharing “membership” with the bad apples. Not only you are anti to neither, you embrace them.

So many people have accused me of complicity to bigotry and extremism. Why? Because I defend not just myself, my fellow Muslims, my fellow Indonesians, but also non-Muslim and non-Indonesian fellow human beings from proudly malicious generalisations.

My accusers believe the only way to fight bigotry and extremism is to stereotype and even incite violence against entire groups. When I call them out, they always deny it. But, they always throw the accusation at me only after I denounce their stereotyping and incitement, not because I explicitly and implicitly justify the evil they supposedly condemn.

Yes, supposedly. It is very apparent they hate the immorality only when it is perpetrated by the wrong crowds; if the perpetrators are the “right” people AKA their allies and themselves, they would paint their immorality as praise-worthy, truth-telling politically incorrectness.

Call me radical. But, you cannot be anti-something when you love embracing that something.

Oh, and I also acknowledge both words are loaded. I do agree they shouldn’t be thrown around easily. But, I am confident I am utilising them appropriately.

I have encountered so many people who insist someone cannot be bigoted if they are not violent. Thankfully, unlike them, my standard isn’t that low.

If you have dehumanising beliefs about the “others”, you are bigoted. If you believe the end justifies even the most violent means, you are extremist.

If you are neither, why are you okay with such thoughts nesting in your thinking organ? Heck, why are they there in the first place?

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So, you think you experience religious bigotry?

If I ask you to define it, I am certain your answer would be something like “demonisation of (an) entire religious group(s)”. That should be clear-cut enough. But, of course, every human has their own thoughts, even wrong ones.

If someone thinks you and “your people” are complicit of immorality simply because you share a generalised label with the perpetrators (e.g. Muslim or Christian), then you definitely experience bigotry, regardless of how explicit or implicit it is.

But, do you know what is not religious bigotry? Condemnation of the bad apples!

I have encountered so many Muslims and Catholics who are unable to differentiate the two. Some of my fellow Muslims think it is bigoted to trash on Taliban, ISIS and the likes. Some Catholics I have encountered also think it is bigoted to trash on the sexual predatory-complicit Roman Catholic clergy.

Neither is bigoted because both target a very specific fragment of each group; that should be obvious enough. But, for some reasons, people get too defensive about it.

Maybe they are insecure about their own moral integrity, they feel personally attacked by condemnations meant for others. Or maybe it is something sinister.

It is possible they actually agree with the bad apples, which they consider to be the true believers. It is also possible they believe we should defend those who share labels with us, regardless of how immoral they are.

To call either one morally undignified is an understatement.

Or maybe, they are just simply a bunch of pitifully insecure beings. But, even that can bring horrible consequences.

The defensiveness compels others to have those aforementioned dark assumptions. We are lucky if the others are fellow believers. What happens if they are the bigots?

Our defensiveness makes us look like we are supportive of the bad apples or, worse, we are the bad apples! You cannot blame anyone for having such perceptions! If you are neither, why would you get defensive when people condemn the bad guys?

Don’t get wrong: bigots are a bunch of cunts. They will always dehumanise the “others”, regardless of the facts; hear what they want to hear, see what they want to see.

But, at the same time, we shouldn’t exacerbate the problem by perpetuating the stereotypes. It is no biggie when we are the only ones affected. But, bigotry is a form of collective punishment; if you misbehave, those who share labels with you will suffer the consequences… and vice versa.

You may think the defensiveness helps defending people like you. In reality, what you do empowers the bigots; you give them even more ammunitions.

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You should hate multiculturalism!

*puts on a mask*

Why? Because it deceives you!

It deceives by promising you more tasty foods, more exotic people to masturbate to and fornicate with, and generally more good feelings about yourselves.

Instead, it forces you to learn how to journey across human differences, learn to endure the trivial ones and learn to have honest and open conversations about the consequential ones.

You should hate it because, rather than effortlessly giving you the perks, it encourages you to learn about the complicated thing that is human nature. It encourages you to understand your fellow human beings.

Everyone knows the greatest human right violations are when someone or something does not feel obligated to satisfy your earthly desires and, worse, encourages you to be more thoughtful and compassionate as human beings.

*takes off the mask*

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Confederacy….. and bin Laden?

In a Japan episode of Vox’s Border, a far-right Japanese activist said it was offensive for the Zainichi Koreans (Koreans who have been presence in Japan since the Japanese rule of Korea) to have schools dedicated to North Korean-style education. He believes it is akin to America having schools dedicated to Osama bin Laden.

Well, about that…

After the civil war in which the separatist, slavery-advocating Confederacy lost, a handful of Americans started propagandistic efforts to ensure the heroic long-lasting legacy of the secessionist state; they whitewashed history education and built monuments glorifying the Confederates. They have successfully brainwashed many into believing that the Confederates were fighting for states’ rights, without asking which rights.

Then, during the civil rights activism era, more Confederate monuments were build. It sent a clear message that they wanted to keep black people as second-class citizens.

Not to mention there are many schools and even military bases named after Confederate leaders.

Never mind the Americans who think factually-misleading monuments can teach us history. Some also believe the Confederates should also be celebrated because they were a part of American history, regardless of the damages they caused.

If that’s the mentality, why stop there? Why don’t they also celebrate other people who tried to destroy America? You know, like Osama bin Laden.

Considering he is a significant and undeniable part of American history, why won’t Americans celebrate his glory and mourn over his demise? Why won’t they name schools and military bases after him?

Obviously, those rhetorical questions. The Confederates were seen as Americans – regardless of their secessionist tendency – and they were driven by an ideology which many contemporary Americans deem tolerable or even desirable. Meanwhile, bin Laden was not an American and his ideology is inspired by his Islam faith, which makes it unacceptable for many Americans.

As a Muslim myself, I despise Islamic extremists and their apologists. But, I would have respected the history negationists much more if they are consistent.

I would undoubtedly be frustrated if they celebrate both the Confederates and bin Laden. But, at least, they are genuinely motivated by the misguided desire to celebrate history, NOT by the desire to whitewash certain ideologies.

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LGBT+ culture is not the utopia

I have issues with the culture in general. Apart from the fact that it is not empowering to all LGBT+ people and yet being represented as such, it also gives the impression that equality has been achieved.

Its open celebration does indicate acceptance among the populace. But, the acceptance is not universal.

Remember, the culture exists to empower some LGBT+ individuals. If its existence is still needed, it means there are still a significant chunk who crave the empowerment, which indicates they have yet to be fully accepted.

The US and the UK have strong LGBT+ cultures and yet, anyone with brains know the bigotry is still rampant in both.

Never mind the red US states with their half-assed or non-existent protections. Even the more liberal federal government’s commitment is still half-assed; same-sex marriage legalisation does not extend to American Samoa and Indian reservations, intersex people aren’t allowed to serve in the military, there is no ban on conversion therapy (not even for minors) and there are no laws criminalising gay and trans panic defenses.

And the UK? The national government bans puberty blocker for ALL underage trans individuals simply because one person regrets her transition. Oh, and don’t forget BBC, the so-called liberal public broadcaster which prohibits its staff from making public stances regarding controversial issues, like LGBT+ rights.

This is false neutrality. They are basically saying their staff should not openly take stances when human rights issues are involved. For them, complicity is worth the impartiality.

This may explain why the BBC nominates JK’s Rowling fear-mongering, citation-lacking, anti-trans essay for an award and runs a news report which uses a person who incites violence against trans women as a source.

Both countries show how the existence of LGBT+ cultures does not mean the death of prejudice.

I have this thought after Vice made a video about how the English empire enforced anti-LGBT sentiment in their colonies. The video was not well-received by the audience. In fact, one commenter asked if the English colonies were LGBT+ friendly, why weren’t there any pride parades?

There are reasons why that statement reeks fucktardedness.

Historical denialism is obviously the most obvious. One may argue the LGBT-friendliness before English colonisation was exaggerated. But, it is also well-documented that England imposed penal code Section 377 – which criminalises “unnatural” sexual acts – upon its colonies. While England might not introduce the prejudice, it certainly helped watering the root.

It also insinuates that pride parades have been a thing since the dawn of humanity, even though the first recorded one was held in 1970. This may be a result of historical illiteracy, the western-centric idea that empowerment can only be done through LGBT+ cultures OR the belief that LGBT+ individuals are weird human beings who were born with rainbows in our minds…

…AKA fucking stereotyping. You know, something which self-accepting individuals and allies don’t do.

Not only the existence of LGBT+ cultures signals a work in progress, it also means cishet people – even the so-called allies – have more ways to stereotype us to death.

If full acceptance has been achieved and yet the cultures prevail, it means LGBT+ individuals turn our sexuality and genders into our personalities. Basically, we wouldn’t be different from the cisheteronormative cishet people who do the exact same thing.

The existence is definitely not the utopia.

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Why I – a bisexual Indonesian Muslim – despise LGBT+ cultures

They are not as inclusive and empowering as they appear to be.

The reason why we use the term LGBT+ (or something longer) is we want to be inclusive towards as many gender and sexual minorities as possible. But, in reality, we know that’s not always the case.

Who are often seen as the faces of the community? Gay men and lesbians, specifically white gay men. Are the other letters and non-whites accepted? Well, sorta.

Prejudice still lingers overhead. Racial fetishisation exists; among many white gay men, non-whites are seen as mere sex objects rather than actual human beings.

Bisexuals are accused of being in denial or being greedy cheaters, asexuals are hated for their sexual unavailability and trans people are seen as delusional self-mutilators; basically, the same shits cishet people think of them.

While rare, I also notice that the communities often demand irreligiosity and even anti-religious sentiment. A gay Danish Muslim man received online harassment by other gay men simply because he was a Muslim. Basically, if you are both LGBT+ and religious, some members will also abuse you.

So much for acceptance, eh? I still don’t get why members of marginalised groups can afford to be bigoted.

Many members also have questionable politics. No, I am not talking about the likes of Blaire White and Milo Yiannopolous; their self-hatred and extreme politics make them easy targets. I am talking about those with more moderate politics.

It is one thing to vote for fence-sitting moderate politicians because they are the lesser evil, it is another to genuinely adore them. I don’t know how they can see wishy-washy politicians and think those are the heroes we need. I don’t know whether they are stupid enough to fall for pandering OR they themselves have yet to reach full self-acceptance.

Either way, they seem willing to become tokens AKA PR tools of said politicians, unconcerned about the half-hearted and broken promises.

Oh, and speaking of cishet people, they use LGBT+ cultures to stereotype us even further.

Initially, I had the gut feeling that was the case. But, as it was just a gut feeling, I always dismissed it; maybe I was a bit too cynical. It turns out I was right.

Austria, Hitler’s birthplace, rejected two gay asylum seekers for unbelievably fucktarded reasons. One man – an Afghan – was denied asylum because he was introverted; the officials said real gay men were extroverted. Another man – an Iranian – was denied because he couldn’t recognise the rainbow flag; they insinuated that LGBT+ people were born with the rainbow imagery implanted in our minds.

It is one thing when bigots dehumanise us, it is another when so-called allies do the exact same thing. They may not want us dead. But, they certainly still don’t perceive us as human beings.

If you still see us as stereotypes, then you are still bigoted, regardless of how strong you identify as allies. How can you be allies when the point of being ones is to acknowledge your fellow human beings’ humanity?

As much as I despise those fake allies, I cannot blame them entirely. The so-called LGBT+ community loves pushing a certain image of itself; when it is the only image accessible to the mainstream psyche, it is no wonder the pigeonholing continues.

If you feel empowered by LGBT+ cultures, good for you. But, just because something works well for you, that does not mean it works for others.

The problem is some people think LGBT+ cultures are the be-all and end-all of our empowerment. In reality, not every LGBT+ individual find them liberating. If anything, the rampant bigotry and questionable moderate politics put off many of us.

On one side, we have a partially-inclusive, western-centric community who willingly become a centrist token. On the other side, we have a community of self-hating individuals who somehow believe anti-LGBT+ politicians are the only true allies. The media and the establishment rarely acknowledge those who are neither.

This is one of the moments in which Youtube is a blessing. Thanks to the website, I am exposed to a wide range of LGBT+ content creators. Not only they include trans, bisexual, pansexual, asexual and non-binary individuals (which the mainstream media either demonise or ignore), they also have a diversity in mannerism, opinions, tastes, content creation and, most importantly, life stories.

The exposure empowers me. The fact that they are hard to generalise means I am valid despite not fitting to any pigeonholes.

Actually, let me correct that: I am valid because I don’t fit to any pigeonholes, because I am more than just other people’s expectations and preconceived beliefs.

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Labels, identities and how people can be goddamn idiotic about them

Eugene Lee Yang is a member of the The Try Guys. His Korean-American identity is a recurring theme in the videos. In fact, someone made a video compiling every time Lee-Yang speaks Korean onscreen.

This video is a surprise to many people because of how short it is. In the comment section, I explain how he is not Korean, he is an American of Korean-descent.

And then, the backlashes pouring in like sewage tsunami.

People thought my refusal to call him simply Korean is gatekeeping Korean identity and denying his Koreanness. Of course, if you can read, you know it is not true. I explicitly called him an American of Korean-descent; literally the word Korean was there!

I refuse to call him simply Korean because I believe our identities are shaped mostly by the places we grew up in, NOT by our citizenships and certainly not by how our ancestors lived their lives.

There is another Korean-American former Buzzfeed employee called Evan Ghang. In his case, I have no issues calling him simply Korean. Why? Because, unlike Yang, Ghang actually spent much of his childhood in Korea!

Obviously, you can still get exposed to your ancestral heritage without living in your ancestral land. But, if the exposure only occurs at home, then you are barely exposed to it.

Oh, and that video of Eugene Lee Yang speaking Korean? It is only seventeen seconds long. At that point, there were already lots of Youtube videos featuring him… and yet, he barely spoke the language in any of them.

It is not me gatekeeping Korean identity (I don’t have Korean lineage!) and I don’t mind if Asian-Americans identify simply as Asians. It is about me trying my best to be as empirical as possible.

But, I also shouldn’t disregard how different places treat labels.

In Hawaii, “Hawaiian” is reserved to anyone with indigenous lineage; those who do not possess it are referred to as “of/from Hawaii” and/or their ancestral lineage (e.g. Filipino or Japanese). This is not intended to gatekeep the Hawaiian identity, it is meant to respect the people who have become a disenfranchised minority in their own ancestral homeland and almost lost their heritage to cultural genocide.

That fact reminds me of political implications of labels and how I was dumb to not bring that up sooner in the argument.

Whether you believe it or not, white and black Americans (who are not (perceived as) Muslims) rarely have their Americanness questioned (if ever), even when the former identify with specific European ethnicities and the latter identify as African-Americans.

But, Asian-Americans? Even with their status as “model minority”, they are still seen as perpetual foreigners. When they are asked “where are they from?”, the askers often mean countries instead of cities or states. The increasing hate crimes against them during the ongoing pandemic is a harsh reminder of that.

In Indonesia, my home country, I don’t feel comfortable calling Chinese-Indonesians simply as Chinese. They are bigots’ favourite scapegoats and, like Asian-Americans, also seen as perpetual foreigners, even though many of them can’t speak any Chinese languages and never identify as Chinese.

But, with Indonesians of other backgrounds, I have no qualm about referring to them by their ethnic lineage, even ones who grew up outside their ethnic homelands. Why? Because their ethnicities are indigenous to the archipelago; it is impossible to accuse them of being foreign.

The word ‘indigenous’ also has developed more negative connotations. Under Dutch colonial rule, it was politically empowering. But now, it is often used to “othering” Chinese-Indonesians.

My point is labels are more complicated than we think they are.

On one hand, I believe we should be careful about culturally labelling ourselves and others. We should go beyond lineage and citizenship as they don’t always shape us, if at all.

But, on the other hand, we should also consider the political implications of those labels, regardless of how rational they are. Even with our best intentions, we may end up unwittingly exacerbate the prejudice.

Basically, just like everything in life, we need nuances…. something which my opponents clearly lack.

At one point, I just straight up called one of them a cunt. They insisted that I was denying Eugene Lee Yang’s Koreanness, even though I clearly wasn’t. It is obviously they couldn’t care less about honest conversations.

Initially, I accepted that they had good intentions. But now, I wonder if they were ever well-intentioned in the first place. Maybe, they were trying to emphasise his foreignness, to make him even sound less American.

Who knows?

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The same opponent I called a cunt also brought the word “nationality” and how “Koreans” are a nationality because they share the same Korean root.

I acknowledge them for getting one definition of the word right. Well, only one. While “nationality” can be a synonym for “ethnicity”, it also has another definition: citizenship.

In fact, in the English language, this other definition is the most commonly used one; apart from my opponent, I don’t know any other English-speakers who use the words “nationality” and “ethnicity” interchangeably.

This is a reason why Donald Trump’s attempt to declare Jews a nationality was condemned. For many, he was putting targets on the backs of Jews by making them sound perpetually foreign.

Just because a word has multiple meanings, that does not mean all of them are widely-used.

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So, you think you hate Islam and Muslims? Well, I have questions for you

  1. What are the five pillars of Islam?*
  2. What are the six articles of faith in Islam?*
  3. What is Sunnah?*
  4. What are the names of the first two Surahs (chapters) of the Quran?*
  5. How many verses does each Surah have?*
  6. How are Hadiths different from the Quran?*
  7. How many times should Muslims pray in a day?*
  8. What is the total daily Rakaat?*
  9. What is the Quranic chapter we silently recite in every Rakaah?*
  10. What is the phrase we recite before doing any activities, especially reciting prayers?*
  11. What is the phrase we recite to show gratitude?*
  12. What is the phrase we recite when we seek divine forgiveness or when others say outrageous things?*
  13. What is the phrase we recite when tragedies strike?*
  14. What is the phrase which is the Islamic equivalent of “Oh My God”?
  15. What is the phrase which we recite while making promises, even empty ones?
  16. What is the name of the fasting month?*
  17. How long should Muslims fast in a day?*
  18. When are Muslims prohibited from fasting?*
  19. Name at least four Islamic holidays.*
  20. Who are the first, penultimate and last prophets of Islam?*
  21. Name at least four other prophets.*
  22. Name the three holiest cities in Islam.*
  23. What is the name of the water spring highly revered in Islam?*
  24. At which holy city is it located?*
  25. Name each city’s main mosque.*
  26. Is the Islamic calendar solar, lunar or lunisolar?
  27. What are the two major denominations of Islam?*
  28. How did Islam branch into those two?
  29. Name the other smaller denominations.
  30. Which denomination is accused of creating its own last prophet?
  31. Which denomination is perceived as pantheistic rather than monotheistic?
  32. What are the countries with the largest and second largest Muslim populations?**
  33. At which parts of the world are they located?**
  34. Name at least four Muslim-majority countries.**
  35. Which of those countries declare Islam as their state religion?
  36. What is each country’s dominant denomination?
  37. What are the most commonly-spoken languages in those countries?
  38. What are the most commonly-spoken languages in the Muslim world?**
  39. How do Muslims call the headscarves?**
  40. What are the contributions of the Islamic Golden Age?
  41. What are the differences between Jihadism and Islamism?***
  42. Which extremist groups are Jihadist and which are Islamist?***
  43. Did you know that the Muslim world is not a monolith and therefore, many Muslims will not like how I frame the questions, particularly the snide ones?**

If you know the basics of Islamic rituals and mythology, * would be easy to answer. If you know the basic human facts about the Muslim world (yes, we are humans), ** would be easy to answer.

If you know the basics of Islamic extremism, *** would be easy to answer.

If you struggle to answer any of the marked questions and somehow you still hate Islam and the Muslims, then you hate them without knowing shit about them.

Basically, you are a bunch of fucktards.

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Cultural appropriate discussion sucks

With the risk of looking like a fencesitter, I do think both sides suck.

One side argues cultural appropriation is problematic because minorities in the west grew up witnessing their heritage ridiculed and to only get praised after white people find it cool. Another side argues cultural appropriation is not a thing because many Asians in Asia actually appreciate it when foreigners -white westerners, particularly – embrace their heritage.

There is one problem: both sides ignore that Asians in Asia – the non-marginalised ones, at least – don’t know how it feels to witness their heritage ridiculed and used as props by the others. It is obvious they don’t share the same grievances with their overseas fellows.

They generalise the demographic they are supposedly defending. If two fruits that grew on the same branch can be different from each other, what makes them think ones that are from different trees will definitely be the exact same?

Or maybe, the problem is they only think only one group has valid opinions. I don’t know why they cannot comprehend that the experiences of Asians in Asia and Asian minorities in the west are equally valid.

I initially thought it had something to do with the inability to grasp nuances. If they have contradicting opinions about the same places, then it is the case. It obviously isn’t.

Their opinions do not contradict each other because they are talking about entirely different places! It is like hearing about two houses with different inhabitants and then debating about which inhabitants are real and which ones aren’t.

Personally, I believe there is nothing inherently wrong about wearing any cultural attributes, regardless of their origins. Dictating how people ought to treat those attributes crosses the line; it is genuinely borderline cult-like. Hurt sentiment is a horrible reason to punish the so-called wrongdoers.

But, at the same time, we are obligated to humanise the people who create the cultures we enjoy; the cultures would not exist without them. You cannot love Chinese food and then dehumanise anyone you perceive as Chinese. In that case, the backlashes are actually justifiable and you have no right to complain about being cancelled.

Oh, and I specifically use Asians as an example because I am an Asian myself and I have encountered opinions about cultural appropriate both from Asians in Asia and Asian minorities in the west.

The opinions I hear about black cultural appropriation, however, always comes from people living in the west. I have yet to hear what Africans have to say about this.

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