How a Canadian college’s decision to ban a free yoga class for the disabled shows our worries over cultural appropriation have gotten out of hand.
For political correctness to thrive, everyone has to be pointlessly offended and willing to explode with rage at everyone else all of the time. It’s perhaps unsurprising, then, that hypersensitive totalitarians at the University of Ottawa have singled out yoga—yes, yoga—as an enemy of their perpetual Reign of Terror: it makes people too calm to be upset about microaggressions.
And since yoga comes to our shores from a different region of the planet, Americans are “appropriating” it—which is roughly the equivalent of perpetrating genocide, if these furious students are to be believed.
For the past seven years, instructor Jennifer Scharf has taught yoga at Ottawa through its Centre for Students with Disabilities. One would think such a class—a free class, administered to students with special needs—doesn’t deserve the ire of an activist movement. And yet a student—a lone “social justice warrior” with “fainting heart ideologies,” according to Scharf—complained that the class was a slight against yoga’s ancient Indian inventors.
Bafflingly, the Centre agreed.
“While yoga is a really great idea and accessible and great for students … there are cultural issues of implication involved in the practice,” said the students who run the Centre, according to The Ottawa Sun. The cultures from which yoga originate “have experienced oppression, cultural genocide and diasporas due to colonialism and western supremacy… we need to be mindful of this and how we express ourselves while practicing yoga.”
That statement, translated into English, reads thus: Doing yoga is racist because, uh, colonialism.
Scharf, for her part, thought she could outsmart the offended students, and suggested changing the name of the course to “mindful stretching” in order to strip it of its ethnic context. But finding something to be upset about is the prime directive of the campus left, and as it turned out, “mindful stretching” looked problematic to some when translated into French for a promotional flyer.
Scharf’s class is therefore suspended—and its 60 enrollees will have to find some other place to work on their flexibility.
This incident may seem too ridiculous to matter much; surely yoga is safe most everywhere else. But the ideology that convinced students to ban it at Ottawa—the doctrine of “cultural appropriation”—has a powerful hold over far-left thinkers, particularly on campuses. And if they took their philosophy to its logical end, much we hold dear would be at risk—not just yoga.
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