American Culture

Mid-century modern bigotry

TikiFrankenstein, 1932: villagers with pitchforks and torches search for the monster who killed the little blonde girl.

Berlin, 1933: Brown-shirted Nazis march triumphantly through Berlin by torchlight to celebrate the accession of Adolph Hitler to the post of Chancellor.

Charlottesville, 2017: American white nationalists parade by the light of tiki torches on the University of Virginia campus to declare their race-based solidarity in a “Unite the Right” march.

Tiki Torches. Those symbols of American decadence that originated in 1930’s post-Prohibition nightclubs with exotic themes, like Trader Vic’s or Don the Beachcomber, both in California. Tiki culture reached its twentieth century height in the 1950s and 60s, when even places like Columbus, Ohio could boast of a long, thatched Polynesian “hut” with a dragon on the peak, huge flaming torches out front, and an hourly tropical rainstorm inside during dinner.

Tiki Torches are available in every big-box store and home improvement center in the country. Ubiquitous for camping and around countless patios and frat houses across the country, especially when filled with mosquito-repelling citronella-scented oil.

What better emblem for the anger and frustration of white American males than this symbol of their lost superiority and dominance from decades past. And even that symbol was a piece of cultural appropriation that they will neither acknowledge or understand.

I’m not sure whether or not the car ramming the counter-protesters was another form of cultural appropriation, this on borrowed from ISIS. But you could hardly miss the similarity.

I will never see Tiki Torches the same way again. If I had any, they’d already be in the trash.

Categories: American Culture, Race/Gender

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