No place in American society is off limits for the amorphous blob known as “cancel culture.” Academia, Hollywood, toys, newspapers, baseball and even food companies have been subjected to the ultimate form of censorship — total cancelation.
In recent months, we have seen increasingly absurd examples of the left’s vitriol and cancelation tactics.
J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, was canceled for her commonsense remarks that gender differences are real. Rowling was defending another cancel culture victim, Maya Forstater, who had tweeted that allowing trans-women to compete in women’s sports is unfair. Commonsense viewpoints are among cancel culture’s biggest victims.
The former opinion editor of The New York Times, James Bennet, and the former assistant opinion editor of The New York Times, Adam Rubenstein, both were canceled (resigned) for publishing Republican Senator Tom Cotton’s op-ed advocating use of the military to restore order during last summer’s riots. A differing viewpoint is apostasy in cancel culture.
Goya Foods was canceled because its CEO, Robert Unanue, dared to praise then-President Donald Trump. Unanue’s public support for the president came during an announcement that his company was donating a large amount of their products to food banks across the country. The charitable gesture was outweighed by the sin of praising Trump. Cancel culture accepts no deviation from the liberals’ accepted viewpoint of Donald Trump.
Matthew Yglesias, the co-founder of Vox, was forced to resign from his position at that publication after he argued against defunding the police. Never mind that a new study from the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund demonstrates a strong correlation between defunding the police and spikes in crime. Facts are an insignificant nuisance in the effort to purge society of certain viewpoints.
Journalists who veer from liberal orthodoxy risk cancelation. So, too, do professors who challenge the 1619 Project or Critical Race Theory. Children’s literature, games, and toys that fail to reinforce the ideas of gender fluidity are promptly canceled. Mr. Potato Head can attest to this new reality.
The left-wing cesspool known as Twitter are where these assaults usually originate. The “news” gets its news from Twitter, and as Pew has documented, “ten percent of Twitter users have produced an astounding 92 percent of tweets – and of these “highly prolific” users, 69 percent identify as Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents.” While there is nothing trivial about cancel culture’s scope or lasting effects, we must be mindful that Twitter’s far left echo chamber is working in lockstep with the press.
Together, the far left user base on Twitter plus the media make these cancellation assaults appear more prolific and organized than they really are.
Earlier this week, Republican Congressman Ken Buck organized a series of speeches on the House floor so members of Congress could speak out against cancel culture. Their speeches each honed in on a different aspect of cancel culture, but, taken together, the speeches served as a powerful message that there is a concerted movement afoot here. These members of Congress provided countless examples of cancel culture in schools, corporate America, and the entertainment industry.
Congressman Andy Biggs of Arizona addressed a number of cancel culture’s victims, but gave special attention to the misguided reaction of corporate America to Georgia’s attempts to strengthen its voter integrity laws.
Dr. Mark Green, a congressman representing Tennessee, pointed out in his speech how pervasive cancel culture is, as it voids even those on the left. In Illinois, one Thomas Jefferson Middle School was slated to be renamed the Barack and Michelle Obama Middle School — until far-left cancel culture advocates protested the name change. Former President Obama’s misstep in their eyes was that he had occasionally enforced immigration laws. Cancel culture is not a phenomenon directed solely at conservatives, Green reminded us.
Byron Donalds, a freshman congressman from Florida, gave an impassioned speech echoing James Madison’s words. Mr. Donalds recalled that freedom of speech was not an abstract or theoretical concept for our founding fathers. Their deep commitment to the practice of freedom of speech gave life to America’s identity as a nation of free-thinking individuals. Cancel culture puts at risk that entire legacy of freedom of thought.
The threat of cancel culture has been present in America dating back to our founding. Benjamin Franklin, whose trade was as a newspaper businessman, was frequently pressured to disavow certain viewpoints and discontinue publishing unpopular views. Determined to stand for freedom of the press, even in the face of opposition, he resolved, “I shall continue my business. I shall not burn my press and melt my letters.”
Franklin’s words provide a powerful example today for standing up to cancel culture. Cancel culture only succeeds when we capitulate and give up the fight for diversity of opinion. “I shall continue my business” should be the mantra of all freedom-loving Americans who wish to resist cancel culture.
• David Bozell is president of ForAmerica.
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