Mazzuca: Cancel culture
Cancel culture has certainly been prominent in the news recently. And while definitions may vary, it’s fair to say cancel culture is about silencing opposing opinions, sowing dissent, arousing anger and stifling debate. Unfortunately, this phenomenon appears to be permeating every aspect of American life.
Whether it’s eliminating Dr. Suess; firing a teacher for failing to address a student by her self-identified gender pronoun; or Amazon Prime removing a Clarence Thomas documentary during Black History Month; the cancel culture represents an existential threat to our society.
For those who feel the aforementioned is hyperbolic, they should try reading “Life and Death in Shanghai” by Nien Cheng, a searing memoir of Mao’s Cultural Revolution because in very many ways, what’s going on in America today parallels what occurred in China during the 1960s.
Does the left not understand the way to defeat ideas they oppose is by exposure, argument and persuasion, rather than by trying to destroy the lives of innocent people they disagree with? At Skidmore College in New York activists demanded that the school fire an art professor for attending a “Back the Blue” rally even though he did not actually participate in the demonstration. As the professor said afterward, “I just wanted to hear what the demonstrators had to say.”
Nonetheless an email circulated stating, “Tonight, I and other Skidmore students witnessed Professor David Peterson at an anti-Black Lives Matter protest. We demand his immediate dismissal for engaging in hateful conduct that threatens Black Skidmore students.” Hateful conduct that threatens black students —seriously? (By the way, if I’m a parent paying for this type of “liberal education” then very candidly folks, I’d demand my money back.)
But the truly frightening aspect of the matter is how the “woke” crowd is expanding the definition of what is “cancel-worthy behavior,” which is no longer limited to academia or even to recent comments made by an individual. Simon & Schuster canceled plans to publish Sen. Josh Hawley’s (R-Mo.) book, “The Tyranny of Big Tech,” because of the storming of the U.S. Capitol; and the former senior vice-president of Boeing’s communications division resigned because of an employee complaint about an article he wrote 35 years ago!
The cancel culture now permeates every aspect of American society and threatens exactly what the Founders so courageously fought for and later enshrined in the First Amendment. Allegation is now tantamount to guilt and pulling sponsorships is just one of the remedies for not towing the progressive line.
And speaking of towing the progressive line, it will be interesting to see how cancel culture proponents such as Disney, the NBA, Nike and Apple respond to the recent Chinese court ruling affirming that, “Homosexuality is a psychological disorder and contrary points of view are merely academic opinions.”
Will these “woke” icons of American commerce “cancel China” by not featuring their movies, playing basketball or manufacturing and selling their products in China? Or is cancel culture reserved only for the likes of Mike Lindell and his My Pillow products that will no longer be sold at Bed, Bath & Beyond and “other fine retailers” due to Lindell’s “improper” statements about the 2020 election? As an aside, Lindell’s products are all made in the USA, so how does not putting them on shelves help the American economy?
Freedom of expression is the core principle of the democratic process; and in a free society people must be able to discuss, exchange and debate ideas without fear of censorship or reprisals.
But perhaps the most insidious aspect of cancel culture is how the progressive movement is engaged in a coordinated effort to remove and eliminate all references to our founding simply because the mores and culture of the 18th century don’t comport with today’s “woke” ideology. These people aren’t interested in improving America — they are trying to wipe away the lessons of history that should be taught to our children and grandchildren.
By focusing so much attention on the flaws of the Founders the progressives fail to capitalize on the opportunity to learn from their wisdom and exemplary virtues. But even worse, by discrediting the Framers they plant seeds of doubt, especially within the younger generation, about the nobility of America, a nation that while imperfect, has freed more people from oppression and done more to raise the quality of life for humankind than any nation in recorded history.
Quote of the day: “Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen,” — Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe.
Butch Mazzuca, of Edwards, writes biweekly for the Vail Daily. Follow him on his blog at butchmazzuca.com.