Disney announced the firing of actress Gina Carano over an Instagram post the company called “abhorrent.” The post ended up being the straw that broke the camel’s back and read,
“Because history is edited, most people today don’t realize that to get to the point where Nazi soldiers could easily round up thousands of Jews, the government first made their own neighbors hate them simply for being Jews. How is that any different from hating someone for their political views.”
This firing fed into the right’s narrative that conservatives and Christians are being marginalized and demonized in the U.S. But is that true? Hardly.
Let’s examine some reasons why this problem is a made-up non-issue.
1. Christians and conservatives have their own cancel culture
On February 26, 2011, John Piper responded to a teaser video for Rob Bell’s upcoming book Love Wins with a tweet that rocked the evangelical community. The tweet simply read “Farewell Rob Bell” and included a link to a Gospel Coalition article about Rob’s upcoming book. The impact on Rob’s ministry was felt immediately.
Christians began calling Rob a universalist, which meant that he needed to be yeeted from the evangelical community as quickly as possible. But here’s the thing . . . the nobody had read the book, and neither had John Piper. All they had seen was a video teasing some of the questions Rob would address.
I’ve watched fellow Christians organize boycotts against Disney for affirming gay rights. They’ve boycotted businesses that encouraged employees to wish others happy holidays instead of Merry Christmas.
We all saw the entire Republican apparatus turn against John McCain for blocking Trump’s dismantling of Obamacare. Today, the people who used to applaud the late McCain’s service to the country, both as a war hero and as a politician, loathe him for deciding to follow his conscience. You could say the same thing of Mitt Romney, who has been “canceled” for daring to speak his contrary opinions about the Trump administration.
When celebrities say things that conservatives don’t like, they use the exact same cancel behavior. Remember when The Chicks (formerly the Dixie Chicks) spoke out against George Bush? How about when Kathy Griffin released an untasteful photo of her holding Trump’s severed head? And thankfully, Taylor Swift was too big of a star to suffer any significant consequences for speaking out against Trump in 2018—but the right still tried to cancel her, too.
I mean, come on. We watched a group of “patriots” erect gallows to hang members of our government (including the conservative vice president) because they didn’t like them. That’s about as “canceled” as you can get.
2. Cancelable offenses are neither ‘Christian’ nor ‘conservative
Please show me someone who has been canceled for pushing for smaller government, championing free-market capitalism, or calling for fiscal responsibility. No one is being canceled for loving God, loving their neighbor, or sharing the gospel.
People are experiencing real-life accountability and consequences for pushing baseless conspiracy theories, denying science, promoting hate and violence, and showing insensitivity to others. If you want to claim those are conservative or Christian values, that’s on you. The plain truth is that people are experiencing consequences for being cruel because they’ve embraced the idea that being sensitive to others is “politically correct.”
When a lot of the people who share the same ideological identity are being “canceled” for being boorish bullies and putting others at risk with their anti-science, anti-factual nonsense, it might be time to ask, “Why do I belong to a movement that’s churning out so much craziness?”
3. You either value free-market capitalism, or you don’t
Let’s boil this down to the basic facts. When the Christian group One Million Moms calls for a boycott of Hallmark because they can’t abide the very existence of LGBTQ storylines in Hallmark Christmas movies, they’re trying to use economic means to coerce Hallmark to do what they want. They are hoping Hallmark’s bottom line will take such a dramatic hit that they’ll capitulate and drop the content OMM doesn’t like.
You see, the people crying about “cancel culture” support using free-market means to achieve ideological ends when it suits them. But when a company like Disney lets Gina Carano go, it’s the same thing. They have decided—due mainly to public response—that they don’t want her to represent their brand.
Disney didn’t let Carano go over one Instagram post. She’d raised ire recently by mocking transgender pronouns, mask-wearing, and disparaging Black Lives Matter. When the outrage around her posts became too much, Disney and Lucasfilm decided they weren’t going to jeopardize an extremely popular franchise by associating it with such an unpopular figure.
I completely understand that you might associate Carano’s firing with your political identity. But you have to admit that you’re not mad about people pressuring companies. You’re furious that there seem to be more people who oppose your views than support them. You’d be happy if you could pressure companies to align with your opinions, but you hold the minority opinion—and the market responds to potential cost and opportunity.
Isn’t capitalism super?
Seeing through the façade
Right now, there is an explosive and angry little contingent of American citizens who wield a lot of influence. This is the reason Republicans are still so sycophantic when it comes to Donald Trump even after he’s out of office. They’re scared to death to let go of the reins on this frothy little faction. This base will remain active and weaponized for as long as they feel victimized and annoyed.
To that end, the “cancel culture” mythos is the gift that keeps on giving. It ensures that these people feel marginalized and unheard. It feeds into larger narratives about Christian persecution. It guarantees that they’ll keep acting out in ways that get them “canceled,” perpetuating the trope.
These people need an oppression narrative; it’s the only glue holding this nuclear reactor together. Without it, the energy (anger) dissipates, and it becomes unusable. But like we saw at the Capitol on January 6, it’s becoming too unstable to control.
Eventually, this “cancel culture” narrative will lead to more violence. Maybe it’s time to admit it isn’t real—or at least that you’re only mad when you can’t get it to work for you.