Cancel culture is coming up in debate in the threads here an awful lot, and I really do think that some people have been sucked in by the perpetual narrative from the right that this is a leftist problem. If we look at the history of the phenomenon, we can see it wind its way through blasphemy on the religious right (where cancellation is being burnt at the stake or crushed by a heavy weight), through to the Communist Control Act that cancelled people for being or support the…left-wing.
We now have the US electorate and GOP politicians, in the middle of a pandemic that has killed over half a million citizens, saying that cancel culture is the number one problem facing the country.
Wow. That is an incredible success of the culture wars narrative. People really believe that Dr Seuss being cancelled in more serious than people dying in a pandemic, even though that is not what happened anyway. For a good example of how this is disinformation from the right, see Ben Shapiro, Rebel News or Ted Cruz bang on about this. Interesting that none of the GOP politicians who whinged about the Dr Seuss estate pulling some of the books for being a bit dodgy read out Dr Seuss in public, but none of those politicians read the actual dodgy books. They read things like “Green Eggs and Ham” instead – tacit admission that the actual books in question are…a bit dodgy.
You know this is the insidious strategising of the right when every single speaker at GOP conferences pushes the cancel culture narrative. This is their cause in the absence of, you know, actual policy. Heaven forfend they present something positive to enact in the US to make the country a better, more unified place. Rather, Mr Poato Head, the Muppets, Dr Seuss – always much more important to rail against something than present something positive.
Look, I come at this from someone who lost their job for being an atheist. Literally. Cancelled. In. The. Way. The. Right. Mean. I have not mentioned this ever before here because, technically, I am not allowed to do so… I won’t mention it in any more detail due to legal considerations. Suffice to say that I am a leftist who has very much been cancelled for my beliefs by the right, the beliefs that I communicate here. In fact, partly because I communicate my beliefs here.
I could also add (and desperately want to) some other cancel culture moves from the religious right. Hint: email Patheos now and read their auto-reply. One day, I certainly will (he says with purposeful vagueness). Just be aware of the insidious nature of cancel culture from the (religious) right. It happens in many guises.
Here was my recent debate on Premier Christian Radio about cancel culture:
And another interview on the topic:
Before I go on, let me set out a few things quickly for you in what I believe:
- Cancel culture does happen on the left, too. I am not completely denying it. But let’s get some perspective.
- Though it is often a case of lots of heat, very little light. If you end up listening to the loudest fringes, you will have a warped picture of reality.
- Many things that are not cancel culture are falsely laid at the feet of cancel culture.
- The right are hugely hypocritical in their accusations of cancel culture.
- This should be about data, because it appears that this happens massively on the right, but the right count the leftist hits, but ignore the rightist misses.
- The right don’t want to eradicate cancel culture, they want to control cancel culture.
- The right use cancel culture mythology to advance their ideological agenda, appealing to hearts and not minds, spreading disinformation and fear. If the left aren’t coming for your guns and health insurance and your foetuses, they are coming for your job because, you know, you’re being racist or something.
- We need to differentiate between cancel culture and cultural sensitivity, and the feeling like you can’t say exactly what you want in public spaces. Though obviously connected, these are arguably separate issues.
Please read these previous pieces:
- Is “Cancel Culture” Butchering the Centre?
- “Cancel Culture”: Choose Your Narrative
- Why Cancel Culture is Largely a Myth for Use in the Culture Wars
There is an awful lot I have already said on this topic. Go read these first.
But I really wanted to throw in another couple of resources before talking about it in more detail in a few days. The first one is Some More News. This is the second cancel culture video he has done (here is the first), provoked because the right is still overwhelmingly obsessed, for strategic reasons, with supposed leftist cancel culture.
So, Some More News is pretty ranty and he does have a lot of bleeped-out language, but underneath, there are some excellent points. This is well worth a watch to get a good counter-punch to the rightist attacks.
If you want some nuance, this conversation is absolutely excellent. It really is very good. It is available as a podcast in several forms and places, but someone has just whacked it up on YouTube, so here it is:
Honestly, the more of Ezra Klein I hear, the more impressed I am, and this is no exception. A great conversaation.
Anyway, something for you to get your teeth into before I talk about it again.
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