“Cancel Culture.” A cancerous outgrowth of Political Correctness that demands that anyone with the courage to share a thought that doesn’t conform to Leftist Group Think be shouted down, silenced; cancelled. It is occurring daily at every level in our society.
Think of Robert Unanue, CEO of Goya Foods, who praised and thanked President Trump at the White House for the economic policies that have allowed his company to thrive and prosper. Heavily criticized for the remarks, he’s courageously said he’s not apologizing for them.
Think of the cowardly New York Times and its decision regarding U.S. Senator Tom Cotton’s article, “Send In the Troops.” Sen. Cotton merely argued that, during the protesting, rioting, and looting after the death of George Floyd, the Insurrection Act could be invoked to deploy the military across the country to assist local law enforcement. The article ran in the NYT online version but caused such controversy among Times staffers that it was not run in the print version as had been planned. Cotton’s article was not printed because he had an idea, shared by millions of Americans, that offended the Leftist sensitivities of younger NYT staff.
Think of Gary Garrels, who until recently was a curator at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He resigned his position after museum employees accused him of racism and demanded he be fired. His grave offense? He ended a presentation about diversifying the museum’s finances by saying, “don’t worry, we will definitely still continue to collect white artists.”
Think of Grant Napear, the longtime TV and radio talk show host of the Sacramento Kings. He was swiftly fired by the Kings. His offense? When asked by a former Kings player for his opinion of Black Lives Matter, he replied “All Lives Matter…Every Single One!!!”
Think of Emmanuel Cafferty, a Mexican American, fired from his position at San Diego Gas and Electric after a fellow driver took a picture of his arm hanging out of one of the company’s trucks. He was accused of making a gesture with his fingers. The gesture — made by forming a circle with the thumb and index finger — has supposedly been used in recent years by white supremacists to form the letters W and P. However, it’s also been used for decades to convey that all is “Ok.” Cafferty claims he was just cracking his knuckles. “When my supervisor said that I was being accused of doing a white supremacist gesture, that was baffling,” Cafferty said. “I don’t know how long it’s going to take me to get over this, but to lose your dream job for playing with your fingers, that’s a hard pill to swallow,” Cafferty said. “It’s scary that you can be charged, tried and convicted on social media, without your permission, with no corroborating evidence, of any type.”
Think of Tiffany Riley, a Vermont school principal, who was fired for merely expressing her opinion, on her own time and on her personal Facebook page, that she does not agree with Black Lives Matter. Her post:
“I do not think people should be made to feel they have to choose black race over human race. While I understand the urgency to feel compelled to advocate for black lives, what about our fellow law enforcement? What about all others who advocate for and demand equity for all? Just because I don’t walk around with a BLM sign should not mean I am a racist.” She was vilified.
What about tolerance of free speech? What about the right of people to support police reforms but not necessarily the BLM movement and its Marxist tactics or its wish to “…burn down this system” if BLM doesn’t get what it wants. (Keep in mind, it is virtually always acceptable to attack and silence pro-life advocates and conservative speakers.)
Or, share the view that it’s reckless and dangerous to defund and neuter the police; Or, that a virus with a 98.6% survival rate and ever-shifting medical rationales doesn’t justify destruction of the American economy and the millions of small businesses and families that desperately need their jobs.
We don’t have to agree with any of this. What we shouldn’t tolerate is having these views shouted down or cancelled simply because someone disagrees with them. To do so endangers all speech. This intolerance is imposed through hate, invective and violence. It’s a new McCarthyism, demanding conformity to every dictate of the Thought Police, which believes in diversity in all things—except thought.
What should be cancelled is this toxic intellectual virus now coursing through the political and media bloodstream so that the rich ferment of myriad political viewpoints, tested in the “marketplace of ideas”, will continue to flourish and to strengthen our Nation’s democratic institutions, reflecting what Lincoln referred to as the “better angels of our nature.”
Royal Alexander is a Shreveport attorney.