Sunday, February 28, 2021

Cancel Culture: Old Whine in New Bottles

Editors' Note: While our correspondents wait for their Massachusetts COVID-19 vaccination appointments (current waiting time, 59,245 minutes), they've had time to reflect on the persistent reactionary whine about being victimized by “cancel culture. In fact the whole Bund is down in Florida for a rally whose theme is:

and our correspondents were there.

By Social Affairs Editor Emma Goldman
with Florida Correspondent Jenny Herk in Orlando

The ghosts of 500,000 dead Americans, most of whom should be alive and well today had it not been for the errors and omissions of the Former Loser Grifter, aren't haunting the fun loving Qpublicans whooping it up at Nuremberg under the Palms, also known as the 2021 CPAC convention in Orlando.

No, they're mourning something much more profound than the toll the pandemic took of their fellow Americans.  They're mourning those among of them victimized by the evil that is “cancel culture.”

What is cancel culture anyway and why do they care about it so much and the rest of us so little?

Let's start with the easy question first.  Cancel culture isn't when when you destroy the career of a promising star professional quarterback because he chose to peacefully protest police violence against people of color.  Cancel culture isn't when those violent police officers cancel the life out of unarmed black men by suffocating them to death while they are helpless and handcuffed in the streets of Minneapolis.

So what the f*** is it then? 

Let Qpublican mouthpiece and CPAC Gauleiter Matt Schlapp explain it to you (as reported in The Washington Post): ““Cancel culture is a desire to push somebody out of polite society, destroy their ability to make a living, and take away their voice,” Schlapp said.”

Funny story: he wasn't asked this question in response to why CPAC chose the slogan it did, in lieu of any real matter of importance to the country in a time of pandemic, economic collapse, and concern over whether Kim Kardashian will ever find true happiness. 

He was asked to define cancel culture after he, um, canceled a featured speaker at CPAC named Young Pharaoh just because Disco Tut had expressed some unpopular views in the past:

He seems nice.  

But of course a deep thinker like Matt Schlapp has no trouble reconciling canceling Young Pharoah, who hasn't gotten over the Jewish God killing his older brother at the first Passover, with his overall condemnation of Cancel Culture: “This week, after the liberal watchdog group Media Matters published ­antisemitic tweets by a Black commentator named Young Pharaoh, CPAC disinvited him from a panel of Black conservatives. Schlapp said that action did not amount to canceling Pharaoh.”

Any further questions?

Actually we have a few.  Like why wasn't it cancel culture when Colin Kaepernick was pushed out of white [Surely, polite? – Ed.] society, and his voice and ability to make a living were both destroyed because he peacefully protested police violence?

And when comedian Michelle Wolf dared to make a joke about lying Sarah Sanders at the White House Correspondents Dinner, why wasn't it a terrible loss to freedom when loud Republican voices were heard trying to cancel her:

White House aide Mercedes Schlapp and her husband Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, said they walked out early.

"Enough of elites mocking all of us," Matt Schlapp tweeted. 

Matt Schlapp?  Why does that name sound familiar?  And funny in a schoolyard kind of way, like Dick Schlapp?

To get an understanding of the evils of Cancel Culture, we can look at a recent example cited by the usual suspects of supposedly woke intolerance shutting down an innocent speaker (like Young Pharaoh):

Be sure you are lying in your chaise longue with smelling salts at the ready for this shocking tale of cruelty, courtesy of Rolling Stone:

In a resignation letter to Smith College President Kathleen McCartney, which was published by writer Bari Weiss on her Substack newsletter, [Natch – Ed.] Jodi Shaw, who is white, rails against what she views as Smith’s “dehumanizing” climate with respect to race relations, citing mandatory diversity trainings and the encouragement of diverse hiring practices as “evidence” of such a climate. . . .

Some said the costume she wore to a
diversity workshop was inappropriate

Shaw . . . takes issue with the fact that, while preparing for a 2018 [That would be over two years ago – Ed] library orientation presentation, her supervisor discouraged her from doing it in “rap form,” due to the fact that she is white and it could be viewed as cultural appropriation. Rather than express gratitude towards this unnamed supervisor for preventing her from humiliating herself by rapping in front of a group of jaded liberal arts students, Shaw says she was “humiliated” by the incident, prompting her to quit her job at the library and take a lower-paying job as a student support coordinator.

The final straw for Shaw, however, was a January 2020 mandatory staff retreat, in which consultants hired by Smith College asked department members to “respond to various personal questions about race and racial identity”:

“When it was my turn to respond, I said ‘I don’t feel comfortable talking about that.’ I was the only person in the room to abstain.

“Later, the facilitators told everyone present that a white person’s discomfort at discussing their race is a symptom of ‘white fragility.’ They said that the white person may seem like they are in distress, but that it is actually a ‘power play.’ In other words, because I am white, my genuine discomfort was framed as an act of aggression. I was shamed and humiliated in front of all of my colleagues.”

In other words, while attending a diversity training seminar that asked participants to examine issues of race and privilege, Shaw steadfastly refused to examine issues of race and privilege — and took umbrage with Smith College for requesting that she do so.

Let's take a minute to calm down and wipe the tears from our face.  What's the moral of this story, Rolling Stone?

In 2021, there’s a simple formula for becoming a cancel culture martyr, and it’s essentially as follows: One, make a tone-deaf remark or faux pas betraying your ignorance of your own privilege; two, lose your job or be publicly reprimanded over said offense; three, get a centrist or right-leaning columnist or public figure with a large platform to take up your cause, persuading their audience to rally behind you as an unwitting sacrifice on the altar of hyper-wokeness.

And don't forget the kicker: after you haven't been canceled (remember, she suffered no punishment from Smith for her asinine behavior), seek to salve your hurt feelings with a wheelbarrow of cash:

Smith president Kathleen McCartney denied claims that there is a hostile environment for white employees at the women’s college in a letter Monday to the school community.

McCartney, who did not identify Shaw by name, said that the allegations were untrue and that the employee who resigned had “demanded payment of an exceptionally large sum in exchange for dropping a threatened legal claim and agreeing to standard confidentiality provisions.” 

But the fake outrage over Cancel Culture isn't just a grift.  It's an assault on knowledge itself, as Michelle Goldberg helpfully points out:

Yet when it comes to outright government censorship, it is the right that’s on the offense. Critical race theory, the intellectual tradition undergirding concepts like white privilege and microaggressions, is often blamed for fomenting what critics call cancel culture. And so, around America and even overseas, people who don’t like cancel culture are on an ironic quest to cancel the promotion of critical race theory in public forums.

In September, Donald Trump’s Office of Management and Budget ordered federal agencies to “begin to identify all contracts or other agency spending related to any training on ‘critical race theory,’” which it described as “un-American propaganda.”

Ask Paul Robeson L'23 what
it was like to be canceled

Now we're getting somewhere unraveling the mysterious appeal of Cancel Culture.  As Jane Coaston of The New York Times pointed out, there's always been guardrails defining the limits of acceptable discourse in America; the question is what they are.

We'd say the question isn't just what those limits are, but who gets to set them.  For generations, the boundaries of permitted speech were set by white male supremacists.  Any idea that threatened their supremacy, or any person who articulated such sentiments, had to be canceled.  Ask Paul Robeson, or W. E. B. DuBois, or Colin Kaepernick.  They were all silenced as “un-American.”

If you are pushing to remove Critical Race Theory from the universe of acceptable discourse, that's because you don't want to hear, and you don't want anyone else to hear, the stories of people who suffered from systemic American racism, or people who look like them.

What has given rise to all the nonsense about the supposed threat of Cancel Culture is that the rules about who gets to place the guardrails have changed.  The power of the white men who silenced generations of social critics, especially women and minorities, while exalting the character and glory of racists and hatemongers like Robert E. Lee, Strom Thurmond, or even St. Ronald of Bitburg, is under assault.

That's what's intolerable – it's not that there should no limits on acceptable discourse, it's that those limits are being set by those who have no business issuing orders, or even requests, to fine innocent fragile white folks like that Smith librarian or Matt Schlapp or those who recall how funny Rush Limbaugh was.

The only consolation for the propagandists of Cancel Culture: those who claim they are being silenced, whether it's Bari Weiss or Bretbug Stephens (who bemoaned Cancel Culture while trying to fire a professor who made a joke at his expense), or Marjorie Taylor “Time for my Training Session, Rodolfo!” Greene, do not in fact shut up, nor do they appear to suffer any adverse economic consequences for speaking nonsense.  

They just, like Ol' Man River (but unlike Paul Robeson), keep rolling along.

UPDATE, March 2:  Speaking of just rolling along, today Bretbug, who has never expressed a particle of concern, much less outrage, about Colin Kaepernick or the other victims of white racist cancellation, recycles in his New York Times column this lame-o Smith College tripe (no link to pisspoor content).

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