Cancel culture, a new corner problem


In 1987, Al Campanis, vice president of the Los Angeles Dodgers, appeared on ABC News’ “Nightline” and made deeply offensive remarks about why there weren’t more black managers in baseball. . “No, I don’t believe it’s a bias. I really believe they may not have some of the necessities,” Campanis said.

Two days later, he was fired. You could say it was “cancelled”.

“Sunday Morning” senior contributor Ted Koppel says “cancellation culture,” as it’s known these days, is a social weapon that has served left-wing outrage (“When you cross this kind of societal norm, you have to pay the consequences”) and the right (“Don’t support Major League Baseball, whose players kneel for the national anthem”).

In 2016, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality against black people. He said at a press conference, “I will continue to support people who are oppressed. This is something that has to change.”

He expressed his feelings by a 2018 Nike ad: To believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. San Francisco 49ers
Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers kneels for the national anthem before their game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Levi’s Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Canceled? Kaepernick never played professional football again.

Nowadays, the term “cancel culture” has become the Swiss army knife of political warfare. While MSNBC’s Ali Velshi described cancel culture as “the dumbest two words ever put together,” Bill Maher said on HBO’s “Real Time,” “cancel culture is real, it’s insane and it grows exponentially”.

Fox News’ Sean Hannity offered his viewers a handy reference guide: “They want to cancel, let’s see, Dr. Seuss, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, Pepe le Pew…”

“They?” You know, the left, the Squad, the “awake mob”. Laura Ingraham described cancel culture followers as “successful liberals [purging] almost all conservatives in academia, the entertainment industry and journalism.”

…like those members of the San Francisco Board of Education, who approved a plan to change the names of 44 schools linked to historical racism or oppression? Among these schools (until public outrage forced the board to suspend its plan) was one named after President Abraham Lincoln.

Comedian Jimmy Kimmel said: “This is how Trump gets re-elected: cancel Dr. Seuss, cancel Abe Lincoln, melt Mr. Potato Head’s private parts…that’s his way to victory next time around.”

Controversial? You bet! But according to Perry Bacon Jr., the website’s senior editor FiveThirtyEight“We’re going through an incredibly important re-examination of who our heroes are and should be. And I don’t think that’s a non-issue at all. I can’t think of anything more important.”

Koppel asked, “You realize, of course, that leaves you wide open to the argument that we’re applying 21st century values ​​to 18th century people?”

“I’m a black person in America. I’m pretty happy with some of the things that Lincoln did,” Bacon said. “So I’m not opposed to that. But I think yes, we’re seeing some of the most fundamental values ​​of our society challenged. Capitalism? Is America an exceptional country? America is- Is it a great country? Is America a role model for other countries? Have we treated Native Americans and black people so blatantly that we have never been a true democracy?

“So when you see schools in San Francisco being renamed, I don’t think it’s minor. I think we kind of see really that yes, yes, there are people on the left who absolutely want to reassess the whole thing. American history based on the values ​​of 2021.

“And damn it, yeah, it’s controversial,” Bacon said.

YouTuber Carlos Maza mania his social influence with pride: “I hope that as long as I live racists and transphobes will consider me a villain!” he said.

Those who lose their jobs or reputations because of the quick judgment of cancel culture are seeing a nationwide campaign of retaliation spiral out of control. According to conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, “Cancel culture comes for all of us. Everyone will be cancelled, unless you’re completely left, in which case you can say anything.”

Maza said, “If you’ve organized your politics or your ethics around ‘How can we avoid Fox News horror stories? you will never do anything, because there is no way to bring about change in a multiracial democracy without there being horror stories.”

Thirty years ago, a startlingly similar issue wore a different label: political correctness, which “Sunday Morning” correspondent Bill Geist defined as, “Be sensitive, or else!”

In 1991, Leon Botstein, the president of Bard College, joined Koppel on “Nightline” to explain why so many teachers on campus were frightened by the phenomenon: “They’re scared because it’s populist bullying, if that happens at all, in faculty groups and student groups, where people just don’t want to risk being vilified or unpopular, or they themselves don’t want their own biases examined.

“It’s ironic that all this call for diversity has created a sort of silence within the university about a genuine exchange of views.”

Thirty years later, Botstein remains president of Bard College and he recognizes the old symptoms. Today, he said of cancel culture, “it’s not a new problem. What’s new is the medium.

“Cancel culture is much more about punishment. Social media is like an arson accelerator. Everything moves fast and out of control. So the slightest spark creates an avalanche, if you will, of retaliation. There is no room for error. And the answer is not to start a conversation or a dialogue, but to exclude the person in one way or another.”

That may be true, said Carlos Maza; but social media simply levels the playing field for outliers – those like him a few years ago.

“So if I was in a school, like when I was in high school and the teachers called the kids ‘fags’ in class, there was really nothing I could do,” he said. “And if the alternative to that is for teachers to be afraid to offend the gay kid in class is fine with me. What you are really describing is a power struggle between the marginalized and those who are not.”

Columnist Andrew Sullivan told Koppel: “I’ve been canceled a million times. I’ll probably be canceled this afternoon by someone, somewhere. And in the end, you go through this process and, if you have something worthwhile to say, people will find you and listen to you.”

Sullivan reports having recently experienced this when some of his colleagues at New York magazine declared themselves uncomfortable enough with him that he was, well, canceled:

“America has always had these spasms of bullying, social bullying, trying to suppress, Salem [witch trials] through the blacklist,” he said. “It goes back a long way, and it’s just another episode of this puritanism, which I hope will end at some point.

“This country is a great experience of openness and diversity generating more mutual understanding.”

Used be,” Koppel said.

“No, it’s more than ever,” Sullivan reiterated. “You go anywhere in the world, anywhere else in the world and find a country as diverse and as tolerant as this. You try. You think China doesn’t have incredible levels of racism and indescribable sexism?

What’s at issue – and it’s really going to be a factor in our political process – is a changing power structure, reflecting a change in our national profile.

“The left is moving toward a deliberate reengineering of our society along identity lines,” Sullivan said. “You are not all white supremacists. These narratives that are propelled, that this society basically hasn’t even advanced since slavery? These are extremist opinions. This idea that there is no difference between men and women? I mean, this stuff is crazy.”

Koppel said: “But to those who say, ‘Andrew, listen, for all the generations where we women, we trans people, we black people have been oppressed in this country, we finally have the means –'”

“To oppress others? »

“‘…we finally have the means to administer our own influence.’ What is your answer?”

“I think some of it is driven by a kind of reverse racism and sexism that wants some kind of payback, yeah,” he replied. “I think part of that is part of the psychology.”

“And what is the natural evolution of that, then?” Where is he going ?

“I hope people can understand that you’re not doing any good by just repeating the bad,” Sullivan said.

“Look, Andrew, you’ve always been a voice in the desert, but I think yours is a particularly lonely voice right now.”

“I know,” he said. ” I’am aware. So what ?

“To put it bluntly,” Bacon of FiveThirtyEight said, “it seems like straight white men have a little less power to control speech, and people who aren’t that have a little more power just to control speech.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz claims to have raised more than $125,000 in 24 hours, signing and selling copies of “Green Eggs and Ham”, the Dr. Seuss classic (which, by the way, has do not been cancelled) at $60 a crack. The senator says he’s campaigning against the cancel culture crowd (“Go wake up, go broke!).

And there is a huge, receptive audience. More than half (64%) of registered voters polled in a recent Harvard-Harris poll saw their freedom threatened by a “growing cancel culture”.

And then there’s this: According to the US Census Bureau, in less than 25 years, White Americans will be a minority. The nation’s political future is undergoing a seismic shift.

While the national conversation seems centered on cultural icons, and the randomness and often silliness of who and what gets ‘cancelled’, the issues at stake concern real political power – who wins and who loses.

For more information:

Story produced by Dustin Stephens. Publisher: Ed Givnish.

See also:

Canceled Culture: Reconsidering the Art of Controversial Artists



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