A Letter on Justice and Open Debate, which was published in Harper’s Magazine this week, is hopefully the “Have you no sense of decency” moment for the new McCarthyism that is “cancel culture”.
The right wing is using the threat of “cancel culture” to mobilize their base to try and get Trump re-elected. Trump talked about the horrors of cancel culture in his July 4th speech.1 Republican Senator Judd Gregg rails against those who are “Searching out and destroying unbelievers” in a recent op-ed he wrote.2
The correct response to speech we do not like is more speech: Refute the points being made, to explain why they are wrong. The wrong response to speech we do not like is to engage in a rehash of McCarthyism and the cultural revolution, firing people without due process for—to use an example from just last week—something they wrote in 1987 and subsequently apologized for.3
For us to engage in this “cancel culture” is for us to descend in to the same level of hate that the right wing was able to use to get Trump elected in 2016.
I do not think anyone should ever be fired for posting the opinions of a US Senator in a newspaper.4 Adding notes showing the factual errors and racist dog whistles is OK; posting other opinion pieces refuting the op ed is OK. But threatening people’s jobs is censorship, plain and simple.
I find cancel culture reprehensible. It’s reprehensible because, say, if someone said or did something racist 25 years ago and admits to and apologizes for it, their job and livelihood is still at risk. Cancel culture shuts out the honest conversations about racism we need right now for our society to heal.
The cancel culture mob is out of control and dangerous. This is why I fully support this letter which will be published in the October issue of Harper’s Magazine.
Did you know that all of my blog entries are available in a free to download eBook at https://www.samiam.org/blog/ebooks.html.