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  • Writer's pictureDoug Weiss

Cancel Culture

Among the many new political catch phrases introduced over the past several years the label of cancel culture is notable for its perversity. It suggests that the removal of ideas, symbols and people through social ostracism is a cruel, unjust and suspect form of social engineering wielded for partisan political purpose. There is a lot that is wrong both in the meaning and in context in which it is applied. Too often, we conflate the removal of a Confederate flag or monument or the same treatment of the Swastika and other Nazi symbology as violations of the first amendment right to freedom of speech and then cite it is an example of cancel culture. Nothing can cancel the history or the facts surrounding either but celebrating them as an act of defiance can and should never be tolerated. We are free to speak as we wish, but our actions enjoy no such protection. Our overwhelming condemnation of any and all who have betrayed those ideals upon which our nation was conceived violates no constitutional right. If anything it is at the heart of any claim we may have on love of country and our own humanity.

We must never forget how close our country and the world has come to a violent, repressive, inhumane end. Those who commend the bravery and gallantry of Confederate officers have every right to honor the men, but not the cause—and no amount of rationalization that the civil war was fought to preserve a way of life can excuse away the fact this the way of life so saintly endowed required the continued enslavement of human beings. Dressing it up in noble terms only perpetuates the falsehood. Individuals may be gallant but heroism in the cause of injustice does not place anyone on the side of the angels.

Neither should we forget the atrocities of the second world war-the systematic annihilation of countries and of peoples, Jews, Romany, Poles, Slavs, Ukranians and millions more considered undesirable for their political or social beliefs; A practice that continues today in countries throughout the world, in India, in China, and many others we count as allies or foes. Genocide and slavery continue to flourish. It is more than an obligation to cast out—ostracize and condemn those who today embrace racial superiority. We either confront inhumanity or we are party to it. There is no middle ground on which we can stand.

Historians offer political and economic explanations for the rise and fall of once great civilizations. To these I would add that when a people have lost the ideals on which their society was founded; when they no longer regard those principles, chief of which is the sanctity of life, as their foremost consideration and are willing to trade them piece by piece to preserve their position or way of life, that society cannot stand. Looking away, refusing to engage, giving lip service to those who would destroy our precious but fragile democracy gives more than tacit approval and endorsement to those who are truly cancelling our culture.

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