On Tuesday, Bari Weiss dropped the mic on The New York Times with a powerful resignation letter. Separate the art from the artist for this one, because Bari’s letter perfectly hit some disturbing truths of our time. Everyone should read the letter in its entirety. Probably my favorite line: “Instead, a new consensus has emerged in the press, but perhaps especially at this paper: that truth isn’t a process of collective discovery, but an orthodoxy already known to an enlightened few whose job is to inform everyone else.” As someone who deals with tedious, erroneous fact checks from Facebook’s “independent” fact checkers Weiss’ point rings true.
Yes, it is for the “independent” fact checkers that I must all caps OPINION this obvious opinion piece. Lest you won’t see it at all.
Money is no longer the primary driver of our world. The control of information is the real digital currency of our time. And the left’s grasp of it is ever tightening. Fewer opinions are allowed to hit the mainstream. Those who speak out against the injustice they’ve witnessed find themselves the latest victims of “cancel culture.”
There is confusion as to what cancel culture is and is not. A brief primer:
Proponents of free speech believe anyone can say anything. This includes voicing disagreement with what someone has said or written. For example, avowed leftists have insisted “Transwomen are women.” They have every right to say so. Just as I have the right to say “Transwomen are men who think they’re women. Only women are women.” Any disagreement stemming from this discussion falls under freedom of speech. So long as we’re all disagreeing and having a discussion, even if it devolves into ad hominem attacks, fair balls.
Take the same discussion and introduce cancel culture. He or she who says “Transwomen are men, and biological sex is binary” in the era of cancel culture isn’t just met with a barrage of disagreements or online harassment. He or she could be banned from online forums of discussion (which masquerade as open platforms) like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. He or she could also lose their job as the cancel culture mob lights torches, grabs pitchforks, and marches through the digital streets demanding an execution.
The difference isn’t subtle, but is either intentionally missed by outlets like Bloomberg News (which just today published an article failing to acknowledge what cancel culture really is), or genuinely misunderstood by those who’ve never personally been victims of it.
The first step in the process of recovery is acknowledging the problem. But as every addict must admit who’s to blame before taking the first of twelve steps, so those who are decrying cancel culture must identify the true culprit: the left itself.
The forces of illiberalism are gaining strength throughout the world and have a powerful ally in Donald Trump, who represents a real threat to democracy. But resistance must not be allowed to harden into its own brand of dogma or coercion—which right-wing demagogues are already exploiting. The democratic inclusion we want can be achieved only if we speak out against the intolerant climate that has set in on all sides.
Sorry, but trying to indict both sides here isn’t the answer. Since Rowling has run up both the free speech and pro-biological reality hills to die upon, she’s gained overnight admiration from many conservatives. Every conservative who is cheering Rowling on (myself included) knows she’s an avid leftist. We still welcome her on the basis of common ground in an important battle. Even if she may not welcome our applause.
It is the left who is out to destroy Rowling for daring to utter thoughts which run counter to current leftist dogma. It is leftism that reigns over The New York Times which created a hostile work environment for Bari Weiss and arrested what she could and could not publish. It is leftism which courses through Big Tech social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube that either openly or quietly silence voices it doesn’t like: Paul Joseph Watson, Alex Jones, Stefan Molyneux as a few notable examples.
Deplatforming is the bastard child of cancel culture, a product of the left’s intolerance and inability to combat ideas with ideas of their own.
Listen, I find it admirable that prominent liberals are fighting back against cancel culture, do not misunderstand. But you cannot fight an enemy you refuse to see. Until liberals call out the left for what it is, until they perform an autopsy to determine where it all went wrong, we will continue to flounder under cancel culture’s destruction. One of the many problems we face in this country is the real fear everyday Americans experience when they see the left eating its own, even those in positions of power, for speaking the truth. How can Americans speak out against injustice if to speak out results not in disagreement, but the loss of their livelihood, possibly permanently?
In case an errant liberal has stumbled upon this post, keep this in mind: conservatives disagree with what you might say and believe. But your fellow leftists seek the absolute silencing of disagreement, of wrongthink, under the guise of “sowing hate.” Therein lies the difference, the problem, and the battle lines. You want to end cancel culture? Don’t blame the right for your mess. Clean your own house. We’re happy to lend a hand.