The center will not hold

Jeez. I leave town for one day, and what happens? Both Bari Weiss and Andrew Sullivan up and resign. I’d say I ought to get away more, except also Ruth Bader Ginsburg got hospitalized for an infection.

Also, it looks like the right-wing, which has already long lost its collective mind, is busy scraping the last few neurons out of the bowl of its cranium and throwing them in the garbage disposal. Both of them are now ritual sacrifices to “Cancel Culture”, the new bogeyman, despite the fact that both are voluntarily quitting. It’s because Bari Weiss was getting criticized by the mean lefties, which apparently you’re never ever supposed to do. She just joined the staff at the ultra-liberal NY Times to bring some balance to the rag. You know, that terrible lefty bastion that publishes David Brooks, Thomas Friedman, Bret Stephens, and Ross Douthat.

Speaking of Douthat, he has also joined the freakout chorus. He hasn’t resigned, unfortunately, but he is complaining about “cancel culture” in a 10-point histrionic whine about what it is and how horrible it is. I lost it at point 8, though, where he reluctantly concedes that right-wingers “cancel”, too — it’s just that it was in the past, not now, and that right now the Right is too weak to cancel any one.

8. The right and the left both cancel; it’s just that today’s right is too weak to do it effectively.
Is it cancel culture when conservatives try to get college professors disciplined for anti-Americanism, or critics of Israel de-platformed for anti-Semitism? Sure, in a sense. Was it cancel culture when the Dixie Chicks — sorry, the artists formerly known as the Dixie Chicks — were dropped by radio stations and tour venues, or when Bill Maher’s “Politically Incorrect” was literally canceled, for falling afoul of patriotic correctness? Absolutely.

But as the latter examples suggest, the last peak of right-wing cultural power was the patriotically correct climate after Sept. 11, a cultural eon in the past. Today the people with the most to fear from a right-wing cancel culture usually work inside Trump-era professional conservatism. (And even for them there’s often a new life awaiting as a professional NeverTrumper.) Attempted cancellations on the right are mostly battles for control over diminishing terrain, with occasional forays against red-state academics and anti-Trump celebrities. Meanwhile, the left’s cancel warriors imagine themselves conquering the entire non-Fox News map.

Dude. The right-wing controls the presidency, the senate, the Supreme Court, Fox News, and you are propped up by the NY Times! It’s also not ancient history — read Edroso’s response to Rod Dreher, another wingnut moaning about that deplorable “cancel culture” BS. The Right is the pre-eminent practitioner of vindictive action against any who defy their villainy, and they’ve got all the power. It’s just that it is so locked into the establishment that people take it for granted.

Things haven’t gotten any better. I’ve already written about Springfield, Mass. police detective Florissa Fuentes, who got fired this year for reposting her niece’s pro-Black Lives Matter Instagram photo. Fuentes is less like Donohue, the Chicks, and Mendenhall, though, and more like most of the people who get fired for speech in this country, in that she is not rich, and getting fired was for her a massive blow.

Speaking of Black Lives Matter, here’s one from 2019:

The controversy began after [Lisa] Durden’s appearance [on Tucker Carlson], during which she defended the Black Lives Matter movement’s decision to host a Memorial Day celebration in New York City to which only black people were invited. On the show, Durden’s comments included, “You white people are angry because you couldn’t use your white privilege card to get invited to the Black Lives Matter’s all-black Memorial Day Celebration,” and “We want to celebrate today. We don’t want anybody going against us today.”

Durden was then an adjunct professor at Essex County College, but not for long because sure enough, they fired her for what she said on the show. (Bet Carlson, a racist piece of shit, was delighted!) The college president defended her decision, saying she’d received “feedback from students, faculty and prospective students and their families expressing frustration, concern and even fear that the views expressed by a college employee (with influence over students) would negatively impact their experience on the campus…”

I wish “Cancel Culture” were a real thing, rather than reasonable complaints about the status quo and how it’s enforced by by far-right thugs, so I could cancel a few people myself.


  1. mailliw says

    I wish “Cancel Culture” were a real thing, rather than reasonable complaints about the status quo and how it’s enforced by by far-right thugs, so I could cancel a few people myself.

    When I read complaints about “Cancel Culture” and how much people suffered from it, I am no longer surprised to find that when I read further they are almost always still in their jobs.

    From their complaints one might imagine that they have been dragged off in the middle of the night by the secret “cancel culture” police.

    Cancel culture seems to be replacing political correctness as the new buzzword for the right. To be honest I have never understood the difference between political correctness and treating people with ordinary politeness and respect. Consequently I have always considered people who complain about “political correctness” as rude and disrespectful – and so far this assessment has proved remarkably accurate.

  2. offthewall says

    The Right’s “Victim Culture” is wide and deep and their version of “Cancel Culture” is a small part of it.

  3. cartomancer says

    It has long been a truism of fascistic fearmongering that the regime must be at once all-powerful and threatened constantly with total destruction. As a result the Enemy must be at once weak and degenerate and so powerful and influential that they cannot be left alone. That’s all this is.

    I don’t know if people like this Dothat individual know that’s what they’re doing. But it’s so essential to the authoritarian right project that it’s not just likely – it’s entirely predictable.

  4. Reginald Selkirk says

    Is it cancel culture when conservatives try to get college professors disciplined for anti-Americanism, or critics of Israel de-platformed for anti-Semitism? Sure, in a sense.

    This is multiple levels of dishonest. “Anti-Americanism” frequently isn’t, more often it is anti-jingoism. To criticize your country because you want it to become better seems to me profoundly American. And of course criticism of Israel is not necessarily, and frequently has nothing to do with, anti-Semitism.
    Whereas for someone like Krauss, sexual harrassment or sexual discrimination go against the requirements of the position he held, and may actually be illegal.

  5. jrkrideau says

    @ 3 cartomancer
    It has long been a truism of fascistic fearmongering that the regime must be at once all-powerful and threatened constantly with total destruction. As a result the Enemy must be at once weak and degenerate and so powerful and influential that they cannot be left alone.

    You have just described the USA. I had never managed to formulate the idea into that compact a description. Thank you.

    Note to USAians I am not claiming that the USA is fascist.

  6. whywhywhy says

    If ‘Cancel Culture’ were real, wouldn’t the first rule of ‘Cancel Culture’ to cancel anyone who criticizes the existence of ‘Cancel Culture’?
    Most entities (cultural or biological) have as a top priority the insurance of their continued existence. This simple drive explains the pedophile enabling of the Catholics to the existence of DNA in cells.

  7. springa73 says

    @cartomancer #3

    I think that’s true of political fearmongering in general, not just the fascist variety.

  8. Kagehi says

    Lets be perfectly clear about something:

    Cancel Culture 201? version 1.0, as practiced by assholes on the internet – “Something you did 10 years ago was bad. We refuse to believe you changed you mind about any of these things, so you must actually be bigoted, racist, a transphobe, etc., etc., etc.” Basically, you still are what ever variety of asshole we think your random statement from 10 years ago, in a youtube video implies you are. People can’t change, therefor you are the enemy, and we need to harrass, slander, lie about, and undermine you, until you quit, or you get taken off the air.

    Cancel Culture 2019 version, as “imagined” by conservative “media people”, and the “victims” – My idea are totally sane, they all come from Jesus, etc. You only imagine that I am RIGHT NOW a bigot, or a racist, or some other sort of asshole. Just as any other conservative and they will tell you how “normal”, and “reasonable” I am! Stop embarrassing me and keeping my from making huge amounts of money peddling idiocy to the public.

    In short, the “original” version was online trolls, and some warped sort of social justice “purists”, actively harassing people who, in many cases, had/have only one outlet, from which some of them make an income, by posting things on the net, and whose reputation, lives, and even carriers could be ended, because they made a mistake a decade ago, and since actually realized they made a mistake, but some people refuse to believe it, so are working to “cancel them” – i.e., end their ability to actually be heard at all. While the “Conservative” version is, “I am an asshole, I always was an asshole, but I don’t really believe I am an asshole, because a lot of other assholes believe the same things, I am just doing what is (more often than not) Biblicly right. How dare people call me out for being an asshole, suggest to businesses that they shouldn’t help fund me, and force me to peddle my books only on right wing radio talk shows, instead of in a convention center, or in a commercial, during an episode of some crap show!!!!”

    Needless to say, this is, as usual, the pot calling the silverware black, and not even f-ing remotely similar. Its literal harassment, vs. calling a spade a freaking spade, and in the same basic vein as a religious nut claiming that not letting them display the ten commandments on government land is exactly the same as burning a witch.

  9. DrVanNostrand says

    I don’t get how two conservative snowflakes quitting because they can’t stand criticism is in any way “cancel culture”. It sounds more like “quitter culture”. But whatever, if that’s what passes for “cancel culture” these days, sign me up. I’m all in.

  10. Pierce R. Butler says

    jrkrideau @ # 5: … I am not claiming that the USA is fascist.

    Have patience, we’re getting there.

  11. Kagehi says

    @10 DrVanNostrand

    They are doing what they always do now – taking something that is actually a real problem for the disinfranchised and claiming, “I am a victim of this too!!” Like I said above, its not cancel culture at all, its basically the same nonsense you get when creationists try to claim that reading a science book is “replacing the Bible”, or that its “unfair” to be angry at someone flying a confederate battle flag if other people can fly rainbow flags, or.. literally every other case of, “I know I you are, but what am I.”, childish thinking they try to pull, in which to claim that for every real persecution, inequity, or injustice, they are also being similarly oppressed. This time they have flat out taken a real concept, and attached their bullshit, “Its the same thing to tell me I can’t shove things in your face as someone else having everything they published online deleted, because they couldn’t take the constant harassment.”

    Like you say, its, “I can’t stand criticism.”, turned into, “You are (oddly totally unsuccessfully) preventing me from speaking at all.” As disingenuous as someone telling a man who is dying of thirst, “Yeah, well.. Because of the current crisis I can’t buy the $200 bottle of French wine I want! What about MY problems?!”

  12. microraptor says

    I was just in an argument online yesterday with someone over the “horror” of cancel culture. They kept whining about how it was completely ruining the lives of innocent people via mob justice and we shouldn’t do that, we need to punish people only via court of law instead of letting random citizens play judge, jury, and executioner.

    I challenged them to name anyone who had had their lives “completely ruined forever” by this, at which point they suddenly said that oh, they couldn’t share confidential details like that. I pointed out that cancel culture was supposed to be the public canceling people, so it couldn’t exactly be happening in secret, making their inability to provide actual cases highly suspect. And then I stopped talking with them, because they’d become repetitive and boring.

  13. rpjohnston says

    While their piteous whining is soothing, I’m not about to drop into any argument (heh) with a MAGAt and say “actually you guys are the big shining musclemen who Get Things Done while the Left is a bunch of limp-wristed prats”. I long for the day when all they can do is bang their fists impotently while we roll over them, but for now, if they’re going to pretend that’s actually true…well, I’ll gloat in purple crying face.