Cancel Culture Will Use Your Past to Take You Out, Unless You’re One of Its Own

COMMENTARY Civil Society

Cancel Culture Will Use Your Past to Take You Out, Unless You’re One of Its Own

Jul 8th, 2020 3 min read
COMMENTARY BY
Mike Gonzalez

Senior Fellow, Center for Foreign Policy

Mike Gonzalez is a senior fellow in Heritage's Allison Center for Foreign Policy and the Angeles T. Arredondo E Pluribus Unum fellow.
Demonstrators hold an upside down American flag against a fence at Lafayette Park near the White House on June 2, 2020. Drew Angerer / Staff / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

The mob, or the long arm of HR, could turn against you next, and then it will be your turn to figure out how to provide for your children.

It comes as no surprise that this latest corporate defenestration was carried out in the name of diversity, which can mean many things.

The hysteria is here, rest assured, but it is also disciplined and narrowly targeted.

America is gripped by mass hysteria. How else can you explain why people are losing their jobs, their lives ruined, simply because they supported a cause at a time when it was perfectly uncontroversial to do so?

This week, the head of communications at Boeing stepped down for having written 33 years ago that women should not serve in combat. What's worse is few people even batted an eyelid. Why stick your head out and point out the absurdity, not to mention the injustice? The mob, or the long arm of HR, could turn against you next, and then it will be your turn to figure out how to provide for your children.

The latest episode came complete with echoes of China’s Cultural Revolution. Niel Golightly, the man who dared express a mainstream opinion decades ago, issued a cringe-inducing self-criticism on the way out. Perhaps it was voluntary. Perhaps Boeing saw fit to extract something from him in exchange for some monetary compassion.

Another unknown is just how voluntary was Golightly’s decision to resign. Boeing CEO David Calhoun did say that he had talked to Golightly “at length” about the article—to repeat, it was penned a generation earlier—and discussed “its implications for his role as the company's lead spokesman.” He also voiced an oft-repeated incantation, saying, “I want to emphasize our company's unrelenting commitment to diversity and inclusion in all its dimensions.”

It comes as no surprise that this latest corporate defenestration was carried out in the name of diversity, which can mean many things. It can mean, for example, a commitment to hiring practices that are blind to color, ethnicity, or sex, in the hope that once talent, competence, and personal integrity are prized above all, and “the old-boy network” no longer holds sway, the workforce will become more diversified. More often, alas, “diversity” now means the opposite: race or sex-conscious quotas that attempt to replicate in every office, classroom, courthouse, legislature, etc., the demographic contours of society. The one thing we do know for certain is that when conformity with the latter definition becomes a necessary condition of employment, diversity of opinion goes out the window.

Another apparent thing about our cancel culture moment is that it is supremely unfair. The creator of the New York Times’s deceitful 1619 Project, Nikole Hannah-Jones, was recently discovered to have written a racist screed 25 years ago.

In it, she said that “the white race is the biggest murderer, rapist, pillager, and thief of the modern world.” Hannah-Jones’s offering also contained such jewels as “the descendants of these savage people pump drugs and guns into the Black community, pack Black people into the squalor of segregated urban ghettos and continue to be bloodsuckers in our community.”

Needless to say, Hannah-Jones has not been fired by the New York Times, nor has her recent Pulitzer Prize been rescinded. Only conservative publications even wrote about her essay.

The injustice is a feature of the moment, not a bug. Leftist German American intellectual Herbert Marcuse neatly laid out the rationale in his 1965 essay “Repressive Tolerance," ;saying, "Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left." He also called for the practice of discriminating tolerance in an inverse direction, as a means of shifting the balance between Right and Left by restraining the liberty of the Right, thus counteracting the pervasive inequality of freedom (unequal opportunity of access to the means of democratic persuasion) and strengthening the oppressed against the oppressed. Tolerance would be restricted with respect to movements of a demonstrably aggressive or destructive character (destructive of the prospects for peace, justice, and freedom for all). Such discrimination would also be applied to movements opposing the extension of social legislation to the poor, weak, disabled. 

This is why the Boeing executive walked the plank, while Hannah-Jones is still lionized by all the coastal bien pensants. The hysteria is here, rest assured, but it is also disciplined and narrowly targeted.

This piece originally appeared in the Washington Examiner