Conservatives cancel just as often as liberals do

March 1, 2021 12:20 am

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 06: Protesters enter the Senate Chamber on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. Pro-Trump protesters have entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation’s capital. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) has declared its 2021 theme is “America Uncanceled” to call attention the scourge of America’s so-called “Cancel Culture.”  Imagine our surprise that CPAC chose to “cancel” one of their speakers because of his alleged anti-Semitic views.  

Now I don’t blame CPAC for doing so. I wouldn’t invite a speaker who would rail against Jews to my class in the first place, and would disinvite such a speaker if I learned the truth after an invitation.  But the notion by CPAC that liberals are the only ones who “cancel” a speaker, and conservatives are somehow always standing up for the rights of any and all free speech cases just isn’t supported by the evidence.

Most if not all Republicans who voted for Trump’s impeachment and removal from office have been censured by GOP organizations from their state, if not the official state apparatus. Some have received the same treatment just for doing their job and certifying state results of the 2020 election. Fox News canceled the guy who correctly called Arizona for Biden, ahead of most other networks, and he turned out to be right. Speaking ill of Trump will get you a canceling.

When I started off as a College Republican, I was made aware of the term “political correctness,” something I never heard of in high school in El Paso, Texas. All freshmen were called “First Year Students,” at my college. Each change in term was new battle. To be perfectly honest, though I probably toed the line like everyone else, it wasn’t that big of an issue for me. I didn’t join the GOP because I was mad about being called “A First Year” instead of a “Freshman.” Perhaps that’s because our Catholic Church would often change lyrics like “let me walk with my brother…” from “Let There Be Peace On Earth” to “let us walk with each other…” If that change in words was worth fighting over, you missed the point of the religious song.

Of course, some extremists tried to “cancel” Mike Pence by trying to hang him, along with a number of Republicans and Democrats, in the ultimate form of human censorship, on 1/6/21.

Of course, you’ll find progressives targeting moderates in the Democratic Party, and cry foul just as loudly when they feel they’re being targeted, just like conservatives do.  

It’s been my experience that some on the extremes of both sides make a point of saying the most outlandish things to get maximum media attention, daring others to “cancel” them, upping the ante when the response isn’t strong enough until one day a line is crossed, and then the person can be considered a “martyr” for free speech, deserving the same honors as a Founding Father. Moreover, these “canceled” speakers never seem to lack for donations or wealthy benefactors.

I spoke with a professor at Middlebury College in political science, shortly after that tiny New England college got caught in the crossfire of the culture wars over a disinvited speaker. “I just want the whole thing to go away,” she managed, exhausted by the whole ordeal, having no role in the battle, but wanting just to go back and be a teacher to her students.

I think that’s what most of us really want. Though the agents provocateur swear that you’re next on the list of people to be “cancelled,” most of us don’t face such an unlikely fate. Instead, we’d prefer a little more media oxygen be devoted to those who focus on our commonalities, who seek to unite us, instead of dividing us or even canceling “the other.” 



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John A. Tures
John A. Tures

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College. He has written for academic journals on international and domestic politics, as well as Yahoo News, Huffington Post and The Observer.