Cancel Culture goes back to the Black community’s social networks reacting negatively to actual or perceived transgressions in expressions or deeds by public figures regarding their social or human condition. It “is a modern form of ostracism in which someone is thrust out of social or professional circles – either online on social media, in the real world, or both.”
Cancel culture is “a form of boycotting involving an individual... who is deemed to have acted or spoken in a questionable or controversial manner.” The term that began as a personal reaction to an occurrence is now becoming increasingly politicized and presented by many as a negative concept that interferes with free speech and assembly.
When the World War II ended, minority warriors came home to see that their social, political and human condition had not changed. This increasingly became something hard to take as they had lived and died in bloody combat to achieve or reinstate the rights and freedoms of people they did not even know in Europe and Asia.
The Latino community of the mid-20th Century featured patriotic organizations like the League of United Latin American Citizens (established in 1929) formed largely by veterans of World War I and the American GI Forum (established in 1948) organized by veterans of World War II taking on the fight for first class citizenship and the social, educational and economic opportunities that should be legally afforded to all Americans by our institutions. Later on, pressure on our institutions and the political structure to do this continued to be generated by the civil rights movements of the 1960’s and 70’s followed by the Women’s Movement in the 1980’s, 90’s and #Me Too in the 21st Century.
The movements had two things in common: the advocacy for equal rights and the emphasis on manifested attributes found in race, ethnicity and gender. The efforts succeeded in establishing a measure of political correctness that sought to use less denigrating language and actions when when dealing with minorities.
Along the way however, the most vulnerable in the White community began to look and feel like a fading majority and blamed that on the idea that affording the minority community the rights reserved for all Americans meant that they had less for themselves. This feeling of loss has led to a “civil rights” movement of sorts that attempts to recover “lost power” by using a tortured version of the First Amendment especially the interpretation of the rights of free speech and assembly.
When it comes to freedom of speech, extreme elements of the community feel that expressing openly racist views and advocating for arm rebellion and destruction of the Constitutional order in the name of the Constitution is acceptable.
In this vein, freedom of assembly is interpreted as allowing people to gather for the purpose of insurrection and the taking of government by force. Public condemnation of these expressions and actions are branded by the same group as the product of a sinister “Cancel culture.”
The cancel culture phenomenon has been with us for sometime. “Calling out” (also a Black expression) somebody, event or thing is almost the same thing and that has been with us for much longer.
Cancel culture is becoming a maligned term because it is an uncomfortable reminder that what we are saying or doing may not be right. America represents certain values enshrined in our way of life.
They make us unique as a country and as a people. These values ought not to be canceled.