“When I was a boy in school, we were often encouraged to read banned books. Back then, to censor anyone was about the least hip thing you could do, the province of the glowering churchman and the cordless phone-wielding parent, the least cool of 1990s archetypes. Pitted against them was the heroic liberal-minded librarian, who would sooner raise her voice in the study section than deny a book to a curious student. “READ!” cried colorful signs off of every classroom wall. And if you wanted to READ! Judy Blume, Alice Walker, or William Golding, well, then, far be it from anyone else to stop you. […]
That isn’t to say we no longer censor. Oh, Lord, do we censor. It’s just that our criteria have changed.
What happens if critiques of the ruling ideology are no longer easily accessible? What happens when it isn’t the offensiveness of the opposition tract that determines whether it’s allowed but the effectiveness? This is the reality we now confront. You don’t need government to pass a law to shut somebody up; you need only to capture the relevant cultural gatekeepers. “
The impulse that drives these cancellations isn’t progressive and it certainly isn’t liberal. It’s theocratic. Wokeness treats its hierarchies of race, gender, and sexual orientation as unquestionable dogma, with everything else—discourse, literature, art, math—subordinated to its tenets. The left has thus become everything it once claimed to hate. They’re the book banners now, the quaking prudes, the reverend from Footloose, the Savonarola.”
Matt Purple, “I Do Not Like This Woke FlimFlam“.
In 2010, as a devout progressive, I stumbled upon The American Conservative while reading articles related to the built environment. I’d gotten turned on about that issue in college and believed it was an issue, like energy or farm policy, that should transcend party lines. To my continuing surprise, TAC was also a very vocal antiwar magazine, and since the anti-war left had taken down its shingle and gone home in the wake of Obama’s election, I was only happy to explore this novelty. TAC has only grown in my estimation over the years — though it helps that the progressive left became so hostile and reckless that I left their camp altogether. Libertarians and many conservatives I can break bread with even when we disagree, but so many modern ‘progressives’ are political Wahhabists who won’t ever stop preaching about their pet issue and are ready to condemn those who disagree as kafir. I’ve been especially disgusted and outraged by the blooming problem of deplatforming and cancel culture. It’s grown to almost absurd levels, and one hopes that the unbridled arrogance of this cultural cancer will provoke pushback. It’s beyond sad when an organization like the American Library Association, which hosts the pious fraud known as Banned Books Week, is party to this nonsense as well.