Cancel Culture

Cancel Culture, Wokeness and Revenge Of The Left


Leonard Zwelling

         Lance Morrow writes about the rise of the new cancel culture and wokeness on the left of the political spectrum in The Wall Street Journal on August 3. It is a subject that I have been wrestling with for a number of months and haven’t quite been able to get a grip on how to express it as I see it close up among people I know.

         If I have this right, the Left is using the Internet and major media to shame people particularly about their attitudes when it comes to race and sex. If you don’t fit into the Left’s belief system of race not being a biologic reality and sex being of many different variations, you are a target for the wrath of the Left, particularly on various social media platforms. Morrow likens it to McCarthyism only worse given the power of the Internet to disseminate and allow piling on. As he says, “McCarthy was a B-movie monster. Wokeness is a zombie apocalypse.” In truth, these issues are very complicated and cannot be summarized adequately in a Tweet.

         I think Morrow is dead right on this and my position will no doubt be a surprise to my right sided readers who think I am a bleeding hearted liberal. I keep telling you I’m not.

         Here’s the deal.

         On race, there is no doubt that the United States has been a racist society for 400 years. You don’t have to agree with the 1619 Project about the origin of all American ills being traceable to the first slave ship, but black and white is really different in America and blacks have been dealt the lesser hand. The reasons I am sure are many and fill books on racism and anti-racism, but in the end there is a definite need to heal race relations in America that has been dealt a terrible blow by the manner in which Mr. Trump handles himself and more importantly blows the dog whistle to his many followers like the old guy in Trump’s tweet riding the golf cart screaming “white power.” At best, Mr. Trump has been permissive when it comes to racism and his successor, who ever it is, will need to work very hard to heal the rift that Trump has pried wider than it has been in years. There can be little doubt that white supremacy is on the rise (see Charlottesville) and this needs to be reversed. Mr. Trump is not up to the task. But the rest of us are and the Left needs to stop being so impatient as people who thought they were not racist suddenly realize that they really are. As I said recently in this space, if you think you’re colorblind, you’re really blind. This will take many years to fix, but John Lewis was a great example of patience despite claiming to be otherwise. We will get there, but shaming people who do not agree with you is not the path to progress.

         On the issue of sex, and I mean sex, not gender, it is even more complex.

         There are still many people who feel sex comes in two kinds only—XX and XY—and they are right. How that genetics manifests itself in the whole person can be highly variable and we just have to get used to that without shaming anyone. Homosexuality is real and has been around since the dawn of man as far as I can tell and at least since the time of the Greeks. There is also a spectrum of gender expressions many of which seem to make some people uncomfortable and unable to grasp the fact that the fluidity of gender is unrelated to the chromosomes of the individual in many situations. Nonetheless, it may take a while for many of us to get the use of sex-neutral pronouns and lack of even sexual clarity at times. Yes, transgender people exist. There is no reason to doubt this nor is there a reason to shame those who have trouble grasping what this means. I will use myself as an example in that I once walked into the men’s restroom at a high profile clinic to see what appeared to be a woman adjusting her make-up. I turned around and walked out to make sure I had entered the right bathroom. I had and I got it. It was jarring but I literally woke up at that moment.

         When it comes to these delicate issues, society has not kept up to the woke on the Left who seem to be able to accept people without any pre-conceived notions of race or sex. Good for them. Please give the rest of us time to catch up without trying to shame us into seeing the world as you do. No one is wrong here. Everyone comes at the world from their own point of view highly influenced by their own genetic make-up and their upbringing. Just because we don’t see the world the way you do Lefties, doesn’t mean we ought to be the butt of your scorn. Many of us are trying to keep up. Give us some time. It took me a long time to get to the place where I really understood (or think I do) the Palestinian point of view about the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. It also took me four trips to Israel to experience enough to know that the solution is right there if the politicians would get out of the way.

         The same is true about issues of race and sex. Look at the progress made just in my lifetime given the existence of gay marriage and the fact that we have had a black president. We are progressing slowly as humans usually do. The Left has to give the rest of us a break. We are running as fast as we can and some of us are not so young any more. Things seemed so much clearer then as I am sure things seem to the current young, the major part of the Left. But this is still a right of center country that is trying to socially integrate these new ideas. We will get there. In time.

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