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Tag: cancel culture

Students Don’t Need The Disney Version Of Our History

Reprinted with permission from Roll Call

The White House issued a proclamation last week, of the sort that most presidents have issued about historical events that deserve commemorating, but that were missing, for the most part, during the Trump reign.

This one marked the 60th anniversary of the first Freedom Rides, on May 4, 1961, when traveling on a bus meant risking your life, if you were with an integrated group, sitting in a spot of your choice. Those southbound heroes were willing to face beatings and the unknown at the hands of fellow citizens intent on stopping progress by any means necessary. Angry and afraid, the violent white supremacist mobs refused to acknowledge the humanity of African Americans or the validity of any law that looked forward not back.

It's the reality — and not the myth of uncomplicated greatness the country has told the world and itself for far too long.

And it's not always pretty.

For that reason, many Republicans want to "cancel" it, to use a word today's conservatives have been misusing with reckless abandon. They'd like to erase the history and the essential lessons that reveal so much about how and why America is so divided and its systems — of health care, housing, education, and more — so inequitable in 2021.

Why? Because for all the chest-thumping toughness so many Americans brag about, apparently white students are too fragile to hear the truth, or see the pictures on prized postcards that treated lynchings as entertainment for the whole family, an indictment of more than a few rogue racists.

Black students, of course, subject to disproportionate school suspensions, stereotypical assumptions from teachers, and keen scrutiny by law enforcement on their way to and from, and sometimes in, the classroom, know all too well that the problems they face stretch back 400 years and more. But the laws being passed and pushed in states across the country — no surprise — don't have them in mind.

Alternate Reality

For those making and debating these rules, in states such as Idaho, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas, creating an alternate reality, a version that resembles a Disneyfied diorama, is fine even if it is false, as long as it accommodates white feelings and gives in to white fears.

How will these laws be enforced? Government monitors? Would a fine be imposed if a teacher steps over some vague line? Well, yes, in Arizona, the penalty could be $5,000. If a curious student asks a question, will the teacher no longer be allowed to answer?

The late Rep. John Lewis, brave and persistent, who endured brutal beatings as a consequence of his civil rights activism —including his part in the Freedom Rides — would seem to be someone America's students could look up to. But I'm doubtful his march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965 would make it past the curriculum censors since his attackers were agents of the state, enforcing unjust laws that prevented African Americans from voting, from living a free life.

Can you imagine? Students might make a connection between those troopers and Derek Chauvin, a murderer in a uniform, and want to learn about the racist history of policing in America. Plus, calling that day "Bloody Sunday" just wouldn't do.

It's no coincidence that the defenders of a white-washed version of history are in many cases the same legislators rushing through laws that criminalize the protesters who are the spiritual sons and daughters of Lewis.

Do these arbiters of education think that if students don't learn about Jim Crow, they won't see anything shameful about "Jim Crow 2.0" laws that restrict voting rights and harken back to post-Reconstruction rules enacted to crush the progress of those who, once unshackled, achieved elective office and thrived?

It's clear from the twisted views of America's past held by many of the staunchest defenders of the anti-history movement that a more inclusive curriculum is overdue, and they should sign up for a makeup class.

Get the dunce cap ready for Martha Huckabay, president of the Women's Republican Club of New Orleans, who defended Louisiana GOP state Rep. Ray Garofalo's words on teaching about the "good" parts of enslaving men, women, and children and offered choice thoughts of her own. Huckabay opined that slavery resulted in "hard working ethics" and that "many of the slaves loved their masters, and their masters loved them, and took very good care of them, and their families." Was she talking about the torture, the rape, or the selling of children away from moms and dads?

Tennessee Republican state Rep. Justin Lafferty somehow interpreted the three-fifths compromise in the original Constitution, which counted the enslaved as three-fifths of a human being, as a step toward ending slavery.

Colorado GOP state Rep. Ron Hanks said the three-fifths compromise "was not impugning anybody's humanity" — after he made a lynching joke. His Republican colleague, state Rep. Richard Holtorf, called another colleague the racist stereotype "Buckwheat," and insisted it had nothing — nothing — to do with race.

CNN contributor Rick Santorum has tried and failed miserably to explain his comments that "we birthed a nation from nothing. I mean, there was nothing here. I mean, yes we have Native Americans, but candidly there isn't much Native American culture in American culture." Why, when he was a senator from Pennsylvania, could Santorum not be bothered to stroll to the National Museum of the American Indian? Was he too lazy or just incurious, either way not an example for school kids of any age?

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has weighed in on the debate. He seems fine with teaching the words of America's founding documents — the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution. Does he want to stop there, leaving out how, when and why the country failed to live up to the lofty principles in those documents until forced to by true patriots? He has said the year 1619, when the first enslaved Africans arrived in colonial Virginia, means little to him. Considering his slave-owning ancestors benefited from trading and "owning" human beings and, presumably, passed the wealth on to family members, you'd think McConnell would be a little more "woke."

History Repeats

"The past is never dead. It's not even past," wrote William Faulkner. The depressing proof can be seen in the tiki-torch-carrying white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia., chanting, "Jews will not replace us!" You have to wonder if avowed neo-Nazi James Fields Jr., serving life in prison for the killing of Heather Heyer, would even be charged under new laws that give a pass and winking approval to drivers who mow down protesters blocking a roadway?

Just months ago, on January 6, violent, hate-filled mobs — cousins in crime to those who greeted the Freedom Riders — stormed the U.S. Capitol, attacking police with the same weapons of batons and bats, hoisting Confederate flags, erecting gallows, hunting for lawmakers and endangering democracy itself.

South Carolina, where Lewis was viciously attacked and left in a pool of blood at the Rock Hill stop of the original Freedom Rides, on Monday officially observed Confederate Memorial Day, honoring traitors who fought to split a nation over the issue of slavery.

This Monday.

How will the next generations do better if they are forbidden from learning the history they must not repeat?

Mary C. Curtis has worked at The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Charlotte Observer, as national correspondent for Politics Daily, and is a senior facilitator with The OpEd Project. Follow her on Twitter @mcurtisnc3.

Rep. Boebert Claims Democrats 'Tried To Cancel Jesus’

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) on Monday compared herself to biblical figures who she said were similar to her in their purported opposition to "cancel culture."

Boebert made her remarks at a town hall meeting in Montrose, Colorado.

"I refuse to bow to the cancel mob," Boebert said, a reference to recent Republican complaints about the removal of Dr. Seuss books containing racist images and the renaming of Mr. Potato Head toys to be gender-neutral as the GOP struggles to counteract President Joe Biden's popularity.

Boebert said "cancel culture" is "something that has been around since the beginning of time."

"Go back to the book of Genesis: Cain canceled Abel. He didn't like the sacrifices he was giving to God and he canceled him," Boebert told supporters.

Referring to the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the Book of Daniel, Boebert said that after the three were thrown into a furnace and survived, "they came out of that fiery furnace uncanceled."

"We see these radical socialist Democrats wanting to cancel Christianity now. They tried to cancel Jesus. You can't cancel God," she concluded.

Neither the Democratic Party nor its leaders – who have been open about their own faith — have ever expressed a desire to "cancel" Jesus or God.

From a March 15 town hall:

LAUREN BOEBERT: Why stop with the Second Amendment? They're already starting on the First Amendment, freedom of speech, with this cancel culture.
Tell you all now: I refuse to bow to the cancel mob.
But this cancel culture, this is nothing new. This is something that has been around since the beginning of time. Go back to the book of Genesis: Cain canceled Abel. He didn't like the sacrifices he was giving to God and he canceled him.
Read on throughout the Bible, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They refused to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar. The consequence was being thrown in the fiery furnace. Not only were they thrown in the fiery furnace, but the king said, "Turn it up seven times hotter. Let's kill 'em a little faster."
But there was another man in there with them that refused for them to be canceled. A fourth man who walked around as if the son of God. They came out of that fiery furnace uncanceled. Unsinged. Not even smelling like smoke.
The early church, they tried to cancel them. They tried to cancel the apostles, told them you can't even preach in the name of Jesus. Why? Because there's power in the name of Jesus.
We see these radical socialist Democrats wanting to cancel Christianity now. They tried to cancel Jesus. You can't cancel God.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

#EndorseThis: John Oliver Burns Fox News Over Seuss 'Controversy'

If there is one thing Fox News does well, it is absurd exaggeration. And with their wall to wall coverage of the "canceling" of Dr. Seuss, they've achieved a new level of fantasy. Actually Dr. Seuss Enterprises' simply decided to stop printing a handful of books for racist imagery .This not "fascism, as Tucker Carlson and Glenn Beck burbled.

John Oliver is fed up with this nonsense, and on Last Week Tonight he ruthlessly destroyed Fox for its deceptive news management. .Is this surprising? No, but John Oliver makes turns it into hilarity. Unless you work for Fox.



Watch oh fox, fox, fox - SarahBurris on Dailymotion

Why Dr. Seuss Would Have Despised His Right-Wing 'Defenders'

It is hard to imagine anything more exhausting than the constant indignation of so-called conservatives, who somehow sustain a state of rigid, barking anger over the direction of American culture. To them, every advance for human rights represents the imminent end of civilization, and every small effort to assuage historical injuries signals the twilight of liberty.

These crank crusades always have multiple objectives, both political and commercial. On the political side, the Republicans are desperate to distract us from the roaring successes of President Joe Biden's administration, whose program of vaccine production and distribution and pandemic relief legislation are about to rescue the nation from former President Donald Trump's lingering disasters. And on the commercial side, there is nothing like a cultural jihad to separate fools from their money.

The propaganda phrase of the moment is "cancel culture," a terrifying phenomenon manifested just this week in the supposed liquidation of Dr. Seuss. If you believe what you hear on Fox News Channel, the late author of dozens of classic books beloved by children and adults alike — and many other works of art in film and cartooning — is on the verge of being censored, erased, and vilified. Who is doing these terrible things? According to Fox and various other right-wing outlets, this assault is the work of "them," a suitably vague category that encompasses liberals, tech companies, Democrats, and probably Joe Biden himself.

Of course, if you believe what you hear on Fox News, then you are, by definition, a dupe.

The actual event that provoked all the outrage over Dr. Seuss has nothing to do with Biden, Democrats or any other favorite Fox villains. The Seuss estate, which oversees the 60 books and other properties he left to posterity, decided to pull a half-dozen of them because their content includes dated and offensive stereotypes.

When you remember that his first book was published more than 80 years ago, that dissonance seems almost inevitable. The estate's decision, a sensible response to changing standards, was plainly designed to protect both the Seuss brand and the memory of Theodor Seuss Geisel as a liberal humanist. It is the opposite of "canceling" Dr. Seuss. And anyone who wants to read the old titles can still find them.

The Seuss non-scandal is a fine example of misdirection and distraction, and a powerful indication that Republicans really have nothing to say for themselves. This time, the consequences are harmless, mainly the further enrichment of the Seuss estate as gullible Americans flood Amazon with orders for his books, which they evidently fear are about to be torched by "the radical left."

The irony is that Dr. Seuss was himself a lifelong Democrat whose advocacy of liberal causes dated back to the New Deal, when he drew scores of blistering cartoons for the left-leaning daily New York newspaper PM, usually on the subject of Republican perfidy. He despised Hitler, Mussolini, Charles Lindbergh, and the original "America First" movement; he deplored racism and anti-Semitism; and he served patriotically in the war against fascism. He would have low regard for the Trumpists who are now misusing his good name.

While Dr. Seuss avoided the kind of moralizing that repels young readers, his stories and poems often grappled with contemporary issues, from authoritarianism (Yertle the Turtle) and racial equality (The Sneetches) to environmental degradation (The Lorax) and even materialism (How the Grinch Stole Christmas!).

What his books were really about is learning, everything from vocabulary words to personal and societal integrity. He wasn't afraid of change or changing his mind, which is why it seems likely that, were he alive today, he'd want to revise or withdraw offensive content he created so long ago. After World War II, he came to regret his own racially charged contributions to anti-Japanese propaganda, which is said to be why he dedicated Horton Hears A Who! — an allegory about the U.S. occupation of Japan — to a Japanese friend.

In short, the right-wing pundits and personalities leaping to "defend" Dr. Seuss now could learn a lot from reading him. Being who they are, they probably won't.

But you and your kids still can.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Don Jr. Erupts Over ‘Cancel Culture’ On Fox & Friends

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Donald Trump, Jr. exploded in a rant about "cancel culture" Tuesday morning on Fox News, railing against a wide variety of right-wing identified entities he falsely claims have been "canceled" for being racist or otherwise unacceptable -- among them, Mr. Potato Head, Dr. Seuss, and The Muppets. He also railed against the thousands of people who identified the stage his father spoke on at a conservative conference last weekend as appearing in the shape of a Nazi symbol.

Trump Jr., who is not a social scientist, an expert in critical race theory, structural racism, systemic racism, civil rights, equality, or early childhood development, was invited onto Fox & Friends to discuss those issues.

"There's this cancel culture trying to cancel Dr. Seuss now," co-host Ainsley Earhardt falsely claimed. "How far are they going to take us?"

None of these brands are getting "cancelled." When the owner of a brand decides to make changes to its offerings, that's not "cancel culture," especially when it's not even responding to outside pressure campaigns, of which there are none here.

"There's no place that they won't go Ainsley, there's no place they won't go," Trump Jr. replied, apparently referring to liberals. He is the author of Liberal Privilege : Joe Biden And The Democrats' Defense Of The Indefensible, and Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us.

"This week alone, they canceled Mr. Potato Head," he claimed, which is a lie. Hasbro says it is adding a gender-neutral character to its line, called simply, "Potato Head." Mr. Potato Head and Mrs. Potato Head are not going anywhere.

"You know this week alone they canceled the Muppets," he continued, another lie. Disney is now streaming all but two episodes of the entire Muppet Show collection on Disney+, and has excellent reasons for not including those two episodes.

"You know they're canceling Dr. Seuss from reading programs, I mean these are books. I literally know The Cat in the Hat by heart without the book there because I read it so many times to my children. These things are not racist," he insisted.

The Cat in the Hat is not getting "canceled."

Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the organization that owns the rights to all Dr. Seuss works and in part exists to protect Seuss' reputation, has decided to discontinue publishing six books (out of about 60) that they feel "portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong."

Separately, in Loudon County, Virginia, one of the wealthiest areas of the country and up until a few years ago very conservative, public school officials were forced to respond to a report from the far right website The Daily Wire that claimed: "Dr. Seuss Canceled For 'Racial Undertones'."

"Dr. Seuss books have not been banned and are available to students in our libraries and classrooms, however, Dr. Seuss and his books are no longer the emphasis of Read Across America Day in Loudoun County Public Schools," Loudoun County Public Schools said in a statement.

Trump. Jr. wasn't done yet.

"You have Oreo cookie chiming in on trans rights," Trump Jr. continued in his complaint. Oreo had posted the following tweet before the House of Representatives voted to pass the LGBTQ Equality Act.


"I mean, what is going on?" Trump Jr. ranted. "It's absolutely insane. We've lost our minds. And we're encouraging it, you know, by allowing it. You saw the woke mob goes after CPAC, because this stage apparently had Nazi symbolism because these guys are so obsessed with trying to create any link to that."

CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, hosted its annual conference on a stage many said appeared to look just like a Nazi symbol.

Watch Donald Trump, Jr.:

Don Jr. Flops At CPAC With Wacky ‘Muppet’ Speech

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

If Donald Trump, Jr. was hoping to get support for a political run he did not receive it at Friday's Conservative Political Action Conference. The son of the former president was the last speaker of the day, but had to address a room with more empty chairs than he probably expected. There was no attempt to be "socially distant" at CPAC, and it was definitely not "standing room only."

The conservative crowd did not seem terribly impressed or thrilled with Trump Jr.'s remarks. At one point, when he compared CNN's chief media correspondent Brian Stelter (who he called Brian Slettler) to "Mr. Potato Head," claiming that everyone makes that comparison (almost no one makes that comparison, except for this guy and a Fox News host), he got enough pushback that he had to try to defend his ugly attack.

Junior also tried to pull off jokes like, "Liz Cheney is less popular than her father is at a quail hunt," referring to the former vice president accidentally shooting an acquaintance in the face – in 2006, 15 years ago. There likely were attendees in the room who literally were too young to know what he was talking about. When some groaned he declared, "fact check: true."

Trump Jr.'s speech was his usual mix of lies, half-truths, and self-victimization, accentuated with a big lie about something incredibly irrelevant: "The Muppets" (no offense meant to any Muppets.)

"This month, this month alone, they've banned The Muppets," Trump Jr. lied, blaming "the radical left" for the cancellation that did not happen.

"Right. I mean, if there's things that you thought were sort of above cancellation, you would be wrong. There is nothing, the radical left won't cancel. "

He was probably referring to Disney +, where almost every Muppet episode can now be seen. Entertainment Weekly reports that two episodes are missing, one because Disney could not secure the rights to the music in an episode, and one because the guest star of that episode is now a convicted sex offender and was "found guilty of possessing child pornography."

BBC News adds that Disney has added a content warning to the beginning of some episodes over "negative stereotypes."

That's not cancelling The Muppets, although Trump's father has made clear he doesn't like warning labels on his content either.

Watch:

A few responses:

It’s Time To Cancel ‘Cancel Culture’

The term "cancel culture" is rapidly losing its meaning. Just as Donald Trump adopted the term "fake news," which originally referred to the misinformation flow that was a crucial part of his 2016 campaign, and was used to disparage his opponents and critics (or even just factual reporters) in the news media, so, too, "cancel culture" is beginning to mean both itself and its opposite, depending who's using the term.

"Cancel culture" was first conceived to describe a leftwing phenomenon of imposing Draconian penalties on those who transgress woke sensibilities, even unintentionally. Reason's Robby Soave offered a good summary of what it usually includes: "(A) relatively obscure victim; an offense that is either trivial, or misunderstood, or so long ago that it ought to have been forgotten; and an unjust and disproportionate social sanction."

David Shor, a progressive who labors to get Democrats elected, lost his job at a data analytics firm because he tweeted an academic study showing that riots tend to help Republicans in election years. The study had been published in a leading journal and authored by a Black academic. No matter. Because it debuted in the midst of the first protests against George Floyd's murder, it was deemed by some progressives to be "concern trolling."

Progressives tend to anathematize. The examples are, alas, copious.

But conservatives are now hijacking the term to refer to any criticism at all, no matter how justified. Attempting to strip Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments is "cancel culture" according to Rep. Jim Jordan. And Rep. Matt Gaetz described Trump's second impeachment as the "zenith of cancel culture." Sorry, no. When you're a conspiracy-mongering fanatic like Greene or an insurrectionist like Trump, you've got to expect a little blowback.

Certainly, intolerance of anti-Trump views has come to characterize big swaths of the right. They're practicing their own form of wokeness. So perhaps sane people can agree that both of these tendencies are stupid, narrow-minded and antithetical to the values of a free society?

But even short of that, those who wish to end the practice should desist from invoking the term. By labeling any criticism or contradiction as "canceling," they're cheapening the concept.

The new president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Ryan Anderson, is the author of the 2018 book, When Harry Became Sally: Answers to Our Transgender Moment. It's a culturally conservative take on the transgender phenomenon and our society's response. I have not read the book, but if it's like Anderson's other work, I'm sure it's carefully researched and intelligently argued. This week, Amazon removed it from their online store without offering an explanation. The message of this act is clear — some points of view are beyond the pale this is one of them.

It will be a tremendous loss for our society if conservative views about this are anathematized. I wonder if Amazon would object to an article in a recent issue of The Economist. Titled "Little is Known About the Effects of Puberty Blockers," the article notes that children around the world are being treated with powerful drugs despite the lack of evidence that they are safe. Adult men who take GNRH agonists experience loss of sexual desire and energy. Adult women who take these drugs for conditions like endometriosis are plunged into chemically induced menopause. Animal studies suggest that these drugs may cause cognitive and emotional impairment.

Further, when adolescents are given cross-hormone treatment, the next stage of transitioning after puberty blockers, the risks may be significant: "One 2018 study concluded that females who take testosterone are more likely to suffer cardiovascular disease, while males who take estrogen have higher risk of blood clots and strokes."

Patients who take these drugs long-term may also be at higher risk for osteoporosis. Beyond that, there is the certainty of sterility. There's a great deal to consider when a child presents with gender dysphoria. As the Economist notes, the best estimates are that about 80% of children with this disorder outgrow it after they go through puberty. They become comfortable in their natal sex.

But that progression may be more out of reach for children who are aggressively treated with puberty blockers, encouraged to dress and appear as the opposite sex, and called by a different name during crucial developmental stages. A "cascade of interventions" can wind up pushing an unhappy kid toward transitioning rather than accepting their natal bodies/identities.

Children with gender dysphoria require sensitive and compassionate care. But if it is now considered beyond the pale even to question our approach to the matter in a serious book, we are consigning ourselves to blindness, and possibly consigning thousands of children to unknown risks.

Mona Charen is policy editor of The Bulwark and host of the "Beg to Differ" podcast. Her most recent book is "Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense." To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com

Poll: Americans Dismiss GOP Obsessions With ‘Cancel Culture’ And ‘Debt Crisis’

The policy concerns most on the minds of the American people are the economy and the COVID-19 pandemic, according to polling conducted by the Pew Research Center January 8-12. Meanwhile, Congressional Republicans are focusing on issues like fighting "cancel culture" and repealing mask mandates.

Rather than address the issues that most people care about, a review of statements and legislation filed since the start of the current Congress reveals, GOP lawmakers are focused on issues that simply are not high priorities for the public.

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