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Republicans invented cancel culture


I wrote yesterday about “cancel culture” and the way the far left reduces every conversation to a lecture about race or ethnicity.

I meant what I said, but I don’t want to be misunderstood: my criticism is not merely of the far left. Indeed, the far right practices cancel culture much more frequently and destructively than does the left, and in fact invented it in modern times.

What else would you call the Republican war on the LGBT community besides “cancel culture”? Led by the most hateful of Christian homophobes, they have tried for decades to marginalize gay people by not letting them marry, or adopt children, or visit beloved spouses in the hospital, or serve in the U.S. military, or teach in public schools. By their rhetoric and through their actions, they have served notice that gay people will never be full citizens of America, so long as a Republican is in power. That is cancel culture.

Republican cancel culture also comes in the form of science denial. When Republicans say there’s no such thing as climate change, or that even if there is it’s not man-made, that’s cancel culture: they’re canceling the rational conclusions of the world’s scientists. When Republicans consistently call for more fossil fuel production, that’s cancel culture. When Republicans mock things like cap and trade, or mandating electric cars, or developing alternative sources of energy production like solar and wind, that’s cancel culture at its height.

Republican cancel culture is paramount in their war against women. You may not like abortion—I don’t—nobody “likes” abortion. But women have demonstrated for thousands of years that they need some way of terminating a pregnancy they’re not ready for. They used to purge themselves with poisonous herbs, or shove knitting needles into their uteruses, or undergo dangerous back-alley operations. After Roe v. Wade, American women finally had the option of safe, legal abortions. Republicans don’t like that. They want to go back to the bad old days. And who knows how many Republicans secretly arrange for their own daughters to have abortions? Would you be surprised to learn that Ivanka had had an abortion? I wouldn’t. This war on women also is cancel culture.

But perhaps the ultimate form of cancel culture practiced by Trump Republicans is their war on voting rights. Everybody has been following the news lately of how the GOP is trying to prevent people of color from voting. “More than 250 bills to curb or complicate access to the polls” have been advanced by Republicans, according to CNN.

I hardly need to point out that the U.S. Constitution guarantees every American citizen the right to vote. That is not in question. And yet, in Georgia, in Arizona, in Florida, in Texas, in nearly every red state, Republican governors are jamming through legislation that would make it much harder for people of color to vote. The Georgia elections in November, 2020 completely freaked Republicans out. They saw that, when Americans turn out in record numbers to vote, they—Republicans—are destroyed. So Republicans have to prevent universal suffrage. What else would you call that besides cancel culture? The Republican Party is trying to nullify and cancel the U.S. Constitution.

So both sides practice cancel culture. But one side is far more vicious and dangerous than the other. One side, in fact, no longer believes in democracy. And that side is the Republican Party. We Democrats at least can work from within to make our party more moderate and more inclusive of diverse viewpoints. Republicans no longer have that option.

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