Remember when liberals would praise people who “grew” to accept progressive dogma — for example, President Barack Obama opposing, then accepting gay marriage? Today, the left trolls the internet for any present or past infractions against current progressive orthodoxy, demanding forfeiture of the jobs and careers of ideological heretics.
It doesn’t matter if today you’re a far-left liberal. If you did anything in your past, sinning against the “enlightened” canons of modern progressivism, or question the current politically correct narrative; mea culpas or self-flagellation will do you no good. As Bill Maher, certainly no conservative, said, “This (cancel culture) is called a purge. It’s a mentality that belongs in Stalin’s Russia.” Progressive Noam Chomsky intoned, “Goebbels was in favor of free speech for views he liked. So was Stalin.”
This is the inevitable result of the advance of leftist ideologies that have been goose-stepping through our institutions for generations. What else should we expect? On the right, in the 1950s, McCarthyism had its own blacklist, and citizens suffered the loss of their reputations and careers for real or suspected communist sympathies.
There was then, as now, no forgiveness or redemption for apostates. Dissent must be punished, not debated. They want your job, your career and your business destroyed if you’ve ever transgressed, or even if there’s a suspicion of transgressing, their continually evolving code.
Cancel culture is today’s McCarthyism. From the left or the right, authoritarian bullying is authoritarian bullying. Cancel culture, however, is more dangerous than McCarthyism for several reasons. First, McCarthyism was singularly focused on “the red menace” — citizens, public employees and organizations suspected of having communist connections and was primarily the fixation of one man: Joseph McCarthy.
There is no specific focus to the modern cancel culture. The category “LGBTQ” — added to groups traditionally seen by liberals as oppressed (minorities and women) — has now expanded to include individuals based on gender “identity” and nearly every individual predisposition or personal inclination. Anything that might give offense to anyone whose proclivities are “approved” is verboten.
Further, present compliance with the constantly changing and expanding sacred scriptures of today’s progressive thought police does not guarantee such submission will avoid becoming a transgression in the future. For example, prior acceptance of “multiculturalism” now carries the risk of “cultural appropriation.”
It is a tragic irony that the cultural, social, political and economic rot of progressivism and other collective ideologies opposed by McCarthy have become embedded in nearly every institution — academia, media, social media, the Democrat party, government agencies and bureaucracies and increasingly, big business — corroding the foundations of the unique, imperfect but advancingly successful, American experiment in individual liberty, equality and the rule of law.
Many progressives — some perhaps concerned about their own skeletons — have begun to speak out about the repressive persecution of cancel culture and, depending on the security of their position, are paying the price. Bill Maher asks, “Is this really who we want to become? A society of clenched fist (bleep) avatars walking on eggshells, always looking over your shoulder about getting ratted out for something that has nothing to do with your character or morals?”