An expert on cancel culture has said that conservative Indigenous politician Jacinta Price gets vilified by Indigenous activists because she calls attention to the issues they don’t want to talk about, like family violence, alcohol abuse, and the problems caused by welfare dependency.
Peter Kurti, the director of the Culture, Prosperity, and Civil Society program at the Centre for Independent Studies (CIS), said that unlike other Indigenous activists Price doesn’t champion abstract or symbolic efforts like changing or abolishing the date of Australia Day.
“And she gets vilified and called terrible names by Indigenous activists when she herself is an Indigenous woman,” Kurti told The Epoch Times on Feb. 9.
He thinks the kind of cancel culture that tries to prevent a figure like Price from giving a speech, or that leads activists to tear down statues “starts to tear at the fabric of our society.”
His comments come as this week News Corp’s The Australian reported that one of Australia’s public broadcasters is being sued by Price over remarks made on its local radio by people who sought to cancel her speaking tour appearance in northern New South Wales in 2019.
Price is pursuing an amended claim against the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)—which was recently successfully sued for defamation by a Chinese billionaire—in the Federal Court after she settled her claims against Coffs Harbour and District Local Aboriginal Land Council in November last year, The Australian reported on Feb. 8.
The lawsuit reportedly centres around several defamatory meanings allegedly conveyed across two ABC radio reports, one by ABC Coffs Coast and one by the broadcaster’s Alice Springs station.
Price is the deputy mayor of Alice Springs but was at the time of the reports a city councillor. She said the move to cancel her Mind the Gap speaking tour appearance in Coffs Habour was “backward.”
One of the 13 defamatory meanings allegedly conveyed in the Alice Springs report was that Price labelled the local Gumbaynggirr people themselves as “backward,” instead of the attempt to cancel her speech.
“By doing so, the statement of claim says, she shares the same attitude towards Aboriginal people that has enabled ‘Europeans to massacre them, to rape their women, to kill them, to steal their land and to treat them as sub-human,'” The Australian reported.
In her amended statement of claim filed in December, Price reportedly claims to have been “greatly injured” and suffered “hurt feelings” by the reports.
An ABC spokesperson told The Epoch Times on Feb. 9: “The ABC has put forward a proposal to resolve this matter; no response has yet been received.”
Price has until Feb. 12 to respond, according to a court order (pdf).
Cancel culture is an umbrella term for a range of activism taking place with increasing frequency which Kurti says is “very dangerous” and tears at the fabric of Australian society.
“What it involves is activists of some kind putting pressure on a person or an institution to sanction them because that institution or that person expresses or is considered to represent views or a position that is no longer acceptable,” Kurti said.
While some of the targets of cancel culture are laughable—like Coon cheese becoming Cheer cheese—some present “serious dangers” and Kurti outlines three in particular in his report “Cancelled! How ideological cleansing threatens Australia” (pdf).
The first is the promotion of the idea that Australia as a society is torn apart by racism when Kurti would argue that we’re “the world’s most successful multicultural society.”
This leads to the erosion of trust when people don’t feel they can express an honest opinion because they fear the backlash by those who disagree.
“So trust is destroyed. Trust is eroded when you can’t trust somebody to listen to you and to hear a genuine point of view,” he said.
This then goes on to fuel bitterness, division, and discord in society.
“So in a sense, pulling down a statue is an act of vandalism, renaming cheese can seem a bit comical, but what it does, I think, at a deeper level, is set us against each other and we start to see racism, misogyny, all kinds of hatred being espoused in a society where I think in fact we are a society (in Australia) that is very peaceful and harmonious,” Kurti said.
Cancel Culture’s Roots
Dr. Frank Turek from Summit Ministries Online told NTD’s Focus Talk program that cancel culture began with Vladimir Lenin.
“[Cancel culture] came out of the Soviet Union with Vladimir Lenin. And it came with the whole Marxist movement into the United States,” Turek said.
“[It] does not want to persuade; it merely wants to punish because they view the world in just two categories. You’re either an oppressor, or you’re oppressed,” he continued. “And if they consider you an oppressor, they’re going to try and actually oppress you, ironically, they’re going to try and shut you down, they’re going to try and prevent you from actually engaging in the economy, or they’re going to get you fired, they’re going to hurt you in some way.”
Appearing on the same program, Prof. Frank Xie from the University of South Carolina, said cancel culture was also seen in communist China.
“As someone from communist China, I see a lot of resemblance between these kinds of culture with what’s happening, what happened in China during the Cultural Revolution … as the Chinese do under communist rule, they have instituted this social credit system, where basically you are measured … you are measured against your attitude toward the communist party, your political view.”