Cancel Culture Goes Down Rabbit Hole of Absurdity

Cancel Culture Goes Down Rabbit Hole of Absurdity
Author J.K. Rowling attends the “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” World Premiere at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center in New York on Nov. 10, 2016. (Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)
Conrad Black

The woke and cancel culture is plumbing new depths of absurdity and injustice every week.

By my casual count the New York Times, for years the most prestigious and constant media defender of liberal American values, has conducted four professional lynchings in its own ranks.

Donald McNeil, Andrew Mills, James Bennet, and Allison Roman were all forced out by a vote of a number of their fellow workers because of what can only be described as exceedingly minor transgressions of even the most pettifogging and intolerant guidelines against political incorrectness.

In McNeil’s case, his offense was committed while conducting a group of students on a tour in Peru. He was asked if someone had in his judgment committed a professional offense in referring illustratively to an African-American person as a Negro, or variant of Negro, (as I am doing here).

He responded by asking if the individual in question had himself employed the word derisively or was merely citing it as inappropriate usage by somebody else. For this, he was eventually forced out of the New York Times after a petition of 100 of his fellow editorial department members judged his remarks unacceptable by current standards of sensitivity. The other cases, as far as I can discern, were no more fundamentally offensive than McNeil’s.

J.K. Rowling

The eminently successful British novelist J.K. Rowling has been engaged in a lengthy controversy over her references to transgender people. She has been accused of being a TERF (Transgender-Exclusionist Radical Feminist) after a number of incidents, most recently a tweet taking issue with a reference to women as “people who menstruate.”

She has on every occasion been entirely supportive of and empathetic towards transgender people in both directions, but has expressed the view that since apparent men can be so described if they have come to the determination to effect a surgical sex change but have not carried it out, permitting them unlimited access to female public lavatories would be effectively opening them to all men, with resulting increases in sexual assault cases against women.

Agile wordsmith and imaginative writer as she is, Ms. Rowling seems to enjoy tweaking the sensitivities of the most militant and easily agitated guardians of the dignity of the trans community. She often causes them to come snorting out of the undergrowth vehemently accusing her of being a shameless TERF.

Someone as wealthy and successful as Ms. Rowling, and whose comments are as inoffensive to all but the most extreme bigots on the subject, can bear the storms well, and she seems at times almost to enjoy them and retains the support of most of her huge readership.

Jordan Peterson

It is more difficult for someone like my esteemed friend Jordan Peterson, the distinguished professor at the University of Toronto who has attracted much support but aroused great controversy by rejecting the demands of those who claim to be neither male nor female to require people to address them in a special vocabulary.

He also generally objects to the concept of white privilege and the onslaught upon the moral defensibility of being a straight white male.

Of course, the overwhelming majority of people in every civilized country, including non-white countries, would agree with him, but that has not excused Professor Peterson from being compared even by human rights monitors at a Canadian university to Hitler, and being threatened with inquiries by human rights tribunals vested with an unjustified authority to take destructive measures even against the careers of such meticulously logical and immensely civilized people as Jordan Peterson.

In addition to intense professional pressure, Professor Peterson has had serious medical problems in his family and has himself had recourse to prescribed drug use that substantially immobilized him for some time.

While his many admirers and supporters have naturally rallied to him, it has been impossible not to notice the disgusting malice of some of the militant woke cancel-crusaders. Though the cultural and psychological positions taken by Jordan Peterson are not exactly in the same field as contemporary woke American politics, the inhumanity of his opponents does make an interesting contrast with the demands for sympathy of some of the more belligerent contemporary American leftists.

I must have been among tens of millions of people who watched and listened with astonishment as Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez described her cold terror at the invasion and vandalization of the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, although she was an entire block away in an office building that was not the subject of trespass, because the Capitol police exhibited curiosity to find her. She found this process—the police making sure she was safeterrifying and expected mass sympathy for her apparently fortunate and serene non-involvement with that outrageous, but to her, physically distant incident.
Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, another radical leftist who is never shy about soft peddling the violence of her groupthink-mates or pandering to anti-Semitism, gave the House of Representatives such an emotional rendition of her own nervosity on Jan. 6, although she was in no danger either, that Ms. Ocasio-Cortez felt she had to approach the podium and stroke and comfort her as she babbled almost hysterically.


It is obvious that the overwhelming majority of Americans, and doubtless of people in other civilized countries, think that it is time to roll this nonsense back: there are only two sexes, and all adults should decide their own sexuality without coercion, and unless they are sociopathic, they should receive the respect of the entire society in which they live.

There were ample reasons to support President Trump and those who have done so—approximately 48 percent of the country—should not be subjected to any threat of deprogramming or reorientation or reeducation.

Those who adapt totalitarian-speak and techniques to pervert American democracy must be disabused of such behavior, at the legitimately verified ballot box, the only acceptable means of political decision-making, and not by mob rule whether in “peaceful protests” led by arsonists and looters or by hordes of academic, journalistic, or entertainment shamers and black-listers.

Here is one point where President Biden has at least in general terms been clear and emphatic. That has not prevented him from gratuitous and inaccurate reflections upon his predecessor, but he has been a proponent in general of civility; it is his supporters and not Trump’s who are failing the civility test now.

Conrad Black has been one of Canada’s most prominent financiers for 40 years, and was one of the leading newspaper publishers in the world. He’s the author of authoritative biographies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, and, most recently, “Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other,” which has been republished in updated form.
Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
Conrad Black has been one of Canada’s most prominent financiers for 40 years and was one of the leading newspaper publishers in the world. He’s the author of authoritative biographies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, and, most recently, “Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other,” which has been republished in updated form. Follow Conrad Black with Bill Bennett and Victor Davis Hanson on their podcast Scholars and Sense.
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