Cancel Culture Has Become ‘Cancel America’

Three weeks ago, a Pennsylvania police chief was forced to retire by his “progressive mayor” after 26 years on the job. His offense? The chief’s wife posted a Facebook message supporting President Donald Trump. 

Lancaster Police Chief Jarrad Berkihiser might be the latest victim of cancel culture, but he won’t be the last. The radicals who canceled Berkihiser plan to take their extremist views from academia up to the White House—and then bring them down to every local school district and workplace in the country. They hope to impose a censorious cancel culture on every level of society—including your friends, family, neighbors, and eventually you. They foresee a future where socialist rioters can burn homes and businesses while you aren’t allowed to dissent—even in a Facebook post.  

None of this is surprising when you know what Black Lives Matter believes as an organization. The Black Lives Matter Left, which is now the Democratic Party’s vanguard, does not want to improve America; it wants to abolish America as we know it. It wants to turn America from a free society built on individual rights into a society built on group rights. It wants to replace equality of opportunity with equality of outcome, where the government’s role is to ensure that each group has the same income and power. And it sees government replacing the “nuclear family.” This kind of massive wealth redistribution and social revolution can only be accomplished through totalitarianism, but they have hidden their true agenda behind slick spin and an incurious media. 

They have also smuggled their agenda into progressive politics.  As our cities burned, left-wing politicians  aided, abetted, and excused the revolutionaries and prosecuted Mark and Patricia McCloskey for self-defense. They want “truth and reconciliation” committees for Trump supporters. While President Trump recently abolished critical theory training sessions for federal workers, Joe Biden endorses bringing them into the Woke workplace because “people must be made aware.”

The double-standard is clear: Anyone calling America irredeemably racist, worthless, or worthy of incineration may receive a Pulitzer Prize. But it is almost impossible for everyday citizens to dispute the idea that America’s cops constitute a racist, guerrilla death squad; or that gender is biologically determined; or any other part of the Left’s cartoonishly conspiratorial view of life. These narratives are sacred and placed beyond rational inquiry. 

The lines of silence are constantly shifting. Even defending the virtues which preserve the American way of life—like work ethic, the scientific method, conscientiousness, and showing up on time—risks backlisting. These virtues, we are told by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, are actually the tools of white supremacy. Our civilizational norms must be canceled along with their defenders.

Berkihiser didn’t have to stand up to the BLM racists to be canceled—but many who have done so have been fired from their jobs. So, countless Americans simply bite their lips and keep their mouths shut at work. They’re not wrong to be afraid. Half of American liberals said they would fire someone who made a political donation to the Republican Party, according to a recent Cato Institute survey. As everything becomes politicized, even family members are canceling family members

This will only increase if Biden actually becomes president. His mandatory workplace critical theory sessions—and the lawsuits they inspire—will force workers into silence and artificial agreement, or else. It will bring about a future where each of us is Jarrad Berkihiser. 

As Barack Obama used to say, “That’s not who we are.” Unlike today’s revolutionaries, Martin Luther King, Jr. believed that America hadn’t always lived up to its ideals and aspirations—but it could and would. Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln fought to end slavery and live in a unity inspired by “the better angels of our nature.” Even in the midst of “a great Civil War,” Lincoln urged charity, not an endless recrimination of our nation’s distant past. 

More than a century later, we must take up his call. The place for Americans to begin is by defending America. We must believe in an inclusive optimism that “there is nothing wrong with America that cannot be fixed by what is right with America.” While America is not perfect, as Thomas Klingenstein said in a viral video, “America is good.” The United States is still the world’s greatest force of moral good, freedom, and human rights.

We must stand up for Jarrad Berkihiser. We must demand our right to offend and be offended. We must insist on being judged on the content of our character, not the color of our skin.

I’ll support that. Will you? 

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About Rev. Ben Johnson

Rev. Ben Johnson is executive editor of the Acton Institute's flagship journal, Religion & Liberty, and the author of three books. His views are his own. Follow him on Twitter @therightswriter.

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