The Duty to Dissent 

In our free republic, where the God-given right to free speech is recognized by our federal and state constitutions and guaranteed by our servant governments, a recent poll of our fellow citizens should amaze no one and enrage everyone. Consider these findings:

  • 64 percent believe there is “a growing cancel culture” threatening their freedom (36 percent disagreed);
  • 36 percent said cancel culture is a “big problem”; 32 percent a “moderate problem”; 20 percent a “small problem”; 13 percent said it’s “not a problem”;  
  • 54 percent are “concerned” that expressing online opinions would get them banned (by Big Tech) or fired by their employer; 46 percent “were not concerned.”

As first reported exclusively by The Hill and subsequently by the Federalist, the poll of 1,945 registered voters was conducted between March 24-25 by the Harvard Center for American Political Studies in conjunction with Harris Insights and Analytics.

As quoted in The Hill, while not amazed and enraged exactly, Mark Penn, director of the survey, was surprised and scared: 

It is a chilling finding that most people in the country now are afraid they would be fired if they expressed their real views on social media. The public generally gives negative ratings to social media companies and sees the movement as more about censorship rather than trying to correct wrongs. It is growing as a national issue.

The findings should give everyone pause—especially the 36 percent of Americans who don’t believe cancel culture is a threat. They are likely the ones using cancel culture as a cudgel against their fellow citizens. They are playing with fire and are destined to get burned.

Yet, blinded by their totalitarian ideology, they’ll never believe this lesson of history until they, too, are consumed by it. Unfortunately, many more innocents will be reduced to ashes along with them.

From antiquity onward, in every society where its sundry forms have appeared and metastasized, the cancel culture runs its ineluctable course. Corrupt elites capriciously exert their power to censor, coerce, and condemn dissenters and, finally, each other in a vain attempt to perpetuate their power, wealth, and status. 

The same French Revolution that beheaded Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette also executed Danton and Robespierre. The same Bolshevik Revolution that shot the Romanovs also shot Kamenev and Zinoviev and put an ice ax in Trotsky’s skull. The same Chinese Revolution that killed landlords also killed Communists. 

While some might be tempted to note the justice of these ideologues’ circular firing squads, the barbaric effects of cancel culture upon the whole of society prevent reveling in their just deserts. Cumulatively, 20th-century cancel culture left millions of corpses in its wake and terrorized many millions more with the chance they would be the next to “disappear.” Their only protection was to stifle their dissent against the monsters in their midst. But a wall of self-imposed silence is no guard against a nocturnal knock on the door. 

These are but the more modern mass tragedies of the cancel culture, of which far too few of our fellow citizens are aware, though not necessarily through any direct fault of their own. For the cancel culturists have infested our educational system, proselytizing and indoctrinating their warped ideology and censoring the historical roadmap that shows where it ultimately dead-ends. These indoctrinators who are no longer educators inflate a students’ pride with unearned self-esteem while cheating their intellects of the skills required for critical—independent—thinking. These credentialled charlatans are not edifying minds; they are manufacturing cogs in the wheel of groupthink.

Painfully, the young will realize that no amount of tattoo ink will make them distinct if they’re part of this groupthink. They, and everyone, will come to understand the moral imperative to actually rebel—the duty to dissent

Our individual souls make us unique and united as children of God. Free speech—and the freedom of religion—allow our souls to shine for themselves, our fellow human beings, and our Creator. True, history records how dissenting against a cancel culture is a perilous proposition. But the alternative that cancel culture presents would reduce the world into a collective drone of benighted conformity.

Thus, I dissent! Keep the faith with all throughout the ages who have taken heart from a dissenter who, for refusing to submit to a ruling elite’s cancel culture, was condemned and crucified by a corrupt empire and, in so doing, redeemed the sins of fallen humanity and offered us all eternal life.

Have a blessed Easter. 

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About Thaddeus G. McCotter

An American Greatness contributor, the Hon. Thaddeus G. McCotter (M.C., Ret.) represented Michigan’s 11th Congressional district from 2003 to 2012 and served as Chair of the Republican House Policy Committee. Not a lobbyist, he is a frequent public speaker and moderator for public policy seminars, and a Monday co-host of the "John Batchelor Show" among sundry media appearances.

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