Cancellation Is in Your Mind 

It’s fascinating how ruling elites react when they lose arguments over and over again in public. First, they ignore: “Maybe I’ll think of something to say in the meantime, or perhaps this recalcitrant who objects to my transparently false claims will just go away.” Then, they deride: “Maybe if I make fun of him enough everyone else will ignore him or shout him down.” Then, they try to silence: “Maybe I’ll cut his microphone cord.”  

When none of that works, the humiliated enemy of the American way attacks: “Maybe if he’s destitute or in jail, he’ll have to shut up.” Eventually, in illiberal countries, the ideological enemy tortures and kills: “Maybe if I make an example out of him, no one else will say what he says ever again.”  

Throughout all of this, the one thing humiliated elites never do is consider why they’re losing arguments and change their ways. Someone always comes to the defense of the elites and blames the objector: “You’re not engaging in constructive dialogue. You’re mean!” That’s fascinating, too. The objector presents rational arguments and is met with a series of vicious evasions, all aimed at escaping arguments. Yet, some claim, it’s the objector’s fault. 

But why does the objector keep pressing?  

Because everybody else is watching. In a liberal democracy, we don’t make examples of objectors by murder and torture; we make examples of wannabe autocrats by reason and argument. In America, the better idea always eventually wins—at least, that is how it is supposed to work. Sometimes it just takes a while before enough Americans realize that it’s all right to say true things. You can say true things, and you will—almost certainly—be fine.  

The humiliated enemies of the American way want you to think otherwise. They want you to think that you will surely be among the few examples of the destroyed: those who lost jobs or businesses or who were battered by BLM and Antifa mobs. They want you to imagine that you will be among the minority on whom they can exact revenge. That’s what terrorists do. Terrorists do it because, as ragtag gangsters without an army, they are practically powerless to harm anyone in the society they attack. But humiliated elites mimic terrorists in this because, more than anything else, they fear losing their status and power. An attacker both feeds on and relies on fear when he cannot rely on force alone.  

Despite appearances, the illiberal enemy in America is actually powerless over what we think. It can make you believe it has that power. It can make you believe everyone sees you as crazy for saying true things. But the truth is that it can’t make you or anyone else think anything. It can’t change reality.  

Terrorists win when they spread fear. We help the illiberal enemy spread fear when we spotlight the revenge it exacts upon the few without also heralding the many more who speak the truth daily and remain unscathed.  

Consider the mom on Facebook or the dad at a school-board meeting. Or think of the lawyer with a Trump sign in his front yard and the employee who humiliates the so-called diversity trainer with incessant questions about just how the most diverse nation in the world is systemically anything but race-neutral. And don’t forget the Christian—who cannot lawfully be fired or even passed over for a promotion for being Christian—who wears a cross or crucifix to work during Pride Month. They are all likely to be fine. 

The truth is that nobody can easily or inexpensively be fired for anything in today’s corporate regime. Nobody is likely to be martyred for speaking the truth. That’s the truth the enemy wants to hide.  

And what about all those who are better off now because they spoke the truth? The enemy wants you blind to them, too. Jordan Peterson got rich. Glenn Greenwald is doing great. Bill Maher’s ratings are up; he just got a new contract. Andrew Sullivan made half a million dollars in his first week on his own. The enemy wants you to think that a Twitter mob or a job loss is the worst thing to endure. To many, it’s actually been the fuel for their success.

But what about the few rich and famous the enemy has torn down? Ordinary people are rarely worth the effort to destroy—another truth the enemy tries to hide. The rich and famous are the best targets because their pain is broadcast to all, thereby spreading the most fear. But the rich and famous are also the least likely to be broken. J.K. Rowling, for example, is fine. She has her dignity and her millions. She’s richer in spirit and not a penny poorer in wealth today than before she supposedly got canceled. Dave Chappelle deliberately provoked the enemy’s rebuke in his latest comedy special, “The Closer.” He’s fine, too.  

The current political era began when Donald Trump answered the first question at the first presidential debate of the 2016 campaign. Megyn Kelly took aim at Trump and unloaded back at him the greatest blasphemies he had ever uttered against woke feminists. He interrupted, quipping, “only Rosie O’Donnell.” And with that, he cast off the spell of fear. He turned out fine, too. So will you.  

Of course, if something goes horribly wrong and everybody carries on under the mistaken belief that they must gag themselves and lie constantly, then none of us will be safe. But that probably won’t happen. Not in America—so long as we start objecting now, repeatedly, incessantly, in public, together, and in solidarity. That’s the fait accompli. Then it doesn’t matter if the humiliated ruling elites expiate. Once they know that we know that we own our reality—and we prove that by objecting to their absurd pieties and daring them to try and stop us—we win. In every breakroom and at every Thanksgiving table, it begins with one and ends with many. Be the honorable first. Let not your future self look back and see a man head-bent in imagined shackles. Object now.  

About Sean Ross Callaghan

Sean Ross Callaghan is an attorney and a former law clerk for a U.S. District Court judge. He served in the Treasury Department, the Justice Department, and in the D.C. Attorney General’s office as an Assistant Attorney General. He is currently a tech entrepreneur. Follow him on Twitter @seanrcallaghan.

Photo: J.K. Rowling, Dipasupil/Getty Images

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