Commentary

Reisman: Cancel culture karma

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As a long-time supporter of the First Amendment and the value of free and open inquiry, leftist cancel culture efforts to silence, de-platform, censor and otherwise stifle speakers and viewpoints they disagree with has angered and repelled me. As a young professor, I naively believed the academy shared those sentiments, but I have been disabused of that notion over the last 20 years.

First, when the leading feminist on campus suggested that I would (mis)use the First Amendment to “harm diversity”––in other words, that conservative free speech was racist, sexist and homophobic––and a majority of the faculty agreed with her.

Later, when University of Maine at Machias’ (UMM) President commended and praised a clearly unconstitutional resolution that demanded that UMM, a public university bound by the First Amendment, would not invite speakers who “denied the humanity” of any one. In other words, conservatives like then President George W. Bush and Vice President Cheney, or in fact anyone who failed to mouth the liberal line.

After that, the LGBTQ pro-gay marriage forces on campus objected when an anti-gay marriage speaker was invited following several pro-gay marriage speakers, and did everything they could to prevent his appearance and employ the heckler’s veto.

Sadly, these tactics have spread throughout higher education, the general culture and of course, politics. As the late Andrew Breitbart famously said, “Politics is downstream from culture.”

Black Lives Matter is a powerful cultural and political force. They are a Marxist, anti-capitalist and anti-nuclear family organization seeking to ignite a cultural revolution (yes, just like Chairman Mao), that will radically transform the country. They received substantial initial financial support from George Soros and the Ford Foundation, whose material wealth is a largely a consequence of capitalism, although you can throw in financial speculation and globalization for Soros and anti-Semitism for Ford.

Now, after a Minnesota policeman executed George Floyd and “protesters” set America’s cities ablaze (and the urban murder and crime rate through the roof), a big chunk of “woke” corporate America has pledged millions of dollars to Black Lives Matter, either as tribute or marketing protection money. A partial list of corporate Black Lives Matter donors includes Amazon, Gatorade, Microsoft, 23andMe, Airbnb, Unilever, Nabisco, and Fitbit.

You may have heard of “greenwashing” where corporations tout their environmental bona fides in hopes of securing economic and political benefits, or at least avoiding blame. Examples in Maine include Maine Public Broadcasting, Lee Auto Malls and Lamey Wellehan Shoes. The list should probably include any Maine organization with a “sustainability coordinator.”

As an opponent of cancel culture, I am not going to suggest a general boycott, divest and sanction campaign against any of these companies. I personally will endeavor not to patronize them or buy their products. Money is speech (much as the left denies it), and I will not support companies that are supporting a Marxist, ant-capitalist and anti-nuclear family agenda.

You are free, at least for now, to make your own decisions.

Reprinted with permission from the July 14 edition of The Machias Valley News Observer.

About Jonathan Reisman

Jon Reisman is an associate professor of economics and public policy at the University of Maine at Machias. He speaks for himself.

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