Another week, another cancellation (or a few). The woke brigade continue their tirade against what appears to be the most insignificant of things. But while it may be tempting to brush these off easily with the thinking that it is just another silly thing we shouldn’t bother concerning ourselves with, we cannot afford to keep doing so. It is important that we realise that for as long as we disregard the actions of the mob, the longer they will persist unabated, cancelling everything they deem to be even remotely “offensive”. That leads down a dark path of extreme censorship, the breaking down of the old, and the building up of the new; in this case, political correctness, or as Orwell put it, Newspeak.
Within the last few weeks, cancel culture has claimed far too many victims: a potato, Dr. Seuss, Curious George, Pepe Le Pew, Peter Pan, Dumbo, and the word “normal”. Yes, that’s right, Unilever cancelled a word because it wasn’t “inclusive”. Disney+ pulled Peter Pan and Dumbo from its children’s profiles due to ‘negative depictions and stereotypes’, putting a warning on the films for adults. Pepe Le Pew was found guilty by the mob of “contributing to rape culture”. They also set their sights on Speedy Gonzales, but he managed to get away before they got him. In fact, Gabriel Iglesias, who is lending his voice to the character in the upcoming Space Jam sequel, hit back at the mob, tweeting “U can’t catch me cancel culture. I’m the fastest mouse in all of Mexico”. Curious George was deemed to be racially charged because it was about a monkey brought back from Africa. Dr. Seuss was also cancelled for the crime of “racial tropes”, six of his books ceased from publication. And Mr and Mrs Potato Head became genderless, after Hasbro made the politically correct decision to drop their preferred pronouns (you’ll recall in Toy Story, Mr Potato Head explicitly states, “That’s Mr Potato Head to you, you back-stabbing murderer” in conversation with Woody, ironic considering the woke mob usually respect the preferred pronouns of others).
There are two significant points to be made on cancel culture. The first is this: many things that become the targets of the cancel brigade are taken out of their contextual surrounds. Context is of great importance. The times in which something is created are of intrinsic value to its nature. Culture changes over time, so what may have been viewed as socially acceptable decades ago might no longer be as such in the modern day. That does not mean it should be cancelled. It should merely be viewed in its historical and cultural contexts. If you take something out of context, it can easily be seen as something it never was.
Take, for example, Dr. Seuss. Theodor Seuss Geisel was a writer and cartoonist who had his first book And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street in 1937. This book was one of the six that has now been unpublished. But why? Because of alleged racial tropes in the depiction of “a Chinaman who eats with sticks”. The problem is it has been taken out of context. At the time, the ‘Chinaman’ was yellow in colour with a pigtail, holding a bowl and chopsticks. Decades later, in 1978, Geisel altered the character, removing the yellow to leave him white and removing the pigtail. The updated version was published from there on out. Geisel said at the time of the change, “I had a gentleman with a pigtail. I coloured him yellow and called him a ‘Chinaman’. That’s the way things were 50 years ago. In later editions, I refer to him as a ‘Chinese man.’ I have taken the colour out of the gentleman and removed the pigtail and now he looks like an Irishman.” Context matters.
Even though Dr. Seuss updated the text for the times, it was still cancelled decades later and he was labelled a racist by the virtue-signaling woke mob. Ironically, just a matter of years ago, the Obamas were praising Dr. Seuss. Michelle Obama participated in a story time for kids, reading one of his books to them. Former President Barack Obama, in speaking to a group of White House interns in 2015, remarked “Pretty much all you need to know” is in Dr. Seuss’ books. Current Vice President Kamala Harris even wished him a happy birthday in a tweet in 2017. By the logic of the mob, all three of them should be cancelled for supporting a “racist”. See how absurd that sounds?
The second key point is this: Cancel culture is detrimental to society and therefore cannot be ignored. Yes, it may seem innocuous, it may appear as if there are much more pressing matters. But the longer we allow this to persist, the greater the damage that will be done to our culture and society as we know it will cease to exist, to be replaced by a woke “utopia” complete with Newspeak, the language of political correctness, woke products (likely including television programs, movies, and toys that teach kids, among other things, that they can change their gender if they feel like it and everyone must respect their decision or face consequences).
Those who seek to cancel seek to silence opposing views. Just days ago, Winston Marshall, the banjo player of English folk rock band Mumford and Sons, tweeted praise for journalist Andy Ngo’s book Unmasked: Inside Antifa’s Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy. He soon found himself trending on Twitter, the Leftist mob labelling him a “Nazi” for supporting Ngo. Just two days later, after he was relentlessly attacked by the mob, Marshall tweeted an apology, stating that he would be “taking time away from the band to examine my blindspots.” Marshall should never have apologised. He did nothing wrong, other than, in the opinion of the Leftist mob, show his support for a book. Cancel culture is, in a very real sense, the modern-day book burning. But the example of Winston Marshall demonstrates an important lesson: You never give in to the mob. Once you do, they have you under their thumb, and that is the last place you want to be.
Cancel culture is poisonous. It is like a virus, but one we are just allowing to pervade society. This cannot continue. We can no longer sit idly by and watch as society collapses around us. We must fight back against this culture of silencing opposing views and values. We must defend our culture against those who seek to destroy it. We must cancel cancel culture.
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Joel Agius is a young Catholic Conservative writer currently studying journalism and creative writing with Griffith University. He writes on freedom, religion and the human condition, mainly focusing on the Australian and US social and political scenes. He also volunteers as a Special Religious Education teacher in State primary schools, and occasionally contributes to The Spectator. You can find him on Twitter or read his work over at his blog. If you would like to support his work, you can click here.