Opinion

Did Hamas Accidentally Crush Cancel Culture?

Terrorist attack finds progressives suddenly scrambling to defend free speech

Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel is an affront to everything we hold dear.

The world’s reaction to the assault speaks volumes about how far western civilization has fallen, from students siding with Hamas to ghouls ripping down hostage posters. To say nothing of congresswomen spreading Hamas propaganda.

The attacks had another repercussion no Hamas terrorist could have anticipated. They struck a blow against Cancel Culture and the rise of censorship in the civilized world.

The press often puts the phrase Cancel Culture in scare quotes, as if it doesn’t exist. It’s make believe, like unicorns and pro-Life Democrats.

Not anymore. The scare quotes dried up in the days following the savage attacks.

Like magic.

Adam Carolla and Dennis Prager captured Academia’s rage against free speech in 2019’s “No Safe Spaces.” The problem has grown exponentially worse since then.

NO SAFE SPACES | Official HD Trailer (2019) | DOCUMENTARY | Film Threat Trailers

How many deans and august faculty members dared to speak up on the matter prior to Oct. 7? Who railed against attack after attack after attack on speech across academia?

Suddenly, the Academic Left found its voice.

Campuses are defending free speech now that radical students are getting canceled for their pro-Hamas stances.

The timing is … interesting, no?

Nearly 170 faculty at Columbia and Barnard have signed an open letter released on Monday condemning the backlash students received after they signed an Oct. 9 student-written statement that called for advocacy for Palestinian students and engagement with on-campus activism efforts in the wake of the escalating violence in Israel and Gaza.

“We ask Columbia University’s leadership, our faculty colleagues, Columbia alumni, potential employers of Columbia students, and all who share a commitment to the notion of a just society to join us in condemning, in the strongest of terms, the vicious targeting of our students with doxing, public shaming, surveillance by members of our community, including other students, and reprisals from employers,” the letter read.

The Washington Examiner quickly called out “Academia’s Selective Defense of Free Speech.”

In recent years, administrators have canceled or allowed the eviction of numerous speakers, investigated and sometimes evicted faculty members and students for violating left-wing speech codes, or let students and staff hound heterodox professors so maliciously that they feel they must resign. Rather than defend principles of intellectual inquiry, administrators have been more concerned about providing emotionally “safe spaces” for “triggered” students than providing physically safe places for people expressing unapproved opinions.

RELATED: WHAT IS CANCEL CULTURE AND WHY SHOULD ARTISTS FEAR IT?

It wasn’t just University, Inc. doing an about-face on the subject. The press, which adores Cancel Culture, suddenly sounded scared that it might, you know, exist.

For example, The Miami Herald ran to their pro-Hamas students’ defense.

I’m appalled by students who support Hamas. But I defend their right to free speech

On Nov. 8, the liberal magazine The Atlantic found reason to defend free speech when a professor got canceled for sharing a story from the far-Left Onion.

Michael Eisen, a genetics professor at UC Berkeley and the editor of eLife, an influential open-access journal for the life sciences, retweeted the post with the comment that The Onion “speaks with more courage, insight and moral clarity than the leaders of every academic institution put together.” As Eisen told me in a recent phone interview, he did this “on Friday the 13th—I should have known that was a bad idea.”

Time magazine published a plea for “counter speech over Cancel Culture,” an argument rarely heard in the venerable magazine.

USA Today, which didn’t raise a stink over the Twitter Files revelations (nor did the rest of the mainstream media) rushed to a conservative cartoonist’s defense after the far-Left Washington Post erased his anti-Hamas artwork.

In perilous times, free speech attacks are no laughing matter — In silencing Michael Ramirez’s voice, The Washington Post is giving power to those who disagree with his point of view: That Hamas terrorists intentionally put Palestinian civilians at risk.

Shocking and oh, so welcome.

The cartoon represented something much bigger – and more important – than how a terrorist organization was portrayed. Not only was it a pertinent political perspective that fell victim to cancel culture. It’s also a sign that free speech is at risk.

The Huffington Post, another site that sheds few tears for canceled artists, produced a five-part series mostly critical of Cancel Culture and its toxic tendrils.

The series bowed weeks after the Oct. 7 attacks. Coincidental, of course.

Incoherent is one way to describe the state of cancel culture today, when anyone and anything is being canceled, both seriously and unseriously, for an indefinite period of time or just until the next ill-fated headline drops on Twitter, er, X. Which should be in the next few hours.

Is that Ben Shapiro or a HuffPo contributor? It’s hard to tell.

The far-Left Vice didn’t attack Cancel Culture directly in the days following the attacks. It still asked some tough questions about the toxic trend, the kind you wouldn’t expect from the outlet.

Cancel culture has a fraught relationship with free speech [emphasis added]. Some argue that cancelling gives rise to the voices of marginalised communities, who have previously had their opinions suppressed. Others say it stifles open debate.

The New York Times, which looks the other way when the Biden administration tag teams with Big Tech to silence speech, suddenly rallied for the First Amendment on college campuses.

Again, the timing is curious, no?

Universities should state hard truths and clarify critical issues. As leaders of public policy schools, we train the leaders of tomorrow to think creatively and boldly. It starts with countering speech that is harmful; modeling civic dialogue, mutual respect and empathy; and showing an ability to listen to one another.

Universities should not retreat into their ivory towers because the discourse has gotten toxic; on the contrary, the discourse will get more toxic if universities pull back.

Even The Daily Kos, as far Left as any definition allows, now warns that Cancel Culture is silencing progressive actresses for their pro-Palestinian views. “Why are Hollywood actors and actresses being canceled?”

Do we need a Google search to see if a Kos diarist raged against Gina Carano’s cancellation? Or Roseanne Barr’s? Or Winston Marshall’s?

Hollywood looked the other way while those artists were brutally canceled. Yet the moment a far-Left actress, “Scream” alum Melissa Barrera, got fired for sharing extreme anti-Israel rhetoric, 1,300 artists rushed to her defense.

“Freedom of expression, as enshrined in the Human Rights Act and the European Convention of Human Rights is the backbone of our creative lives, and fundamental to democracy.”

Yes. So why the silence up until now? And why did celebrities cheer when President Donald Trump got booted from key social media platforms and, later, decry his return?

Rolling Stone decried Barrera’s firing, too, suggesting a new Hollywood Blacklist threatened the industry. The publication has yet to comment on conservative stars being routinely canceled for their beliefs, alas.

It turns out the Left would turn on Cancel Culture under one condition – the second its denizens felt its sting.

Who could have predicted that? If you said, “Everyone with a functional cortex,” give yourself a gold star. Cancel Culture is a political tool, first and foremost.

It’s still sickening given the cultural context. It took the mass slaughter of innocents, and the subsequent defense of said actions, to rouse the Free Speech Left from its slumber.

7 Comments

  1. It is Freedom of Association. I practice it every day in the products I purchase, the publications I read, and people I interact with. The fact that some chose to weaponize this through contrived and often dishonest means is just that Dishonesty and many are now taking notice. The recent row with Disney and X is a good example, Disney’s claim of X’s support for antisemitism is laughably false and all but the willing dupes recognize this. I am sure that Disney will come up short on this one and add this to their growing list of regrets.
    I am a free speech absolutist; I want to hear from and know who would defend or even support the barbaric actions of Hamas. Just as I believe that the Nazi march in Skokie in 1977 drove any and all remaining sympathy for their cause underground, so too will be the fate of the free Palestine movement as people come to realize it is grounded in genocidal antisemitism and violence.

  2. So, it’s okay for people who have conservative/libertarian/old school liberal/independent views to lost their jobs, but when you see people literally defending terrorists, that’s going too far? The Far Left truly are sick pigs.

  3. Fun to watch, but don’t expect it to last. Hypocrisy is one of the major pillars of leftism. They’ll change their tune as soon as it’s necessary.

  4. The Left only sees anti-Semites if they are Caucasians in white hoods. They’re blind to the Middle Easterners in black hoods. The former is what they call anyone who dares to question their authority, and the latter gets a free pass in the name of progressivism and victimhood.

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