March 15, 2021
This piece was originally published in the Herald-Tribune on March 7, 2021.
Florida State University removed a statue of Francis Eppes VII, the former mayor of Tallahassee and grandson of Thomas Jefferson.
Protesters in Chicago tried to tear down a statue of Christopher Columbus.
A statue of President George Washington was vandalized and knocked down by seven people in Los Angeles.
All of this during the year 2020 alone.
Eppes, Columbus and Washington are just some of the latest victims of America’s toxic and uncontrollable “cancel culture.” And the list goes on.
Cancel culture seeks to destroy a person or a company’s image based solely on personal disagreement. The movement first started in 2014, but it has now become a means for public attacks – all in the name of political and social "justice.” The cancel culture movement diminishes free thinking, creates a great divide and sets a poor example for future generations.
Perhaps one of the most common victims of cancel culture is America herself. Recently there have been attacks made on the nation’s past, which are starting to diminish Americans’ pride in their country. The left is coming after our country in an attempt to erase any evidence of history that doesn’t align with the current status quo.
Each country has its flaws and its own history. That doesn’t mean that we should completely erase these historical moments from our memory. How are future generations expected to learn from past mistakes and ensure that history doesn’t repeat itself if we completely erase any evidence of our past?
President Abraham Lincoln understood the dangers of a divided country, and the following statement has long been attributed to him:
“At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide."
Cancel culture is the societal and national destruction to which Lincoln referred. It seeks to tear people down and divide them based on biased perceptions of what should or should not be acceptable.
The bottom line is this: Cancel culture is subjective. There is no guideline or precedent for people to call upon to make judgements on what can or can’t be canceled. Thus, the entire argument of cancel culture is based solely on personal preference and holds no legitimate merit or reasoning.
Cancel culture has also revealed our society’s inability to discuss topics and issues in a respectful way. The idea of simply cutting someone off without ever having a meaningful discussion shows just how close-minded people can be. Conversation, not cancellation, should be the method through which Americans should be dealing with controversy and disagreement.
If cancel culture is good for one thing, it’s that it has exposed the hypocrisy of the left. The so-called “tolerant” left, which preaches acceptance and understanding toward all people regardless of race, gender and religion, is not so tolerant when it comes to history. Cancel culture is a toxic sentiment that seeks to literally and symbolically tear people down based on their personal and political affiliations. We must be willing to point out the hypocrisy and discrepancy seen in the left’s ideology and participation in cancel culture.
But is it possible to “cancel” cancel culture? In an effort to stop this toxic trend that has become so prevalent in today’s political climate, we must be willing to talk about the dangers of cancel culture – and the ways that we can learn from our history without destroying it.
Ophelie Jacobson is a University of Florida sophomore studying journalism and political science. Jacobson is co-president of the Network of enlightened Women (NeW) chapter at the University of Florida and a NeW Student Media Fellow. NeW is a national organization that is dedicated to educating, equipping and empowering young conservative women.