Cancellation Nation: The Building Backlash

Cancellation Nation: The Building Backlash

Cancellation Nation: The Building Backlash

July 13, 2020

First it was pancake syrup and Paw Patrol. Now, even Scrabble isn't safe. You can forget the triple word score on at least 236 "slurs" the North American players association is stripping from the group's lexicon. The goal, these gamers say, is to make the game "friendlier" for all types of people. Of course, no one has seen the official list of "potentially offensive" words -- leaving many to wonder if this new vocabulary is just W-O-K-E.

George Orwell used to say that if you control the language, you control the people. And the fringe has certainly taken that advice to heart, putting a bullseye on phrases as pedestrian as "peanut gallery," "no can do" and the ever-inflammatory "eenie meenie miney moe." A grammarian, writing for the Philadelphia Inquirer, argued that all of these phrases are linguistic bigotry and should be blacklisted. (Actually, he didn't use that word, since it's almost certainly offensive too.) The point, NRO's David Harsanyi warns, is that "attempting to dictate what words we use is another way to exert power over how we think."

But is it working? New polling says no. If anything, a growing number of Americans -- including an impressive number of prominent liberals -- think the cancel culture has worn out its welcome. In an astonishing turn, 153 of them, including well-known authors, intellectuals, and public figures, signed on to an open letter in Harper's magazine, calling for an end to the "public shaming and ostracism" and a new tolerance for "opposing views."

"The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted... [There is a new] tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty. We uphold the value of robust and even caustic counter-speech from all quarters. But it is now all too common to hear calls for swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought... [This] stifling atmosphere... invariably hurts those who lack power and makes everyone less capable of democratic participation."

Signed by a collection of people who no one would mistake for conservatives, the mainstream pushback was just one of the signs that the honeymoon with the mob is over. Even more telling is the surprising shift of public opinion away from groups like Black Lives Matter -- which, 70 percent of Americans insist -- isn't improving race relations. In fact, many believe the movement has done more harm (38 percent) than good (26 percent). That decline in public approval has been especially steep over the last month, as more Americans realize George Floyd's death was just an excuse for radicals to hijack the conversation. "Some 40 percent of Republicans in early June thought the 'underlying anger of the protesters' was fully justified after the killing of Floyd," Liz Peek explains. "Later in the month, only 18 percent thought so."

The woke crowd is on shaky ground, Mark Hemingway agrees. Friday, on "Washington Watch" with Sarah Perry, he warned that a lot more people in this country care about free speech than the media would like to admit. "And they're getting frustrated," he said, pointing to the open rebellion of letters like Harper's. If you want to blame someone for this unrest, Mark insisted, try academia. It's our colleges and universities who created this chaos by allowing certain Marxist theories to take hold of U.S. campuses.

"In the last 20 years, it's reached critical mass," he pointed out. So much so that "the point of education [is now] to rectify injustice and to create activists, not to impart knowledge. And I definitely think that that has taken hold among younger people that haven't really even, frankly, been that well educated on competing ideas regarding basic things like free speech or free enterprise. And that's a problem. They've been taught that [only] one set of ideas only is correct."

If we want to save our country and stop these forces from remaking America, then we've got to reassess education. Obviously, Mark points out, public schools and universities aren't going away any time soon. "But I think people care about their kids learning some basic ideas that have made Western civilization, such a belief in absolute and transcendent truth. The belief that the way to be prosperous and happy is to engage in the free exchange of ideas... And I think if you can inculcate that in a future generation, or -- at the very least -- create enough of a sizable group of people that exists outside of this current dominant thinking, in 10 or 20 years then you might have something."

We've seen the homeschooling movement start to drive that counterculture, along with uncompromising Christian colleges, parents, and churches. It will take all of them to undo what the far-Left have done to the one thing we should all have in common: freedom.

Facebook Tags Therapy for Possible Ban

July 13, 2020

While the rest of Big Tech openly uses its power to censor, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg has stood out. Unlike his peers, he's had the refreshing sanity to reinforce free speech -- a position that hasn't exactly endeared him to the intolerant Left. Now, months into his First Amendment experiment, one of the lone holdouts on open debate is considering a policy that would silence the voices keeping some users alive.

Everyone is entitled to information, Facebook has argued. Except, maybe, people struggling with their sexuality. According to European sources, Zuckerberg's platform, along with its subsidiary Instagram, may be trying to keep those hurting users from getting the information they're looking for. On the table, CNN says, is a proposal to block positive reviews or testimonials about sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE), including counselors who specialize in the field. One British group, Core Issues Trust, has already been affected -- at least temporarily -- and executives warn that U.S. advocates may be next.

Other platforms have been more proactive. "A Twitter spokesman said their platform already enforces against content that promotes conversion therapy under their 'no harm' rule," which is ironic, FRC's Peter Sprigg points out, since the whole point of SOCE is to help people from being harmed by their lifestyle choices.

Like others beholden to the far-Left, social media moguls don't want to admit that change is possible because it undermines the whole linchpin of their LGBT activist friends: that being gay or transgender isn't a choice. So, they ratchet up their misinformation machines, insisting that all counseling is torture. But, as survivors like Walt Heyer would tell you, the real torture is telling people who want help they can't have it.

If these bans "were in place back in the 1990s, most likely I would have died from suicide," he's said of his life when he identified as a woman. Were it not for the access he had to two Christian psychotherapists who helped him walk away from his identity as Laura Jensen, he might not be here today. And while SOCE therapy isn't a "magic switch," by any means, people have had tremendous success freeing themselves from the sexual bondage and attractions that gripped their lives. To rip that hope out of their hands isn't "tolerance," it's cruelty.

Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) who's seen this kind of censorship take hold at Amazon and in other corporate board rooms, has warned:

"We don't want to start having a society where, on controversial issues, people will only have access to one viewpoint... That's what's made America different than others. [SOCE may be] an emotional topic, but we need to have more information out there for people so they can make decisions... We have to remember these are individuals... And if people are struggling with something so personal, and they want more information, they should have access potential help... To just to have one group say, 'No, our way is the only way, and we're not going to let any other American hear about another alternative way to think about a condition or a subject' -- that's what we've seen in other countries in the past, and that's a scary place to go."

There's also a great irony in the fact that Facebook, the place where you can choose from more than 50 gender identities, doesn't embrace people's same autonomy when it comes to sexual orientation. "It's outrageous," Peter insisted, that companies would even be considering silencing the viewpoints of people who only want to "help people reach the goals they voluntarily choose for themselves when it comes to their sexuality. Media organizations should resist the increasingly totalitarian demands of LGBT activists that they censor all opposing viewpoints. Neither democracy nor science can thrive without a free exchange of ideas."

Hagia Sophia: From Ancient Church to Mosque

July 13, 2020

On July 10, a Turkish court announced its decision to permit President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's regime to convert the ancient Christian church Hagia Sophia -- the Church of the Holy Wisdom -- into a mosque. An outcry from around the world greeted the news. But within an hour, Erdogan signed an official declaration, stating that the conversion of Hagia Sophia to a Muslim place of worship is a fait accompli.

The revered Christian historical site has served as a museum since the overthrow of the Ottoman Empire following WWI, and the subsequent secular Turkish presidency of Kemal Ataturk. The magnificent building -- an architectural marvel -- contains some of the most beautiful Christian frescos and mosaics in the world (including the one above). Hagia Sophia remains the most popular tourist site in Turkey and is regularly visited by millions of Christian pilgrims.

The existing church, located in the heart of Istanbul, is a truly sacred space for Christians worldwide. It stands intact as one the most ancient artifacts of early Christian history:

The first church was built at the same location where there had been a pagan temple before. It was Constantius II who inaugurated Hagia Sophia on 15 February 360. From the chronicles of Socrates of Constantinople, we know that the church was built by the orders of Constantine the Great.

That earliest church was torched during rioting; a second Hagia Sophia was inaugurated in 532. Again, violence led to the church's damage and destruction.

Today's Hagia Sophia was completed and inaugurated in by Emperor Justinian the Great in 537; the magnificent mosaics -- some of the finest in the world -- were completed later in the sixth century. It is for both historic and sacred reasons that voices are protesting the Islamization of the holy site.

On July 10, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) decried the declaration that the ancient church would be converted into a mosque. USCIRF Vice Chair Tony Perkins said:

USCIRF condemns the unequivocal politicization of the Hagia Sophia, an architectural wonder that has for so long stood as a cherished testament to a complex history and rich diversity. Both Christians and Muslims alike ascribe great cultural and spiritual importance to the Hagia Sophia, whose universal value to humankind was reaffirmed with its inclusion in the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List in 1985.

Just weeks ago, on May 29, Erdogan, an aggressive pan-Islamist, celebrated the fifteenth century conquest of Constantinople with festivities centered on Hagia Sophia. It was converted into a mosque when the Byzantine (Christian) army was defeated by the armies of Sultan Mehmed II of the Ottoman Empire on May 29, 1453.

Turkey's Hurriyet Daily News reported:

...The program was followed with the recitation of the 48th chapter of the Quran, surah Al-Fath...Erdogan expressed gratitude to all those who did not abandon Hagia Sophia, the heirloom of the conquest. He stressed it was important to remember the 567th anniversary with prayers and surah Al-Fath. Erdogan said he had dedicated his life to his beloved Istanbul and noted that if the city was somehow removed from Earth, world history would have to be rewritten. A presentation with the theme of the conquest of Istanbul was performed on a platform in front of the museum.

For years, Hagia Sophia has been a coveted trophy for Erdogan, who publicly cherishes neo-Ottoman sentiments. However, there are other complaints besides that of USCIRF. And now, another significant force may push back again Erdogan's decision -- Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putin proudly -- perhaps even pretentiously -- belongs to the Russian Orthodox church, and represents it globally. And Hagia Sophia has great significance to the Russian Orthodox world community. In fact, the most important Russian Orthodox voice in the world, Patriarch Kyrill, was quoted in The Moscow Times stating that he is "deeply concerned" by Turkey's moves, describing Hagia Sophia as "one of the greatest monuments of Christian culture..."

"A threat to Hagia Sophia is a threat to the whole of Christian civilization, and therefore to our spirituality and history," the Orthodox church leader said. "To this day, for every Russian Orthodox person, Hagia Sophia is a great Christian shrine," he said, urging the Turkish government to be cautious. He said that altering the current neutral status of the historic building would cause "deep pain" among the Russian people.

A Russian Orthodox publication reported on June 13, "Russian President Vladimir Putin recently had a telephone conversation with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during which the issue of converting Hagia Sophia into a mosque by a decision of the Turkish president was discussed.

"In particular, and according to a statement issued by the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin drew the attention of Recep Tayyip Erdogan to 'the significant social impact caused in Russia regarding the decision to change the status of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople.'" Earlier Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Vershinin had said, "You know that this issue has caused a public outcry in our country and beyond."

But to make matters worse, it seems that Erdogan isn't content with this latest Islamist move. The New Arab news site, along with the Jerusalem Post, reports that Turkey's president has also vowed to "liberate Al-Aqsa mosque" from Israel. He made this statement just moments after his controversial decision to transform the Hagia Sophia from a museum into a mosque was announced.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said (in Arabic), "The resurrection of Hagia Sophia is the footsteps of the will of Muslims across the world to come...the resurrection of Hagia Sophia is the reignition of the fire of hope of Muslims and all oppressed, wrong, downtrodden and exploited." An Arabic translation of the statement suggests Turkey's Hagia Sophia move is part of the "return of freedom to Al-Aqsa" from Israel.

The decision to Islamize Hagia Sophia, and Erdogan's subsequent declared "return to freedom" of Al Aqsa Mosque -- which stands in the heart of Jerusalem on the biblical Temple Mount -- expose even more starkly Erdogan's triumphalist pan-Islamist vision, as well as his loathing for Israel.

Will international reactions -- including Russian distress, Israeli dismay, and American disgust -- somehow lead to the rejection of Erdogan's fantasy of a neo-Ottoman Empire? Or will the world once again turn a blind eye to the Turkish strongman's insatiable ambitions? Time will tell.