Food, Travel, Culture, News & Publishing, Politics & Public Policy

“Cancel culture” isn’t a new fad

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I read and hear a lot about “cancel culture,” Most recently, it came up in tweet conversations about the proposed boycott of GOYA foods after the company’s CEO said something nice about the President.

As far as I can tell, the term is a colloquialism turned political bone over which to fight. I see how politicians toss it into the ring and stand back, interjecting screams from time to time about its evils and why you should fear it, condemn it. I see how they compare people — citizens, constituents — to a “mob.”

I see how the ploy works, pitting fellow Americans further against one another — viciously so — not for those Americans’ own benefit, but for the politicians’ sake.

Unless I’m wrong — and please tell me if I am — the de facto definition for “cancel culture” is the idea of withdrawling support for, undermining, or even “defunding” a company, an organization, a person, an idea, a practice, a phrase, even a sculptural rendering of a person.

The goal is, in effect, to diminish that entity’s popularity, privilege, and financial stability.

Do I have that right?

If so, I wonder how this is any different than the strangely apolitical idea of the “power of the purse strings?” In other words, the act of putting your money — the greatest, most inherently capitalistic tool that any American has in their quivers — toward quashing something they find distasteful, disappointing, or unconscionable.

There’s an entire “street” in Washington DC — that begins and ends with the letter K — established so all its tenants can spend their days and nights asking our Representatives to fund this, or withhold funds from that.

Doesn’t it seem like, when they do it, it’s called governance, but when you do it, it’s labeled something less … palatable?

It seems to me that this is not a novel idea at all — giving your hard-fought earnings to things you’d like to affirm, and withholding them from entities you do not wish to support.

Everyone has a right to do that, and we already do, on all sides of the political landscape. Our purses — or wallets, or checkbooks, or ApplePay apps — are how we lobby our way through American life.

Naturally, “the power of the purse strings” isn’t nearly as sexy a rhetorical trick for politicians. The sounds-more-scary “cancel culture” rhetoric is far more effective and manipulative.

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