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Don’t Feed the Fire

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Beth J. Harpaz

Cancel culture is exploding across the country, with predictably disastrous effects. First, the statues of the Confederacy started coming down. Even among those who declared this to be justified and overdue, voices warned that it wouldn’t stop there if “removal by riot” were to become the modus operandi.


In fact, it did not stop there. In the aftermath of the George Floyd and Raychard Brooks protests, riots and civil unrest, other monuments have come under attack in cities across the country including statues of U.S. Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ulysses S. Grant and Theodore Roosevelt; national anthem author Francis Scott Key; explorer Christopher Columbus; and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (who legitimately battled fascism). Vandals have also defaced or destroyed memorials of slavery abolitionists, fallen World War I and World War II soldiers, Mahatma Gandhi, the Armenian genocide, America’s first responders and Black soldiers who died fighting in the Civil War.

The violence is senseless, ignorant and indiscriminate. The cries of the mobs have taken on the tone of a cult. It is heresy, blasphemy to point out any good these historical figures have done. (Grant led the Union Army to victory in the Civil War and, as president, aggressively went after the Ku Klux Klan. Roosevelt broke up monopolies and gave us the National Park System.) The subjects of statuaries are to be judged only by their sins.

Everything must now be viewed through the lens of the new proletariat uprising. Allegiance must be sworn to the new edicts. Homage must be paid to those declared martyrs. Loyalty oaths and purity tests are administered on social media. Those falling short are condemned and publicly shamed, the accouterments of their utterly ordinary lives (jobs, reputations, friends, pets) ripped away.


What is “falling short”? Asking for investigations before jumping to conclusions; pointing out the dangers of hysterical overreactions; and defending protests but condemning riots, violence, arson and general destruction of property. Even saying nothing has been twisted to be an offense: “Silence is violence,” meaning not “Defend principles of safety and equality for all” but “Admit your individual guilt and agree with our confiscatory and redistributionist revolutionary ideals as redress for what we’re now calling ‘systemic racism’ in order to hold you personally culpable.”

Does this ideological extremism describe everyone seeking police reform and equality for minorities in this country? Certainly not. But it does describe the most vocal, those whose views are dominating the 24/7 news cycle in the United States (and elsewhere).

These demands emanate not only from the left’s intelligentsia but also from the little insurrections in places like Seattle, Portland, New York City and Washington, D.C. Seattle, in particular, has shown us (yet again) what the radical left produces when it gets autonomy and control: warlords, violence, shootings and mob “justice.” 

In short, chaos.

The radical left is driving this bus. But more traditional Democrats have stood back and let the violence take place or been conspicuously silent about it. 

Some conservatives are only too happy to pile on. Talk-show host Jesse Kelly and author Ann Coulter have decided to hoist the left on its own purgative petard. They started with calling for Yale University to change its name, as its founder, Elihu Yale, was not only a slave owner, but a slave trader. Kelly tweeted about his glee when #CancelYale began trending. Conservatives on Twitter picked up the cue and ran with it, expanding to Harvard, Georgetown, Rice, Stanford, William & Mary and others.


Kelly and Coulter are being provocative to make a point; no doubt it’s amusing to witness “progressive” faculty members and alumni from these schools defend the "racist" roots of their cushy alma maters. (This same phenomenon is playing out by finding past incidents of blackface and the N-word uses by Hollywood scolds.)

But that assumes that the intellectuals supporting societal upheaval will somehow be in charge of it, and any student of revolution can tell you that’s not how it plays out; the high-minded who call for revolution in their salons quickly lose control to thugs with less delicate sensibilities who carry out the destruction and bloodshed that almost inevitably follows. 

There are Marxists who see the current unrest as their opportunity. They won’t sit back and say, "Hmm. Yale. Destroy a storied institution? No, we don't want that." They will happily -- HAPPILY -- see every college, building, statue and institution in America destroyed. That’s what they want.

Do we really want our universities burned to the ground to make a “gotcha” point? 

The answer had better be no. Because it won't stop there. It will spread to every school, every business, every hospital or charitable organization founded or supported by anyone who has ever been successful. There’s not a person, alive or dead, who can survive this kind of condemnatory dog pile, especially once it becomes a political tit for tat.

A quote attributed to George Washington compares government to fire: “a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” But what we’re staring down isn’t government; it’s anarchy. And it isn’t just fire; it’s wildfire. Those who pour gasoline on it for their own amusement cannot be shocked when it turns and consumes them, too.


We have to put out the fires, not feed them. Once the situation has calmed down, then we should aggressively try to weed out those in every industry who spread ignorance and promote destruction. We do that not with violence but with our voices, our votes -- and our money. Stand up for our founding principles; call out and vote out those who don’t. And, most importantly, stop funding them.

If we lack the fortitude to do that, if we think the wildfire will do it for us, then we have very little chance of surviving what’s coming next.

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