Opinion | Cancel canceling ‘cancel culture’

Cancel culture doesn’t exist if the party claiming they’re victims of it are in the White House.


Peyton Downing, Opinions Editor

During the Republican National Convention, I expected the usual tirade of Republican talking points — immigration, out-sourcing jobs, trade wars, and do-nothing-Democrats. What I wasn’t prepared for was the White House preparing for a war on responsibility.

At the convention, numerous speakers spoke out against “cancel culture,” this pervading narrative that if you say or do the wrong thing online, an endless tirade of hate and vitriol will be thrown your way. Not only that, but your very livelihood will be at stake — militant leftists online will find out every single facet of your personal information and release it online for others to find out your place of employment and have you fired.

Take Nicholas Sandmann for example — a conservative teen who went viral after a photo of him wearing a MAGA hat while smirking at Native American protestors made its rounds online.

He then later sued CNN for its coverage of his photo and the video it came from, claiming that the news corporation defamed him. CNN and Sandmann settled out of court.

Now, he was a speaker at the convention and was hired on republican senator Mitch McConnel’s campaign team.

This is who the Republicans hold up as a victim of cancel culture?

The narrative that conservatives are somehow having their free speech trampled on by mobs of leftists online is utterly absurd.

Tim Pool and Steven Crowder, two of the biggest political activists on YouTube, are hardline, perhaps even far-right, conservatives, netting millions of views monthly.

Both of them have taken shots at and complained about cancel culture. My only question is, who exactly is being canceled? What exactly are the consequences?

Every single time I have seen something like this happen, the person who is canceled always walks away better than before.

“Iowa Legend” Carson King had this happen to him last year. After the alleged “canceling,” he walked away with public goodwill, a massive charity in his name, and absolutely no consequences.

It seems funny to me that anyone could think conservatives are the victims of cancel culture when they’re in control of the White House and the Senate. Why exactly is it that Tucker Carlson, who has the highest rated show in cable news, will lambast cancel culture so viciously?

“Cancel culture” is just a name for people who attempt to use public opinion to shape discourse and action. That is nothing new in history. Did the Allies “cancel” Nazi Germany during WWII? Did the United States “cancel” communists during the Cold War?

The funniest part about this resurgence of discourse surrounding cancel culture is that President Trump is actually a large proponent of it.

Recently, the president tweeted that his followers should not be purchasing Goodyear tires in response to a leaked photo from a training seminar that listed MAGA apparel as inappropriate.

It’s simply bizarre that someone can actively denounce and build a platform railing against an action, then turn around and proceed to do it themselves.

There’s nothing new about what’s going on — it’s just a new label used by conservatives to play victim when public opinion turns against them. “Canceling” is used by everyone, it’s just that some decide to deal with the accusation and leave it at that instead of using it as an excuse to ignore consequences of actions.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.