I’ve told you about mantras I teach undergraduates. Here’s another one: “You can’t get anything done when fascists are sitting at the table of democratic politics.” A democratic community can tolerate a vast array of opinions. However, it cannot, and should not, tolerate opinions in which democratic politics is the problem. If it does, then nothing needing to get done gets done—and everyone suffers. Kaitlin Byrd put it another way: “Democrats are the entire spectrum of rational politics in this country. We don’t have a government, and we won’t, until we break the Republican Party.”
I think Byrd’s “spectrum of rational politics” is ideal for viewing the debate over “cancel culture.” This term is gaining traction thanks to Donald Trump’s lawyers accusing the House Democrats of “canceling” the former president’s constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech during his second impeachment trial. And like most people aligned with Trump, or most people seeing opportunities in that alignment, they pervert reality. Truth is, the sacking and looting of the United States Capitol, which Trump incited, was an attempt to cancel a free and fair democratic election. These fascists did not fight for principles. They fought against democratic politics itself. (Indeed, many of them longed for a United States purified by blood and violence.)
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