150 Intellectuals, Writers, Artists, and Activists Signed an Open Letter against the Postmodern “Cancel Culture”


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“More troubling still, institutional leaders, in a spirit of panicked damage control, are delivering hasty and disproportionate punishments instead of considered reforms. Editors are fired for running controversial pieces; books are withdrawn for alleged inauthenticity; journalists are barred from writing on certain topics; professors are investigated for quoting works of literature in class; a researcher is fired for circulating a peer-reviewed academic study; and the heads of organizations are ousted for what are sometimes just clumsy mistakes. Whatever the arguments around each particular incident, the result has been to steadily narrow the boundaries of what can be said without the threat of reprisal. We are already paying the price in greater risk aversion among writers, artists, and journalists who fear for their livelihoods if they depart from the consensus, or even lack sufficient zeal in agreement.”

These are some of the most alarming concerns by around 150 activists, authors, public intellectuals and artists who signed an open-letter calling for an end to the “leftist cancel culture” which is leading the march to “ideological conformity”, enforcing censorship under the guise of “manner” and “being correct”. The people who supported and signed the letter includes the liberal icon and a major critic of American foreign policy, capitalist imperialism, corporate dominance and totalitarianism Mr. Noam Chomsk along with J.K. Rowling, Garry Kasparov, Fareed Zakaria, Salman Rushdie and even the known feminist Gloria Steinem.

This is good news to many people, especially to those who stand for free speech and the freedom to dissent; believing that it is important for people to speak and defend the truth especially in relation to his or her choices and outlook on life in general, politically or philosophically. It is really time people should cut out the controlling element of the so-called progressive ideology and stop its dominance on the culture to avoid a future of authoritarian uniformity, or also the monopoly of thought for citizens, to make sense of our diversity and instead, channel these “militancy”, criticality and being assertive into more open, non-dismissive, and constructive creativity in whatever forms for the community. Therefore, instead of canceling and banning speakers are important voices, according to the letter, society needs to be more open to dialogue and listening to each other’s concern rather than just assuming through prejudices, politics, and perceived identity of the other.

The tentacles of political correctness and “safe space politics” reach not only few, as many have mistakenly thought, tenets of the popular culture but the wider and deeper dimensions of this establishment, society or whatever you want to call it. For example, right now parents are also fighting against the “inappropriate”, as what they describe it, sex education that is being promoted in schools by the United Nations, with the help of Planned Parenthood, and of course, the education department of every country that adapts and implements this program. Apparently, it teaches children as young as four years old about sex, masturbation, pregnancy and abortion “without really emphasis on responsibility”. It’s called the Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE). Of course, for the parents this is a very complex and difficult issue to deal with especially for the children. And because of the strong influence of the postmodern PC culture on education, it becomes very challenging for parents to be heard and “left alone” with their children.

So because sexuality topics must involve gender topics, this is the reason why under the CSE program, teachers are also asked to teach (or indoctrinate or condition) young children gender issues, including transgenderism, and sometimes even their private sexual activities. This means explaining to children, making them “understand” (and then accept) that transgenderism with sex surgery and hormonal drug dependency, no matter how dangerous, are totally OK and worth spending their parent’s hard-earned money. Unfortunately, parents and even physicians who are against this idea are not only can be ostracized but also can be punished professionally, if “the right people” “find the right time”.         

In short, there is a big elephant in the room which, paradoxically, have been existing perhaps for more than 4 decades already. Many have fought against this skewed postmodern neo-Marxist ethos yet because of its strong foundation in the academics and the arts or the entertainment establishment, it’s still now bringing difficult impact to society. The political correctness and obsessive character of the left must stop or else, we will have future generations that are full of weak and vulnerable individuals that are also can be easily manipulated using words and lexicons of irrational sensitivity.

Anyway, here is the full text of the open letter:

Our cultural institutions are facing a moment of trial. Powerful protests for racial and social justice are leading to overdue demands for police reform, along with wider calls for greater equality and inclusion across our society, not least in higher education, journalism, philanthropy, and the arts. But this needed reckoning has also intensified a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments that tend to weaken our norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favor of ideological conformity. As we applaud the first development, we also raise our voices against the second. The forces of illiberalism are gaining strength throughout the world and have a powerful ally in Donald Trump, who represents a real threat to democracy. But resistance must not be allowed to harden into its own brand of dogma or coercion—which right-wing demagogues are already exploiting. The democratic inclusion we want can be achieved only if we speak out against the intolerant climate that has set in on all sides.

The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted. While we have come to expect this on the radical right, censoriousness is also spreading more widely in our culture: an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the 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. More troubling still, institutional leaders, in a spirit of panicked damage control, are delivering hasty and disproportionate punishments instead of considered reforms. Editors are fired for running controversial pieces; books are withdrawn for alleged inauthenticity; journalists are barred from writing on certain topics; professors are investigated for quoting works of literature in class; a researcher is fired for circulating a peer-reviewed academic study; and the heads of organizations are ousted for what are sometimes just clumsy mistakes. Whatever the arguments around each particular incident, the result has been to steadily narrow the boundaries of what can be said without the threat of reprisal. We are already paying the price in greater risk aversion among writers, artists, and journalists who fear for their livelihoods if they depart from the consensus, or even lack sufficient zeal in agreement.

This stifling atmosphere will ultimately harm the most vital causes of our time. The restriction of debate, whether by a repressive government or an intolerant society, invariably hurts those who lack power and makes everyone less capable of democratic participation. The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away. We refuse any false choice between justice and freedom, which cannot exist without each other. As writers we need a culture that leaves us room for experimentation, risk taking, and even mistakes. We need to preserve the possibility of good-faith disagreement without dire professional consequences. If we won’t defend the very thing on which our work depends, we shouldn’t expect the public or the state to defend it for us.

Sources:

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