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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Shut up, they explained

Cancel culture -- "campaigns to get people fired, disinvited, deplatformed, or otherwise punished" for dissenting from orthodox views -- has eroded trust in higher education, writes Greg Lukianoff.

His new book, The Canceling of the American Mind, written with Rikki Schlott, provides more than 1,000 examples of professors targeted for cancellation, "with about two-thirds of them being punished in some way and almost 200 of them terminated or forced out of their jobs." That's double the toll of the McCarthy Era.

For example, Yoel Inbar, a famous professor, was turned down for a job at UCLA after students objected to his candidacy on grounds he'd criticized diversity, equity, and inclusion statements as compelled speech and empty ‘value signaling’.”

"DEI statements are not only compelled speech but also political litmus tests," writes Lukianoff. Inbar was right. But Inbar's opinion is as heretical as saying there are two biological sexes.

"Given how low viewpoint diversity is in many departments — practically nonexistent in many elite departments — it’s actually remarkable that there is anyone left to be canceled in higher education," he writes.

About two-thirds of cancellations come from the left, one third from the right, he estimates.

Cancel culture got its start on college campuses around 2014, and "spread out from universities to many other fields including journalism, medicine, psychotherapy, and even the hard sciences," writes Jon Haidt, who wrote the book's forward.

After the Oct. 7 terror attack on Israel, many university presidents made "tepid statements" about "the largest mass slaughter of Jews since the holocaust," then waited a few days "to see which way the wind was blowing," Haidt writes. "Their collective reticence stood in stark contrast to the speed with which so many had offered expressions of solidarity or shared grief whenever an election or court case went the 'wrong' way in the years since 2014." Some -- for the first time -- decided their institutions should be neutral on public issues.

Haidt doesn't think it's anti-semitism. He blames fear. Conformists need time to determine what views they're supposed to conform to.

Many students who declared they "stand with Palestine" were distressed to learn their stand might cost them job opportunities on Wall Street or with establishment law firms. (Why do anti-capitalists want these jobs?) What's a consensus on campus -- it's OK to rape, murder, mutilate and kidnap Jewish "settler-colonialists" -- is not yet the consensus everywhere.

Haidt and Lukianoff co-wrote a 2015 essay in The Atlantic, which became a 2018 book, both titled The Coddling of the American Mind. What Haidt calls structural stupidity is spreading.

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Oct 29, 2023

The best part of cancel culture is it will aid in the re-primitivization of society. Me, I'm old and know how to do things but the 20-somethings are likely to increasingly be like the Britons after Rome left.

All mankind’s progress has been achieved as a result of the initiative of a small minority that began to deviate from the ideas and customs of the majority until their example finally moved the others to accept the innovation themselves. To give the majority the right to dictate to the minority what it is to think, to read, and to do is to put a stop to progress once and for all. --Mises, Ludwig von (1927). Liberalism

We don't have the benefit…

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