Cancel culture appears in the news almost every day, and for good reason. But cultural commentator Ken Fish says this is more than just a hot topic; this trend is now endangering the very fabric of American life and the values we hold dear.
Fish says the cancel culture movement "came to a rolling boil—and I might even say boiled over—during the last election cycle. And I think it's an extension of the wider outrage that people are feeling and expressing toward injustices that have happened through the years and have never been adequately addressed.
"But I think it's a real mistake to try to, as they say, 'cancel culture,'" he says. "The very language, of course, suggests that we're going to get out a big eraser, almost like we're working on a whiteboard, and just erase everything that's already been done."
Fish says when people talk about canceling culture, they're trying to tear down the foundations of our American society, one that has been admired, even sought after, by people all over the world.
This is not to deny its problems, Fish says, "but the fact remains that from all over the world, people want to come to this country, because in fact, it's better than everywhere else in the world. And I'm not saying that because I'm trying to defend what is now thrown under the bus as American exceptionalism, but because it's true. We wouldn't have a border crisis right now if it weren't for the fact that millions of people who live south of the Rio Grande River look at the United States and say, 'There's more opportunity there; I will have a better life there; my children can get an education there.'"
People look at those realities and decide, "I'm willing to take a risk to come to America," Fish says. "And by the way, millions of other immigrants did that in decades and centuries gone by. In those earlier times, they may not have come from Latin America; they may have come from Eastern Europe, at times from Western Europe. But America is a nation of immigrants because America has always been a land of opportunity. And part of what makes it a place of opportunity is the fact that we have attempted, albeit imperfectly, to create opportunities for everybody."
Saying we want to cancel this culture, Fish says, "is to say we want to destroy all the opportunity that has historically drawn hundreds of millions of people to the United States of America.
"I don't want to cancel that culture," he adds. He also points out the significant role capitalism has played in America's position as a land of opportunity, citing a book by the late economist Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom, which explains that "true political freedom arises from capitalism, because it gives people the ability to determine their own economic outcome."
But this idea didn't originate with Friedman, Fish says. "Benjamin Franklin once said that a government that is big enough to grant you everything you want is also big enough to take everything you have," he says. "Ronald Reagan co-opted that line. ... And so this idea is as old as America, and it's one of the reasons that capitalism is inextricably bound up with Americanism."
Of course, "capitalism left unchecked is a dangerous thing, just like communism or socialism left unchecked is a dangerous thing," Fish says. "But it remains true, and America is living proof of it ... that capitalism gives us more freedom than any other economic system. So we certainly don't want to tear it down in favor of some alternate culture."
But the roots of America go much deeper than a mere ideology, he adds. Fish says what we have in our country, despite its problems, "is a better way to live because God's vision ultimately is that every man should sit under his own vine and fig tree. ... God wants us to be able to control our own economic destiny, under Him, not unto ourselves, but underneath His guidance."
And these biblical roots mean that "if we cancel culture, we're taking away a society that's grounded in and founded upon Christian principles," Fish says.
"And so when we talk about cancel culture, we're not just dealing with all of the capitalism and the other things that I was mentioning; we are actually talking about destroying Christianity," he says, citing last summer's riots in Portland, Oregon, where videos showed Bibles being burned.
"How is this any different from the very pictures that outraged us when we saw Hitler's burning of books in the 1930s, just before the Second World War?" Fish asks. "What we now see is an effort to erase the very foundations of what has created a society that has been more just and more fair than any in history. And we know what book burning leads to; it always leads to oppression and repression. It was true under the Spanish Inquisition, in the Middle Ages; it was true under Hitler; and it was also true under Stalin and Pol Pot and Mao Zedong. Every single dictator in history wants to do exactly this, and this is why cancel culture is dangerous."
For much more from Ken Fish on cancel culture and how it threatens not only our values but our way of life, listen to this entire episode of the Strang Report podcast here, and be sure to subscribe to the Strang Report on Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast platform.
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