Cancel culture at its best
The term “cancel culture” originally referred to left-wing efforts to silence anyone or any thing that failed to stand for political correctness. Speakers got cancelled, entertainers got cancelled, statues got vandalized or torn down. More recently, it has become just as applicable to right-wing activity, as in the whole brouhaha about Critical Race Theory (link) and the books some folk object to in school libraries.
Here, Madison McGee, in BuzzFeed, champions the original effort. She sets forth nearly a dozen names that, in her view, need cancelled. She begins with Woodrow Wilson.
“Safe to say that any school named after President Woodrow Wilson should be renamed. Wilson was originally honored for his role in negotiating peace during World War I, but also held incredibly racist beliefs. During his time as president, Wilson re-segregated government agencies, including the US Treasury, that had been desegregated since Reconstruction. He also openly supported the Ku Klux Klan.
“In 2020, Princeton University removed Wilson’s name from a residence hall and the university’s school for public and international affairs, following years of student protests. A 2019 study shows that there were 51 public schools in the United States named after Wilson, with several of them actively seeking out a name change.”
The whole person
No human being; in fact, no sentient creature; is one-dimensional. Every one of us has multiple facets, some better or more beautiful than others. As Martin Luther said (Himself being one example.), every child of God is at once and always both saint and sinner. There is no escaping that in this life.
An effort to reduce Woodrow Wilson, or anyone else for that matter, to a single dimension, and then judge him based on that one dimension — results in a serious diminution of his humanity, humanity in general, and the humanity of the person who makes such an effort.
This is one reason why, as I’ll mention again below, I’ve never been prone to look up to statues.
Practical ramifications for here and now
The other day, I heard someone reiterate that, apparently, in Baltimore there are no statues of black people. They’re all of white people. On the one hand, that gave me a jolt.
On the other hand, I have never, ever, been one to sit before a statue and ponder the person portrayed and dwell in admiration of that person and wish to become like him or her. All his or her deeds are past. I have my own life to live today, my own course to determine for myself, my own heroism to display. I have no need of past heroes or villains.
And all this only becomes the more so, for me, as I seek to live a Recovery life, keeping my attention present to the here-and-now, “Keeping the focus on you.”
Does anyone really look at a mountain, and ponder the racism of the person it’s named after, and choose to want to emulate it?
In all the questions people face from day to day, I doubt that the names McGee complains of have any practical effect.
Will I indict a whole subculture?
BuzzFeed is also the source of the infamous 2015 video, 33 Questions White People Have For White People – YouTube, wherein a bunch of college-age people posed a series of triggering questions, from a posture of mocking the folk who would be triggered. All in 3 minutes, 15 seconds. Not much time for any serious discussion, if they were interested; their smirks indicated they weren’t. The whole was an exercise in virtue signaling and presumptions of moral superiority.
“Wise fools” — that’s what sophomores are; and year after year, the cosmos produces a new batch. These are the folk who subscribe to BuzzFeed, all into the trendy, the fashionable, the shallow; the BuzzFeed main page effectively screams as much. A few years earlier, they would have been reading Tiger Beat. They may or may not grow out of it. Perhaps progressives are those who don’t.
More people to love
Amazing as it may be, I have never in my life till now ask how I will relate to such people. The mention of the statues the other day occurred in the context of a conversation in which several people were saying things with which I vehemently disagree. And I prayed on it. Difficult as it may be to dismiss the disagreements, and dismiss or otherwise deal with the negativity such persons may pose; at bottom, my need is to love these people.
And Madison McGee, and her ilk, are merely more people to love.