Bill Maher made an interesting point on his show last Friday, arguing that America’s obsession with political correctness is crippling its institutions, leaving the country hobbled in the geopolitical race with China. That’s an accurate assessment, one that also tasks the defenders of cultural sanity with resisting wokeness while not getting bogged down by trivialities at the cost of basic efficiency.
That’s an impossible balance to strike. Despite the left’s false but emergent narrative that conservatives are foolishly and disproportionately obsessed with the culture war, I’d contend the response is largely proportionate. That isn’t to say flashpoints like the fight over Dr. Seuss are never milked or depicted inaccurately by some. Of course they are.
But it’s clear that ignoring and conceding perceivably small battles like, for instance, six Dr. Seuss books or Mr. Potato Head is what empowers the left’s culture warriors to take control of everything. By dismissing flare-ups of insanity on college campuses or in the legacy media, leftists normalized their radical new standards before the public even saw it coming. It’s like the metaphor of the boiling frog. Death by a thousand cuts.
Standards are set in the small dust-ups. The legacy press covers them from the left, then corporations and government institutions respond to the pressure, sometimes convinced the cost-benefit analysis suggests it’s easier to roll over. But rolling over sets the standards, and the standards are unjust.
But those standards are also now the ones by which we’re forced to live, lest we face social and professional consequences for alleged bigotry. Bear in mind that workers without the financial means of a canceled celebrity or journalist are hurt most by those rigid strictures of cancel culture, forced to violate their consciences or suffer financial consequences for perceived transgressions.