Last night, we were treated to the ultimate debunking of cancel culture by Chris Hayes, the MSNBC host and thought leader who brought us “if it [the electoral college] wasn’t specifically in the Constitution for the presidency, it would be unconstitutional.” The Republican National Convention has put a heavy emphasis on thought-policing and outrage mobs over the course of its first two nights. Tiffany Trump declared that “our nation suffers by inhibiting our diversity of thought and inclusion of ideas” and worried aloud about how “many students find themselves suppressing their beliefs to fit into what the acceptable group think is.” In his widely lauded speech, Senator Tim Scott defiantly proclaimed that “We [Americans] don’t give in to cancel culture.”
Covington Catholic graduate Nicholas Sandmann — who was made into the villain du jour at the 2019 March for Life when he was falsely accused of harassing an elderly Native American veteran — addressed the RNC as a “survivor” of cancel culture, reminding voters that “if advancing their [the media’s] narrative ruined the reputation and future of a teenager from Covington, Kentucky, well, so be it. That would teach him not to wear a MAGA hat.”
Chris Hayes however, seems to believe that he has exposed conservatives as inconsistent on the matter. Tweeting about the RNC’s decision to pull Mary Ann Mendoza from its Tuesday-night slate after she promoted the anti-Semitic “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” conspiracy theory on Twitter, he asked “will anyone on the right speak out against Mary Mendoza getting canceled for being Elders of Zion-curious? I genuinely don’t get why that’s OK, if you’re whole thing is Cancel Culture is Tyranny!”
Hayes has apparently either spent almost no time talking to people worried about cancel culture, or would simply prefer to argue with a strawman. No one is asking Hayes to accept his unfriendly neighborhood neo-Nazi. Opposing mob outrage is about protecting the Nick Sandmanns of the world and other innocents found in the wrong place, at the wrong time, by the wrong careless and opportunistic journalist. It’s about not allowing the Overton Window to be narrowed to the point where Civis Analytics, a progressive consulting firm, felt compelled to fire data analyst David Shor for tweeting out research showing that nonviolent means of protest tend to be more effectual than violent ones.
Hayes clearly believed that he had critics of cancel culture dead to rights somehow, but his argument said much more about his own laziness than those critics.