When I was in college, I took an archaeology class. I remember the class for two reasons; one, because the teacher didn’t like me, and two, because I enjoyed learning about other cultures. I found the early Egyptian civilization to be especially interesting. To this day, I remember the definition of culture that we were taught in class. It is the way of life of a group of people at a certain time. It concerns me that today people want to cancel culture, for we risk canceling out history.
Through triumphs and tragedies, our past hands us valuable lessons from which we can learn. To discover the past doesn’t mean that you accept the behaviors of the people. For example, wife selling, in the form of auctions, happened in the 18th and 19th centuries. This event enabled men to end unhappy marriages. Obviously, most people are morally opposed to the horrid practice. However, I believe we should learn about it, rather than deny its existence, to grasp what life was genuinely like for those who lived during that period. To acknowledge that a negative practice existed does not mean that it is supported; rather, it provides a deeper understanding of why it should not be done.
There are several connotations for the term cancel culture. Popularly, it is a form of erasing events in history or the public shaming of someone for something perceived or substantiated to be offensive. The Confederate flag, created in 1861 when 11 states seceded from the nation, was used by the South during the Civil War. Though it was never the official flag, its use today is controversial. National Geographic shares, “…the battle flag has since been claimed by white supremacists and mythologized by others as an emblem of a rebellious southern heritage.” Because of Confederate views on slavery during the war, the battle flag is now alleged to be a hate symbol. Yet, some decent Americans genuinely associate the flag with their southern heritage and disassociate it as a symbol of slavery. Having the freedom to choose what flag to fly is the American way. However, cancel culture says ban the Confederate flag. It does not offer choice; instead, it fosters censorship as a form of suppression. Furthermore, cancel culture seeks to ostracize people in society who disagree. Both censorship and ostracism for believing something different are enemies of a free society.
Recently, several of Dr. Seuss’ books have become the latest on the cancel culture chopping block, as they are said to portray some people, mainly people of color, insensitively. One to no longer be published is the well-known book, “And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street.” Dr. Seuss Enterprises, responsible for the publishing, says its decision to no longer publish six of Seuss’s books seeks to be fair. They also claim the desire to protect the author’s image. Currently, some accusers are stepping forward with claims that Seuss was a racist, purporting that a white supremacist culture shaped him. Now they seek to ban all his works. However, others have praised Seuss, including President Obama, for messages of inclusion. Many also credit the children’s author for encouraging children to read. However, restricting access to books leads to wider questions. Should books be banned in America, or should people have the freedom to decide what to read? Believe a ban can’t happen? eBay just removed all Dr. Seuss books, which are deemed offensive. What is to prevent other works from being prohibited or authors ostracized? And is your favorite television show or radio station next?
Dr. Ben Carson, an American retired neurosurgeon, author, and politician who served as the 17th United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 2017 to 2021, minces no words by describing the canceling of Dr. Seuss as ‘poison in our system.’ On a March 4th appearance on Fox News, the former HUD secretary states that it’s time for us to recognize America as a beacon of liberty. Carson argues that the Dr. Seuss book banning is not a political issue. Rather, he emphasizes, it’s about freedom in America and the type of country we want to leave for future generations. Regarding our youth, he asks, “Will they have a country where they can grow up and be free, and where they can live up to their potential? Or will they have somebody trying to control everything in their lives, including what they can say and cannot say?”
One of the main reasons people love America is for the freedoms we enjoy as set forth by our Founding Fathers. As blessed inheritors of liberty, we generally possess the power to act, speak, and think freely, mainly without constraint. It is the opposite of being encumbered or imprisoned by rules. And it is the inverse of countries like China who suppress and control their citizens. In America, we currently have the freedom to read the books we want, follow the religions we choose, pick our own careers, embrace different philosophies on life, and so forth. One of the main fears over the cancel culture movement is its influence on the government. Could cancel culture lead to the development of laws and restrictions aimed at eroding our civil liberties, thus seizing control over us? To me, that is a scary thought indeed!
Fox News interview March 4, Dr. Carson
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