Koppel Exposes Danger of Cancel Culture: ‘Social Weapon’ for ‘Political Warfare’

While many in the liberal media would either deny the existence of cancel culture or preach its perverse virtue, famous journalist Ted Koppel submitted a fairly balanced piece for CBS Sunday Morning that called out how many used cancel culture as a “social weapon” against their enemies in “political warfare.” In doing so, he discussed why it was used as a tool for many and why it was seen as a problem to many more.

Koppel started with one of the earliest examples of seeing someone “canceled” first hand in his career. It was former L.A. Dodgers Vice President Al Campanis, who appeared on Nightline with Koppel in 1987 and said blacks didn’t have what it took to be managers in Major League Baseball. “Two days later, he was fired. We might say he was canceled,” Koppel quipped.

“Cancel culture, as it is called these days, is a social weapon that has served the outrage of both the left and the right,” Koppel said while playing clips of The View co-host Sunny Hostin and OAN host Pearson Sharp. His next example of someone getting canceled was former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who launched a campaign to have players kneel during the national anthem to protest police.

Proclaiming that “the term ‘cancel culture’ has become the Swiss army knife of political warfare,” Koppel played a montage of left and right-leaning hosts and pundits decrying the act and pointed out how ridiculous it had gotten:

Like those members of the San Francisco board of education who approved a plan to change the names of 44 schools linked to historical racism or oppression. Among those schools, until public outrage caused the board to suspend its plan, was one named after President Lincoln.

 

 

“Those who lose their jobs or reputations to the quick judgment of cancel culture see a national retribution campaign spinning out of control,” he noted. Koppel went on to speak with Bard College President Leon Botstein, who had been condemning cancel culture way back when it was called political correctness.

“This is not a new problem. What is new is the medium,” Botstein told him. And according to him, cancel culture was worse because social media turned it into an “avalanche” of punishment and “retribution” with no “dialogue” or learning. “Social media is like an accelerant to an arson. Everything moves rapidly and out of control.”

The greatest condemnation of cancel culture came from columnist Andrew Sullivan, who had been “canceled a million times” according to him and was recently canceled by his colleagues at New York magazine.

In a very long part of the report, Sullivan explained that cancel culture was a type of “puritanism” that would have people believe the worst misinformation about America and its people (click “expand”):

SULLIVAN: America has always had these spasms of bullying, of social intimidation, of trying to suppress, from Salem through the blacklist, it goes way back, and this is just another bout of this puritanism which I hope at some point will end. This country is an amazing experiment in openness and diversity, generating more mutual understanding.

KOPPEL: Used to be?

SULLIVAN: No. It’s more than it has ever been. You go anywhere else in the world – anywhere else in the world and find a country as diverse and as tolerant as this one. You try. You think China doesn’t have unbelievable levels, unspeakable racism and sexism in it?

Koppel also spoke to radical leftist and YouTuber Carlos Maza, who gleefully touted his use of cancel culture as a cudgel against his enemies. “I would hope that for as long as I live, racists and transphobes think of me as a bad guy,” he told Koppel. Maza suggested he did what he did to protect gay students from teachers.

“The left is moving towards a deliberate reengineering of our society along identity-based lines. You’re not all white supremacists. These are extremist views,” Sullivan explained to Koppel. “The idea that there’s no difference between men and women, that biological sex does not exist. I mean this stuff is insane.”

Providing some pushback, Koppel noted that those like Maza see cancel culture as a way to wrestle some power for themselves. Sullivan noted that they were just using it “to oppress others” (Click “expand”):

KOPPEL: But to those who say, Andrew, look, for all of the generations that we, women, we, trans, we, blacks, have been oppressed in this country, we finally have the wherewithal —

SULLIVAN: To oppress others?

KOPPEL: We finally have the wherewithal to administer some leverage of our own. What is your answer?

SULLIVAN: I think some of it is motivated by a kind of inverse racism and sexism that wants some kind of payback. Yes, I do believe some of that is part of phycology.

KOPPEL: And what’s the natural evolution of that? Where does it go?

SULLIVAN: I hope people can understand that you don’t make a right by just repeating the wrong.

“More than half the registered voters surveyed in a recent Harvard-Harris poll, 64 percent saw their freedom threatened by a growing cancel culture,” Koppel noted near the end of his segment. But he also seemed to hint that opposition to cancel culture was race-based. “And then there is this: In less than 25 years, white Americans will be a minority.”

Adding: “While the national conversation seems focused on culture icons and the randomness and often silliness of who and what gets canceled, the issues at stake are about real political power. Who gains and who loses” He even seemed to pick on Senator Ted Crux (R-TX), who is Cuban-American, for being opposed to it.

The transcript is below, click “expand” to read:

CBS Sunday Morning
May 2, 2021
10:06:30 a.m. Eastern

JANE PAULEY: Cancel culture is the most recent label for a free-speech debate that has been going on for a very long time. As senior contributor Ted Koppel remembers all too well.

[Cuts to video]

TED KOPPEL: This is Nightline.

In 1987, Al Campanis, a vice president of the L.A. Dodgers, appeared on Nightline and made some deeply offensive remarks about why there weren’t more black managers in baseball.

AL CAMPANIS: No, I don’t believe it is prejudices. I truly believe that they may not some of the necessities.

KOPPEL: Two days later, he was fired. We might say he was canceled.

(…)

KOPPEL: Cancel culture, as it is called these days, is a social weapon that has served the outrage of both the left —

SUNNY HOSTIN: When you cross that kind of societal norm, you must pay the consequence.

KOPPEL: — And the right.

PEARSON SHARP (OANN): Don’t support Major League Baseball whose players actually kneel for the national anthem.

KOPPEL: In 2016, 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem to protest police violence against blacks.

COLIN KAEPERNICK: I’m going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed. This is something that has to change.

Believe in something –

KOPPEL: Canceled?

KAEPERNICK: — even if it means sacrificing everything.

KOPPEL: He never played professional football again.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY: If you can’t apologize and be forgiven, what do they need to do, what are the next steps? Is it public flogging?

KOPPEL: Nowadays, the term “cancel culture” has become the Swiss army knife of political warfare.

ALI VELSHI: The two stupidest words put together: cancel culture.

BILL MAHER: Cancel culture is real, it’s insane, and it’s growing exponentially.

(…)

KOPPEL: They? You know, the left, the squad, the woke crowd.

LAURA INGRAHAM: Liberals successfully purged almost all conservatives from academia, the entertainment industry, and journalism.

KOPPEL: Like those members of the San Francisco board of education who approved a plan to change the names of 44 schools linked to historical racism or oppression. Among those schools, until public outrage caused the board to suspend its plan, was one named after President Lincoln.

JIMMY KIMMEL: This is how Trump gets re-elected, cancel Dr. Seuss, cancel Abe Lincoln, melt down Mr. Potato head’s private parts. This is his path to victory the next time around.

KOPPEL: Controversial? You bet. But listen to Perry Bacon Jr., a senior writer for the website FiveThirtyEight.

PERRY BACON JR. We are undergoing an incredibly important re-examination of who our heroes are and should be. And I think that is not a fake issue at all. I can’t think of anything more important.

KOPPEL: You realize, of course, that that leaves you wide open to the argument that we are applying 21st-century values to 18th-century people?

BACON: I’m a black person in America. I’m pretty happy with some of the things Lincoln did, so I’m not opposed to that.

But I think, yes, we are seeing some of the most fundamental values our society questions: Capitalism, is America an exceptional country? Is America a great country? Is America a model for other countries? Have we treated Native Americans and black people so egregiously bad we’ve never been a true democracy?

So, when you see schools in San Francisco being renamed, I don’t think this is minor. I think we’re sort of really seeing, yes, yes, there are people on the left who absolutely want to re-evaluate the entire American history based on 2021 values, and, hell, yes, that’s controversial.

(…)

CARLOS MAZA: I would hope that for as long as I live, racists and transphobes think of me as a bad guy.

I started making videos because I wanted to teach people about rhetoric and propaganda while still being somewhat entertaining.

KOPPEL: YouTuber Carlos Maza wields his social influence with pride.

MAZA: Is that what you want, to become another reactionary YouTuber? No.

KOPPEL: Those who lose their jobs or reputations to the quick judgment of cancel culture see a national retribution campaign spinning out of control.

BEN SHAPIRO: Everyone will be canceled. Unless you’re on the full-on woke left, in which case you can say anything.

MAZA: If you organized your politics or ethics about how can we avoid Fox News’s horror stories, you’ll never do anything because there is no way to enact change in a multiracial democracy without there being some horror stories.

KOPPEL: 30 years ago, a strikingly similar issue carried a different label.

UNIDENTIFIED JOURNALIST: 1992 is the year of political correctness. Be sensitive or else.

KOPPEL: Political correctness, and Leon Botstein, the president of Bard College, joined me on Nightline to explain why so many teachers on campus were frightened by the phenomenon.

LEON BOTSTEIN: They’re scared because this is a populous intimidation. If it happens at all, within groups of faculty and groups of student where people simply don’t want to risk being either being vilified of popularity, or themselves are unwilling to have their own prejudices examined.

It is ironic that all of this call for diversity has created, within the university a kind of silence about a real exchange of points of view.

[Transition to present day]

This is not a new problem. What is new is the medium.

KOPPEL: 30 years on, Leon Botstein remains president at Bard College, and he recognizes the old symptoms.

BOTSTEIN: Cancel culture is much more focused on punishment. Social media is like an accelerant to an arson. Everything moves rapidly and out of control. So, the slightest spark creates an avalanche, if you will, of retribution. There’s no room for error, and the response is not to start a conversation or a dialogue, but to shut the person out in some way.

KOPPEL: That may be true, says Carlos Maza, but social media simply levels the playing field for the outliers, those like himself a few years back.

MAZA: So, if I were at a school, like I was in high school and had teachers calling kids fagots in classrooms, there was really nothing I could do. And if the alternative to that is that teachers are afraid of offending the gay kid in class, I’m okay with it. What you’re really describing is a power struggle between the marginalized and those who are in power.

ANDREW SULLIVAN: I’ve been canceled a million times. I’ll probably be canceled this afternoon by somebody somewhere. And in the end, you go through that process. And if you have something worthwhile to say, people will find you and listen to you.

KOPPEL: Columnist Andrew Sullivan reports recently experiencing just, when some of his colleagues at New York magazine declared themselves sufficiently uncomfortable with him, that he was, well, canceled.

SULLIVAN: America has always had these spasms of bullying, of social intimidation, of trying to suppress, from Salem through the blacklist, it goes way back, and this is just another bout of this puritanism which I hope at some point will end. This country is an amazing experiment in openness and diversity, generating more mutual understanding.

KOPPEL: Used to be?

SULLIVAN: No. It’s more than it has ever been. You go anywhere else in the world – anywhere else in the world and find a country as diverse and as tolerant as this one. You try. You think China doesn’t have unbelievable levels, unspeakable racism and sexism in it?

KOPPEL: Once at issue, and this is very much going to be a factor in our political process, is a changing power structure, reflecting a change in our national profile. [Images of Black Lives Matter]

SULLIVAN: The left is moving towards a deliberate reengineering of our society along identity-based lines. You’re not all white supremacists. These are extremist views. The idea that there’s no difference between men and women, that biological sex does not exist. I mean this stuff is insane.

KOPPEL: But to those who say, Andrew, look, for all of the generations that we, women, we, trans, we, blacks, have been oppressed in this country, we finally have the wherewithal —

SULLIVAN: To oppress others?

KOPPEL: We finally have the wherewithal to administer some leverage of our own. What is your answer?

SULLIVAN: I think some of it is motivated by a kind of inverse racism and sexism that wants some kind of payback. Yes, I do believe some of that is part of phycology.

KOPPEL: And what’s the natural evolution of that? Where does it go?

SULLIVAN: I hope people can understand that you don’t make a right by just repeating the wrong.

KOPPEL: Look, Andrew, you have always been a voice in the wilderness, but I think yours is a particularly lonely voice right now?

SULLIVAN: I know. I’m aware of it. So what?

BACON: To put it bluntly, white heterosexual men have a little less power to control the discourse and who are not those have a little more to control the discourse.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): I’m willing to bet 80 percent of the men named Karen voted for Joe Biden.

KOPPEL: Texas Senator Ted Cruz claims to have raised more than $125,000 in 24 hours signing and selling copies of Green Eggs and Ham, the Dr. Seuss classic which incidentally has not been canceled, at $60 a crack. The Senator says he is campaigning against the cancel culture mob.

CRUZ: Go woke, go broke.

KOPPEL: And there’s a huge receptive audience out there. More than half the registered voters surveyed in a recent Harvard-Harris poll, 64 percent saw their freedom threatened by a growing cancel culture. And then there is this: In less than 25 years, white Americans will be a minority.

The political future of the nation is undergoing a seismic shift. While the national conversation seems focused on culture icons and the randomness and often silliness of who and what gets canceled, the issues at stake are about real political power. Who gains and who loses.

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