Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan has called for a House Judiciary Committee hearing into something that is definitely real and, what’s more, a matter of urgent national concern: “cancel culture.”
Jordan made the request in a letter to the committee’s chair, Congressman Jerry Nadler, on Monday, emphasizing that “cancel culture is a dangerous phenomenon whether you agree or disagree with the views being censored.”
Jordan makes the usual references here: College campuses! Deplatforming! The liberal media! (On this last point, he specifically cites Black New York Times staff’s opposition to Senator Tom Cotton’s “Send in the Troops” op-ed.)
“If cancel culture continues unchallenged, it is not just the unpopular or controversial viewpoints that are at risk,” Jordan continued. “Every viewpoint and every idea—whether widely accepted now or not—runs the risk of eventually falling into disfavor with the ever-changing standards of cancel culture.”
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Conservatives have long pointed to so-called “cancel culture” to explain why their bigoted views are so often maligned, but it is only more recently that it has been elevated to become a central talking point for Republicans.
On day four of Trump’s Senate trial last month, for example, the former president’s attorneys chalked up his second impeachment to “constitutional cancel culture.” “History will record this shameful effort as a deliberate attempt by the Democrat Party to smear, censor and cancel, not just President Trump, but the 75 million Americans who voted for him,” Michael T. van der Veen, a member of Trump’s legal counsel, argued at the time.
Trump reportedly “loved” this turn of phrase, and he went on to invoke cancel culture during his speech at CPAC over the weekend. “For the next four years, the brave Republicans in this room will be at the heart of the effort to oppose the radical Democrats, the fake news media, and their toxic cancel culture,” Trump said on Sunday. “Something new to our ears, ‘cancel culture.’”
Appealing to cancel culture is just another way for Republicans to claim victimhood and argue that they’re the ones who are the most marginalized in society. Any minor consequence they face for their hateful rhetoric and ideology is a viscous attack and the worst thing that has ever happened to them, which in some cases is probably true.
Of course, there are subtle contours to the range of behaviors that get categorized as “cancel culture,” some of which are worth exploring. But not on Jim Jordan’s terms and certainly not in a House hearing.