Old films and series are deleted from the archives, statues are overthrown, speakers and lecturers are unloaded, and in the media and business people are dismissed who represent positions that are perceived as wrong and that violate the holy trinity of equality, diversity and inclusion. All this is now summarized under the English term “Cancel Culture”, which is very difficult to translate into German. Proponents speak of a” court of public reason”, opponents of the rule of a self-righteous mob that communicates above all via Shitstorms on Twitter. The aim of” Cancel Culture " is the systematic boycott, banishment and cancellation of works and persons from public life. An anti-Enlightenment that cultivates intolerance in the name of tolerance, a people’s Court of political correctness. In the USA, “Cancel Culture” is already ubiquitous and in Germany, too, alarming trends are noticeable.
At the latest since the murder of the African American George Floyd, the fight against racism in the USA is understood as the fundamental principle of ethical action. Of course, this is mainly about cultural and ideological issues, which tend to be on the abstract level. There is no room for socio-economic approaches. It’s about black and white and not about up and down, rich and poor. The perpetrator is the white man, privileged because of his skin color, and especially the white man, privileged because of his skin color and gender – whether he lives in a Penthouse on 5th Avenue or in the trailer park. The pillar of his power in this ideology is also not the anti - social system of the USA, which makes access to the education and health system and the influential positions in politics, media, culture and economy dependent on material origin, but the cultural hegemony of the white “race” and of course the patriarchy.
Blown away by the Shitstorm
According to this simplified and false, since superficial, derivation, the image of Anti-racism is of course also shifting. Then it is considered an anti-racist act to remove the eight-time Oscar-winning film classic “von Winde verweht” from the program. The Film is “full of racist prejudices”, according to the US cable television provider HBO. Of course he is. The film was made in 1939 and at that time the USA was a society characterized by racist prejudices. It should not be forgotten that the country, which wanted to expel racism and teach democracy to the Germans after the Second World War by means of re-Education, itself practiced strict racial segregation until the 1960s, in which African Americans de facto had no right to vote. This past is not improved by banishing contemporary documents of this ideology and thus wiping them out of consciousness.
HBO’s decision was a direct response to an opinion article by African-American author and director John Ridley in the Los Angeles Times, which was picked up by numerous Twitter users for a Shitstorm against HBO. HBO caved in and took the film out of the archive, sparking an international debate as to whether censorship was now going too far for reasons of political correctness. In the end, HBO discontinued the Film – now with a foreword by an African-American historian.
The deletion of” Gone With the wind " is only the tip of a partly grotesque series of censorship and self-censorship in the name of Anti-racism. For example, the BBC recently deleted the famous “Dont mention the war"Episode of the British Comedy series “Fawlty Towers” from its archives-allegedly John Cleese’s subversive Satire was an insult to Germans. This is grotesque, as Cleese makes fun of British people in this Episode who were attached to old stereotypes from the Second World War.
Who does not sail in the politically correct Mainstream, loses his Job
However, " Cancel Culture “goes far beyond the deletion of supposedly” evil " historical documents. It is also aimed at removing “evil” persons from public life. One such” evil " Person, for example, is the author and Journalist Ian Buruma. As editor of the New York Review of Books, he had dared to publish an Essay by Canadian talk show host Jian Ghomeshi, who was then accused of five counts of sexual assault. All hell broke loose in the form of a Twitter shitstorm about Buruma and his employer, who felt compelled to dismiss Buruma without notice-contrary to editorial practice, he had only submitted the article to a male editor in the editorial process.
His Job also lost Stan Wischnowski. As senior editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer, he was responsible for an article entitled “Buildings matter, Too” criticizing the Black Lives Matter riots. This headline sparked a Twitter Shitstorm, before which the Inquirer caved in; a fate that the famous New York Times was to meet a few days later. There, the head of opinion James Bennett was responsible for an op-ed commentary by Republican Senator Tom Cotton, in which Cotton campaigned under the heading “Send in the troops” for the use of the military against violent Black Lives Matter protesters. Here, too, followed a Shitstorm, here too, the paper was forced to separate itself from the responsible editor, here, too, there were no substantive but formal reasons – Bennett had violated the editorial guidelines.
This is downright grotesque in this case, since the Op-Ed Format (short for “opposite the editorial page”) is a Format familiar from Anglo-American newspapers, in which Guest Authors by definition take a position that contradicts the editorial line. A small piece of opinion pluralism, but in times of “Cancel Culture” it is sacrificed to the angry Twitter Mob.
Racism is a taboo, wars do not break the fence
Bennett’s staff shows how mendacious and hypocritical this development is. Bennett succeeded Andrew Rosenthal as head of opinion, who held the office for nine years. Previously, Rosenthal was the senior editor at the New York Times, responsible for the reports of Times reporter Judith Miller, who in 2003 published the falsified “evidence” of Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction to the Times, thereby massively bringing about the Bush administration’s war on Iraq. Against criticism – as it came from Seymour Hersh, for example-Rosenthal took Miller offensively into protection.
Later, even the Times had to admit that it had brought Fake News, but the editor in charge, Rosenthal, was not fired, but promoted. He didn’t write anything politically incorrect, and Fake News, which triggered a war that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, apparently doesn’t have what it takes to interest the self-righteous Twitter community.
Selective outrage-Adidas and J. K. Rowling
Suffering, poverty and wars are no Problem for the Grail keepers of morality. On closer inspection, the claim to stand up against racism and for greater equality is also hypocritical and bigoted. For example, the Adidas group was forced to part with its long-time head of human resources Karen Parkin – it was all about “diversity”, Parkin – such critical voices from the group – did not do enough to enable colored employees to have a career. Whether this is so is not visible from the outside. However, it can be seen that the Adidas Group in particular cares a hell of a lot about coloured employees when it comes to supply chains. For example, the index of the online tool “fashion Checker” of Adidas AG is the worst score for the category wages, which guarantee the minimum subsistence level (engl. “Living Wage”), from. But what do privileged Millennials care about the living conditions of Africans and Asians?
On the other hand, it is a big Problem when a Person of public life is critical of the thesis that there is no “biological sex”. This taboo has hurt Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling and at the same time captured the hatred of the Twitter community. The online platform “Medium”documented the “dialogue” between Rowling and the Twitter Mob in a gruesome compilation. If Rowling had not been the highest-circulation author of the present day, her publisher would certainly have already parted ways with her.
“Cancel Culture” has nothing to do with a constructive dialogue or even a debate about the exchange of arguments. The aim is rather to silence people by means of defamation and personal attacks on so-called Shitstorms. And here, above all, the threat to material existence hovers in space. Not everyone, like J. K. Rowling, has the luxury of being economically independent. For example, if you have been “cancelled” as a normal editor, it is difficult to get a new Job. In practice, “Cancel Culture” becomes a kind of “professional ban” for dissenters. But it usually does not get that far. The latent fear of being the victim of a Twitter mob shitstorm leads to what is called “scissors in the head”. Anyone who is critical of the Black Lives Matter riots, for example, or who actually takes the politically incorrect Position that trans women are not “real” women in the biological sense, should keep this a secret – at least if he works for a left-wing or liberal Medium, because paradoxically these are the only addressees of “Cancel Culture”.
And here at the latest it becomes completely absurd. Conservative and right-wing media, of course, are hardly interested in possible Shitstorms of self-righteous, usually left-wing, Twitter outrage. On The Contrary. While voices on the left of the centre cut themselves intellectually through the scissors in the head, voices on the right of the centre can take up the criticism and use it for themselves. We see something quite similar in Germany, where the left would prefer to silence critical nuances from its own ranks during the migration debate, for example, and thus leave the field to the political right, which naturally welcomes this self-censorship of the left.
“Cancel Culture” reaches Germany
Although” Cancel Culture " is an Anglo-American phenomenon, it is also spreading more and more in Germany. Examples are the lecture hall protests against the former AfD politician Bernd Lucke and the Prevention of the book presentation of the former federal minister of the Interior Thomas de Maiziere. The excited debate about The “Coburger Mohr” and the hyperventilating universal criticism of anyone who even dares to deviate from the greatest possible scaremongering about Corona can also be seen in this context. In Germany, too, a group of “left-wing identitarians” has appointed themselves judges of ethics and morality, who celebrate their own ethical-moral magnificence via the people’s Court Twitter and want to destroy everything and everyone who disagrees with the content.
A prime example of German " Cancel Culture “was also the last episode of the actually critical ZDF broadcast” Die Anstalt”, in which Karl Marx and Hannah Arendt, among others, were depicted as racists with out of context quotes and were metaphorically pushed off the pedestal as monuments. This is an abridged criticism that does not even lay claim to an argumentative dialogue. This is about systematic boycotting, banishment and cancellation – opposing votes are undesirable.
How do you convince dissenters? By banishing from public life anyone who represents a supposedly incorrect Position on one point? By working with a Mob to make sure he loses his Job and no one wants to be seen in public with him anymore? How about starting to debate with arguments instead, listening to the other person and accepting the widest possible range of opinions in the debate? But this is probably too much to ask, since in an open exchange of arguments, totalitarian views rarely win. In Germany, we should be careful. After all, there was once a movement that wanted to eradicate unpleasant thoughts and arguments from public space – it did not call itself “Cancel Culture”, but book burning. However, there is also hope. In the USA, the motherland of “Cancel Culture”, 150 intellectuals, including Noam Chomsky, J. K. Rowling and Salman Rushdie wrote an open letter against “Cancel Culture” -this call for dialogue was acknowledged by another Twitter mob Shitstorm, which already forced two signatories to withdraw their signatures. Although I doubt if there was ever an open dialogue.