Senator Kevin Cramer seems confused. And perhaps he seeks to confuse others.
Recently, he wrote a letter to this paper chastising those who promote “cancel culture.” And, of course, he sees “the left” as singularly guilty. He wrote, "Cancel culture is spiraling out of control in the United States. Once treasured and protected American rights and ideals like freedom of speech, religion, capitalism, and the free marketplace of ideas are increasingly under siege."
Cancel culture, as you probably know, is the notion of attacking those who say or do something considered insensitive or wrong, perhaps sexist, racist, etc. Outrage leads to prominent people or companies suffering Twitter attacks or even firings or boycotts.
In one sense, Cramer is correct: sometimes cancel culture goes to extremes. For instance, Matt Damon was attacked during the #MeToo movement for saying that not all sexual harassment is the same. He was right, yet, he was pressured to apologize.
We cannot just look at someone’s past, either. Look at someone like Christian Picciolini. He is the former neo-Nazi who now rescues and deprograms extremists, despite death threats.
But, Sen. Cramer, some things need to be cancelled. Confederate flags, violent protests, and hate in general. Cancel that.
Failure to acknowledge accountability is important. This is one of Cramer’s mistakes.
Another mistake is his failure to acknowledge that “cancel culture” is just as prevalent on the right. Try attending a “pro-life” meeting where even saying abortion should be allowed to save the mother’s life is usually taboo. Or, try stating to the GOP that President Biden won legitimately in a fair election. Some pastors are being canceled because they teach against the Q-Anon conspiracy. Cancel, cancel, cancel.
Cramer calls even reasonable restrictions “cancel culture.” Despite the rash of mass shootings, he finds any limits on guns to be wrong. He opposes “radical anti-gun activists,” when over 90% of Americans want such limits, including gun owners.
- Letter: Sen. Cramer's finance bill is its own form of cancel culture
- Letter: How is that not cancel culture?
- Letter: North Dakota congressmen are not patriots
One perplexing argument is his opposition to regulation of payday loaners, who are basically legalized loan sharks. One site tells us “the average payday loan’s APR is 398% instead of the already high rate of 28 -36% of credit cards,” with repayment due in the normal two weeks. But Cramer wants people “'free' to be victimized.”
This issue relates to his most troubling part of his argument. He writes, “[T]here is one law even Congress cannot change.” The ultimate. I thought he would suggest the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. Perhaps he might even suggest the Golden Rule. But, no. He identifies the ultimate law as, “the law of supply and demand, which in a free market determines which businesses succeed and which fail, as opposed to the opinions of the cancel culture elite.”
Corporations, then, should be free to do what they want, including promoting exorbitant loans or poisoning water, as Dupont did, years ago, leading to many dead cattle and cancer-caused deaths of Americans. Profit makes right. Is this the height of American ideals? Do you really care about North Dakotans?
Sorry, Sen. Cramer. When you ignore principles, failing to balance the marketplace with ethics, maybe we should cancel you.
Interested in a broad range of issues, including social and faith issues, Brickner serves as a regular contributor to the Forum’s opinion page. She is a retired English instructor, having taught in Michigan and Minnesota.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.