Cancel culture is starting to look like gang mentality

Cancel culture has progressed into the normalized reaction toward differences of opinion on so many different topics — choice of clothing, movies from our past, historical artifacts!  We all know today that inequality should not be accepted, but can we erase the history that brought us here?  Can we forget the hurdles that homosexuals, African-Americans, even white women have faced in years prior to bringing us to where we are today?  I think not!

While movements such as #MeToo hold a high level of righteousness, respect, and equality among many other discussions to be had, the overall reaction can leave either party involved feeling powerless, attacked, and more often than not "ganged on" without the opportunity for explanation.  The amplification of current publicized discussions leads to a mentality of the right to create collective actions and reactions, mirroring the coterie behavior of a specific group.

On another note, the overuse of these attacks creates a widely spread feeling of anger and disapproval toward something or someone.  It has been seen by many as a form of a cartel, herd mentality persecution, and it is no wonder this gang mentality of cancel culture has become a prominent part of recent news.

The latest debacle of last week's attack on Theodor Seuss Geisel, one of America's greatest authors of children's books, a poet like no other, under attack over some of his most cherished children's literature pieces is being viewed by some as outrageous.  There has been some backlash about his cartooning and rhymes, referencing people of different backgrounds, for some time...but let us take a pragmatic approach on this issue.  Is the public really deciphering a book that was written and illustrated for children by a young poet in 1937?  Some will not only observe, but will focus on the racial references toward Asians in the artwork of the book And to think I saw it on Mulberry Street.  According to Dr. Dyan Hes, medical director at Gramercy Pediatrics in New York, the Dr. Seuss books are nothing short of a broader commitment to children's literature and should continue to be readily available.  Her thoughts on the book being exposed to cancel culture lie in keeping those books circulating!  She goes on to state in a recent interview with Scott Cohen, CNBC special correspondent, that in order to achieve a harmonious agreement on this issue and understand that we, our children, and our grandchildren have all grown up with these rhymes, the books should be kept on the shelves and simply have a disclaimer:

"These books were written in this year and have stereotypes that we would like to change" to ease the mind of the offended ones.

The Dr. Seuss series is not the only historical work of literature and art under the gun.  The recent June attack on Gone with the Wind, the 1939 movie adapted from Margaret Mitchell's famous 1936 novel, by director John Ridley, which resulted in the classic being pulled from HBO MAX, has become a controversy to many.  John Ridley criticized the movie for glorifying the Antebellum period.  This was an era, and unfortunately, we cannot change that we have experienced slavery, wars, inequality of rights between men and women, and so much more!  But that is what makes us.

Without the malicious point of view, the movie is a mere portrait of the hardships of African-Americans, white women, and the men who loved and tried to protect them during a time of war.  Its author created her book based on what she learned from interviews with the era's survivors.  This happened.  Canceling classics that have made such an impact is an absolute outrage!

The transition to modern behavior has not always been so straightforward.  There has been pain along the way...and although I get the attack on the Confederate flags over the summer of 2020 because of the idolization of an era of discrimination, prejudice, and maltreatment of a specific race, can we really start erasing statues, historic monuments, and everything else that has anything to do with the past?  Can we simply forget?  Not only should we refrain from forgetting, but we should also continue to be exposed to the referencing of our history.  Instead of collectively normalizing the cancel culture reaction and the growing mob mentally associated with it, let us accept that the past is the past.  We can only learn from mistakes and hope that someday we will all be able to enjoy a feast of "Green Eggs and Ham" together.

Gary S. Goldman is the nationally recognized host of Business, Politics, & Lifestyles, a weekly talk show syndicated throughout New England, and author of My Big Mouth and the Ugly Truth: Taking the Stress Out of Opinions VS Fact.

Image: Kevin Dooley via FlickrCC BY-SA 2.0.

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