Good Friday Morning, except to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has the following headline in the NYPost: “Cuomo aide admits they hid nursing home data so feds wouldn’t find out.” The headline is terrible, but the story is worse. I’d recommend pausing here and reading it. It’s a stunning admission.
NY is also reporting that they sent 9,056 coronavirus patients back into nursing homes at the beginning of the pandemic, 40% more than initially reported, which likely accelerating the outbreak in the spring. But as PoliMath points out, New York’s current death count doesn’t even match CDC death data for the state. NY is reporting 8,477 fewer deaths than the CDC in the state. The next closest state with a data discrepancy is Florida, which is reporting 478 more deaths than the CDC data.
Take a moment and imagine if this was Ron DeSantis in Florida. Or Greg Abbott in Texas. Or Bill Lee in Tennessee. Take your pick among the red state governors. The media would be coming down like a hammer. I have one liberal friend who told me very proudly that he supports impeaching everyone who lies like this, Trump, Cuomo, it doesn’t matter. He’s posted exactly zero times about Cuomo and hundreds of times about Trump. The “principle” line only comes up when it’s a Republican. Go figure.
This week, I’m diving into cancel culture once again. You know about the firing of Gina Carano, no doubt. But there was another firing and a spiked column at the NYTimes that also shines a light on this topic. Links to follow.
Where you can find me this week
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Joe Biden needs to act immediately on vaccine approval – The Conservative Institute.
The knowledge gap in government COVID relief plans – The Conservative Institute.
The religion of the woke.
I’ve written many columns and newsletters on the topic of cancel culture. When I first started writing about politics again, one of the first topics I wrote an extended essay on was cancel culture, The Modern Scarlet Letter (that article also proved that I needed an editor). On some level, I feel a bit numb on the topic. Every week it seems like someone new gets hammered by an internet mob for something.
So I was a bit surprised that I couldn’t shake the latest cancel culture victim: Gina Carano, one of the breakout stars of the Disney+ show The Mandalorian, based in the Star Wars universe. At first, I thought it was because I wasn’t super surprised. Gina is a pretty open conservative/libertarian and posts many memes and posts on her Instagram stories. And because she has 1.5 million fans, she has quite the reach with those.
In other words, in the current climate, it was probably just a matter of time. But on the other hand, this was different.
For starters, there’s just the rank hypocrisy. And you can pick the hypocrisy that’s more explicit in this situation. For starters, take the star of the Mandalorian, Pedro Pascal. He’s an open progressive and posts about politics on his social media feeds. He shared a meme that compared pictures of children locked up on the border to the holocaust (the irony of the post is that he didn’t post a picture of the holocaust. He posted a photo of modern Palestinian children in line for food).
So the issue with Carano can’t be the comparison she made, using Jews or the holocaust. That’s fine with Disney if a lefty does it. If the show’s star, who never shows his face and can be easily replaced, can do things like that, why are we mad at Carano?
That’s not the only hypocrisy. Disney firing a star with far-right speech is perfectly in line for a company that’s entirely in bed with a genocidal regime in China and taking blood money left and right.
- Disney filmed the reshoot of Mulan in a province with concentration camps. They’re complicit.
- Disney’s lead actor for Mulan supported crackdowns the pro-democracy Hong Kong protestors.
- Don’t believe me? Read the account of a woman whose family is from that region.
- Disney owns ESPN, which aired blatant Chinese propaganda during the NBA-China dustup.
- Only after all the dustup and criticism did ESPN publish a piece that said the NBA was a part of those concentration camps in China.
I’ve noticed that many progressives are very quiet about China’s evil behavior because Trump rocked the boat over that issue. It’s not uncommon to find your average white progressive repeating Chinese propaganda saying that criticism of China xenophobic. And I know this is propaganda because I’ve read the Chinese propaganda accounts on Twitter blasting these talking points out. They rely heavily on leftist tropes to defend themselves.
But that’s just the hypocrisy. That’s not unusual, though it is crucial. It’s clear if you’re a leftist, it’s much harder to get fired for “wrong think,” though not impossible (and those examples exist). There is a different standard.
I couldn’t put my finger on what was bothering me about this one until I read, ironically, a “canceled” Bret Stephens column. Stephens won a Pulitzer Award for his column work at the Wall Street Journal and recently made the jump to the New York Times (though I wonder how long he’ll last there). Stephens is a conservative. A spiked column of his appeared late Thursday night at the NYPost. The post headline/caption reads:
Read the column the New York Times didn’t want you to read
Last weekend, New York Times columnist Bret Stephens wrote a piece criticizing the rationale behind the forced ouster of Times reporter Donald J. McNeil, but it was never published. Stephens told colleagues the column was killed by publisher A.G. Sulzberger. Since then, the piece has circulated among Times staffers and others — and it was from one of them, not Stephens himself, that The Post obtained it. We publish his spiked column here in full.
Stephens doesn’t write about Carano, but rather an NYTimes science journalist who got forced to resign. I’d nearly forgotten about the event until Stephens’s column reminded me about it. From Stephens column, here’s why that journalist got fired:
Late last week, Donald J. McNeil, a veteran science reporter for The Times, abruptly departed from his job following the revelation that he had uttered a racial slur while on a New York Times trip to Peru for high school students. In the course of a dinner discussion, he was asked by a student whether a 12-year old should have been suspended by her school for making a video in which she had used a racial slur.
In a written apology to staff, McNeil explained what happened next: “To understand what was in the video, I asked if she had called someone else the slur or whether she was rapping or quoting a book title. In asking the question, I used the slur itself.”
In an initial note to staff, editor-in-chief Dean Baquet noted that, after conducting an investigation, he was satisfied that McNeil had not used the slur maliciously and that it was not a firing offense. In response, more than 150 Times staffers signed a protest letter. A few days later, Baquet and managing editor Joe Kahn reached a different decision.
“We do not tolerate racist language regardless of intent,” they wrote on Friday afternoon. They added to this unambiguous judgment that the paper would “work with urgency to create clearer guidelines and enforcement about conduct in the workplace, including red-line issues on racist language.”
Stephens isn’t using any hyperbole in describing the reasons for the firing. That’s the whole story. But that’s not the point of Stephens column, and I offer that section only as background.
The point of the spiked column is intent. At the start of the column he argues:
Every serious moral philosophy, every decent legal system and every ethical organization cares deeply about intention.
It is the difference between murder and manslaughter. It is an aggravating or extenuating factor in judicial settings. It is a cardinal consideration in pardons (or at least it was until Donald Trump got in on the act). It’s an elementary aspect of parenting, friendship, courtship and marriage.
A hallmark of injustice is indifference to intention. Most of what is cruel, intolerant, stupid and misjudged in life stems from that indifference. Read accounts about life in repressive societies — I’d recommend Vaclav Havel’s “Power of the Powerless” and Nien Cheng’s “Life and Death in Shanghai” — and what strikes you first is how deeply the regimes care about outward conformity, and how little for personal intention.
That point is partially what’s gnawing at me now, with this cancel culture push. It’s not the hammering people for “wrong think,” however that’s defined on a given day. It’s that the people who are so loud about praising “diversity®” are the people who cannot stomach even the slightest amount of diversity in thought. You can look, outwardly, like anything you want. But if you so much as step one microscopic centimeter outside the lines of thinking, you’re immediately an outcast.
One time on a work project, my coworker and I listened to the radio, and a Steve Harvey’s show was on the station. After listening to it for a while, my progressive white friend shook his head and started saying Harvey was racist. “What!?” I replied. And he said yes, and pointed to the various imitations and jokes Harvey was doing and called them racist because those jokes weren’t progressive. Nevermind that Harvey is one of the most successful black comedians of all time and has built a massive audience for himself both in the black community and society. He’s not progressive enough. That makes him racist.
All of which brings me back to the Stephens column. He argues:
This is an argument about three words: “Regardless of intent.” Should intent be the only thing that counts in judgment? Obviously not. Can people do painful, harmful, stupid or objectionable things regardless of intent? Obviously.
Do any of us want to live in a world, or work in a field, where intent is categorically ruled out as a mitigating factor? I hope not.
I’d agree. And I’d agree with his end point:
We are living in a period of competing moral certitudes, of people who are awfully sure they’re right and fully prepared to be awful about it. Hence the culture of cancellations, firings, public humiliations and increasingly unforgiving judgments. The role of good journalism should be to lead us out of this dark defile. Last week, we went deeper into it.
It’s not just that these people believe they’re right; they’ve placed absolute moral certitude behind those beliefs. It’s a religion. Scarlet letters get handed out generously, and redemption is impossible in the church of the woke. In the Mandalorian’s case, it’s even more ironic since redemption is a central theme of the show. Redemption for me, but not for thee.
And instead of breaking down walls and allowing true diversity to thrive, they’re trying to encapsulate everyone within their walls of conformity. That’s dangerous long-term because it creates a culture of self-censorship. I’ve gotten many messages from people left, right, and center who talk about self-censoring on social media, on all kinds of topics. They’re just afraid of stirring up trouble from the woke crowd, who will crush anyone without a second thought on any subject.
The reason this is dangerous long-term is that imposed self-censorship can only last so long. It’s a cultural force that can build resentment over time and then unleash all at once when the cultural dams can’t hold it back. That partially explains something like a Trump victory in 2016.
When Jesus told the mob that the person without sin should cast the first stone at the adulterous woman, the modern woke would pick up that rock and throw it hard. The woke are ascendant, you see, and they’re smiting those outside the light with righteous judgment. They are the second coming of their own mind and are purifying culture with adherence to the mob.
None of them realize that they, too, have sinned and could quickly be canceled. They’ll only realize that when it’s too late and they get fired from their job. That day is coming. It always does, in every mob-led movement in history. The revolution always eats its own. It’s the job of the common folk to survive until that day comes. We’re all waiting for the revolution to turn in on itself to destroy everyone within it.
That’ll be a brutal but incredible day, and I look forward to it. I’ll leave you with Thomas Chatterton Williams words:
We increasingly live in a culture where wealthy, resourceful and well-connected people validate and affirm attitudes, values and behaviors for poor and marginalized people that they would *never* accept for themselves or their children. And this is done in the name of compassion.
Basically, don’t let anyone tell you and yours that things they would never dream of tolerating for themselves and their own are fine and even beneficial for you.
Links of the week
The Vaccine Had to Be Used. He Used It. He Was Fired. Ten doses of the Covid-19 vaccine would expire within hours, so a Houston doctor gave it to people with medical conditions, including his wife. What followed was “the lowest moment in my life,” Dr. Hasan Gokal said. – NYTimes
Disney Cancels The Mandalorian Star Gina Carano Over Provocative Social Media Posts: If over-the-top statements likening one’s political opponents to Nazis are grounds for firing, Hollywood is in trouble. – Robby Soave, Reason Magazine
Biden’s Schools Bid Pits CDC Science Against Union Clout – Josh Wingrove, Bloomberg
Nikole Hannah-Jones Is the Donald Trump of the New York Times – National Review
Republicans came within 90,000 votes of controlling all of Washington DC – The Washington Post
Utah Axes Gun-Permit Requirement: State will allow residents to carry concealed guns without permit – The Washington Free Beacon
Twitter Thread(s) of the week
Satire of the week
Thanks for reading!