Cancel Culture, as dangerous as it is to democracy and free speech right now, is creating a much greater threat for the future of the entire free world. And China is the beneficiary.
Look at what’s happening in the U.S – where one of their greatest exports has always been innovation and creativity. From technology to medicine, from higher education to the arts, the world has looked to the U.S as the leader in many vital industries. What is the common denominator in this wide-ranging leadership that has allowed them to set the pace and challenge the thinking of the rest of the world? It can be captured simply in one of their most cherished rights, endowed by the Creator and constitutionally guaranteed – freedom.
The blessing of freedom starts when they are young. Before they can identify the difference between their own country and others, many American children experience health, safety, security and a learning environment, which fosters play and imagination and dreaming without limit.
They are taught they can be anything they want to be.
They are raised to believe that in America anything is possible and regardless of where you come from, that doesn’t dictate where you can go or who and what you can become.
The opportunities are endless. Originality is encouraged and creativity is nurtured. But is that still true?
In a strange paradox, we find ourselves in a very different world right now.
There are fewer boundaries in traditional ways – families can look different, the stereotypes of men and women / boys and girls have become blurred or removed, and acceptance of every sexual orientation, race, religion and self-identity is embraced. Career paths aren’t as gender defined as they once were and greater access to education and occupational opportunity extends across previous boundaries and barriers.
But just as those lines of differentiation are being erased and diversity is being embraced on one hand, the lines of diversity of thought and speech are becoming increasingly rigid on the other. And punitive. People are being threatened, companies shamed, books banned and divergent thought silenced. While conservatives are the primary target, anyone who dares stray from the approved progressive narrative is also demonized and must be ruined both personally and professionally, not just condemned.
Aside from being an affront to the first amendment, which itself makes this trend dangerous and unconstitutional, it is blatant hypocrisy coming from the very people who demand acceptance of diversity in every other sector. Why are opposing ideas and words so threatening? If the progressive left believes in their ideology and is confident in its merits, they should welcome inquiry and invite curiosity. If they believe their policies are best, they wouldn’t be threatened by opposing ideas being presented. Yet the danger goes far beyond trying to prove one side right and the other side wrong.
The greater danger as a result of cancel culture is the long-term evaporation of innovation. Once thinking is given boundaries and creativity and unique avenues of exploration are quelled, innovation dies. Protecting and promoting diversity is at the core of the left’s argument for inclusion, yet diversity of thought is excluded from inclusion. And diversity of thought is at the very core of innovation.
Innovation has been the free world’s greatest export – and the strongest source of leverage over adversaries – especially China. While China has been masterful at advancing, improving and replicating intellectual property, the core innovation and framework for new technology has come primarily from the United States. The lack of innovation is China’s Achilles Heel.
I hate to think about what the world looks like when America is no longer the leader in innovation.
The greater danger as a result of cancel culture is the long-term evaporation of innovation.
The most severe consequences from banning divergent thinking now won’t reveal themselves for years to come. Yet the damage will already be done and an entire generation of innovators and creative thinkers will be lost.
When children are young it’s easy for them to learn multiple languages. They aren’t worried about conjugating a verb correctly 5 ways and aren’t self conscious about how they sound when speaking, they just allow their brains to observe the world around them and make sense of it in their own minds. The mere exposure to two or more languages regularly allows them to learn and replicate it. It’s automatic and doesn’t need to be taught because it is absorbed as they are immersed in it.
The converse is also true – if children do not learn a particular language as their native tongue, it is incredibly difficult for them to ever sound like a native speaker later in life because the vocal cords required for specific sounds in certain languages atrophy due to lack of use.
Similarly, when children are raised where exploration of thought and experimentation of creative action is encouraged, and they are saturated in a warm accepting environment, it becomes a breeding ground for imagination. When a child’s mind is allowed to think of the impractical and the improbable, and even perhaps the silly, the world is theirs to create. Even space isn’t too far to imagine they will go some day. Science fiction has often been the precursor to reality and innovation. Will we allow such imagineers to continue to dream and think outside the box of realism? If our youth don’t use those imaginative parts of their brain when they are young, likewise they will atrophy and be harder to access or impossible to activate later in life.
What is happening today in our schools and in society is troubling and dangerous. Under the guise of acceptance and tolerance, we see the shutting down of differences of opinion, a silencing of variance in ideologies and world-views, and the shaming of even young children based on their skin color or “unconscious bias”. We have made students afraid to ask questions, to test a hypothesis, to make an inquiry about a theory or express a contrary opinion. Students are being fed one size fits all “truth” and told to swallow it whole, don’t ask questions, don’t think about whether or not it makes sense or is actually true, but accept it and regurgitate it back properly for the next test - or fail. And if they dare speak up against it, they will publicly be labeled as a racist or a domestic terrorist or their parents will be doxed.
Can we expect any child to push back against such forceful headwinds?
Conformity of thought is a key attribute of Communism and is designed to create conformity of outcome – the very antithesis of what Americans have always stood for and prided themselves on.
By trying to confine and control thought, they are limiting their own future.
China is the biggest beneficiary as America self-stymies their own capacity to innovate and create, neutralizing their largest advantage over a rising China.