The Threat to Civil Liberties Goes Way Beyond “Cancel Culture”

Leigh Phillips in Jacobin:

In recent years, there has been a marked and disquieting increase in the willingness of a raft of actors left, center, and right, both in government and in civil society, to engage in a practice and attitude of censorship and to abandon due process, presumption of innocence, and other core civil liberties.

There have been some attempts from different quarters at a pushback against this, but the most recent such effort at a course correction is an open letter decrying the phenomenon appearing in Harper’s magazine. The letter, signed by some 150 public intellectuals, writers, and academics including figures like Noam Chomsky, Margaret Atwood, and Salman Rushdie, has provoked a polarizing response.

Current Affairs editor Nathan Robinson, for example, argues that all this is a right-wing myth, slander against the Left, that those perpetrating the alleged acts of censorship are in fact relatively powerless, and that when incidents of alleged “cancel-culture censorship” are investigated, one finds that the targets are doing just fine after all.

Because the Harper’s letter was fairly anodyne and declined to mention any specific incidents, Robinson cherry-picks a small sample of occurrences that he imagines must be what the signatories are talking about and tries to demonstrate that these incidents were really nothing-burgers of no consequence, distracting us from real issues.

More here.