This is an important observation. My father used to speak of "joiners" with undisguised contempt, people whose sense of identity, or authenticity, was based not on achievement but on membership.

We are becoming a nation of joiners.

You can count me as one of the deniers of "cancel culture"; I don't say that to express any membership but rather because I think the idea is a fabrication. If someone is scheduled to speak at a university and he does a racist tweet, there is nothing membership-relating is canceling his invitation. Anyone who thinks that "cancel culture" is some badge of liberal membership should try posting any criticism of Trump on a right wing site.

But I think you're getting just a little starry-eyed when you insist that we are not truly divided into tribes and twain. I lived through "love it or leave it," through Watergate, through the ginning up of Iraq and I have never seen America so completely polarized. That there are a few people of confusing allegiances (blacks voting for Trump, Log Cabin Republicans ...) is just what you get dropping 340 million people on a bell curve. I do not see reconciliation or common ground in our future.

This may ultimately be a little Out There but I think he's onto something


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Dec 5, 2021·edited Jan 12, 2022Author

"I have never seen America so completely polarized"

Yeah, I don't deny this at all. The level of division in America at the moment is quite literally insane. The point I'm making is that the divisions are largely illusory. There are *disagreements*, but people have turned these into matters of identity instead of matter of opinion. I know you're occasionally prone to talking about Republicans as if they're a different species of human being. Some on the right say the same about "lefties". These are the kinds of differences I'm talking about.

As I repeatedly point out, most people are perfectly sane, and if you talk to them in a polite, reasonable way, they'll talk back to you in the same way. The problem is that the internet has gotten us out of the habit of speaking to each other politely. I can say with great confidence, having spoken to more people than most, that the right isn't all racists and supporters of the Big Lie and the left isn't all postmodernists and snowflakes.

As for cancel culture, I think even your example of a racist tweet is a bad one. The fact that somebody has a bad idea doesn't render all of their opinions null and void. Nor is the best strategy to ostracise that person instead of educating them. But hey, if racist tweets were the standard, I don't think anybody would be talking about cancel culture (unless we included the puritanical penchant for cancelling people over racist tweets sent ten years ago when they were teenagers).

The problem is that people are disinvited from speaking gigs or fired from their jobs or subjected to torrents of abuse for things that most sane people would consider perfectly reasonable. The case that springs to mind right now (because I'm writing about her) is JK Rowling. Some will argue that she hasn't been "cancelled" because she's still wealthy and successful. As if the only true standard for cancelling somebody is that their life is completely and irrevocably ruined. But she's been subjected to over a year of death threats and abuse, just a few days ago Trans Twitter doxxed her online, she was disinvited from the 20th anniversary celebration of the universe she singlehandedly created, and why? Because she believes the women should continue to have single sex spaces. Numerous women less powerful than her have lost their livelihoods over the same opinion.

This is just one example of cancel culture. And is completely incomparable to a flame war on some forum because you criticised Trump.

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