In recent weeks, the so-called “cancel culture” has become the bete noire of the chattering classes. And sure, it’s not hard to find cases where “a mob mentality” on social media can get carried away, either in overreacting to minor offenses or in too harshly judging young everyday people for their youthful mistakes. But online shaming and boycotts emerged because the outlets for justice that we ought to have — legislatures and courtrooms that aren’t hopelessly biased toward the rich and powerful, or sanctions for corporations that are never punished because they’re “too big to fail” — are nowhere to be found.
Since the turn of millennium, no one has been held accountable for a bogus war in Iraq, for the U.S. government’s embrace of torture, for the greedy practices that crashed the world economy in 2008, or for the business practices — many of them devised by [consulting firm] McKinsey & Co. — that have systematically destroyed the middle class. Meanwhile, calling out the abuses of the patriarchy and white supremacy hasn’t come close to ending either one. The absurd practices of McKinsey around ICE detentions, opioid abuse, Chinese totalitarianism or privatizing education aren’t exceptions, just extremes.
The reason that Americans are so mad is because we deserve to be mad. But that anger is a raging river that flows toward the paths of least resistance. In the American heartland, on the right, fury over the loss of jobs as recommended by amoral bean counters like McKinsey gets diverted — by demagogues like Trump or through a warped culture — towards immigrants or the poor. On the left, online crusaders cancel those things that can be canceled.
Will Bunch on.