In calling out Trump, Nikki Haley warns of a more sinister threat
On Jan. 7, one day after a horde of Donald Trump’s supporters brazenly, disgracefully and illegally broke into the U.S. Capitol Building, Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor and former United Nations ambassador under Trump, rightfully called out the president for his unchecked, poisonous rhetoric during her remarks before the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting.
Said Haley, in part, “President Trump has not always chosen the right words. He was wrong with his words in Charlottesville, and I told him so at the time. He was badly wrong with his words yesterday. And it wasn’t just his words. His actions since Election Day will be judged harshly by history.”
Haley is correct. Trump should — and will — be judged very harshly by history. The more one learns, the worse it looks for the president for a few more days.
But on the heels of that necessary denunciation of Trump, Haley also warned of what might turn out to be a much more corrosive threat to the already unravelling fabric of our republic: the rise of censorship and “cancel culture.”
“They’ve demonstrated that they’ll ‘cancel’ anyone who gets in their way,” Haley said. “They want to shout down and shut up anyone who disagrees with them. They want to take control of the classroom, the boardroom, the media green room and even the dining room table.”
Since Haley’s warning of the dangers of cancel culture just nine days ago — nine days that feel like a lifetime — Big Tech has absolutely lowered the boom on Trump and a number of the personal circles that emanate out from his orbit. Twitter banned Trump permanently from the platform, and Facebook suspended his account, as did YouTube, Snapchat and others.
As soon as Twitter banned Trump, Haley jumped right back into the conversation by — ironically — tweeting, “Silencing people, not to mention the President of the US, is what happens in China not our country. #Unbelievable.”
At the moment, there is clearly a sense of unbridled euphoria coursing through many on the left who, because of that treacherous invasion of the Capitol, have been able to enact censorship and cancel culture measures against not only Trump but also others they feel aided or abetted him in any way.
But calmer heads should recognize that there is an increasing sense of “blood running cold” foreboding within many Americans — including, probably, some on the left — as a growing number of companies and liberal-leaning power centers are able to so quickly silence those they consider the opposition.
Who granted these arbiters such power? What words or actions could they next deem unacceptable and worthy of silencing or punishment? Who is next on their list? Where does it stop?
In the United States, can those who don’t like the opinions or ideologies of others suddenly — and even permanently — prevent them from having a website, from distributing an app, from meeting their payroll or, all rolled in together, from having a livelihood to feed and sustain themselves and their families?
Said the New York Post (which itself was banned from Twitter for its investigative journalism on Hunter Biden), with regard to Twitter banning Trump, “Some of Trump’s tweets were untrue and incendiary, but so are the Ayatollah Khamenei’s. His account is still up. The difference is Twitter is run by American liberals, who only really police one type of person, of one political persuasion.”
As Harvard law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz recently noted, “You have to be willing to support the free speech of your enemies. … The cancel culture is a direct frontal attack not only on freedom of speech; … it cancels due process. It doesn’t matter if you are innocent or guilty.”
Big Tech and other companies will try to pile-drive Trump Inc. out of existence via censorship, deplatforming and blacklisting. Liberal actor Bryan Cranston put his finger on the crux of the overall cancel culture threat, during a recent interview with The Associated Press: “We live in this ‘cancel culture’ of people erring and doing wrong, either on purpose or by accident. And there is less forgiveness in our world. … I think our societies have been harder and less understanding, less tolerant, less forgiving. … I think we need to take a second look at that, and exhale, and realize that asking forgiveness and receiving forgiveness are not weaknesses but are human strengths.”
Crime is crime, and those who invaded the Capitol — and those who either incited them or aided them in any way — should face the full brunt of the law. That said, the blanket censorship, deplatforming and blacklisting of fellow Americans as a form of political retribution threatens us all.
In four days, Joe Biden will be our president and Kamala Harris our vice president. As an American, I want them to lead and to succeed. Hopefully, part of their leadership will be to give voice to Cranston’s observation that “asking forgiveness and receiving forgiveness are not weaknesses but are human strengths.”
Of late, Trump poisoned the well with his words. Biden and Harris can purify it and calm our nation in the process.
Douglas MacKinnon, a political and communications consultant, was a writer in the White House for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and former special assistant for policy and communications at the Pentagon during the last three years of the Bush administration.