Freddie de Boer, an inimitable left-wing commentator who traveled from editorial office to editorial office until he ended up on the paid Substack platform, recently came up with a great term: Woko Haram. The phrase perfectly reflects the essence of the destructive madness that the “woke” mobs are committing — destroying everything inconsistent with their ideas.
“Cancel culture”, a situation where a digital crowd of outraged souls attacks a single person and demands his or her dismissal from work, expulsion from school, etc., is one of the typical manifestations of Woko Haram. Lately, however, there are two trends to be seen that will hopefully take this monster off our necks before it completely overwhelms us.
The first trend is that the procedure is being adopted by other interest groups whose interests do not coincide with the interests of Woko Haram. For example, in the current crisis in Gaza, several pro-Palestinian activists have found that their careers are not completely immune to the digital crowd. “Shitstorms” can be launched by anyone, and digital platforms have not yet achieved the degree of control over their users to allow this type of behavior only to their preferred political party, while the other enjoys complete immunity.
The second trend is that even in the media, from which you would not expect it, the first critical voices are appearing. In part, it could be a state of the hangover from endless chases or cooling of emotions after Donald Trump left the White House. But in part, it will also be the realization that the moment of the usefulness of “cancel culture” has passed, and it is becoming a phenomenon that is dangerous to everyone regardless of which political jersey you are wearing.
The latest wave is an article entitled “Our Digital Pasts Weren’t Supposed to Be Weaponized Like This” published in the New York Times on Saturday, May 29. Its author complains about the treatment given to young journalist Emily Wilders, who was fired from the Associated Press for sidelining the Palestinians on her social media. According to the AP agency, it could not be trusted that she would cover the area of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict objectively.
Your first thought might be, the New York Times? It is a newspaper that has fired its writer for using the wrong word in the past, such was the case of reporter Donald McNeil, who was shown the door after repeating a question about the word “nigger” aloud in front of a crowd of students.
But yes, maybe they didn’t notice until now. One of the people who persecuted McNeil was Nicole Hannah-Jones, his colleague, who wanted to launch her own investigation in case the newspaper did not act. Just four months later, Hannah-Jones she failed to earn a degree from the University of North Carolina. Of course, she blames her race and gender, but couldn’t it be a consequence of how she treated her former colleague McNeil?
The best basis for diplomacy is reciprocity. The threat of mutually guaranteed destruction was probably behind the fact that the Cold War never grew into a hot, nuclear one. In the case of the cancel culture, the situation is somewhat complicated by the fact that its ordinary soldiers — ordinary users of Twitter or Facebook — do not risk anything, because the verbal rockets fired do not fall on their heads. But if the “big animals” from prominent media lose the desire to engage in “lynching”, cancel culture will probably cease to be as attractive as it was before.
Title image: The copies of The New York Times newspaper are displayed for sale at a news stand in Hong Kong, Wednesday, July 15, 2020. The New York Times said Tuesday it will transfer some of its staff out of Hong Kong because of the uncertainties about practicing journalism in the Chinese territory under its newly imposed national security law. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)