WSJ editorial: Cancel culture and identity politics now dominates journalism and American culture

The Wall Street Journal published an editorial Monday evening arguing that recent firings at two news outlets suggest that journalism has been taken over by identity politics and cancel culture:

The long-time editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, who’d seen the publication through difficult times, was pushed out over a headline, “Buildings Matter, Too.” It was atop a piece by architecture critic Inga Saffron, who worried that buildings damaged by violence could “leave a gaping hole in the heart of Philadelphia.” Staff members deemed the headline an offense to Black Lives Matter. They protested, and no amount of apologizing or changes to the headline were enough. Editor Stan Wischnowski didn’t last the week.

At the New York Times, editorial page editor James Bennet resigned Sunday after a staff uproar over an op-ed by a U.S. Senator. Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton wrote that military troops should be sent to restore public order in American cities when the police are overwhelmed. A staff revolt deemed the piece fascist, unconstitutional, and too offensive for adults to read and decide for themselves…

All of this shows the extent to which American journalism is now dominated by the same moral denunciation, “safe space” demands, and identity-politics dogmas that began in the universities. The agents of this politics now dominate nearly all of America’s leading cultural institutions—museums, philanthropy, Hollywood, book publishers, even late-night talk shows.

On matters deemed sacrosanct—and today that includes the view that America is root-and-branch racist—there is no room for debate. You must admit your failure to appreciate this orthodoxy and do penance, or you will not survive in the job.

The connection to campus politics is correct. What happened at Evergreen State College three years ago was like a trial run for the protests taking place nationwide now. Then as now protesters wanted to disband the police, claiming they were afraid the force (total size: six officers) were a threat to black lives. Then as now the mob demanded that anyone who disagreed with their social justice demands be denounced as a racist and summarily fired. Then as now the mob wasn’t interested in debate only compliance. The bending of the knee is a perfect symbolic expression of this movement.

Three years ago the protesters found a willing ally in President George Bridges. Now protesters have found city councils and mayors who are willing to immediately accede to their demands, including to defund police, without any real public discussion of the issue. Los Angeles has already cut funding for the police and Minneapolis is working on a plan to disband them entirely.

There has been a longstanding cottage industry on the left claiming that the far left campus protests were not very widespread or terribly important. All of those pieces were wrong. We’re living through the national version of the Evergreen campus takeover right now. Cancel culture has graduated and is now in charge of the culture. This is likely to be with us even longer than the coronavirus.

Addendum: Here’s former Evergreen student Benjamin Boyce’s video dealing with the response to campus police Chief Stacy Brown.