Import jQuery

Some thoughts on wokeness and cancel culture by Aaron Hecht

(Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace, illustrative painting)

Brothers and sisters, if you're reading this blog, rejoice! It means that where you live, there is still some free speech. But I have no doubt that at some point in the future, maybe tomorrow, maybe a few years from now, my ability to post my thoughts on the internet in blogs like this one will be lost because I will be de-platformed as part of a more general process in which I will be "canceled."

The phenomenon popularly known as "cancel culture" is the application of force in the form of shaming, threats, intimidation, economic coercion and in some cases actual physical violence in an effort to bully people into submission to a particular agenda. In the current iteration, the agenda most likely to be promoted by means of "cancel culture" is referred to as "wokeness".

However, the terms "woke" and "wokeness" are just a new way of describing a very old concept. 

The third chapter of the Book of Daniel describes the way what we now call "wokeness" was practiced and enforced in ancient Babylon, with the erection of a physical statue representing all the ideas and concepts that those in power wanted everyone to submit to. Everyone was required, on penalty of cancellation (which meant being thrown alive into a fiery furnace in that context) to bow down and worship the statue.

When you realize that "wokeness" is just a relatively recent term to describe this ancient concept, it becomes obvious that "cancel culture" is also merely a relatively new way to describe something that's been around for a very long time.

In recent generations it went by different names including "Stalinism" and  "McCarthyism" and it was widely condemned as something that should NEVER happen in a free country. But today, the pendulum has swung and the people whose ideological antecedents were the primary victims of "McCarthyism" are the ones with the power. Without a trace of irony, they've embraced the concept with a ferocity that makes what Senator Eugene McCarthy and his fellow travelers did in the US in the 1950s look prosaic by comparison.

How did we get here?

A few years ago, I wrote a blog entitled "The handwriting on the wall" about the steady erosion of religious liberty and free speech in the US and many other Western countries. The gist of that blog was that the freedoms that citizens of the US and other democratic countries have taken for granted for generations are being slowly but surely destroyed and it wasn't happening because of any political process. It was being done through the exercise of cultural power (usually in the negative form of "shaming" or heaping scorn and contempt on ideological opponents, especially Christians) and economic coercion.

This process has continued and gone through escalating stages.

At each stage, persons and/or institutions with a message that the "woke" crowd didn't like found it more and more difficult to get their message out. Even when they can, there are ever louder voices demanding that such messages be axiomatically rejected and those who share them punished.

Once again, this is nothing new. It's simply the current stage in a process that has been gathering speed and momentum for a very long time.

For decades, traditional media platforms like newspapers, radio, and TV news stations blatantly and unapologetically offered a skewed view of reality to the consumers of their reports. The "liberal bias" with which news about current events was presented to the public did plenty of damage. But the truth was still available to those who were looking for it instead of just passively believing whatever the mainstream media was peddling.

With the advent of social media, there was some hope that these traditional media platforms could be circumvented and the truth be told more broadly. For a while, this happened, but corruption also grew even amongst the "alternative media" outlets that utilized social media, and soon "conspiracy theories" each more absurd than the last came to dominate these portals.

Then, gradually, and now with increasing speed, those who wish to express views that the "woke" don't like are being silenced and canceled in various ways.

One stage of being "canceled" is for people and/or institutions to be "de-platformed" meaning they have their social media accounts first demonetized and then simply shut down. Usually, there is no warning given before it happens, and the explanation, when one was even offered, was that the user had "violated the community standards" of the platform. None of these platforms bother to publish a written list of the rules and conventions that make up their "community standards" so it's impossible to even ask a question about what happened or how the problem can be remedied.

Once again, this is nothing new. It used to be called "censorship" and it was widely rejected by pretty much everyone. Those who rejected it the loudest are the same people who are now practicing it the most vigorously.

This has progressed and a report this week by CBN News gave details about a new step in the process called "de-banking" in which Conservative and Faith Based groups are having their bank accounts closed and their ability to receive online donations or make payments lost.

This is an obvious violation of religious freedom and free speech that is supposed to be protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution. But as of now, it's technically legal under existing financial services laws.

It used to be possible to be left alone by the "woke" crowd simply by not saying anything they didn't like. Then it became necessary to not agree with or "like" something that the "woke" crowd didn't like. Soon I think they will demand that everyone join them in actively looking for people who are saying things they don't like and condemning them. 

And so it goes.

Many are looking around wondering how this happened.

Candidly I think it's a waste of time to ask that question, but I'll briefly offer a possible answer.

While the Church of Jesus Christ was busy throughout most of the last few decades trying to influence the political process in the US and win elections, the other side was busy solidifying its hold on other centers of power. This included Hollywood and the entertainment industry more broadly, but it also included the educational system, labor unions, universities and think tanks, civil society groups, and of course the media. At the same time, they never completely abandoned efforts at promoting their agenda through political means, but their main effort was focused on the "long game" in the cultural, social, and economic arenas.

They were smart enough to know that if they exerted influence in the culture, their ideas would eventually become so widely accepted that voters would elect politicians who supported those ideas and they'd also gain power and influence through other means.

Now, their grip on various centers of power is allowing them to intimidate, bully, and shame anyone and everyone, from the legal system to corporations and banks, the education system, and everyone in between into adopting policies that will advance their agenda. They've also had a great deal of success in making it socially unacceptable to express ideas they don't like, ESPECIALLY a Biblically-based worldview. 

I know it's really uncouth to quote oneself, but I'm going to quote a segment of the blog I wrote four years ago because it's even more relevant today than it was back in 2019.

"History shows that in a society where expressions of contempt for a certain group become an acceptable, mainstream phenomenon, physical violence against them will soon also become acceptable, even laudable. Sometimes it goes so far as to become government policy."

Indeed, taking control of governments so they can make their "woke" ideology official policy is the final, logical step in this process. In some parts of what used to be called "the free world" this step has largely been taken and it's already not just very difficult but actually illegal to express views that don't align with "woke" ideology.

What can be done?

Brothers and sisters, if you and I are going to push back against "cancel culture" and the "woke" agenda that uses it as a club to beat the Body of Messiah over the head, we need to stop wasting time and resources in legal and political maneuvers and start going after the source of this agenda in the spiritual realm. We need to get serious about Bible study, praying, fasting, fellowshipping with other Believers, and witnessing for our faith.

This is the only path that offered any hope when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into a fiery furnace because they refused to bow to the statue that Nebuchadnezzar II set up in ancient Babylon, and it's still the only hope for us today who are in a similar situation.

To paraphrase Winston Churchill, "we've run out of ways to exercise temporal power and influence, so it's time to start praying."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Appending "You might like" to each post.