I’ve said many times on these webinars that the rise of the authoritarian Left is the central challenge of our time. We saw it when they rammed Obamacare down our throats and again most recently in the riots and autonomous zones this summer. We’ve also seen it in recent years in the Left’s efforts to shut down speaking engagements by Ben Shapiro, Heather Mac Donald, and numerous other figures on the political Right.
I’ve written a manual to help individuals and groups on the political Right fight back when cancel culture comes knocking at their door. The manual is dedicated to the memory of Phil Haney who gave me an interview on the subject shortly before he died.
The manual starts with a cancelled event from April 2019 when ACT for America founder Brigitte Gabriel was scheduled to speak at Cross Creek Community Church in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The executive director of the local Chamber of Commerce posted the event on the Chamber’s public online calendar. When he received an email indicating the event might be controversial, the executive director (who was also the local ACT chapter leader), took the event off the calendar. The pastor of the church previously did not know what ACT for America was all about and began looking into it for the very first time. He withdrew his approval to hold the event at his church. Subsequently, the Chamber executive director resigned from ACT.
This story is a good example of what NOT to do. It shows a failure to plan and to vet the venue. Everyone involved lacked situational awareness. This was stupid; they were asking to get clobbered. The venue and the sponsor folded like a cheap tent at the first sign of controversy. This didn’t have to happen.
The theme of the manual is ‘plan ahead’. Choose your venues wisely and vet your sponsors for their ability to resist pressure campaigns. Require registration or, if necessary, structure the event to increase the chances of success, perhaps as a private event with the location disclosed only at the last minute, or as a debate with all sides represented and agreeing there will be no disruptions. Have your security plan in place. Be ready with Plan B - an alternate location or a secret room for livestreaming. If it’s a campus, review the school’s policies on free speech and controversial events and, more importantly, the school’s actual track record on enforcing those policies. Some schools are better than others when it comes to enforcement.
Be ready to respond to pressure campaigns from advocacy groups like CAIR or Black Lives Matter, from local politicians, and from unfriendly media. Be ready to mount your own pressure campaign by lining up supporters, friendly media, and politicians ahead of time.
Be ready to respond to the down-the-rabbit-hole arguments of the Left like ‘your speech is violence, you have no right to speak’ or this beauty that came up at a cancelled event at Williams College:
This kind of craziness shows you the authoritarian Left not only doesn’t care about free speech; it’s overtly hostile to First Amendment values. The Left wants to shut you up and believes it is within inches of finishing off the political Right once and for all. So the stakes are very high. Unless the Right gets better at neutralizing cancel culture, you can say goodbye to your free speech and to any kind of America you would want to call home. The manual is my modest contribution to preventing this from happening. It’s free for the asking to my friends on the political Right.