June 10, 2021
I first experienced the “cancel culture” of the left in 1999, when The New York Times Magazine featured a lengthy article on me: “The Disciples of Discipline,” written by one Susan Bolotin. In preparation for the article, Bolotin had come to our home to interview me and Willie and our son Eric and then to a speaking engagement of mine in Wichita, Kansas, that attracted over one thousand “disciples,” as she called them. She also interviewed my mother, Emily. Not knowing that Mom’s marriage to my abusive stepfather had taken a heavy emotional toll, Bolotin seemed to revel in the fact that she was not speaking to me at the time. (As the result of my persistent efforts, Mom and I subsequently, after said stepfather’s passing, mended the fence.)
In the original text of the article, as it first appeared, Bolotin – self-described as liberal, feminist, and Jewish – engaged in amateur psychoanalysis and had the unmitigated gall to call me an anti-Semite. Mind you, my stepfather was Jewish, and my mother converted to Judaism after they married. I was raised in a household where Jewish religious and cultural traditions were honored and in which I participated willingly. I took a great deal of value from that childhood experience. I felt bigotry as a child, and I unequivocally reject bigotry of any sort.
The tone of Bolotin’s article was, in my estimation, sarcastic. She would say it was “balanced,” I’m sure. She did interview parents who agreed with and credited me for restoring confidence in their authority and peace to their families. Nonetheless, her overall tone was ascerbic, even mocking. But Bolotin’s kiss of death was her claim that I was anti-Semitic. My lawyer subsequently called the Times and told them we were going to sue if they did not retract, upon which they changed the wording of the article to read “angry at his parents’ religion” prior to sending it out to their subscriber newspapers. By then, the original wording had done its damage. The organizers of a speaking engagement in Connecticut cancelled because they did not want to be seen sponsoring a bigot. No telling how many other potential sponsors decided I was untouchable.
No big deal. I know who I am and am not. Furthermore, that experience with the NYTM was quite instructive. For one thing, I’ve not granted an interview to a liberal publication since. For another, it gave me an eye-opening glimpse into the mindset of the left. They are not, as Bolotin was not, interested in objectivity when it comes to a point of view other than their own. Rather, their objective is to deny validity, discredit, and cancel.
Case in point: A year or so ago, a fellow described himself to me as progressive. When I asked him to define progressive, he said he was “open-minded and tolerant.” The next day, in response to a question from him, I said that yes, I did believe that “a guy who died two thousand years ago then brought Himself back to life” (his words). His rejoinder: “Oh! That’s truly idiotic!” Tolerant and open minded? He no doubt continues to think of himself as such.
Historians looking back on these postmodern times will no doubt comment on the disintegration of rational, respectful discourse between the right and the left. I propose that said disintegration is primarily a function of the left’s intellectual dishonesty. Not to say that everyone on the left is intellectually dishonest (as in, unwilling to give objective consideration to an opposing point of view) or that everyone on the right is not, mind you. Nonetheless, if my experience since becoming a conservative in 1992 is valid, the indictment is generally accurate.
Challenge a liberal and they get shrill and begin calling you names. Challenge a conservative and they attempt to explain their position and change your mind. It’s fairly easy to tell when a person’s thought processes are open to change and vice versa. The former ask questions and listen to the answers. The latter become upset, dismissive, and deprecating.
There are some aspects of intelligence that IQ tests don’t measure.
Copyright 2021, John K. Rosemond