The History of Cancel Culture

History and Present-Day Deniers Seek to Modify Society, Generally to Totalitarian Class-Specific Ends

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Nazi book burning; an act of cancel culture
Nazi book burning; an act of cancel culture
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What does the term “cancel culture” mean today? says it is, “the phenomenon or practice of publicly rejecting, boycotting, or ending support for particular people or groups because of their socially or morally unacceptable views or actions: Cancel culture can ruin careers, but it can also make a public figure think twice before posting controversial comments,” and “the phenomenon or practice of publicly rejecting, boycotting, or ending support for particular people or groups because of their socially or morally unacceptable views or actions: Cancel culture can ruin careers, but it can also make a public figure think twice before posting controversial comments.1

So, you should be concerned, very concerned. We have this “new face” of this form of social engineering and revisionist history, but consider this tidbit from the World War II-era:

First they came for the Communists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Communist

Then they came for the Socialists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Socialist

Then they came for the trade unionists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a trade unionist

Then they came for the Jews

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Jew

Then they came for me

And there was no one left

To speak out for me

Martin Niemöller, a German Lutheran pastor and theologian opposing the Nazi rise to power

History of Cancel Culture

It has always been used by the powerful to control and isolate the elements of society that they disapproved of. Ironically, today the tables have been somewhat turned via the tools of the internet and social media in particular. Fake news is a particularly efficient vehicle. Here are some examples from a historical perspective.

Where did it all start? Most likely it has been with us from the beginning when a caveman was ostracized from the group for some slight or inability to contribute to the survival of the group. As historically documented though, American Thinker tells us, “Cancel culture has its roots in intolerance dating back to the French Revolution (1789-1794), when Robespierre’s Reign of Terror resulted in some 30,000 deaths — a period accompanied by a concerted effort to erase and destroy Christianity and its traditions and institutions.  The culmination of that phase of the French Revolution was marked by the regimes’ installation of a prostitute as head of the Notre Dame Cathedral.  With that affront to decency and elimination of God, Robespierre and his successors thought they could rule without moral constraints. “2

Russia introduced a kind of Photoshop mentality to the concept. As the head of Red Army, Leon Trotsky was instrumental in making the communist revolution come to fruition for Vladimir Lenin, and for his successor Stalin after the former died in 1924.  However, by 1927, Stalin had purged Trotsky from the now-powerful Communist Party and Soviet politics. He expelled him from the country in 1929. Then Stalin assembled a team to erase all photographs as well as references to Trotsky in each and every historical record. When the order ultimately went out to have him assassinated years later, the cancellation had been done and there was hardly an official record or photograph left showing that Trotsky ever even graced Russia with his presence.

China was hardly different. Mao Zedong’s communist revolution was founded on historical determinism. This was a fundamental tenet of this flavor of Marxism that required the cancellation of past history and the subordination of its citizens to the collective identity of the communist state. During the Cultural Revolution between 1966 and 1976, Mao instructed his Red Guards to unify the country’s populace to cancel and rid itself of what he held to be the so-called “Four Olds”: Old customs, Old culture, Old habits, and Old ideas. The result was devastating, with Chinese people turning on each other and confused, brainwashed youth betraying their own siblings parents, and grandparents. At the end of it all, Mao’s Great Leap Forward and the Chinese Cultural Revolution were responsible for at least 40 million deaths, both those for which Mao was ultimately responsible and those that sprung from the draconian, disastrous policies he obstinately refused to change.

The Current American Cancel Culture

Until recently, most Americans were rolling right along, prospering financially, advancing technologically, and seemingly happy as the proverbial clam. All was not so with the government apparatchiks in Washington. The mainstream media, in their own bellicose style, were alternately promoting the far-left agenda, and “reporting” (rather, chopped, pressed, and formed; just like your favorite pseudo-food) events with such a spin that fact-checkers couldn’t keep up. No matter, the fact-checkers in their employ were hardly non-partisan anyway. Classic smoke and mirrors.

Black Lives Matter and Antifa entered the fray, orchestrating and participating in “peaceful” rioting, looting, destruction of both public and private property, and mercilessly beating anyone wearing a red MAGA hat. Others eagerly began to participate. Colin Kaepernick fanned the flames of the abolish-the-police faction of the movement with his infamous pig socks which he gladly flaunted to the press. Nike corporate capitulated and responded by signing him as their flagship lackey. College students were rallied in their legions by progressive tenured professors who had been roused from the slumber of their dotage by all the hoopla. The stage having been set, the left began making damnfools of corporate America and dismantling or renaming (taming) these icons of industry:

  1. The Muppets. Inanimate puppets which PBS saw as racially diverse are now seen by the far left as insulting. How does one meander further left than PBS?
  2. Aunt Jemima. Because you have to slave over a hot stove to get those pancakes out.
  3. Mrs. Butterworth’s. The same as her colleague Jemima but with the added slur of using a pronoun that is not LGBT-approved. Also, “Mrs.” rather than “Ms” is supportive of the ersatz concept of patriarchy.
  4. Uncle Ben’s Rice. Lawd no!
  5. Cream of Wheat. There’s a tiny picture of a Chef-of-Color on the box. Real black men aren’t stereotypical cooks unless it’s barbecue in a beer ad.
  6. Eskimo Pies. I get it — Associating indigenous peoples with a frozen confection is racist.
  7. Land O’ Lakes Butter. Lose the Indian maiden logo; alert all dictionary publishers to red-line the word “squaw.”
  8. Gone With the Wind. No longer a valid historical drama and brilliant cinemagraphic presentation because it not only portrays not only slaves-of-color but female slaves-of-color. You damn misogynistic bigots! Two strikes, damn your eyes!
  9. Cleveland Indians baseball team mascot. Because they don’t win enough?
  10. Washington Redskins team mascot. See number 9.
  11. Mr. Potato Head. Just because of the pronoun “Mr.” Company representatives actually said they didn’t want to limit its gender choices. #tubersaregenderfree
  12. Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer. They are saying it’s because he’s a bully. The way I remember it, he was the one excluded from the reindeer games and therefore, the victim. Besides not even getting the story line straight before passing judgement, it’s fiction, you progressive bullies!
  13. Dr. Seus. Oh, for crying out loud. They say the author may have had some racist tendencies which he evolved from post-puberty. When in doubt, pillory and convict.

Did Speaker of the House Pelosi Attempt to Cancel Trump in Violation of the U.S. Constitution?

Judicial Watch, a constitutional watchdog group working in the public interest, has filed a FOIA suit against the U.S. Department of Defense for records of Pelosi’s January 8, 2021, telephone call with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of Defense (No 1:21-cv-00593)3 to answer this question.

At the heart of the matter is a phone call that Speaker of the House Pelosi made to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley regarding President Trump. She acknowledges that the call was “to discuss available precautions for preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike. The situation of this unhinged President could not be more dangerous, and we must do everything that we can to protect the American people from his unbalanced assault on our country and our democracy.”

The problem, as the Wall Street Journal editorial page sees it is, “Mrs. Pelosi’s call to Gen. Milley is itself a violation of the separation of powers by seeking to inject herself into an executive-branch military decision. She can offer advice all she wants, but this call at this time has the sound of an order. It might even be construed by some as its own little coup—conniving with the military to relieve of command the person who remains the elected President.”4

Did the CDC Communicate with Big Tech about COVID-19?

Big Tech has taken upon itself the mantle of Ministry of Health Truth by censoring users and doctors with which its opinions disagree. It demands that everyone march in lockstep. To what extent has the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) been involved in this?

Judicial Watch has filed another lawsuit to get to the bottom of this to which they say, “The public has the right to know about CDC’s involvement in Big Tech’s outrageous censorship of Americans, including doctors, who raise questions about the COVID-19 response. The Biden administration should stop stonewalling and release the records about the CDC’s role in suppressing the free speech of Americans.”

The bottom line is that the history of cancel culture and denial of truth is as old as mankind itself but is perhaps more dangerous today than it has ever been. Totalitarianism? Do you think it can’t happen here? The very fact that so many people are willing to accept erasing and banning from society something as mundane as a cartoon character because a manipulative minority finds it offensive (or contrary to a radical political agenda) speaks volumes. Inevitably, the pendulum swings, as it always does.

Further Reading


  1., Definition of Cancel Culture,
  2. Scott S. Powell, American Thinker, Cancel Culture: Its Origins and Implications for America,
  3. Judicial Watch, JW v. HHS CDC Social Media complaint 00625,
  4. The Wall Street Journal, A Coup of Pelosi’s Own,

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

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