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Monsters Of Cancel Culture

Billy Mumy in the Twilight Zone (screengrab/CBS/You Tube)

Here’s the latest wisdom from the actress who originated the role of Eliza in Hamilton on Broadway:

When I tell you that these cancel culture goons are monsters, I mean it. They are all Little Anthony from that famous Twilight Zone episode. He’s the brat who had all the adults in his life terrified of him because he could destroy them if he was displeased with them. Here’s a summary clip:

A reader passes along an infuriating story of cancel culture from Denver. This poor liberal white guy who runs a super-hippie-ish, woke chain of yoga studios found his business destroyed virtually overnight from BIPOC staffers. From the Colorado Sun‘s story:

The owner of Kindness Yoga, and one of the most well-known yogis in Denver, is struggling to piece together the words to explain what happened — in the span of a week — to his once-stellar reputation and his 19-year-old business. He is stunned, though remorseful. He is eager to speak up, yet on edge for fear of saying anything that could make all of this any worse.

”My goal is to represent our attempts at being a diverse, inclusive place where people felt like they belonged,” he begins, slowly. “I may not say things perfectly … I’m practicing learning how to speak in a way that is more inclusive and caring of diversity.”

He’s shattered. What happened? This:

Harrington, a straight, white guy who expanded Kindness to nine studios and 160 employees across metro Denver, announced last week that he was closing them all after a handful of yoga teachers, including a Black woman and a transgender man, called out Kindness on social media for “performative activism” and “tokenization of Black and brown bodies.” The teachers’ public comments, following a Black Lives Matter post on Kindness’ Instagram page that they termed too little, too late, evoked a backlash that was fierce and immediate.

Within 48 hours, as the nightly protests over police violence unfolded around the Capitol in Denver, just three blocks from Kindness’ Capitol Hill studio, the yoga company received nearly 400 emails from students who were upset, including many wanting to cancel their memberships. A week later, the emails had reached 800 and counting. Harrington has yet to read all of them, but with each one he opened, the direction his already precarious business was heading grew ever more clear.

“Performative activism” means that he was an activist, but the woke police decided that he didn’t really mean it. Harrington is so woke that prior to the blow-up, his studios even had segregated person-of-color yoga nights

But outside the public space of yoga class, some teachers who identify as gay or trans or as BIPOC (Black or Indigenous people of color) were asking for change and said they got no meaningful response from management.

The grievances aired on social media in the last several days described — with few specifics — a culture where the voices of minorities and LGBTQ teachers were not heard. In interviews with The Colorado Sun, yoga teachers Jordan Smiley, who is Indigenous and transgender, and Davidia Turner, who is Black, said the white management team at Kindness was not willing to put in the work to make change.

For example, Turner said, the board of directors declined to hire an outside diversity expert as she suggested, instead “cherry-picking” certain diverse members of the staff that they felt comfortable talking to about race and inclusivity. After hearing that Kindness’ website was too white-centric, management then invited people of color and other minorities to an hours-long yoga photoshoot. They were accused of “tokenism.”

After she helped destroy the man’s livelihood, and put 160 people out of work, Davidia Turner blames Harrington for being upset:

Turner also posted a video to her blog, railing against the former CEO’s tears as well as Harrington’s expression of “sadness” regarding her resignation.

“The weaponizing of sadness and tears is infuriating,” Turner said in her viral video. “It is one of the more insidious factors of white supremacy and whiteness. And it is used as a tool and as a tactic to make me feel in this Black body that I have done something inherently wrong to bring this sadness upon you.”

On her Instagram account, Turner asked her 4,520 followers to continue calling out not just Kindness but other yoga studios. “This is a rallying cry for every white-owned yoga studio to step the (expletive) up and be better,” she wrote. In a post called “action steps,” she provided Harrington’s email and phone number and requested that people not only ask Harrington to “provide reparations” to his minority teachers, but to cancel their yoga memberships.

Davidia Turner and Jordan Smiley, a trans indigenous yogi who helped wreck Kindness Yoga, are starting their own yoga studios. What better way to launch than by convincing people that your former employer (and future competitor) is a racist whose business deserves to be destroyed — and oh, by the way, tell him to pay us “reparations.”

An older black man, an immigrant who taught at Kindness, can’t understand why these people went after Harrington:

“As a Black person, I have been asking this myself the last few days: How come I never felt it? How come I never experienced it?” said Abraham, who is a father of two and a retiree from the City of Denver. “I’m not shy. If I catch you doing something, I am going to call you out.

“I didn’t see it. I loved the place — that’s why I made it home.”

To Abraham, Kindness felt like it was owned by its teachers and students. They set the tone for its culture. Some students paid as little as $1 to attend a class because that’s what they could afford, he said.

Lord have mercy, this studio let poor people come train for a token amount, to do them a favor. But now it’s gone, because Little Jordan and Little Davidia accused Harrington of thinking Bad Thoughts™.

Read it all. 

The only way this might stop is for people like Harrington to find a lawyer who will work pro bono, and sue privileged bullies like Davidia Turner and Jordan Smiley into the ground. Harrington’s not going to be the guy to do it. Read the story to the very last line, and see how this abused progressive is trying to convince himself that he deserved what happened to him, because of “white privilege.”

No. The privileged people here are the Sacred Victims, Smiley and Turner, who have the power to destroy a two-decade old business that seemed to do a lot of good, and to be a model of progressive social-justice virtue. Harrington’s convictions are not mine, but I bet you’d have to look hard in Denver to find a small business owner who had done more right by the local community, in terms of progressive values, than him. None of that saved him when the tumbrils came. René Girard once wrote: “The current process of spiritual demagoguery and rhetorical overkill has transformed the concern for victims into a totalitarian command and a permanent inquisition.”

You can never do enough to pacify woke activists. They are totalitarians. They will not be happy until you entirely submit.

Today The New York Times sent me an electronic survey to fill out, explaining why I cancelled my subscription. One of the things I said was that I have come to believe that the Times runs its newsroom with active malice for people like me. Culturally and politically, I guess that I am about as far as you can get from the Kindness Yoga man. But none of that matters to the woke. What matters is that he is white and male and heterosexual, and therefore, the Enemy. The woke pogrom against Patrick Harrington did not happen in a vacuum. It happened in a culture that is articulated and amplified by our major media. The media gatekeepers have helped create this monster, and they’re feeding it.

UPDATE: A Czech friend writes:

Ah, but Harrington is the most logical target here. There is no point in attacking a Klansman. What would be the value? To prove that he’s racist? No. The target must be innocent and on the same side to instill fear in their own ranks so no one is secure in their position. They will purge themselves first – over and over again.This is straight out of the NKVD playbook.

UPDATE.2: Reader CaskStrengthJazz comments:

“No. The privileged people here are the Sacred Victims, Smiley and Turner, who have the power to destroy a two-decade old business that seemed to do a lot of good, and to be a model of progressive social-justice virtue.”

Precisely. Add to that Phillipa Soo being the daughter of a first generation Chinese-American doctor and an active mother who encouraged her in acting and drove her to eventually attend Juilliard and you have all the fixings of an incredibly privileged upbringing. And good for her: a father who immigrates here and does well is a testimony about what America is supposed to be about. A little gratitude perhaps and less willingness to destroy others? Yet she’s still sharing this garbage on her Twitter feed: an article called “‘Cancel Culture’ Is How the Powerful Play Victim” (as if only the rich get cancelled) is the most recent addition.

Meanwhile, whenever I see one of these cancel culture stories where the perpetrators are clearly identified, I look up what biographical information I can and see an abundance of them coming from similar backgrounds. Effete, well credentialed, upwardly mobile…regardless of background.

Meanwhile, I, the pestilential white heterosexual Christian male, grew up in a home with active drug and alcohol abuse and in which the shadows of two centuries of Appalachian poverty hung heavy in the air. In spite of it, armed with uncanny and congenital tenacity from a tender age, I strove and did well in school and somehow, inexplicably, didn’t have any real disciplinary record. I graduated at the top of my class and procured top ACT and SAT scores. However, when I went to apply to Ivies, a teacher I wanted to use as a reference told me she would recommend me as I was a strong student and was one of the favorites she had had, but that I had no chance of being accepted because I came from a rural white working class high school. She was right. I similarly strove throughout college, at a state school, working my way through due to my single mother’s job loss which has me straddled with student loan debt which persists to this day.

I still fared better than most of my white, working class neighborhood. Both sons from the house adjacent to the one in which I grew up are on drugs and have records. Same from the three boys across the street. Another house one boy moved to NYC, came out, and now has AIDS. Another from down the street got on meth, tried to blow his brains out with a shotgun but somehow survived…although not while debilitating himself to the point that he will spend the rest of his life in a minimum security state hospital. My own brother is in prison for criminal conversion to support his own heroin addiction. I asked him once, in one of his rare lucid moments, why he did drugs…he told me it was the only way to escape from being from our hometown…a blighted Rust Belt spit of nothing. Meanwhile I remain the sole male in the family to not have a criminal record, the only one to move away, and not just the only one to have gone to college but have four degrees no less. Yet, through it all, I have achieved virtually no upward mobility.

Now, I wonder whether if I persist in corporate America or start my own business that eventually this “cancel culture” will come for me. My Christian identity and conservative politics are well known, even if I have consciously begun curtailing their presentation. It really seems odd, through it all, that I should be considered “privileged” for all of this. Could I please not get cancelled by a self-righteous ingrate and, while we’re at it, get some of this “privilege” everyone keeps talking about?

UPDATE.3: Oh, so more information about Davidia Turner:

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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