Day 2421 – Day 2432
I have crossed the great divide. I have crossed the generational divide and apparently the “woke” divide. When HRH The Duke of Edinburgh died this past week, I saw again the generational divide on the royal family and I was not on the “woke” side of the divide. To be fair, I find myself less and less on that side of the divide anymore – not because I’m not a champion of social justice but because it seems – too frequently – to go hand in hand, lately, with cancel-culture.
I would never call myself a traditionalist or a conservative but I do value good manners, which seem to be a thing of the past. Of course, when I was in the UK, I knew far more people with traditional manners and I found myself sometimes embarrassed by my fellow Canadians who acted superior, entitled and privileged, overseas. I had a fellow Canadian who was staying temporarily in the UK tell me (online) that they “pay to live in the UK,” because they spend their wages there, so they can make fun of the dead Prince and can crap on the institution of the monarchy and that those who don’t like it can “suck it.” There were more off-colour words from other commenters. I guess what that person didn’t realize, being on a 1-year “working holiday” visa that is a special privilege for young people of the Commonwealth countries, was that if the Queen is removed, then that would end the Commonwealth and also their visa to be in the country, in the first place.
The comment demonstrated, at least to me, that there is a belief that money buys anything, including the right to live wherever we want, it affords us the right to throw out manners, and we don’t need to respect the leadership or system of governance of the host country. Essentially, it confers the right to impose our beliefs on the culture we are visiting, even though we have no intention of staying and making it our home. It also tells me that opinion trumps reason and even points of fact, for some people.
I also notice that many Canadians herald themselves as being superior in terms of etiquette to the British (to anyone, really) whilst simultaneously looking down their nose at the people and the culture of the country in which they are a guest. When I was raised, we acted courteously towards our hosts and if we thought they were jerks, or that their house was crap, we kept that to ourselves whilst we were in their homes. Of course, if we bought the home and moved in, we could trash the place if we liked. And I kind of feel the same about being an extended visitor to a country. When I was on a visa in the USA, I respected the office of the President, whether I would have chosen the incumbent or not. Even if I had the belief (which I don’t) that the USA should do away with the presidency and take back the British Monarchy as their supreme ruler, I would have thought it uncouth to be publicly trashing the president and first lady and making jokes about the death of one of them. I would call that bad manners, as a guest.
This week, I saw Canadians, living in Britain, making comments about HRH’s aged and rotting appearance, hours after he died. He said some off colour remarks more than 20 years ago and so they decided that he was nothing more than a racist. And because he said racist things back then, it was permissible for Canadians of all races to say ageist things about him and the Queen, now. I’m not an apologist for his comments but haven’t women been liberated from responsibility for their husbands? Why batter the Queen? Maybe my white privilege is in the way of seeing the logic of that.
Many people took offence to the ageism but were shouted down, and anyone who tried to paint a balanced picture of the man by mentioning his life of public service was mobbed.
I got mobbed, cursed at, and called out for something I said (in error), without having seen a previous comment. I admitted my mistake but even when I apologized for having misspoken, I was mobbed. Apology NOT accepted. Once mistaken, always evil.
There is no room for a moderate opinion or human error. I happen to believe that a person is complex and has admirable and less admirable qualities and that all people make mistakes. Our principles of justice and mercy allow for atonement of errors, in our culture. But it seems increasingly so that wherever “woke” cancel-culture hones in on someone, if there is anything imperfect in the person, or in their history, they are absolutely BAD and to be damned. Forever and ever, amen.
Absolutism is something I think we should be very wary of.
I had a call with a long-time friend today. She said to me that “now is the time to silence herself and let other voices be heard.” I agree with amplifying voices that haven’t been heard and of using our platforms to do that, but I don’t think it requires our own voices to be silenced. There is intersectionality to privilege and we are still women, after all. She told me that she was afraid of the consequences of saying anything these days and it was this mobbing and absolutism of the “woke” cancel-culture that she feared. My friend thinks that by keeping silent, the mob will create for themselves a backlash worse than anything she could say.
But, a culture of bullying is where we are headed if we don’t slow this ship down and consider the course. With bullying comes a culture of silence, even in the face of what one might believe is morally wrong. Nobody wants to get shot. We’ve been there before and history shows us that it doesn’t turn out well for anyone.
It feels strange though, to be on this side of the great divide. I’m younger than a boomer and I’m not a republican conservative. But, I’m really worried about the way that cancel-culture is both dumbing down the conversation with curse words, rejection of compromise and logical fallacies that leads to black and white thinking. I’m also concerned with its impact on free speech, for fear of being cancelled.
Call me privileged (I am, although I’m not as privileged as some). Call me Karen (that’s not my name). My goodness, even call me Boomer, if you must (I don’t fall into that demographic). Sticks and stones can’t dismiss me, break me or dissuade me from working for justice for all. And they will not silence me.
I’m grateful to have been raised the way I have been. I am grateful to continue to be a moderate, who judges issues on their own merit rather than by ideology. I’m going to stick to moderation, traditional manners, to rational discussion and to the view that all voices can and should be heard, even if some need amplification to counter a long history of marginalization. I hope I don’t fall, or get pushed, into the great chasm that exits in the divide.