Cancel culture is running rampant throughout colleges across the nation, and some believe that it can even be likened to the Red Scare of 1947 to 1957. Historically speaking, the decade-long Red Scare saw more than 100 college professors losing their jobs over real or completely fabricated claims that they expressed sympathy for communists. This brand of hysteria, also referred to as McCarthyism, has recently resurfaced on college campuses throughout America.
According to the book, “The Canceling of the American Mind,” by Greg Lukianoff and Rikki Schlott, campus cancel culture is a serious cause for concern. The concept of punishing people for expressing their thoughts and opinions is nothing short of outrageous, as free speech has been an American right protected by the First Amendment since being added to the U.S. Constitution in 1791.
“Cancel culture” really took off in 2014 and has been the root cause of people getting “fired, expelled, de-platformed” or penalized in other ways for simply speaking their mind. Statistics show that much like the Red Scale, we will be studying this period of “cancel culture” in about 50 to 100 years from now. Over the course of nine and a half years, more than 1,000 have been launched to get college professors fired over their academic freedom. In the process, educators have been slandered and maligned in an effort to publicly humiliate them while sullying their hard-earned reputations. Of those 1,000 smear campaigns, two-thirds of them were successful in getting professors penalized for utilizing free speech. Close to 200 professors ended up getting fired as a result, which is double the number of dismissals recorded during the Red Scare.
The 1,000 professors who have been punished is almost certainly a lowball estimate, as one in six college educators have experienced discipline or have been threatened with it for their “radical politics.” One in three professors have admitted to being “pressured by colleagues” to avoid discussing controversial topics in the classroom. A survey conducted during the Red Scare asked nearly 2,500 professors if they were censoring themselves due to the political climate. Nine percent of professors confessed to self-censoring, which doesn’t seem bad at first, but it is quite high by historical standards. Today, almost 90% of professors are staying silent on controversial issues for fear of being “canceled” or losing their jobs.
A lot has changed from a societal standpoint since the 1950s. For starters, we are much less politically diverse on college campuses than ever before. In the 1950s, there were an estimated two liberals to every one conservative within a classroom. In 2023, conservatives have largely been largely wiped from existence. There are entire higher education departments without even one conservative person, especially in elite universities. There is no right or wrong when it comes to owning a personal opinion. However, college professors have been silenced by the threat of being ousted from their jobs and society itself if they suggest anything that doesn’t completely aligned with liberal ideals. According to Lukianoff,” Cancel culture doesn’t just cancel people — it cancels culture itself.”