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Cancel Culture!

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Granted we’re not talking about Oberlin undergraduates, but…

Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers wept on the Senate floor Monday in talking about how hurt he was to see the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team kneeling during the national anthem before a game Saturday at Florida.

Stivers said the kneeling is protected by freedom of speech. “Was it at the right place or the right time, that is debatable,” he said before reading a letter of his uncle, Franklin Stivers, in combat during the Korean War in December 1950, and talking about his son’s duty in the military.

Stivers’ emotional speech highlighted a round of reaction across the state regarding the kneeling.

Laurel County Sheriff John Root and Jailer Jamie Mosely held a “burning party” of UK basketball apparel in protest. Root said on a Facebook post that UK may have won the game but lost respect. He criticized coach John Calipari, who joined the team in kneeling, for allowing the event.

Calipari defended his players, saying they care about the United States and are trying to understand life. The players said their action was in protest for various reasons, including racial injustice and the riot last Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol.

Calipari is cancelled! University of Kentucky paraphernalia is ON FIRE! But since we’re talking about powerful public officials acting in their official governmental capacity in the Kentucky Capitol instead of woke college students in a cafeteria, I have my doubts that either the Atlantic or the Army of the Anti-Woke Substack will express much interest. Criticism of cancel culture only matters when the weak criticizing the powerful, never when those who occupy high office attack college students exercising their rights of free expression.

This happens for two reasons; first, the Army of the Anti-Woke Substack has a set of frankly bizarre ideas about where power lies in American politics and American society. It is not faintly uncommon for politicians like Stivers to make comments like this about things that are happening on college campuses, but such critiques are never read as “cancel culture” because they are so common that there’s nothing new or interesting to say about them. A screed against Stivers doesn’t generate the Substack subscriptions, and won’t get you a lede at the Atlantic, so why even bother paying attention. Second, it is the implicit belief of the Army of the Anti-Woke Substack that places like Kentucky simply don’t exist, and that consequently figures like Stivers have no power and are not worthy of attention. The only exception to this is when reporters must be sent on a Cletus Safari to find out that Real Americans in small, white rural towns actually don’t think that black lives matter.

Of course, Stivers comments are completely idiotic and should be ignored. Many of the complaints that woke undergrads make are also completely idiotic and should be ignored. Neither of these phenomena represent a crisis for the Republic, of which we are not at the moment lacking.

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