America’s radical left has immense cultural power. A leftist volley of hatred and violence is unleashed on any conservative who crosses them, whether intentionally or not. The left diligently tracks down information about conservatives and their jobs, friends, family, and attempts to cancel them. The left considers the loss of livelihood or relationships to be the price of dissent.
That’s what happened to conservative journalist Amber Athey.
After Athey made a joke about Vice President Kamala Harris’ outfit at last year’s State of the Union address, enraged leftists harassed her employer, a talk radio station in Washington, D.C., into firing her.
Athey sees her experience as a further proof that the right must fight the Left on the same battlefield and cancel them.
“I feel like if all of the cultural signals are that employers and society respond to cancellation attempts, then I don’t see any reason why conservatives shouldn’t try to wield that same power,” Athey says. “I don’t think it’s too far for conservatives to do the same thing back and show them this is the logical conclusion of the societal culture that you’ve created.”
Athey joins the show as a guest to discuss how conservatives can fight against cancel culture and how the left uses its cultural power.
Doug Blair: My guest today is Amber Athey, Washington editor at The Spectator, senior fellow at The Steamboat Institute, and host of the “Unfit to Print” podcast. Amber, welcome on the show.
Amber Athey:Thank you for being here.
Blair: Yeah, it’s a pleasure. One thing I love about you is that you are so outspoken about cancel culture and the woke mob. You are actually a victim of cancelculture relatively recently. Would you be willing to share your story, including the events and where you came from?
Athey: Yeah, absolutely. I was a co-host on a morning radio show in D.C. on WMAL, which is a conservative radio station, alongside Larry O’Connor and several women. This was a part-time job. I was only available two days per week. I was there for six months.
And then during the State of the Union address, I decided to mock Vice President Kamala Harris’ outfit, which a lot of people were doing because it was just objectively not a good outfit. For people who haven’t seen it, or maybe don’t remember, it was that drab brown pantsuit or skirt suit where she was blending into the leather chair behind her.
My crack was that she looked just like a UPS employee. If you’re too young to know, I think most people listening to this probably know that the UPS slogan until about five to 10 years ago was, “What can brown do for you?” So I said, “What can brown do for you? Nothing good, apparently,” because obviously, Kamala Harris is pretty incompetent.
This joke worked for a few weeks. Because they all understood the point, nobody seemed disturbed by it. But after I got into a debate on Twitter with some pro-child genital mutilation people, like the pro-trans lobby, they decided that I needed to be canceled because I don’t believe that children should be allowed to undergo surgeries or hormone therapy to try to change their gender.
They needed to remove me from the public square. So they went back into my twitter, searched for a reason to cancel me, found the Kamala Tweet, and decided to completely reframe the tweet as being about her race. This says a lot about them more than it does me. Because who thinks that only black people are eligible to work at UPS? That’s kind of racist, I think.
They started to send emails to my employers. The Spectator and The Steamboat Institute laughed at the whole thing because they thought it was absurd. Surprisingly, WMAL, and specifically Cumulus Media, received a few email messages, and called me a day later to inform me that I was being fired.
I didn’t even get a chance to defend myself. I didn’t get to explain the tweet. They just told me, “Your tweet was racist. We don’t condone racism. You’re out. Goodbye. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”
Blair: I mean, it’s crazy that that happened because the left routinely says vile things about conservatives with seemingly no consequences. And I guess one of the things that I always find so strange is that there’s no concerted response from conservatives other than to call it out and just say, “Hey, that’s weird.” The left never faces the consequences. What should conservatives do? What should we do?
Athey: Yeah. I know that this is probably controversial, but I feel like if all of the cultural signals are that employers and society respond to cancellation attempts, then I don’t see any reason why conservatives shouldn’t try to wield that same power because if you’re talking about preventing people from making a living, people have actually been debanked. Because their GoFundMe fundraiser was removed, truckers in Canada were not permitted to raise money to support their legal efforts.
People are being removed from social media, they’re losing friends, family members, being basically unable to participate in society. I don’t think it’s too far for conservatives to do the same thing back and show them this is the logical conclusion of the societal culture that you’ve created.
For example, recently there was this professor from Carnegie Mellon University who, after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, decided to say that she hoped that her death was incredibly painful and that she suffered because she was complicit in colonization, which, besides the fact that it’s not even true, she actually had a great hand in allowing a lot of these colonies to become independent. What kind of sick person would wish death on a beloved matriarch who has been a stabilizing force in England for 70-years?
People were complaining on Twitter and posting screenshots. She replied to them and I just sent an e-mail to the school.
Why is it so difficult for conservatives to tell these people about their behavior, even if they are not working in those institutions? You’re right that they still don’t face the consequences, even when we do that. The university condemned the professor but did not take any disciplinary action. However, I believe that if conservatives do it in a concerted manner and in a collective effort, it will eventually have an impact on the left.
Blair: Sure. Have we seen any instances where that has happened, where we have successfully been able to, for lack of a better term, cancel somebody on the left for behavior that they’ve done against the right?
Athey: Yeah, I think there’s been a couple. Sarah Jeong, editor at The New York Times, was supposed to be one of the members of the editorial board. They kinda quietly let her go after that.
So a lot of conservatives, I think, didn’t even realize that they had a hand in this, but she had this series of anti-white, anti-police, really gross tweets, and conservatives did the thing, they did the cancel culture, and they tweeted them out and sent them to The New York Times, and were just kind of relentless about it for a couple of weeks. It was only a few months later that she joined that they quietly dismissed her. This was just one example.
Then there’s also been a couple of times where I think conservatives sort of mockingly or sarcastically point out old tweets that leftists have that could be considered offensive, such as in the case of Alexi McCammond, who was sent over to Teen Vogue to be its new editor-in-chief, and then they actually successfully managed to get the woke mob to jump on those tweets.
The woke mob began to say that Alexi McCammond (who I believe is half-black) was a racist against Asian people and she lost her job at Teen Vogue.
So there’s smaller instances of this happening, and I think it’s good evidence that if we’re more intentional about it, that it can actually be a successful method.
Blair: Mm-hmm. Blair: Mm-hmm. Which gets to my next point, does this system create an “eye for an eye makes the world blind” mentality where now, all of a sudden, it’s just an arms race to cancel more people on both sides?
Athey: I mean, yes, it is sort of a tool of retaliation, but I don’t think that that’s necessarily a bad thing. I mean, when people are actively hurting you and trying to make it so that you can’t support yourself or your family or that you’re not allowed to participate in society, then I don’t think it’s unjust or unreasonable to fight back and try to stand up for yourself.
In the aftermath of being fired from the radio station, one of my goals was to call people to action. What can you do to support people whose radio stations have been cancelled? You can tell the company that they fired you that they did something terrible.
I know for certain that Cumulus received a hundred more communications in support me than they did when the firing took place. This should make it clear that the executives will think twice about trying to fire anyone who is accused of being racist, sexist or homophobic or whatever the allegation might be.
We must also stop funding and supporting these places. The Daily Wire is a great organization and The Daily Signal does a great job in trying to create alternative ecosystems of media and entertainment so that people can get the content they want without having to give money to people who hate them.
Blair: Mm-hmm. Speaking of race and some of the leftist nonsense surrounding race, you’ve been talking a lot about the Rachel Richardson incident recently with [Brigham Young University]. They could not find any evidence that this particular black male athlete had yelled racist slurs at it. It seems like the demand for hate crime covers more than the supply. Why is that, that the left continues to do this, even though it doesn’t actually seem like there are hate crimes to cover?
Athey: Well, for them, it’s about power, and more specifically, the power to silence. You cannot hold a guilt trip over people about race or sexuality or gender ideology unless you can have these purported incidents of these people being harmed, right, so they have to make sure that the classes that they claim are marginalized, there’s some proof of them actually being marginalized.
The left is guilty of guilt-tripping and hostage-taking. They claim that conservative politics is literally killing people. Or they point out police shootings at unarmed black men. This is a function of how many white men police encounter due to crimes. You can go on and on.
But these individual anecdotes are ways to try to lord over the right’s head, “What you’re doing is hurting us, what you’re doing is hurting us, and so you have to stop.” Most compassionate people will immediately respond, “I don’t want to hurt you. I don’t want my politics to harm you. I’m trying to make the world a better place.”
And so, if you accept their framework, if you accept the base logic of their ideas, then your first instinct is to stop whatever you’re doing. That’s how, really, how they get people to fall into their camp. The fabricated hate crimes are just one way they can create these incidents to guilt-trick people into accepting their progressive, woke views.
Blair: It seems that the left is encouraging a culture of victimhood, where your cache comes down to how victimized you are. It reminds me of Andrew Breitbart’s maxim that “politics is downstream of culture.” I guess my question for you is, what are your thoughts on that maxim? What direction do you see American culture heading as a writer about culture? Is it moving in a positive direction? Do you see any resistance to this victimhood mentality?
Athey: Well, I think it’s 100% true that politics is downstream from culture because over the past 20 years, we’ve really seen major nonpolitical institutions become aggressively political, and it’s not because the Democratic Party told them to do, it’s because a vocal minority of really aggressive activists actually infiltrated those institutions and started pushing culture in a certain direction.
This culture ended up trickling into the body politic, Congress, as well as the White House. It wasn’t the other way around. Hollywood, higher education, Big Tech, the media, these major institutions went far left, I think, before “the squad” ever existed, or before those ideas ever existed in Congress.
There’s a couple of reasons for that. One reason is that these people were indoctrinated by an education system that emphasized those values.
But then another reason is that, specifically in the corporate world, in terms of economics and bureaucracy, it’s more efficient for people to all believe the same thing. It’s easier to control people if they all believe the same thing, and they don’t want independent thinkers because that makes them unpredictable, and therefore, more difficult to work under you.
So yeah, I think that’s 100% true.
I see positive signs in culture. I see conservatives making an effort to find alternatives for a lot the monopolistic institutions which control so much our culture. I see conservatives becoming more adept at boycotting entertainment companies like Disney and Netflix. I also see conservatives using their legislative power to oppose institutions that would culturally harm them.
That’s not to say that we’re on the verge of victory or anything, there’s a long way to go, but I think there’s good signs that not even just conservatives, but just normal people who don’t want politics in everything, every single facet of their life, are really fed up with this and are trying to find some other way to live their lives outside of this woke bubble that really encompasses so much of what we do in society.
Blair: Last note. I wanted to address something you wrote about trade schools versus college in The Spectator. And you wrote, “It’s reductionist and not very helpful to tell young people that college isn’t ever worth their time.”
There does seem to be a very strong push, at least from the conservative movement, that college just isn’t worth it, it’s been taken over by the left, it’s an indoctrination center for people, it’s not actually useful anymore. What is your argument that that’s maybe reductionist?
Athey: Yeah. So, I speak personally. My father was a plumber all his life. His body was pretty much destroyed by the time he was 45 or 50 years old. He had a lot of doctor visits and medical issues, and really, just worked himself to death, basically, and didn’t make enough money to really justify it, right? So, I think there needs to be more nuance in the discussion.
It’s not the right solution for everybody to just go enter a trade school. It’s not that simple. There’s a lot of trade-offs that you have to consider when you’re doing that. Not everybody’s going to be like my dad, but it’s a real possibility, and the statistics for workplace injury, death, depression, addiction, suicide are much higher in manual labor jobs. I believe we need to be realistic about this with young people.
Trades are an option for some people who don’t want to go to college. For other people, college can be an important tool for them if they shop correctly so that they’re not graduating with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt, so that they’re going to a school that is not indoctrinating them, or that they’re intelligent enough and prepared enough to resist that indoctrination, and they’re majoring in something that is actually going to bear a fruitful job with stability.
So there’s all different kinds of things that we need to weigh, and I just worry that when conservatives tell people, “College is a scam,” or, “Don’t go to college,” that we’re missing the fact that society still really incentivizes people to get college degrees, and we’re setting people up for failure if we tell all of our offspring to not go to college, right?
Blair: Interesting. Well, that was Amber Athey, Washington editor at The Spectator, senior fellow at The Steamboat Institute, and host of the “Unfit to Print” podcast. Amber, I greatly appreciate your time.
Athey:We are grateful.
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