Critically Considering Cancel Culture

What will you do now if you know that Smallpox and Cholera viruses, which are not man-made, were injected and tested by Japanese Military 731 units to more than 10,000 Chinese (average dead and disabled), as Japanese prisoners in the second world war? Would you ask China to send atomic bombs to Tokyo too? What will you do after knowing that the actions of the Mongols who expelled the Genoese from the city of Kaffa on the Black Sea by utilizing the bodies of humans infected with the bubonic plague? So that when the Genoese moved away to Venice, they were still followed by fleas and mice infected with bubonic plague which eventually caused a catastrophic “black death”  in the European region. So would you ask the Mova company to write the Mongol territory off the map?

What do you have in mind after knowing that the pandemic effect could have been minimized if China had not covered up information about the existence and  origin of coronavirus for a long time? Shouldn’t you ask Donlad Trump to destroy Beijing? Why do you call him racist just because of Kung Flu word? Or have you ever thought about canceling the founding of the American state after knowing that George Washinton, the father of the American nation, the Great General, finally turned against the British Empire after feeling the negative effects of the second-class status he and his colleagues felt, but on the other hand they were all still bound by culture slavery against blacks?

But everyone understands that at first George Washington was eager for official status and rank in the British army, so before he decided to fight back against the British Empire, he did many things in Virginia for the British Empire. He attacked and killed French diplomatic envoys, acted recklessly in signing handle a peace treaty with France which turns out to be recognition of the murder of the commander of the French diplomatic entourage, rescuing General Edward Braddock‘s army from the onslaught of the French and Indian tribes, etc. He did everything needed to get British recognition. After he turned to fight back, then all of the great American warriors only wanted the independence from Britain, they didn’t want to go to London and then destroy Buckingham palace,  the British Empire. Don’t you intend to go to London and tear down that palace right now?

So why don’t we destroy this world, like destroying the statues, then move to another planet? Or dissolve all institutions that represent democratic values, because democracy denies the sovereignty of God and transfers it into the hands of the people (people’s sovereignty, from, by and for the people)? Or it’s agreed the certain rules that should no longer show the skin in public space, so that all skin problems no longer conjure up new problems in the future? In other words, just cancel one part of our body, namely the skin.

The tendency to cancel everything in the past because it is considered incompatible with the present is not a realistic and fair attitude. The past is history, see and explore it as it was, give an assessment as it was, no problem if you do not accept, but you can not undo the past. Every period is bound by the agreement of the people who live in it. Can you imagine if William Lee, Washington’s slave who was paid for 30 dollars a year after suffering an injury while accompanying Washington in the revolutionary war, was proposed to become president after George Washington stepped down? What will happen to American State that was still baby then? I am sure, a civil war will come sooner and America will fail to become a nation state.

The more rational the community, the greater the award given to historians who have explored various aspects of history scientifically, displaying them as they were in history books, to learn and take lessons from them, as valuable material for living today as well as possible and for planning  for a measurable future. The more we can accept history as it was and make peace with everything that is considered unsuitable or unfavorable for today, the easier it will be for us to collectively agree on finding new acceptable ways of delivering  goodness in the future.

But the more we are unable to understand history, make peace with everything that had happened in the past, then we will continue to be emotional societies, societies that continually collect apologies from statues, and continually blame God for the present condition. Even in that way, we are making a new history based on the same logic as the mistakes that had occurred in the past. Are we?

The wise say that history is written by the winner, not by the loser. But this does not mean that we have to turn back time to cancel the victories of the great winners, then take the victory from them. Let us look at history not in the lens of winning and losing, because it will make us always want to fight to defeat the shadow of defeat in the past. If you want to continue to consider history in that perspective, then do not be offended if at any time parties who disagree will say that it is a mere practical political movement to replace the ruler. Of course there is nothing wrong with such a move, but it would be very funny to carry around history and try to turn the clock to cancel the history.

All historical statues and monuments could be torn down, all history books could have been burned, but to this day, the world does not yet have a time machine that can infiltrate protesters into the pre-war revolution era then demonstrating before the formators of the declaration of American independence, nor can smuggling demonstrators in front of Hitler in the era of the second world war to cancel the Hollocoust, so that Jews do not need to move to Israel, who is calling for endless wars to this day. We can’t. But we can together prevent the same things from happening in the future, in ways that do not adopt the logic of error in the past. So let’s do it according to the civilized way as it is recognized today. Pretty sure, we can.

About the Author
An International Political Economy and Strategic Analyst, A Senior Fellow at Indonesia Economic Action Institution/EconAct