Under The Bus: When Conservative "Cancel Culture" Goes Wrong
We are living in the age of "Cancel Culture", a phrase recently coined to describe the sad state of American life, where your political beliefs are used as an excuse to destroy your life and livelihood. Many Trump supporters have experienced this first hand, with their support of our president being used as an excuse to deny them service, fire them, boycott them, slander them, threaten them and even assault them. The perpetrators, the left wing bullies believe they are morally right in destroying the businesses and jobs of us evil Trump supporters because they believe we are "literal nazis". They ignore the fact that their destructive actions may effect not only the 'offending' Trump supporter, but their families, employees, and customers as well. It is truly a neo-fascist ideology: no one we disagree with should be allowed to survive.
Unfortunately, the cancer of Cancel Culture has also infected those on the Right. It is no longer just the Left that uses threats, boycotts and slander to destroy the businesses of people they politically disagree with. While early right wing boycotts centered around businesses that had directly harmed or refused service to Trump supporters, more recently conservatives have been ever quicker to jump on the boycott bandwagon at the slightest hint of anti-Trump bias. Even when that bias is a total lie.
Take the recent March for Trump rally here in DC. On Oct 17th, a large group of Trump supporters and patriots gathered on the West Lawn of the Capitol with speakers such as Sebastian Gorka, Jack Posobiec, and Steve Scalise. While the crowd was considerable for the windy, cool, fall DC day, the crowd was supposed to be bigger. Buses that were scheduled to bring in hundreds more patriots were, according to the organizer's statement, cancelled abruptly the night before the event. The statement, issued by Amy Kremer of Women for America First, claimed that the buses were cancelled without explanation, and suggested that the real reason was 'because we were Trump supporters'.
A virtual firestorm ensued. Angry patriots demanded to know the name of the bus company, so they could boycott it, or issue bad online reviews. Conspiracy theorists suggested that the cancellation was the work of the DNC, the Clintons, the "Deep State", or the proverbial Boogeyman, George Soros. The focus of the MAGA community turned on a dime away from the excitement of a successful rally, and in fact many other successful anti-impeachment rallies nationwide, and became solely focused on the outrage over this "liberal, snowflake, p*ssy hat wearing" bus company.
The bandwagon was picking up steam.
We woke up the next morning to the Daily Beast publishing an expose, explaining that the bus company had not cancelled due to political reasons, but rather had cancelled because the organizer, Ms. Kremer and her organization, did not pay their bill. The credit card they provided was declined repeatedly, the Beast reported, and once the company was unable to be paid they necessarily cancelled the service.
Clearly, somebody was not telling the truth.
Never one to trust the Daily Beast, I contacted the representative of US Coachways quoted in their article, the chief marketing officer Joseph Heap. He was rightly terse as he answered the phone, having spoken to nearly a dozen news reporters in just the first few hours of the day. I explained who I was, and that my purpose was to get to the truth, and to expose that truth to the conservative community. He politely explained to me the entire interaction with Ms. Kremer and org since they first ordered the buses on October 7th. Ordering buses at such short notice is known as ASAP in the bus business, according to Mr. Heap, who explained that the company had worked with Amy and her group for 10 days without a deposit. Even when the original order of 20 buses was no longer needed, and the order was changed by the org to only 6 buses, the company continued to work in good faith with the group to ensure their buses were there as ordered.
On the day before the event, 3pm to be exact, with the buses scheduled to leave that night at 11:30pm to arrive at their destination on time, one of Ms. Kremer's fellow organizers finally attempted to pay the bill on the reservation. The credit card number given was able to be charged for the first bus, but when the sales associate attempted to charge the card for the other (now) 5 buses, the card was declined. Despite several attempts, the card was not able to be charged for any of the other 5 charges. With no other method of payment offered by the organization, the company was compelled to cancel the contract. In a move of precaution, they cancelled even the bus that was able to be charged, out of concern that the credit card charge would be disputed and the company would be out the money AFTER having provided the service.
I asked Mr. Heap, "Is your company willing to work with conservatives?" He responded emphatically, "100% we will work with conservatives!" He paused. "In fact we would 100% work with liberals. We're a bus company, we want to charter buses, that's what we've done for 25 years. I thought that is what is great about America, that we can all have different opinions and still work together."
It's a refrain your humble author knows well, as the words weren't much different from my own, when I and my husband, as small business owners, were boycotted and threatened by the Left for our political support of Trump. Many times as my customers were being harassed and intimidated into boycotting us, as hours were spent trying to rectify bad false reviews, or blocking the countless online trolls who would post slander about us on our own business page, I uttered those same words. I, too, thought that we lived in a country that could have different opinions and still work together. I learned I was wrong. But I truly thought that this neo-fascist and anti-capitalist behavior was isolated to the liberal radicals on the more socialist side of the political spectrum. I thought the only people who would lie about you to destroy you was the Left.
I was wrong.
The recent behavior of Ms. Kremer proved that the right does cancel culture just as shamefully, and often for as selfish of reasons. Amy Kremer issued a deliberately misleading statement that she knew would cause a backlash against an innocent business owner whose only fault in the matter of the cancellation was to actually dare to want to get paid for the services they offered. Her behavior was in fact deplorable. To smear a business that had operated without deposit for 10 days, in a rush job, despite the order being cut to a third it's original size, that acted in good faith for false political bias is no better than Antifa or the new Extinction Rebellion.
Organizing events is hard, I will be the first to admit. Raising money for those events is even harder. Especially when the events are planned quickly. Had the March for Trump organizers merely told the truth, that they were unable to raise the funds in time to pay for the buses, the outcome would have been far more acceptable. Sure, it is not a proud moment to fail at a plan. It is unpleasant have to list your debts on your FEC report where the world can see how much your organization has been unable to cover it's bills. But lots of groups have the same issues, which is what the FEC report is for; to give us a way to know what these PACs are doing (or not doing) with their money (or lack thereof). The reality is that if you are honest, people will often accept your failures, and you can dust yourself off and create new successes.
To lie to cover up your failure, however, is far less acceptable.
And the lie has actually done what lies do, it has caused so much more embarrassment and harm than the truth ever could. The company US Coachways has endured a day of vicious online 'attacks' and smears, media frenzy, extra man hours spent addressing the outpouring of vitriol coming from patriots who bought into the lie before the truth was known. Right wing influencers who came out against the company have egg on their face. The Left wing alt media is gloating about how Trump supporters are all "crazy conspiracy theorists" and how our complaints that we are biased against is made up "fake news". In one self serving moment, the organizers have embarrassed the movement, undermined the credibility of Trump supporters who are legitimately attacked, cost an innocent company untold dollars and grief all while leaving confused and angry rally goers wondering when they will get their refund. (By the way, Mr. Heap reminded me that the refunds must be issued by Ms. Kremer and the organization via the Eventbrite set up for the march. The bus company has no involvement with the individual tickets sold by the event organizers.)
While the lie is bad enough, it was made much worse by the knee-jerk reaction many patriots had to jump on the boycott bandwagon in throwing the bus company under the bus. The Cancel Culture backfired as it so often does, and in the end those who called loudest for an unfounded boycott ended up with nothing left to post on social media but their retractions and apologies to the slandered business.
We have got to be better than this. We are the party of the small business owner, of free speech, and the party of getting the facts before over reacting.
I mean, at least I thought we were.
Our wonderful first lady, Melania Trump, is known for telling us all to "Be Best" in order to truly make our nation great again as her husband has promised.
At this point, I'd be happy if we would just be better. Better than the anti-capitalist cancel culture.
Better than the Left.