Dershowitz: 'Cancel culture' headed for a fall – but when?

Monday, May 17, 2021
J.M. Phelps (

cancel culture 1While he's optimistic it will eventually end, one of America's most respected legal scholars is wondering how long the authoritarian "cancel culture" movement will be allowed to advance as it invades academia and social media.

In an interview with One News Now, Alan Dershowitz – Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Harvard Law School – discussed the growing impulse in America to cancel those who disagree with the narrative of the hard Left. The esteemed lawyer and professor defines cancel culture as "an attempt by a small number of people to disavow points of view from being expressed by people who are cancelled."

While he says there's no apparent process to the ostracism of others, he characterizes the movement as an exercise of power intended, primarily, to cancel conservatives, Christians, and Jews.

"The cancellers [are described as] so-called progressives, [but] they are actually regressives who think they know the truth," he explains – and, he adds, whose credo is simple:

  • "Every police officer who kills a black person, of course, is guilty [of racism]."
  • "Every woman who accuses a man, of course, is telling the truth."
  • "Every election is fair."
  • "Every vaccine is good."

Ultimately, he says, the cancellers leave no room for debate. "But in the greatness of tradition in America," Dershowitz emphasizes, "everything is debatable and subject to different points of view."


The power to cancel is a terrible danger to culture, he admits – and its influence on university campuses is just one example. "[This power] is going to gain momentum initially as universities continue to accept it and continue to turn out our future leaders," he warns.

But because Americans love freedom, Dershowitz sees an end to this modern movement at some point in the future. The American people, he notes, have been through a similar predicament before, pointing to McCarthyism in the 1950s.

"The pendulum swung widely – but following McCarthyism, [Americans witnessed] the golden age of freedom of speech," he shares.

However, the defender of civil liberties argues this "golden age" is being tarnished by "so-called progressives, [embracing] free speech for me but not for thee."

In other words, he explains, while regressives want to be able to express their views, they don't want to hear a conservative, Christian, pro-Israel, or Jewish voice.

And how about Twitter?

Before being banned from the popular platform, President Donald Trump used Twitter to share information with his supporters and often to defend himself against a biased media. The social media giant then accused Trump of not telling the truth – yet leftists were permitted to continue to accuse and twist Trump's words in such a way that it strengthened the progressive "narrative."

Dershowitz argues: "When these tweets stay up, it gives the impression to the readers that their words must be true; and when Trump's words were taken down, it [left the impression it's] because they were false."

Still focusing on Twitter's hypocrisy, he underscores how tweets praising Adolf Hitler remain on the platform. Dershowitz finds it quite contradictory that statements suggesting Hitler should have killed more Jews are acceptable to the platform. On Sunday, for example, CNN freelance contributor, Adeel Raja, was exposed for tweeting statements like "the world today needs a Hitler" and "…Hitler was a German and he did good with those Jews!"

When tweets like Raja's remain on the platform, Dershowitz contends it emboldens the cancel culture – but at the same time it exposes social media's selective censorship for all to see.

"Where and when does it stop?" Dershowitz asks. "People aren't thinking about the implications."

Alan Dershowitz is author of "Cancel Culture: The Latest Attack on Free Speech and Due Process" (November 2020).


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