Ivanka Trump blames 'cancel culture' after technical college pulls her commencement speech. Here's why that's absurd

Ivanka Trump blames 'cancel culture' after technical college pulls her commencement speech. Here's why that's absurd
President Donald J. Trump and Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump arrive to attend event supporting our nation’s small businesses through the pay check protection program Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in the East Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

When Donald Trump ordered the tear-gassing and violent “dispersal” of American citizens peacefully protesting the police’s treatment of African-Americans last week, all so Trump could practice his fascist strongman act by marching to a Washington D.C. church and hold up a Bible, the Bible itself was being toted alongside him in a $1540 Max Mara handbag held by a fashionably adorned Ivanka Trump.


Ms. Trump may not have appreciated it at the time, but by abetting her father’s ludicrous performance for the cameras she would forever be tying herself to one of the most abhorrent attacks made by a president on this country’s citizens in modern history. (I say “may not have appreciated” because with Ivanka Trump it is difficult to distinguish between blithe, negligent disregard and genuinely clueless indifference). But the New York Times has since confirmed that Ivanka Trump not only carried the Bible, but played a key role in instigating the entire sordid episode.

So this happened a few days later:

Ivanka Trump has hit out at “cancel culture and viewpoint discrimination” after plans for her to give a virtual commencement speech to students in Kansas were canceled amid criticism of Donald Trump’s response to anti-police brutality protests in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.

Administrators at Wichita State University and WSU Tech announced their decision just hours after they had said the US president’s daughter would be speaking to WSU Tech graduates. Administrators of both universities, which are affiliated, said Saturday’s graduation for the technical university would be “refocused” on students, with a nursing graduate as the only speaker.

The move clearly angered Ivanka Trump, who is a top adviser in the White House and whose husband, Jared Kushner, is one of the most influential figures in the Trump administration.

She responded in a tweet, saying: “Our nation’s campuses should be bastions of free speech. Cancel culture and viewpoint discrimination are antithetical to academia. Listening to one another is important now more than ever!

(emphasis supplied)

The political right has a go-to lexicon of words they throw out when someone repudiates their repugnant behavior. The classic, of course, is “political correctness,” which roughly translated, now means any effort to be fair or accommodating to how others less fortunate or less privileged may react to bias, prejudice or discrimination. Interestingly, the term was actually utilized by the left as an ironic self-criticism. Today, however, the accusation of ”Political correctness” is now wielded like a cudgel anytime a so-called conservative feels constrained in his ability to spew racist bile.

The term “cancel culture” has evolved as another criticism of supposedly “liberal” behavior on social media. As explained by Aja Romano, writing for Vox, the phenomenon occurs when “A celebrity or other public figure does or says something offensive. A public backlash, often fueled by politically progressive social media, ensues. Then come the calls to cancel the person — that is, to effectively end their career or revoke their cultural cachet, whether through boycotts of their work or disciplinary action from an employer.” Romano’s article for Vox describes the origins of the term “cancel culture” and also highlights the debate about its effectiveness.

But for purposes of Ivanka Trump’s accusation, the debate is irrelevant, because the term simply doesn’t apply. Ivanka Trump was not denied the opportunity to dispense her wisdom to the students of WSU because of “cancel culture” or “viewpoint discrimination.” She was denied that opportunity because of her prominent role in an administration that is actively encouraging violent attacks on American citizens in violation of their Constitutional rights, even as we speak.

This was confirmed by the college itself:

After WSU Tech announced the first daughter would be speaking, 488 students, faculty and alumni had signed an open letter to administrators calling for her removal from the ceremony. Associated Professor Jennifer Ray, who authored the letter, wrote that she was “horrified and disgusted” by the school’s choice in speaker.

While the letter has since been deleted, several media outlets paraphrased it or quoted it directly,  referencing the Lafayette Square incident.

While noting that Wichita State does not have administrative control over WSU Tech, Ray said having Trump speak would taint both institutions. Protests have broken out around the world since Floyd, who was black, died in Minneapolis after a white police officer pressed a knee on his neck for several minutes even after he stopped moving and pleading for air.

Ray wrote that President Trump has said he might use federal military troops to quell the U.S. demonstrations and has made his "callous disregard" for minorities well known, while refusing to criticize police tactics during the demonstrations.

"We owe it to our students to stand up for the right thing when and where we can," Ray wrote. "To our students of color, and to me, inviting Ivanka Trump to speak right now sends the message that WSU Tech does not take diversity seriously."

It wasn’t some desire to wreak revenge on Ivanka Trump and “cancel” her career that prompted the college to reject her. Nor was this some ideological “discrimination” regarding her “viewpoints.”

It’s her direct role as a participant in an administration that considered an odious political photo-op more important than assaulting American citizens.

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