The Canceling of the American Mind: Cancel Culture Undermines Trust and Threatens Us All—But There Is a Solution (Hardcover)
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A timely deep dive into cancel culture, an account of its dangers to all Americans, and the much-needed antidote from the team that brought you Coddling of the American Mind.
Cancel culture is a new phenomenon, and The Canceling of the American Mind is the first book to codify it and survey its effects. From the team that brought you the bestselling Coddling of the American Mind comes hard data and research on what cancel culture is and how it works, along with hundreds of new examples showing the left and the right both working to silence their enemies.
The Canceling of the American Mind will change how you view cancel culture. Rather than a moral panic, we should consider it a dysfunctional part of how Americans battle for power, status, and dominance. Cancel culture is just one symptom of a much larger problem: the use of cheap rhetorical tactics to “win” arguments without actually winning arguments. After all, why bother refuting your opponents when you can just take away their platform or career?
The good news is that we can beat back this threat to democracy through better citizenship. The Canceling of the American Mind offers concrete steps toward reclaiming a free speech culture, with materials specifically tailored for parents, teachers, business leaders, and everyone who uses social media. We can all show intellectual humility and promote the essential American principles of individuality, resilience, and open mindedness.
About the Author
Greg Lukianoff is the president of the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) and one of the country’s most passionate defenders of free expression. He has written on free-speech issues in the nation’s top newspapers, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, and was executive producer of the documentaries Can We Take a Joke? and Mighty Ira. Lukianoff earned his undergraduate degree from American University and his law degree from Stanford. He worked for the ACLU of Northern California, the Organization for Aid to Refugees, and the EnvironMentors Project before joining FIRE in 2001.
Rikki Schlott is a New York City-based journalist and political commentator. She is a research fellow at FIRE, host of the Lost Debate podcast, a columnist at the New York Post, and a regular contributor to numerous publications and television programs. Her commentary focuses on free speech, campus culture, civil liberties, and youth issues from a Generation Z perspective.
"A lucid and comprehensive look at where we are and how we got here....The authors do not merely analyze; they are in the fray....their description of the scale of the problem is nothing short of galvanizing. We are in a terrible spot, and we need to get out of here." —The Wall Street Journal
Can the American mind be uncanceled? Greg Lukianoff and Rikki Schlott make a compelling case that the answer to this question is one of the most important in American life today. Their book is a humanizing and passionate cry for intellectual independence and those who want to think and speak for themselves.
—Andrew Yang, co-founder of the Forward Party
Cancel Culture is one of the worst scourges of modern woke-ravaged society. This important and very timely book explains what it is, how it works, and how best to deal with it. It should be required reading for everyone who believes in freedom of speech.
—Piers Morgan, host of Piers Morgan Uncensored
This riveting book presents compelling stories about Cancel Culture and its devastating impact on a wide range of Americans. It draws upon detailed databases to refute persistent attempts to minimize the problem and shows that discourse-destroying cancellations are perpetrated by people all across the ideological spectrum. Most importantly it lays out steps that all of us can take to supplant Cancel Culture with Free Speech Culture. It should be a game-changer in the Culture Wars.
—Nadine Strossen, former president of the ACLU
To many, the proper takes on Cancel Culture are either that it’s a blip sensationalized by certain contrarians or just bad people being duly dismissed. Um, no. Read this book and find out what a scourge Cancel Culture has been, and what we can do to get past it.
—John McWhorter, Columbia University linguistics professor and New York Times columnist
Over the past decade, Greg Lukianoff has been perhaps the single most articulate explainer of the tumultuous cultural moment we’re living in. In The Canceling of the American Mind, Greg and Rikki Schlott distill an incredibly complex social phenomenon—Cancel Culture—down to its component parts. In fifty years, hindsight will offer historians a clear picture on the story we’re living through today, but Canceling already possesses that kind of clarity in the midst of the moment.
—Tim Urban, co-founder of Wait But Why
The growing regime of censorship, slander, and punishment against anyone who questions establishment orthodoxy is locking us into error and corroding the credibility of our institutions. No one has documented the facts and causes of this alarming trend more thoroughly than Greg Lukianoff, joined here by a collaborator, Rikki Schlott, who belies the accusation that the younger generation has been hijacked by authoritarians.
—Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University and bestselling author of Enlightenment Now and Rationality.
Cancel Culture has long resisted serious analysis in part because the phenomenon’s adherents protect it from inquiry by coding it as fictional or a right-wing fantasy. But Greg Lukianoff and Rikki Schlott get under its surface and at the deeper problem: the extraordinarily rapid erosion of America’s once-thriving free speech culture. The authors argue that censoring is humankind’s natural inclination. After a brief flirtation with Enlightenment values, is the world regressing to a mean? There’s no more important or scary political subject today, and we owe Lukianoff and Schlott a huge debt for tackling the subject head on.
—Matt Taibbi, award-winning author and investigative reporter
Greg Lukianoff and Rikki Schlott do Americans an invaluable service by putting to bed the idiotic myth that “Cancel Culture doesn’t exist.” Cancel Culture is very real and very dangerous—and this book is the most comprehensive look at the rot threatening our institutions and freedoms.
—Ben Shapiro, founder of The Daily Wire
John Stuart Mill, in On Liberty, warned that social coercion can be an even bigger threat to free thought than government censorship. He didn’t use the phrase “Cancel Culture,” but that's what he was talking about. In The Canceling of the American Mind, Greg Lukianoff and Rikki Schlott have updated Mill's classic for our time. With startling stories and a wealth of data, they show how intolerant activists impose a gag order on the rest of us—and how the rest of us can lift it.
—Jonathan Rauch, Brookings Institute senior fellow and author of The Constitution of Knowledge