Cancel culture, aka call out culture, is the social media practice of boycotting people who do and say objectionable, usually racist, things. Currently, we are experiencing a paroxysm of cancel culture aimed at symbols and artifacts of the Confederacy and embodiments of racial stereotypes. Hurray for that!

Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Brunswick. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.

History is constantly being written and revised, but the cultural thirst for correcting the sins of the past created by the brutal police killing of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter popular uprising that followed is unprecedented.

Though we have had a century and a half to get rid of them, Confederate flags and monuments are suddenly being seen as and coming down for being the symbols of a racist culture they are. Even NASCAR, that most popular of Dixie pastimes, has banned the Confederate flag. And Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben are being retired as tired racial stereotypes as well.

Historic revisionism probably goes too far when founding fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are targeted for not being enlightened enough by today’s standards back in the 18th century. All of the founding fathers were racists and sexists, otherwise Black citizens and women wouldn’t have had to fight for the right to vote. Forgive, but don’t forget.

But it is a good thing that sports franchises that exploit the native people of America are finally being forced by fans and sponsors to face the moral music. Washington Redskins, Cleveland Indians and Atlanta Braves are all racist names. They really must go. How about the Washington Pigskins, Cleveland Rockers and Atlanta Liberty?

All these things have happened before, of course. People have tried for decades to change racist names and ban Confederate flags. The reason everything seems to be coming to a head in 2020 is Donald J. Trump. His efforts to stay in power by appealing to the racial divide is this country is backfiring, exposing him for the mean and petty racist he is and creating a popular desire to condemn the wrongs he and his followers embrace.

Racists once knew enough to hide their identities beneath hoods, but these days, emboldened and given permission by our bigoted POTUS, they wear their ignorance and prejudice like badges of honor. But decent Americans won’t stand for it.

Trump argues, “We must build upon our heritage, not tear it down,” but the Confederacy is not our heritage. The Confederacy was a defeated attempt to divide the country and preserve slavery. What Trump sees as an attack on American heritage is simply an historical correction that is long, long overdue.

Mobs toppling statues is lawlessness for which the perpetrators should expect to be punished, but thoughtful, deliberate decisions by the American people to finally correct the crimes and inequities of the past are signs of a renewed civic virtue. We need to purge racism from our systems. And we can take a giant step in that direction by defeating Donald Trump in November. Trump is the one who needs to be called out and canceled.

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