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Salvo 01.20.2023 4 minutes

New Alliances Upset Team Cancel Culture

Argentina v France: Final – FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

The World Cup revealed wokeism’s Achilles’ heel.

There’s a classic scene in “Rocky IV” where the match turns in Rocky’s favor. He lands a blow that cuts his Soviet boxing opponent, causing our star’s coach to yell out, “You see he’s not a machine! He’s a man!”

Something similar just happened to cancel culture over the last few months—and from an unexpected place.

The World Cup—that Olympics of soccer that every four years ignites fierce rivalries and ecstatic celebrations the world over—this year presented an interesting case study of the massive, left-wing apparatus of cancel culture being stopped dead in its tracks. In a gutsy move, FIFA opted to host the World Cup in Qatar, a deeply conservative country where homosexuality is illegal and punishable by jail.

Qatar banned fans from displaying inside the stadium LGBTQ pride symbols such as the six-colored rainbow flag, deemed incompatible with their culture by the conservative Muslim country. The usual political mouthpieces in America, always so vocal on such occasions, were strangely silent. Then FIFA itself prohibited players from wearing pride armbands. Still no media outcry. Leading leftist social media accounts remained eerily quiet. Nor did the media stir them up. It was as if no more coal was shoved into their stoves. In bold defiance, the German team posed in a photo with its players awkwardly hunched over together with hands over their mouths to protest not being allowed to wear “one love” LGBTQ symbols. Their surprising loss to lower ranked Japan in the very next game trended all over Twitter. 

The Left and its media organs were caught between a rock and a hard place. If our woke enforcers openly persisted in their project in Qatar, they’d be seen as “culturally insensitive.” If they said nothing, their hypocrisy and selective outrage would be all too evident. Instead they clumsily made a very half-hearted opposition early on and eventually fell silent. Some lower foot soldiers apparently never got the memo and peeped here and there, but the usual bullhorns of the Left oddly went mute. The event went on uncancelled as the world was permitted to enjoy the Word Cup free from weaponized shaming and pseudo-virtue signaling by an ironically culturally insensitive West. Natural harmony prevailed once manufactured disruption was checked.

It’s been fashionable for militant secularists in the West to score cheap, unearned virtue points by bashing their own religious heritage. Yet here their cancel culture project had to yield to non-Western religious standards, lest our secular arbiters themselves be seen as intolerant. This means that woke cancel culture is inherently parochial and non-transportable outside its protected bubble.

The Right can learn from this. The Left thrives off fomenting division and group infighting: divide, demoralize, and conquer. It fears a muscular, unified positive conservatism. But it could not overcome an alliance of pro-family, pro-freedom, and pro-God Americans coming together from all backgrounds, colors, creeds, and faiths—especially among the three Abrahamic faiths.

Muslims after all share many of the same moral views as conservative Jewish and Christian communities. Many are pro-life, have deep concerns over their children’s education, and oppose deviant gender identity indoctrination. Even respect for many of the same ancient prophets is shared. There’s too much common ground to remain divided. There’s cold reception by the Left for freedom-loving, faith-based patriots of these major religions but warm welcome on the Right.

The World Cup in Qatar revealed the machine’s vincibility. It also revealed the media’s ability to incite or quell—a dangerous power if wielded by an ideological cartel. If its attack dogs are called off, people can actually live quite well together, free from raised fists of fury politicizing and offended by everything, sowing discord, distrust, and discontent where none need exist. It turns out the media does have its limits and can be brought to heel when foreign culture trumps wokeness. The point isn’t banning LGBTQ paraphernalia; it’s that wider faith driven cultural alliances grind cancel culture to a halt.

Twenty years ago it wasn’t necessary to be as overt about faith in society as it is now. It turns out, those dark age myths bear truth for all humanity. After all faithful Muslims, Jews, and Christians revere the true seven-colored rainbow as God’s beautiful promise of redemption and invitation to turn back to Him, even for those who misappropriate this wonderful symbol in modern times. Far from viewing faith as holding humanity back or being a hindrance to democracy and liberty, America’s founding fathers spoke of faith and virtue as indispensable to a nation’s prosperity. As President Adams succinctly stated, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.” Can we not let their example rouse ourselves to become better and in turn revive our national soul?

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

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