Protesters over the last few weeks have taught us, among other lessons, there is little room for dialogue or voicing of dissenting opinions in our body politic anymore.
In fact, many principled or simply well-meaning professionals, celebs and even business owners have been destroyed by what is now known as the "cancel culture."
The question is, how are the protesters — by and large a group of twenty-somethings — driving the entire society?
The answer is that they are not alone. They are first and foremost being driven by their educators – public school teachers, college professors and those who have risen in the hierarchical ladder to become university administrators.
Many are extremist ideologues who (rightly) figured out that if you want to change society, you have to influence the youth.
Take the case of the prestigious Stanford University. Its dean of students, Monica Hicks, recently sent out an email to students in which she effusively quoted Assata Shakur, a fugitive on the FBI's most-wanted terrorists list.
In 1973, Shakur (born Joanne Chesimard) and two accomplices shot two police officers, killing one "execution-style" after being pulled over for committing a bank robbery.
Shakur was arrested, convicted and sent to prison in 1977. She escaped in 1979 when other domestic terrorists broke in to rescue her. She now resides in Cuba.
Dean Hicks's email was a friendly missive wishing students well and safety – both from COVID-19 and violence — as they engage in the current protests.
Providing them encouragement and strength of heart (she herself was planning to "shelter-in-place"), she added what she called a "loving refrain" from Shakur at the end of her letter to the students.
Quoting Shakur is particularly egregious considering that the protests are directed against police and the fact that at least two police officers have been killed by them and close to 400 wounded.
Then there was the recent case of a public school teacher in Rhode Island who was caught defacing a statue of Christopher Columbus (a felony crime).
Another case worth mentioning is that of San Francisco State University's (SFSU) Rabab Abdulhadi.
Abdulhadi was recently given the American Association of University Professors' (AAUP) Georgina M. Smith Award in recognition of "her commitment to global scholarship that builds mutual understanding ... evident in the collaborations she has initiated."
Those "collaborations" include "[cultivating] ties with Hamas-dominated universities, trivializ[ing] the kidnapping and murder of Israeli high-schoolers and endors[ing] hate speech," according to Canary Mission, a group that monitors and exposes antisemitism in academia.
While leading a mission to "Palestine" (which was funded by SFSU), Abdulhadi also "collaborated" with Leila Khaled and Sheikh Raed Salah, both of whom are affiliated with U.S.-designated terrorist organizations.
Abdulhadi, a founding member of the antisemitic Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) Movement against Israel also believes that Jews who favor the existence of Israel should not be allowed at the university at all.
Meanwhile, those that don't adhere to the current cancel culture's strict rules of what constitutes acceptable behavior have found their heads on the chopping blocks.
UCLA just launched an investigation into a lecturer for reading to his class Martin Luther King's famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail" and showing a documentary that included a description of lynching. W. Ajax Peris, an Air Force veteran, used these materials while teaching a class about racism against blacks in America. The letter written by King contained the "n-word."
After students complained that the reading of the letter and the description of lynching caused them distress, Peris was swiftly condemned by the chair of the political science department as well as two other department heads. His case has already been referred to the university's Discrimination Prevention Office, which urged students to come forward with more complaints.
Bowing to the mob, Peris issued both written and video apologies, which did nothing to stop calls for his firing.
Another UCLA professor, Gordon Klein, is now living under police protection after he rejected a request by a black student to postpone the final exam for minority students. Klein, who has been teaching at UCLA for decades, told the student that such a policy a would not follow principles of equality (and rather, would be racist in itself).
For having such an opinion, Klein received death threats on social media, credible enough that he is now living under police protection. In the meantime, he has been removed from teaching and is being investigated by the dean for his "troubling" behavior.
UCLA apologized to Klein's students for his "inexcusable" and "very hurtful sentiments."
Cases like these have abounded over recent years. Yet the crescendo of the cancel culture in light of the recent protests is something we would do well not to ignore.
It's the same culture that won't accept New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees for standing for the national anthem or let famed Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling have an opinion about supporting a woman who lost her job for her views against males in women's changing rooms, dorms, prisons and sports teams.
For those who want to maintain a society where differing opinions can be freely expressed and debated, the time to step up is now.
In addition, voting is power. Politicians should be made to be accountable by being willing to stand up for everyone's First Amendment rights — including teachers and professors at schools and universities, the vast number of which are funded, at least in part, by taxpayer dollars.
Radicalism is the belief that there is only one way to live.
Extremism is forcing others to live by that way.