Congresswoman Liz Cheney was canceled.
So her sympathetic Republican colleagues — ranging from Rep. Ken Buck to Sen. Joni Ernst to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan — declared as she was abruptly stripped of her position in party leadership last month, after loudly criticizing former President Donald Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 riots.
In an earlier age, one might simply have said that Cheney, as an elected leader, was “held to account” by her party for promoting views that place her well outside its mainstream. Scorned by her party’s base and top leaders? Definitely. Ostracized behind the scenes on the Hill among the majority of her conference? Almost certainly. But “canceled”? That’s something that happens to aspiring Instagram influencers, self-proclaimed maverick intellectuals or prestige TV showrunners, not those playing under the live-fire rules of congressional politics. If the GOP scion and still-sitting congresswoman qualifies as a victim of “cancel culture,” that begs a long-overdue question: what meaning does the term have?
Indiscriminate use of the C-word has become a regular part of American life. But its malleability, and the haziness about the difference between “cancellation” and plain-old criticism or consequences, gives it a whiff of sloganeering meaninglessness: “Cancellation” can be anything, and therefore nothing.
Consider a partial list of people — well, mostly people — who have fallen under the “cancellation” umbrella: Harry Potter scribe J.K. Rowling was Source…