- The Washington Times - Monday, May 17, 2021

A handful of heavyweights in the conservative movement on Monday launched an advocacy group designed to push back against what the organization describes as a rising tide of “cancel culture” and “corporate wokeism.”

Mike Davis, founder and president of the group, Unsilenced Majority, said he wants to model the group on other organizations he leads that focus on judicial nominations and Big Tech.

“As we’ve shown with the Article III Project and the Internet Accountability Project and now Unsilenced Majority, when you take off the gloves, put on the brass knuckles and punch back, you’ll break the left’s glass jaw,” Mr. Davis said in an interview.

He envisions the group leveraging earned media and social media and said the overarching goal is to mobilize a grassroots army to push back on companies that appear to be bowing to the politically correct. The campaigns could involve counterboycotts and litigation.

Mr. Davis said the group wants to make sure there is a “price to be paid” for what it calls “corporate wokeism.”

“Our goal is to end cancel culture by using cancel culture tactics,” he said. “We’re going to rely on small-dollar donors, but I’m paying for this myself right now just because I’m so tired of cancel culture.”

Mr. Davis also leads the conservative Article III Project, which focuses on the courts, and the Internet Accountability Project, which is trying to curb the influence of technology giants such as Google and Facebook.

Ian Prior, a past spokesman for the Justice Department who has worked at several political groups dedicated to electing Republicans, will serve as the group’s spokesman and senior counsel.

Will Chamberlain, editor-in-chief of the conservative news magazine Human Events, will serve as senior counsel.

Andy Surabian, a veteran of the Trump White House, will be a senior adviser to the group.

Unsilenced Majority defines cancel culture as “intolerance and suffocating dissent” and plans to focus other efforts on worker firings, defending free expression and battling cancel culture in education.

Conservatives have become increasingly dismayed that speaking out on subjects such as the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change can lead to public naming and shaming — or “canceling” — of the offending individual.

“Part of it is that we want to build a list of grassroots conservatives and other everyday Americans who we can deploy when there’s a cancel culture issue,” Mr. Davis said. “So contact the CEO’s office at Coca-Cola and tell them, ‘Go woke, go broke.’”

Major corporations, including Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines, issued public statements denouncing Georgia’s new voting law after liberal activists pressured them to take a more aggressive stance.

Major League Baseball moved its All-Star game out of Atlanta as part of the show of force against the law, which reduces the time to request absentee ballots, sets new rules for ballot drop boxes, and adds a voter ID requirement to request and vote absentee.

The law also bars people from handing out food or water to voters who are within a certain distance from a polling place or who are in line to vote, though verified poll workers can make water available to people waiting in line.

Democrats say the voting changes are likely to limit participation from constituency groups such as the poor and minorities. Republicans say states need new requirements after the postelection chaos in Georgia with multiple recounts in the race between Joseph R. Biden and Mr. Trump. Mr. Biden carried the state by about 12,000 votes.

Mr. Biden forcefully denounced the law and likened it to Jim Crow-era voter suppression measures. He spoke positively about the discussion among the players to move the All-Star game out of Georgia.

Publishing giant Simon & Schuster canceled a planned publication of Sen. Josh Hawley’s book after the Missouri Republican objected to tallying the Electoral College results in two states on Jan. 6. Mr. Hawley later signed with Regnery Publishing.

Unsilenced Majority is not the first group on the right looking to channel animosity over cancel culture in the private sector into political activism.

The American Conservative Union announced a project, a “Center to Protect Voters and Their Voices,” last month to pressure business leaders and companies to stop teaming up with the political left.

Mike Gonzalez, a senior fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said he’s OK with boycotts to register displeasure with corporate decisions.

He said conservatives need to be careful not to “cancel by canceling,” or quashing free speech.

“You don’t stomp on other people’s First Amendment rights,” said Mr. Gonzalez, an identity politics expert and member of Mr. Trump’s recently disbanded 1776 Commission. “We still have freedom of speech. We shouldn’t take away others’ freedom of speech. That’s something the left does, not conservatives.”

Mr. Gonzalez said the left has overplayed its hand and that a movement is growing across America against “this form of intolerance.”

Jim McLaughlin, a pollster who has worked with the Trump campaign, likewise said voters are fed up with cancel culture.

In his firm’s April national poll of likely voters, 73% of respondents said they agree that cancel culture has gone too far and divides the country.

Mr. Biden had an overall 58% to 41% approve-disapprove split in the poll, but Mr. McLaughlin said much has changed since then, and he expects a dip in the latest survey.

“And a lot of it is going to be a backlash. They’ve gone so far to the left, and the cancel culture’s a big part of this,” he said. “This isn’t what people signed up for when they voted for Joe Biden.”

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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