The Puritans Are on Twitter


Jadyn Gelfand, Staff Writer

While scrolling through social media, I found a person who wrote, with no trace of irony, that non-Jews, “can wear the cap [kippah] and go to temple, but that’s a costume and performance for [them].” 

This line was a part of a long post that argued for the segregation of cultures with the self-righteous speech of woke-ness. This ridiculousness comes in line with a culture that censors Dr. Seuss and charges $50,000 for an offensive word.

Woke culture, cancel culture, call-out apocalypse, or whatever you may know it by, is the return of Puritanism to America. The Church of Twitter calls on you to repent your sins of privilege, call-out non-conformers as blasphemous, and baptize yourself in slacktivism. Welcome to the modern era: the Puritans are on Twitter.

In the movie Easy A, Olive Penderghast (Emma Stone) recounts how Puritans would force adulterers to wear a red letter “A”. This odd punishment was an actual historical reality with Puritans utilizing the whole alphabet to publicly shame people. Though this practice seems archaic, it is actually common practice on Twitter today. 

In 2020, people on Twitter calling for a boycott of Goya because their CEO, Robert Unanue, praised President Trump. Never mind the fact that Goya is the largest Hispanic-owned food producer, or that all Unanue had done was call former-President Trump a builder, he broke the rules of Woke-ness. Instead of a scarlet “A,” Unanue was marked as “endors[ing]…a White Supremacist regime.” Cancel culture has gone too far; it has fallen into smug superiority.

Puritanism holds the Calvinist belief that the pure deserve salvation while others—sinners—deserve damnation. Adhering to the wishes of G-d means following the strict morality of the puritan church and only the puritan church. If you do not, then you are a heathen who is helping the Devil. Woke-ness purports the same, with the problematic flavor-of-the-day standing in for sinners.

This idea that Puritans/cancel culture is right and all others are not only wrong but evil, is seen best through the treatment of Zionism on college campuses. Rose Ritch, a student at the University of Southern California, was forced to resign after she was called a racist for being a Zionist. To the USC students, who launched “an aggressive social media campaign to impeach [Ritch],” Ritch was not just a political opponent, but rather an enemy, a racist, a sinner. Just as Puritans viewed non-Puritans as foot-soldiers of the Devil, woke-ness views dissidents as supporters of racism.

I support the foundations of cancel culture. Holding people accountable for their actions is important. If someone has a history of making transphobic jokes, then I don’t want them to be in Star Wars. If someone says something offensive, I want them to apologize.

Yet, there are also grave concerns about the future of cancel culture. Cancel culture is rapidly losing its way as it migrates from holding rapists accountable to calling Bernie Sanders sexist because he didn’t want to be cold at the inauguration. Puritanism is rising once again in the United States, and it will ruin everything you enjoy in the name of purity.