Holy Land

America’s Cultural Revolution: Episode One

What the public shaming of Palestinian immigrant Majdi Wadi — and the boycott of his Minneapolis business — says about who we are becoming.

When you hear the term cancel culture you might think of college students in Native American headdresses. Or Rosanne Barr. Or Alison Roman. Or (fast forward a year) Chrissy Teigen.

It’s a term that has been stretched to include any negative action ever taken against any entity. Including, most recently, a winning Kentucky Derby horse. So in one sense it’s longer very useful.

But the thing that the imperfect phrase describes — our culture of routine public shaming and moral panic — is one of the most important stories right now. 

Cancel culture is rightly understood as a weapon. It’s a weapon of the soft cultural revolution we are living through. It’s a weapon wielded to redraw the bounds of what’s good and what’s bad, what’s in and what’s out, who is on the right side of history — and who isn’t.

Majdi Wadi understands that better than most. 

Majdi isn’t a famous celebrity. He’s a Palestinian immigrant who came to this country with nothing and became nothing short of a walking advertisement for the American dream, building a hummus business in Minneapolis that employed almost 200 people.

Then, in the heat of last summer, his entire life changed. That story is his to tell. And he tells it in eye-watering detail.

We could have kicked off this podcast with an interview of a powerful person with a big, international brand. And yes, we’ve got those coming, too. But the reason we are starting here, with Majdi, is that his story captures so much about our moment. And he embodies and articulates the kind of values that we are losing when we stay silent in the face of what’s so obviously wrong.

In the future, I’m not going to write a post for every podcast, I promise. But I am extremely proud of this episode. And I’m really excited for you to hear it. 

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And thank you so much, again, for making this project possible.

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