In the famously climactic encounter between Obi-Wan Kenobi and his former protégé, Darth Vader, in the original "Star Wars" film, Darth taunts his old master by saying, "Your powers are weak, old man."
Kenobi responds, "You can't win, Darth. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine."
The scene perfectly describes how cancellation doesn't silence principled voices but rather makes them stronger. That has happened to one of today's funniest and most insightful "cultural Jedis," Eric Metaxas, who I write about in my book, God and Cancel Culture.
Metaxas is a respected author, radio host and voice within Christianity, but lately, he ran afoul of Google-owned YouTube's politically correct thought police.
In an outrageous and blatant act of censorship, Metaxas' popular radio show was suddenly deleted from YouTube as if it had never existed. This is a man whose audience helped build YouTube's bottom line by bringing in much traffic. But never mind the money—YouTube is out to control the way the world thinks.
"In regards to YouTube terminating my radio show channel, it's been clear to us for some time that they wanted to wipe us out," Metaxas posted on Facebook in early June.
"So although we have done our very best to comply with their creepy Marxist 'community standards' they nonetheless seem to have been digging into some of our older videos to find things they could use against us. As their uncredited hero Stalin infamously said, 'Show me the man and I will find you the crime.' The loss to us financially is devastating, but when you are speaking truth at a time such as this you cannot be daunted by such things."
For Metaxas, this battle is personal—and generational. His father is Greek, and his mother is German; both grew up in Europe during World War II and under the constant threat—or reality—of godless, heartless communism that followed.
"My parents raised me to know that communism is evil, that American freedom is glorious and wonderful and a treasure," Metaxas told me for my book.
Metaxas' mother saw her beloved Germany come under Russian occupation and transform into the ugly experiment that was East Germany.
"She experienced the horror of communism in East Germany," Metaxas told me. "She saw the unbelievable propaganda of the communists and how they push people around. It sickened her to the point that she escaped Germany."
His father saw the communists attempt to take over Greece immediately following World War II.
"He taught me to hate communism," Metaxas recalled. "I grew up with an understanding of how wicked communism is and how bad things can get."
But while he was growing up here in the U.S., he noticed his friends whose parents grew up in America didn't share this same passion for freedom. Rather, they seemed to shrug and take liberty for granted.
By contrast, as a young man, Metaxas traveled to East Germany with his mother and saw the border guards, the dogs and the barbed wire that defined the edge of the then-Soviet empire.
That background fuels Metaxas' anti-communist ardor today.
"You have a right to speak, even if your views are not what other people like, but the less we speak up, the more it contributes to the spiral of silence," he told me. "Inversely, the louder and prouder and bolder you are, the more courage you have, the easier you make it for somebody to speak up."
When Darth Vader probed Obi Wan's empty cloak with his toe, and saw that the body had vanished, he began to understand that his one-time master was not actually dead but had risen to far greater heights of power. So it is with Metaxas, whose renown and respect only increase every time cultural overlords try to strike him down.
He is in greater demand than ever as a speaker at churches, conferences and rallies. His influence among Christians has broadened significantly, and he is gaining a martyr-like respect achieved by those who become targets of intolerance and pay a price for it.
Not only that, but sales of his biographies about Bonhoeffer, Luther and Wilberforce are climbing fast.
Struck down? Not so much. Eric — like many who experience attempted cancellation — is growing exponentially stronger.
As Metaxas put it in his social media post: "[T]his grotesque attack on free speech emboldens us dramatically in calling out Maoist and Soviet-style tactics for what they are, an expression of deepest fear that the truth can never be silenced. Because it cannot."
Credibility and fire-tested mettle are bought by thriving under unjust public attack. Voices struck down by cancellation often roar back even stronger.
Obi-Wan Kenobi "prophesied" that when evil strikes, the canceled one achieves greatness and influence few can imagine. That's a lesson that censor-happy, "Don't be evil" Google might take to heart.
Stephen E. Strang is the bestselling author of God and Donald Trump. The founder and CEO of Charisma Media, Strang was voted by Time magazine as one of the 25 most influential evangelicals in America. He has interviewed four U.S. presidents and has been featured on Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, CBN, Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk, thedDailyCaller.com and in many Christian outlets.
God and Cancel Culture is published by FrontLine, an imprint of Charisma House, which has published books that challenge, encourage, teach and equip Christians, including 15 New York Times bestsellers. The book will be available in hardcover, paperback and e-book formats. God and Cancel Culture is set to publish on Sept. 7, and you can pre-order it on stevestrangbooks.com. When you do, you'll get $120 worth of free gifts, including four e-books and a subscription to Charisma magazine.
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