Part III, A DANGEROUS WOMAN: Exposing the Dark Underbelly of the Nonprofit World and How Cancel Culture Came for Me.
In an excellent piece by Glenn Greenwald, he says, “Equating accusations with proven fact is reckless and repressive. It is also standard behavior in liberal politics, whereby they ruin lives without a second thought.”
My life was ruined—or attempted to be ruined because I refused to let it overcome me—by rumor and innuendo. This, long before cancel culture was a thing.
It’s ironic that during this time of lockdowns and other restrictions on our innate rights, I at last feel the freedom to write this history. I’m glad to have found this space on Substack where I can write without worry of censorship. There is nothing more important to me than having my voice.
In 1996, I gave my heart to building a creative writing program for incarcerated youth, fighting to have their voices heard. When I stood up against the established elite they took my right to speak away. It was so easy for them. They had all the power. No one dared to question their decisions. Certainly, not when an award-winning nun was leading the charge. I was asked many times, but why would she do that to you? It’s all here, in these pages. It will take a few chapters to get there, because nothing is as simple as the media pundits would like you to believe. Telling rumors, or part of the story, twisting facts to seem like the opposite of what they actually are, is a tactic of the powerful to control those they perceive as weaker. But I am not weak. I am not afraid to tell the whole story.
I grew up in a Christian home where I was taught that words matter. The first line in the New Testament is “In the beginning was the Word.” Your word is your bond. To my father and mother, nothing was more important for their children to learn than this truth. When you give your word, you must mean what you say because you will have to stand by it. In fact, you must be willing to die for what you believe.
My background is Mennonite. My mother can trace our ancestors back hundreds of years, all the way back to the 1500s, to the Marquis van Bergen, a Dutch nobleman. The Library of Congress in Washington DC sent my mother copies of volumes relating to his journey on July 1, 1566 to Madrid. There, he asked King Philip to be merciful to the Anabaptists, who were being tortured and killed by the Inquisition. The king accused him of treason. Refusing to deny his faith, he was put into prison where he died.
So, these were the sorts of stories I was raised on. My ancestors had fought for their freedom to worship as they believed. They had died for that right. When the Marquis van Bergen was asked to denounce his faith with words, he refused. So, we certainly had a long tradition of standing by one’s word. As I write in my childhood memoir of our world travels, part of which is published in Memoirist and called At the Gates of Hell and of Heaven, I rebelled against this idea that there was only one way and we, as Christians, had it. But I never lost my respect for my parents. They stood up for what they believed in many trying circumstances. And when I stood up against these powerful people, my father, who, by that time was a highly regarded Christian author and public speaker, and who I’d butted heads with many times, stood up with me. I had all the right connections to become a Christian writer myself. In fact, I published some wonderful children’s books with my father’s publishing company, Harvest House Publishers. But I never felt like I fit into that world completely. I have never fit into any one box, whether religious, conservative, liberal or anything else.
All these years, I have been a small voice crying in the wilderness—to take advantage of another biblical phrase. I would have liked to have published this years ago. But I was blacklisted. Now, I’m glad I didn’t get it published back then. I struggled with the best way to write it. I was angry one day and contrite the next. I wanted to say everything and yet I wanted to be forgiving, as a Christian should be. Now, I don’t have those conflicts. I am not angry and I do not feel constrained. I just want to tell the truth.
I am thankful to those with bigger platforms who are speaking out now. One example is Glenn Greenwald, who I quoted above. He was canceled by The Intercept, a company he started. When I read his letter of resignation, and Bari Weiss’s letter too, it actually made me cry. I also wrote a letter back in 2005, knowing I was, in effect, destroying my career, but doing it with good conscience because I knew I couldn’t do otherwise. My letter was never published for all the world to see. The people who canceled me were quite confident no one would listen to anything I had to say, ever again.
I well remember walking out from that last board meeting in a high rise in Century City, and taking the elevator down to the street. When I reached the bottom floor and went outside, I looked back up at where I had been. I would never reach those heights again and it didn’t matter. I felt an incredible weight lifting from my shoulders. I had done what I knew was right. I was free.
Those people inside that building were the ones in chains. They had sold their souls for power and money. They could never just let it go. They were bound by their images of success, their big houses and cars and private planes, their prestigious jobs and invitations to exclusive parties. I had never belonged there. I was a single mother living in a small home with my three kids. But I wouldn’t have had it any other way. No one was going to control me. No amount of money for my silence was going to change my mind. As I walked back to my car that day, I thought, yes, I would rather be on the street with the “little people,” as I heard one Hollywood corporate elite so disdainfully call them, than in the clouds with those who had compromised their integrity so much that they hated anyone who they knew had kept theirs.
I’m grateful for those who are standing up now. I don’t feel so alone anymore. I feel validated, vindicated. Perhaps my voice will be heard at last.
Let’s continue, back to 1996…
Please continue reading here: The Power of Words – Break Free with Karen Hunt (substack.com)