Conservatives Are Stuck In The Allegory Of The Woke Cave
This week, after the video of Bethany Mandel, the author of an "anti-woke" book, failing to define the term "woke" went viral, myriad other conservatives stepped up to the plate and offered their own definitions of the term, nearly all of which were entirely different from one another and nothing close to the actual definition of the word. Merriam-Webster defines it as "aware of and actively attentive to important societal facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice)."
VIRAL! Anti-Woke Book Author Bethany Mandel Blindsided By Liberal Trick Question, 'What Is Woke?'
Mendel herself offered one, after she explained that the only reason she couldn't explain "woke" on the fly was because she overheard host Briahna Joy Gray disparaging having children as "narcissistic" and was so offended (as the mother of six children) that she couldn't get it together to answer the question. After her mortifying 15-second silence when asked to define woke, as a person who wrote a book about "woke," she later came up with:
"A radical belief system suggesting that our institutions are built around discrimination, and claiming that all disparity is a result of that discrimination. It seeks a radical redefinition of society in which equality of group result is the endpoint, enforced by an angry mob."
Keyword here is "all." That's where you're supposed to go "Oh, well, now they're being ridiculous." But it's a strawman argument. No one thinks that there are not individual, non-discrimination-related reasons for why individual people do well or do poorly. Of course there are! There are multiple reasons for why I have yet to EGOT that have nothing to do with systemic inequalities. However, when we see a historically oppressed group, for instance, being less able to get bank loans than another group that has not been historically oppressed, we look into why that might be instead of assuming it's just some wacky coinkydink.
Some stunad named Louis Marinelli tried his hand.
I can define "woke" in 15 seconds. It's a flawed ideology of social justice and radical social transformation that blames the woes of minorities on white people and, in particular, white men. It promotes identity politics to demonstrate one's virtue over sound public policy.
Ah yes, identity politics! Another term for which they made up their own, extremely vague, definition. As I cannot think of a single Republican idea that could reasonably be described as "sound public policy," I think we can assume he has his own definition of that as well.
When people pointed out that his original definition didn't make any sense, he revised it further.
It's a flawed ideology of social justice that blames the woes of minorities on existing social constructs such as race, sex, gender, family, as well as customs and traditions, and seeks to eliminate them.
It's so cute when they try to be all intellectual, isn't it?
There is a difference between eliminating "customs and traditions" and simply choosing to not participate in them oneself. That Louis Marinelli can't enjoy his customs and traditions without everyone else going along is really more of a him problem than an us problem
Ben Shapiro gave it a shot:
1. Western civilization and its institutions were and are discriminatory, and serve the purposes of those in power (typically, white straight men);
2. That discrimination is both historic and ongoing, and all group disparities are explained by it.
While "wokeness" does not claim that (because, again, that is not how we use the term), this is at least somewhat true, minus the hyperbole. Many of our institutions were, indeed, set up to be discriminatory, both purposely and inadvertently, and it is necessary to examine that. Also, when there are major group disparities, it is just common sense to look into why that is. If one thing is happening to a significant segment of the population versus another, it's almost definitely not an individual problem, particularly if we are talking about a historically oppressed population. This is how we advance and get better as a society.
Some dude named Greg, who describes himself as a Christian/Husband/Actuary. Strategic thinker/author/speaker, claimed:
Being “woke” begins with an evolutionary racist worldview & attempts to cover it with an artificial layer of decency. If you want to treat others the right way, begin by appropriately recognizing them as image bearers of God w/o manufacturing differences to overcome between you & them.
YouTuber David Freiman offered what is at least the most honest description of what conservatives like to pretend "woke" means.
"Woke" is the ideology of insincere fabrication of victims & victimhood through manufactured oppression/discrimination, for the ultimate purpose of acquiring power through such victimhood, and attaining undeserved social standing through faux outrage and virtue-signalling.
This is, of course, fucking delusional, but it is indeed what they like to pretend is going on. It's really the only way they can truly make themselves out to be the good guys. Instead of believing that oppression, discrimination and systemic bias exist (and that one may benefit from them), they choose to believe that people are purposely making all of it up because they want to nefariously steal power and social standing from those who truly deserve it.
Some guy named Jon Schweppe, who I hope does not have any relation to my third favorite commercial ginger ale brand, said:
Wokeism is an effort to refound America by replacing our existing values and tearing down our existing institutions — and replacing them with new ones designed to bolster favored communities and punish disfavored communities.
Well. Someone's certainly talking the John Birch Paranoid Blues.
Jim Hanson (not Henson, he's dead), who wrote a book called The Myth of White Fragility that I am absolutely going to look up later because it sounds hilarious, wrote:
Wokeness- An ideology that imposes Identity Politics, Social "Justice", Thought Policing, Climate Hysteria, NeoRacism, Queer Pedagogy & Socialist Equity using statist/corporatist/cultural enforcement
When someone pointed out to him that it is actually a term used by Black people meaning to be alert to systemic racial injustices, he snapped back that they had helpfully culturally appropriated the term to punish the Left for believing things they don't believe.
"It's been culturally appropriated because of abuse of the concepts of White Privilege, Systemic Racism and the other Leftist causes I mention in the updated definition. You're welcome.="
And then when someone else accused him of writing "gobbledygook," he responded by claiming his definition was "academically rigorous & accurate."
I would certainly be the last to question this man's expertise on the subject of white fragility.
Matt Walsh, to whom Hanson was responding, admitted that it's just a word they use to describe literally everything the political Left believes.
These are all highly disparate definitions, but they all have one thing in common. Rather than looking to understand what it is that people are saying or what they actually believe, these people base their definition of "woke" based on what it feelsliketo them. They're basically like the prisoners in Plato's Allegory of the Cave. They assume that what they see in front of them is all there is to the world and they have no interest in interrogating further. They assume that because they have never personally experienced systemic oppression and feel that they have not personally engaged in it that it must not exist and that those who say they experience it are lying in order to steal power that does not rightfully belong to them.
It would be as if I defined Christianity as a flawed religion that is all about getting to tell people who aren't like you that they are going to burn for all eternity so that you can alleviate your low self-esteem and feel like you are better than they are. While this might accurately describe how I have interpreted most of my personal interactions with Christians, it would be ridiculous and delusional to say that without considering what Christians believe Christianity means. It would also be ridiculous to assume, just because I cannot fathom believing in God, that people who say they believe in God must be lying.
They want the answer to "Why are women getting paid less than men?" to be "Because women don't work as hard as men do." They want the answer to "Why are all of this company's executives white men?" to be "Because they were all the best person for the job." They want "Why is this population disproportionately impoverished compared to other groups?" to be "Because they don't work as hard." Or, if they are big fans of Charles Murray, "Because their IQs are lower." They don't want people looking at groups of people and saying, "Hey, why is this group doing okay and this other group isn't?" if the answer is going to be anything like "Because the group that is doing okay had an advantage going in," they don't want to hear it.
Ironically, as much as they have ever-so-helpfully "culturally appropriated" the term, the thing they are mad at is still right there in the original definition. Ultimately the thing they are mad about, the thing that really gets under their skin, is people being aware of systemic injustices and working to correct them — largely because they are the ones who benefit from those systemic injustices.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse