The Tenuous Tenets of Wokeism


Thomas Crenshaw: Another Harvard Law School pic, 2006 (CC)

From The Objective Standard:

Those who assume leadership of the “woke” movement latch onto all sorts of preexisting ideologies—critical race theory, critical legal studies, critical pedagogy, intersectionality, and the broader tradition of anticapitalist thought—to advance a policy agenda intended to tear down and replace every aspect of our society, including our educational, cultural, legal, economic, and political systems. Through cunning—and by retaining the original claim that to be woke is to be mindful of social inequalities—woke activists have worked toward making it impossible to rationally debate the nature of wokeism.

If you’re a decent, rational person, you probably were clear-eyed about the destructiveness of bigotry long before wokeism burst on the scene. What wokeism has effectively done is to weaponize people’s decency against them by packaging supposed opposition to racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and other prejudices with a set of indecent and unjust premises and demands. These include that:

– ideals such as “merit” and “color-blindness” are either misleading or utterly meaningless;

– educational and legal systems can never be racially neutral, and that they should be used as tools for “social justice” against alleged “systemic racism”;

– individuals exist only as members of certain tribes, defined by unchosen traits and divided by power, privilege, and victimhood;

– all people are either oppressed or oppressors, depending on group identity;

– omnipresent racism is suffocating the United States;

– students, at a very young age, must be made aware of racial differences—in particular, white students need to be alerted to their “privilege,” supposedly a collective attribute of their race;

– capitalism is a system of white supremacy and racial domination, which should be replaced with some form of socialism or communism;

– the nuclear family is toxic and must be replaced with a form of communal child rearing.

Rational people prize impartiality, fairness, and reasoned debate. The “woke” do not. What they demand is submission and obedience. In this respect, wokeism is no different than Islamism.

A free and open society, where individual rights are respected and protected, cannot long survive if people cower in fear of losing their livelihoods for engaging in rational debate. So, what can we do?

First, protect yourself. Retain your moral and intellectual independence at all cost. Do not accept unwarranted guilt. Do not succumb to groupthink or peer pressure.

Next, remember what’s at stake. When times get tough, recall the ideals you are fighting for, including:

– individual rights;

– freedom of expression;

– due process and rule of law; and

– a free, fair, and color-blind society.

Further, reclaim the English language and beware of those who manipulate it. Do not accept the ever-shifting list of approved “woke” terms, and do not let manipulated language seep into your mind and redefine the bounds of your thinking. Perhaps most important, keep clearly in mind the distinction between words and force; criticizing ideas is not a form of coercion, though woke activists will howl that it is.

“Wokeism and How to Counter It”, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, The Objective Standard

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