My relationship with the ultra-woke is a bizarre one. I share the majority of their beliefs. I believe Trump is racist, I believe racism is a prominent undercurrent of the Trump movement, and I believe many of the people who support Trump are racist and/or dumb. I support LGBTQ+ rights. I support women’s rights and acknowledge a wage gap that needs to be narrowed. I acknowledge systemic forms of racism such as the war on drugs and how it disproportionately impacts the black community. I acknowledge that there are barriers the average black person must overcome that the average white person does not. I believe in climate change, and I believe it must be addressed to prevent negative consequences. I oppose right-wing Islamophobia. I emphatically support abortion rights. I agree with them on these things and much more.
And yet I bump heads with the far-left woke almost as much as I do with right-wingers. Why is this? The problem seems to originate in that the ultra-woke approach almost every issue from an extreme ideological perspective, and they view anyone who deviates from their strict ideology as fundamentally evil; or at best, enablers of evil.
Before I go any further let me point out that I don’t think all woke people or people who sympathize with the woke are the same. I specify “ultra” in my term ultra-woke intentionally. Unlike the highly woke, I make room for shades of grey. There’s a gradient from the ultra-woke pseudointellectuals (the prophets) who think up the dogmas, to the heavily theory-indoctrinated and unquestioning enforcers, to the mass of intellectually dull tribal devotees, to the otherwise normal liberals who sympathize with the woke enough to overlook or discourage valid criticisms of them. But I digress.
Instances of the various degrees of woke taking things too far are numerous. For example, while we agree that many Trump supporters are racist and/or stupid, they think virtually all Trump supporters are that way. I, however, recognize that there are the additional groups of Trump supporters who are misled, or are willing to overlook things they don’t like about Trump because they believe he would further a different issue that is more important to them. These are differences worthy of acknowledgement. But even for the segment of woke that acknowledges these latter more benign groups, they judge them 100% as harshly because they see all Trump enablers as fully equal in their damage to black people and minorities. There’s certainly a case to be made against enablers, but excommunicating every Trump supporter from your life, no matter how otherwise gentle and altruistic they are, makes you a callous, spiteful person who gets your rocks of by casting judgment.
Another example is Islam and woke feminism. I fully support every freedom for Muslims in America that all religions in the US enjoy, and I am revolted by people who see women in hijabs and think they are terrorists, or worshipers of an evil religion, or think other generally Islamophobic thoughts. But I also recognize that hijabs, and in particular burqas and niqābs, are vestiges of misogyny. Burqas and niqābs are all about dehumanizing women and making them the property of men. You’d think feminists would praise me for trying to raise consciousness about this in Islam the same as they do about Christianity. Nope. Islam is immune to such criticisms, and leveling such criticisms makes me an Islamophobe no better than any hardcore right-winger, according to them.
After hearing my position on mysogynist coverings woke feminists say things like, “how dare you tell Muslim women what to wear!” Of course telling them what to wear is the opposite of what I’m doing. I want them to have the freedom to choose what to wear or not wear free from their husband’s domination or their culture’s slut shaming. Woke feminists also say, “well many of these women feel empowered by hijabs,” to which I say you’re right! That doesn’t disprove misogynist roots to the custom. Many Mormon sister-wives feel empowered by their situation, that doesn’t mean it’s not still patriarchal and misogynist. I’m the real feminist here, not the wokesters.
As a final example, the woke see racism absolutely everywhere, and every thing is an example of white privilege. To “prove” this is just a matter of expanding the definition of racism and expanding the subject/area of inquiry until you get the answer you’re looking for. They’d rather blame it on racism now, sort the details out later.
I fully acknowledge racism exists, systemic, explicit, and implicit. I understand subtle racism, and I understand most racist people don’t realize or think they are racist. I understand the horrific racism experienced by black individuals in the past whose influence has lingered into modern day. But I also don’t assume each and every example of a black person shot by the police is a result of racist cops. Some instances are, but some are not. I prefer to look at each situation case by case to decide if race was a likely factor. The wokes, on the other hand, assume every single shooting of a black person was about race.
This theme predictably played out recently with the Capitol Hill Riot. Woke leaders like Ibram X. Kendi wasted no time making it about race and white privilege.
Kendi implied that had the Capitol Hill rioters been black they would have been shot down or brutalized, but that is a grossly unreasonable assumption. If he based his speculation on data instead of ideology he would know that, despite the fact black people are shot at a disproportionately higher rate than whites, that rate is still extremely low. In other words, black people and white people both are rarely shot. So the most probable scenario is that neither blacks nor whites were running a high risk of getting shot. Or perhaps Kendi knew these facts but chose to stoke the outrage of his followers anyway out of the same cynical utilitarianism Trump uses to whip his cult mobs up.
And the truth is that in this instance, white people were shot, gassed, and arrested. A white MAGA woman brandished a gun and was shot by police at the riot. Guards in the building had guns drawn and aimed at white people. White police who helped white MAGA rioters have been suspended and are now under investigation. Huge numbers of the MAGA rioters have been arrested and more are being tracked down. And thousands of national guardsmen have now been deployed to DC to defend from MAGA violence leading up to Biden’s inauguration.
This last point is ironic considering the meme that went around in leftist circles following the riots showing guardsmen ready for last summer’s presumably leftist rioters. It was trying to compare the way black people are responded to compared to white people. Well, we now know white MAGA people are in fact being responded to the same way.
Skin color mattered very little January 6th on Capital Hill, political tribe was the dominant factor. Had the rioters been black Trump supporters complete with MAGA hats and TRUMP2020 flags, they likely would have been treated very similar. Clearly the expectations of wokesters like Kendi that the whites who perpetrated this insurrection would get of scot-free is false. Will they acknowledge this? No. They will simply move the goal-post and rationalize race into it in a different way.
Now let me reiterate, I am NOT saying racists weren’t part of the riots, they indisputably were (the vile Camp Auschwitz guy for example). I am also NOT saying racism isn’t a strong undercurrent in general Trumpism, IT IS. I’m simply saying that for the MAJORITY (not all) of the rioters in this specific situation, their PROXIMAL (immediate) motivation had little to do with race and almost everything to do with “defending” the leader of their cult of personality. Moreover, the way MAGA rioters were responded to by police and guards as events have developed appears to be comparable to how black and white rioters in the summer were treated. What mattered most at Capital Hill was tribalism and the collective delusion of a stolen election, not skin color.
Perhaps I have white privilege. In fact, I likely do. But I think the framing and use of the term white privilege as it is now most often brandished by the woke is a divisive bully-tactic. In discussion they don’t say “check your privilege” to honestly invite people to examine and understand their privilege better, they say it as an ad hominem attack meant to de-legitimize anything the opponent says and win the argument in an intellectually dishonest way. They mean to browbeat you into submission or acceptance with the term, not induce greater understanding and good-faith discussion.
And let me say, if my lack of minority struggles and not having to confront racism on a regular basis has allowed me to look at the race issue exclusively based on the data without the burden of bad personal experiences coloring my perception, I’m not sure how that is a bad thing. Emotions corrupt one’s ability to see objectively, and thus an intimate visceral relationship with a topic doesn’t increase your ability to accurately evaluate it, it decreases it.
Don’t mistake me as saying my lack of direct emotional involvement means I’m correct in my interpretation of the data regarding race, I could still be wrong. Indeed, I could have other emotions clouding my judgement. I’m simply saying it is one less thing distorting my interpretations. I’m further saying that having direct emotional involvement shouldn’t be interpreted by laypersons as increasing one’s ability to accurately evaluate the situation or data. Emotions are valid, but they don’t decrease our accuracy concerning matters of fact. This idea is the whole reason the blind and double-blind aspects of published experiments is so important.
One thing the woke often emphatically tell me is that I need to listen to black individuals and accept their stories and feelings at face value. Well, I agree that listening to people of color and taking in their experiences is extremely important to empathizing with their feelings and understanding their perspective. Those are extremely good things we should all do. However, in empathizing with a person I have no duty to accept their evaluation of claims regarding much larger matters of fact. You need scientific or otherwise reliable bodies of data to determine trends and probable truths about large-scale phenomena. Anecdotes are unscientific and terrible at accomplishing that. Anecdotes are too easily cherry-picked, and too variable. You need large amounts of data to separate the signal from the noise.
Secondly, when the woke tell you to listen to black voices, they don’t mean all black voices. They mean black voices that are part of the woke far-left. If you listen to black voices of the center-left and center-right you are met with scorn. Self-described cranky liberal Democrat scholar John McWhorter? Academic Glenn Loury? Center-right podcaster who encouraged his followers to vote for Biden, Coleman Hughes? All considered “uncle Toms” or token blacks by the woke. Of course, uncle Tom used that way is itself a racist slur. It’s like calling someone insufficiently black, and it is only used to demean people of one skin color, black.
The Wokesters reading this will dismiss outright those individuals I cited above as crazy far-right examples of tokenism, but they aren’t. Diamond and Silk are far-right crazy tokens for conservative whites. Candace Owens is a right-wing lunatic that nobody should take seriously. But the individuals I mentioned are nothing like them. The individuals I cited are scholarly thinkers who are simply hated by the woke for being highly intelligent contradictions to the woke narrative. That the woke see all the above mentioned people as equally terrible or evil is testament to the woke inability to see or adequately appreciate shades of grey.
At this point I will bring attention to the fact this whole article is littered with me insulting various right-wingers and right-wing behaviors. It is further strewn with me agreeing with the woke on 90% of their basic beliefs. But when a member of the woke reads this article they will pay no attention to all that. They will go into a trance that will conveniently filter out every phrase or sentence that would notify them that we should be allies against the right, not enemies. They will read only my criticisms, and they won’t even interpret them correctly. They will project the visage of a fundamentalist right-winger behind the criticisms and interpret all of my statements from the assumption of right-wing motivation and right-wing lack of validity. They will engage in motivated reasoning whereby the goal of reading this article isn’t to interpret it in the most accurate manner. Rather, the goal will be to distort it and uncharitably interpret my words in any way necessary to declare me as evil and a fundamental enemy to their cause. To some degree they are right. Their cause would lead to authoritarianism and policing moral purity at levels every bit as draconian as Christian fundamentalism. And I am certainly diametrically opposed to those things.
I didn’t say all of that to make myself a victim. I don’t consider myself a victim, and I don’t feel victimized by the bad faith on the part of the far-left woke. I say these things partly in the hope that it will help bring some self-awareness to any wokester reading it, and partly to give them a facetious ribbing about how predictable they are.
Lastly, I fully understand there is a line in the sand when a person or group’s behavior warrants severe responses. I am fully aware of the concept that too much tolerance can lead to more overall intolerance; that tolerating sufficiently intolerant people would lead to the elimination of the tolerant and thus a net increase in intolerance. I know and agree with all of this. The problem with the woke is they make this line far to easy to cross in their estimation. They take the Biblical approach here. They believe all social sins are equally worthy of death and damnation. In the same way the Bible may suggest lying is equally as sinful as murdering, the woke think failing to sufficiently hate a Trump voter is as evil as being one, which itself is considered as evil as being Trump. To the woke they’re all enablers, so lets throw them all in the gulag.
I’m on the side of erring in favor of the not-guilty here for the same reason I’m against the death penalty. Sure, the crimes of some people may warrant the death penalty. But because the justice system will always make errors and put innocent people on death row, I’m willing to oppose the execution of 100 murderers to prevent 1 innocent death. Nothing is lost in doing that. I suspect many wokesters are with me and oppose the death penalty on the same grounds, yet fail to see the parallel when it comes to cancel culture. But alas, for the highly woke, the difference between the guilty and the not-guilty is that the not-guilty haven’t had their social media accounts probed sufficiently deeply or sufficiently far back to find an off-color statement they made when they were sixteen. Everyone is guilty if you look hard enough.
No, the death penalty analogy isn’t a perfect analogy, virtually no analogy is. But rather than dismiss it outright because of the cognitive dissonance it causes you, why not pluck the baby from the bathwater and learn something from it anyway.
Once more I will point out that at each part of this writing I’ve acknowledged the validity of large portions of the woke Left’s position, but because I harshly criticized where they went off the rails, they will pretend like my acknowledgements never happened, and that I denied the valid parts of their positions like any right-winger would. That is what they must do in order to maintain absolute confidence in their political faith. A true thing said by a mostly wrong person can never be acknowledged or else you’d have to recognize them as a person who can say true things, and this is unacceptable. Only members of your cult can say true things.
Much of my evaluation is based on the woke far-left’s actions. Most of them of course wouldn’t explicitly verbally admit these beliefs or feelings any more than a racist would admit being racist. And like most racists, the woke likely genuinely don’t think they are that way. Much of it is subconscious internalizations of their woke culture that comes out in their behavior. Luckily for the woke I content myself with criticizing the flaws and dangers of their movement rather than doing what they do by demanding society and government shut them out and write them off as unsavable.
But didn’t I do the same thing in the title of this article and say they can’t be reasoned with, they can’t be saved? Nope. I was referring to the doctrines and the movement overall. Those are dogmas which are treated as inerrant gospel. But I fully believe many within the woke cult can be educated and brought back to sanity. Many are there for the same reason many are in the Aryan Brotherhood, they were picked up at an impressionable young age and experienced a sense of community and purpose in their movement. Much the same thing with religion, it gives people a feeling of community and purpose.
Perhaps the woke cult can schism like Christianity and Islam to give birth to civil and loving denominations. They likely already have. I’m certainly confident many of today’s adherents can evolve to see reason. We just have to keep up the vigorous criticism of the more depraved sects of the woke cult.