Wokeness operates as if there had been no civil rights movement, and that white Americans hadn’t been an integral part of it. It operates as if 60 years of affirmative action never happened, and that an ever-growing percentage of Black Americans don’t belong to the middle and upper class (and that they are, incidentally, concentrated in the American South). It operates as if we didn’t twice elect a Black president and recently bury a Black general as an American icon.
It operates as if, in city after city, American police forces aren’t led by Black police chiefs and staffed by officers of diverse backgrounds. It operates as if white supremacy is still being systemically enforced, while ignoring the fact that a previously marginalized ethnic minority, namely Asian Americans, enjoys higher income levels than white Americans.
Above all, Wokeness pretends that incidents such as George Floyd’s murder, which are national scandals, are actually national norms. They aren’t, despite current injustices. Most Americans, I suspect, not only sense the falseness of the allegation. They are, increasingly, insulted by it.
The insult turns to injury when it comes to the solutions Wokeness prescribes, and in the way that it prescribes them. This doesn’t just mean efforts like “abolish the police” that are so baldly destructive that voters quickly sense their danger. It’s in subtler prescriptions, too.
A typical example: The American Medical Association recently published its “Guide to Language, Narrative and Concepts,” which includes such recommendations as replacing the term “disadvantaged” with “historically and intentionally excluded,” “social problem” with “social injustice,” “vulnerable” with “oppressed,” and “blacklist” and “blackmail” with words that don’t suggest an association between the word “black” and “suspicion or disapproval.”
This isn’t silly. It’s Orwellian. It’s a blunt attempt to turn everyday speech into a perpetual, politicized and nearly unconscious indictment of “the system.” Anyone who has spent time analyzing how the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century operated will note the similarities.
They’ll also note that the main thing separating those regimes from today’s Wokified institutions is the element of government coercion. Yes, there can be immense pressure to conform in places like Yale Law School, where no microaggression is too small not to invite the wrath of censorious administrators. Ultimately, though, Americans are still free to reject the Woke ethos, even if they sometimes have to leave their institutions as a result.