Tuesday, May 16, 2023

"Is Wokeism Dying?"

 First, apologies for the length of this essay. Over two hundred words were cut last evening and another ten this morning. Still, it runs to just over 1,600 words, about a third longer than usual. A disciplined editor with an acute eye and sharp blade could have removed more words but, alas, that was not to be.


The Durham Report was released yesterday, finally. While it found no evidence to justify the FBI’s launch of a full-scale investigation into the alleged collusion between the Trump campaign in 2016 and Russia, it also brought no indictments against those who launched the investigation, which cost taxpayers millions o dollars. Perhaps that was because if indictments were brought it would condemn the entire Justice Department and the intelligence services, and the swamp in which they thrive?


By the way, with 81-year-old Martha Stewart on the cover of Sports Illustrated, it suggests the 80s may be the new 40s, at least for a lucky few!  


Sydney M. Williams



Thought of the Day

“Is Wokeism[1] Dying?”

May 16, 2023


“At its heart, wokeness is divisive, exclusionary, and hateful. It basically

gives mean people a shield to be mean and cruel, armored in false virtue.”

                                                                                                Elon Musk, Babylon Bee

          December 21, 2021 interview


For the last few years, the stench of wokeness has enshrouded our nation – in schools, corporations, politics, and cultural institutions. It arrived under the names “Political Correctness” and “Diversity;” as it came in on T.S. Eliot’s “little cat feet,” unobtrusively, but seductively and relentlessly, backed by the arrogance of the self-righteous. While many of its proponents want a world where racism does not exist, where sexuality is a choice, and where a sustainable climate allows mankind to flourish, the world they have created has the absurdity of Gulliver’s travels to the kingdom of Balnibarbi and the island of Laputa.


It is the folly of wokeness that augurs its demise: that slavery defined our nation’s founding, and that racism infects all white people, at least those who do not hew to a progressive line; that biology does not define a man and a woman, and that gender is a choice; and that unless we all give up gas stoves and drive electric vehicles the world will become uninhabitable. 


At the same time, we face real problems: failing public schools; a shrinking military; a permeable southern border; federal debt that, as a percent of GDP, is higher than at any point since World War II; persistent inflation; an aging population that will require more entitlement spending; a decline in global influence; a general sense of pessimism expressed in declining birth rates; and a President who, as Bruce Thornton recently wrote, “makes Chance, the Gardner look like Abraham Lincoln.” 


Students score poorly on international tests in math, science and reading, and they fail questions regarding history and civics. We have been divided into tribes, into oppressors and the oppressed. Those who are seen as victims (and their heirs) are condemned to victimization for all eternity. California has considered reparations to descendants of slaves, including those five to seven generations removed.  Ignored is the instinct for people to better themselves. Neglected is the Biblical admonition from Ezekiel 18:20: “The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father the guilt of the son.” 


While it will never totally disappear, racism has lessened over the years. In 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court held that anti-miscegenation laws were unconstitutional. Since then, interracial marriages in the United States, as a percent of all marriages, have increased from 3% to 19%. Executive order 11246, signed by Lyndon Johnson fifty-eight years ago, prohibited employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, and national origin. It was amended two years later to include women. The last half century has seen improvements in race relations and women’s rights. Since the 91st Congress (1969-1971), the number of Blacks in Congress has steadily increased. Currently there are 60 in the House, or 13.8%, and three, or 3%, in the Senate. Parity has not been reached in the Senate, but progress is undeniable. Women make up 28% of the 118th Congress. Eight years ago, they represented 19.4% of the 113th Congress. Nevertheless, silliness prevails. Colleges have incorporated critical race theory into their curriculums; they have segregated dorms and graduation ceremonies. Black judges who do not adhere to progressive orthodoxy are ‘Uncle Tom’s.’ Mary Hamil Gilbert, professor of classical studies at Birmingham-Southern College, was quoted recently in The New York Times on the subject of black actress Adele James who plays the role of Cleopatra in the new Netflix docudrama, “Queen Cleopatra.” As a professional actress, it is a role she is entitled to play. Nevertheless, Ms. Gilbert felt compelled to add that, while Cleopatra was of Greek origin, she was “culturally black,” that “she was part of a culture and history that has known oppression, triumph, exploitation, and survival.” Who and what cultures do those words not describe? My lily-white ancestors came from Britain, where they had been conquered by Vikings and Normans a thousand years ago. As colonialists in North America, they were subject to “taxation without representation.” Does that make me “culturally black?” Of course not.


Gender dysphoria is real but not widespread. From time immemorial, it has been a condition felt by young people as they went through puberty. A Pew Research Center poll found that 3.1% of adults younger than 25 feel they are a trans man or trans woman versus just 0.5% of those between the ages of 25 to 29. There have long been exceptions: George Jorgenson traveled to Denmark, in the 1950s, to become Christine Jorgenson. In the 1970s Richard Raskind was reborn as Renée Richards, and in 2015 former Olympian Bruce Jenner became Caitlyn Jenner. However, we have reached a level when only the Babylon Bee or Alfred E, Neuman can do the subject justice: Schools, and some in the medical profession, permit surgery to transition to another sex (removal of breasts, uteruses, and penises) at great medical and psychological risk. Students are told that men can give birth and a statue of a naked, bearded man breastfeeding a baby has been placed in a public spot in Denmark. “Person” is substituted for “man” or “woman” regarding the production of sperm or eggs. Biological men are able to compete in women’s sports. And the Defense Department is more interested in pronouns than in military readiness. Interestingly, while the Woke have become more assertive in their adamancy, the same Pew Research Center study found that the number of Americans who believe gender is determined at birth has risen from 54% in 2017 to 60% in 2022. Will the Woke catch up to the people? 


Protecting the environment is a legitimate and welcome exercise, yet in a world of climate fanaticism, inmates now run the asylum. Historically, we were fortunate. Our democratic system of government and free-market capitalism allowed living standards to rise for all inhabitants – far beyond the expectations of our parents and grandparents. While the United States represents only 5% of the Earth’s population, we consume 30% of its energy and are responsible for 28% of carbon emissions. And yet, while we consume more energy per capita than did our forefathers, our rivers, shores, lakes, forests, and mountains are more livable than what they knew. Each year, clean energy technology improves, especially in natural gas, but that is not enough for the Woke who forget how we achieved what we did. Like Canute, who claimed to be able to stop the incoming tide, they say they can halt the warming (or the cooling) of the Earth – a planet that has been around for four and a half billion years – which has been covered with hot and humid jungles and, at a different time, with miles of ice, and where continents have shifted hundreds of miles. Yet the Woke claim that a ban on fossil fuels in the United States, which makes up less than 10% of the Earth’s land mass, will prevent seas from rising. At the margin, their efforts may have some small effect, but at what costs? Have they considered the amount of fossil fuels needed to extract cobalt and lithium (mostly sourced from China), and copper and zinc, to make batteries and solar panels? Have they considered the effect offshore wind platforms have on undersea life? Have they considered how higher energy costs will affect the poor in the U.S., and what those costs will mean to developing nations? Should not adaption to changing environmental conditions be part of their plan?


Christopher Rufo recently wrote in the Manhattan Institute’s “President’s Letter:” “Left-wing cultural politics is very good for affluent, single, urban professionals, the ‘avocado toast’ class, but when those people mature into the phase of buying a home and raising a family, I think they’re going to realize that those cultural politics actually work against their interests and values.” I hope he is right, and believe he is. With parents fighting back regarding schools, we have begun to see the beginnings of resistance. People are noting the difference between “equity of outcomes” and “equality of opportunity.” Trustees of pension funds in some states are awakening to the age-old maxim that returns on investment supersede political injections of ESG. Residents of high-taxed states – California, New York, Illinois, and New Jersey – are experiencing out-migration, while low taxed states like Florida, Texas, and Tennessee are experiencing in-migrations. Missing from woke ideologies have been common sense, reflection, wisdom, respect for the opinions of others, along with simple decency. 


On February 3 of this year, I wrote an essay with a similar theme: “Is Sanity Replacing Wokeism?” I was heartened by what I felt were signs of optimism – parents of school age children fighting back; (some) university trustees assuming responsibility, and (some) state legislators cutting taxes. Heartened by today’s increasingly comical version of Wokeism, I remain of the opinion, with the pendulum swinging back toward common sense, that Wokeism is dying.


In his 2021 book, Woke, Inc.: Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam, Vivek Ramaswamy wrote: “’Diversity’ has become a term of art, a symbol, one so powerful that the symbol is now more important than the thing it was supposed to represent. Wokeness sacrifices true diversity, diversity of thought, so that skin-deep symbols of diversity like race and gender can thrive.” Churchill was alleged to have once said: “You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing, after they’ve tried everything else.” Wokeness has become mindlessly hubristic, which gives me hope that a more sensible world lies ahead – that the American people will do the right thing – so long as we do not self-destruct in the meantime. 

















[1] Wokeism. noun. Usually disparaging. Promotion of liberal, progressive ideology and policy, as an expression of sensitivity to systemic injustices and prejudices.

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