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Wokeness Is Out of Control
God only knows what 2023 has in store.
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I hate wokeness with a passion.
Manifesting sometimes as a religious impulse and in other cases as a political attitude, it’s toxic, divisive bunk propagated by militant ideologues who’ve hijacked the commanding heights of academia, entertainment, legacy media, Big Tech, big business, and the permanent state, allowing them to impose their views on the rest of society outside of the normal processes of public debate and legislative oversight. And while their canon is somewhat limited in scope, it’s enough to test even the most committed civil libertarian in his opposition to casual waterboarding.
In the span of a decade, a single ideologically driven cohort captured the entire interlocking infrastructure of American cultural and intellectual life. Not only institutions, but entire sectors like journalism and public health have been brought down on one supplicatory knee by snide, waspish elitists with their noses so high in the air they could drown in a rainstorm and who celebrate neo-Stalinist uniformity of opinion and view dissent and diversity of thought as existential threats to their narrow worldview.
Woke lunacies began in earnest back in 2016 when the Obama Education Department suddenly threatened to cut off federal funding to K-12 schools that didn’t allow students suffering from gender dysphoria to use bathrooms reserved for the opposite sex. The Obama DOJ then threatened to sue North Carolina for passing a law requiring people to use bathrooms corresponding to the sex on their birth certificates. By the time it rescinded the law, HB 2, in 2017, the state of North Carolina had lost billions of dollars because of boycotts by the NBA and NCAA, Deutsche Bank, PayPal, and other corporations and financial institutions.
The ideology of gender fluidity went from being an obscure strain of thinking discussed in remote faculty lounges across academia to becoming the centerpiece of a radical program of top-down social engineering carried out by progressive-controlled institutions. But the imposition of this ideology through economic compulsion by the federal government was only the beginning. It was followed by the now ubiquitous “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI) institutional initiatives based on “critical race theory” (CRT), a sectarian ideology that holds that all whites and “white-adjacent” Asian Americans, no matter how poor and powerless, are “privileged,” while all “BIPOC” Americans, no matter how rich and powerful, are members of “marginalized communities” that must be given preferential treatment in every aspect of life to make up for “centuries of injustice.”
As the vanguard movement of progressive ideological fads, woke activists aren’t honest missionaries of a secular faith in which meaning and identity are derived from political activism, but dogmatic authoritarians convinced that righteous motives justify demanding of others unquestioning adherence to a totalistic political agenda. They don’t want converts, they want targets and unswerving submission. Having successfully burrowed their way into immense, centralized quasi-monopolies and oligopolies in the private sector, they wield undue power and thrive on pious sadism and tendentious bullshit.
Once confined to the fringe margins of academia, wokeness has metastasized like cancer, infecting everything from hospitals and nonprofits to corporations and the courts, where it’s now common for ideology to override civic obligation. I believe the consequences of this ideological capture aren’t fully appreciated in large part because the corporate media — ever the handmaidens of the Left — studiously avoids spotlighting them. But it’s important to understand that wokeness isn’t just a buzzword, a shibboleth that conservatives lazily apply to cultural changes that rustle their jimmies; it’s more than just the stifling of free speech and the creation of asinine neologisms, more than just an ideology shared in Twitter microclimates. It is very real, very pervasive, and very malignant, and it’s determining policy that affects millions of people.
Perhaps the most clear cut example of woke ideological capture has occurred in public health. As the Washington Free Beacon’s Aaron Sibarium has reported, with the backing of the Food and Drug Administration, at least three states allocate life-saving covid drugs based on race. In New York, racial minorities are automatically eligible for scarce covid therapeutics, regardless of age or underlying conditions. In Utah, “Latinx ethnicity” counts for more points than “congestive heart failure” in a patient’s “COVID-19 risk score”—the state’s framework for allocating monoclonal antibodies. And in Minnesota, health officials have devised their own “ethical framework” that prioritizes black 18-year-olds over white 64-year-olds—even though the latter are at much higher risk of severe disease.
It’s not just state health departments, but private hospital systems as well. SSM Health, one of the largest hospital systems in the U.S., gave race more weight than diabetes, obesity, asthma, and hypertension combined in its allocation scheme for covid treatments, only to reverse the policy after threats of legal action.
Biden’s Department of Health and Human Services explicitly blessed these schemes. Utah’s allocation system, which gave “Latinx ethnicity” more points than congestive heart failure, was hailed as a “promising practice” for other states to consider.
The American Academy of Pediatrics now says 9 year olds are mature enough to consent to puberty blockers and figure out their own gender identity, but not to cross the street by themselves. The result is that puberty blockers are given out “like candy” at pediatric gender clinics — that’s according to Jeremi Carswell, the head of Boston Children’s Hospital’s gender clinic — and courts routinely block laws that restrict access to this highly experimental treatment.
The American Medical Association (AMA) recently issued a glossary of Woke Newspeak, instructing medical doctors to say “equity” instead of “equality,” and “systemically divested” instead of “poor.”1 And the AMA Board of Trustees passed a resolution demanding that sex cease to be noted in all future birth certificates, on the theory that a boy might’ve been born by accident in a girl’s body or vice versa, and that the individual might not realize he or she is in the wrong body until decades later.
You’ll probably be shocked to learn that nonprofits are just as nuts as public health. For example, the largest domestic violence group in Philly, Women Against Abuse, paid BIPOC staffers more than white ones, asked white staffers to affirm their innate racism, and discouraged black abuse victims from calling the cops. Employees also proposed that there’s “no such thing as a non-racist white person.”
Meanwhile, the Biden administration has been putting taxpayer dollars to great use:
The VA’s “Managing Gender Diversity” training has sections on pronouns and embracing “gender-expansiveness.” One slide lists terms like “gender fluid” and “pansexual,” while instructing: “List your personal ‘biases’ in the BIAS box.” A game of “PRIVILEGE BINGO” includes such items as “NO CRIMINAL RECORD,” “MILITARY EXPERIENCE,” and “MARRIED.”
A NASA training on “Allyship for Executives” says that the term “African American” is “utilized heavily in white spaces,” and it “can make Black people feel excluded as the term tends to ‘other.’” A NASA tip sheet on microaggressions gives examples that include, “Asking an Asian person to help with a Math or Science problem,” as well as saying, “America is a melting pot.” A slide deck on inclusive language suggests nixing “the poor” and substituting “people dealing with economic hardship.”
A Department of Homeland Security presentation on “Inclusive Diversity” says that micro-inequities can be fought by micro-affirmations.
A National Endowment for the Arts program offers definitions for terms such as “White Fragility,” “Heterosexism,” and “Misogynoir.”
The CDC provided training orders of about $313,000 for a slew of courses, such as “8 Tactics for Courageous Workplace Conversations About Race,” “Let’s Talk About Systemic Racism, Unconscious Bias and Privilege,” and “Silence is a Statement: Understanding Race in the Workplace.” It also recently urged teachers, administrators, and school nurses to put up LGBT flags, separate physiology from gender, and adopt LGBT curriculums.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s course lists feature “Everyday Anti-Racism” and “Psychological Safety: Building a Culture of Inclusion and Innovation.”
The Food and Drug Administration’s menu offers a two-hour seminar, “Checking Your Blindspot: Ways to Find and Fix Unconscious Bias.”
In big business, we’ve seen multiple instances of mega-corporations abandoning neutrality in the culture wars and using boycotts to punish state and local governments whose policies on civil rights and gender identity differ from those of the political Left—just as they now engage in sanctimonious virtue signalling by festooning their web pages with the BLM logo, rainbow flags, and DEI statements.
Pfizer offers a prestigious fellowship that bars whites and Asians from applying—a blatant violation of numerous civil rights laws. Amazon even gives “Black, Latinx, and Native American entrepreneurs” a $10,000 stipend to launch their own delivery startups, an offer that a class-action lawsuit calls “patently unlawful racial discrimination.”
“Major corporations seem to have forgotten that there’s such a thing as law,” said Gail Heriot, a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. “They seem to think that as long as they’re woke, they’re bulletproof.”
Many prominent businesses are also writing racial and gender quotas into their credit agreements with banks, tying the cost of borrowing to the companies’ workforce diversity. These “race-conscious” credit agreements are incentivizing illegal hiring practices across corporate America and encouraging outright discrimination. The businesses that have struck such agreements include the consulting groups Ernst & Young and AECOM, insurers Prudential and Definity Financial, private equity firms BlackRock and the Carlyle Group, the technology company Trimble, and the telecommunications giant Telefónica. Over the past two years, each of these companies has secured a credit facility that links the interest rate charged by banks to the company’s internal diversity targets, creating a financial incentive to meet them. If the business achieves its targets, it won’t have to pay as much interest on the loans it takes out; if it falls short, it’s required to pay more.2
Businesses and universities have written racial quotas into their agreements, too. for example, Microsoft, IBM, and Google capped the number of white and Asian students that universities can nominate for research fellowships, even though Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits federally funded universities from discriminating based on race.
Unfortunately, the law might not provide protection against woke racism for much longer, as wokeness has seeped into every part of the legal system, from law schools to law firms to the judiciary. Like much of the other woke BS pervading American society, this can be traced back to critical race theory. Once an obscure legal critique of neutral principles of justice, CRT is now a focal point of the progressive social justice ideology.3 The argument goes something like this: Because the U.S. is systemically racist — meaning literally every political, legal, economic, and cultural institution has racism inherently baked into it — neutrality and color-blindness, the conviction that the system shouldn’t benefit any particular group, merely compound the racism. Ergo, the only way to eradicate this systemic racism is to totally abandon all pretense of neutrality and to actively discriminate in favor of “historically marginalized communities,” AKA everyone except “cis hetero white men.”
The American Bar Association (ABA) has proposed making the accreditation of U.S. law schools dependent on their success in promoting goals like race and gender quotas among faculty and students. Obviously, this blatantly runs afoul of federal and state laws like the aforementioned Civil Rights Act of 1964, but amazingly, the ABA now says its own private, made-up accreditation requirements trump actual laws: “The requirement of a constitutional provision or statute that purports to prohibit consideration of race, color, ethnicity, religion, national origin, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, disability, or military status in admissions or employment decisions is not a justification for a school’s noncompliance with Standard 206.”
And the woke influence on law is likely to get worse before it gets better. That’s because American universities have become petri dishes for this ideology. Time-honored principles about justice and neutrality have been under assault thanks to the politicization of campus life. For many law students, the imperatives of race, gender, and identity are more important than due process, the presumption of innocence, and freedom of speech. Their “safetyism” worldview is one in which the right of people to feel emotionally and psychologically safe trumps what were previously considered core liberal values.
Yale Law School is arguably the worst offender in this regard. Recall the high-profile incident last March, when hundreds of students attempted to shout down a bipartisan panel on civil liberties, causing so much chaos that police were eventually called to escort panelists out of the building. Afterward, nearly 400 students signed an open letter scolding Yale administrators for bringing an “anti-LGBTQ+ speaker” to campus and having uniformed police officers present, among other complaints. And let’s not forget the notorious “trap house” email brouhaha in which YLS administrators attempted to professionally blackmail a student into apologizing for utterly anodyne speech protected by the Constitution.
But such incidents can distract from an even more pressing issue: What students are actually being taught in classes. Consider that one mandatory seminar at Georgetown Law School says that property law is “the history of dispossession and appropriation.” The ABA is essentially trying to wield the levers of state power to impose the Left’s preferred morality on the public by requiring that all law schools educate students “on bias, cross-cultural competency” and their duty to “work to eliminate racism.” And it’s succeeding: The Washington state Supreme Court ruled this year that when litigants claim “implicit bias” affected a trial verdict, the opposing party “must prove how it did not.”
Needless to say, all of the above matters a good deal. Ours is a democratic society, and yet most elite institutions in America have made belief in absurdities a litmus test and loyalty oath. This is a cause of great distress for those who wish to advance themselves professionally but prefer not to parrot absurdities and submit to self-righteous, zealous, uncompromising, censorious, judgmental dogmatists who use the threat of reputational damage to impose uniformity of opinion on people during a time when careers largely depend on reputational capital.
In this way, wokeness is essentially a form of “soft” authoritarianism. It operates through social pressure and the threat of ostracism and unemployment. When you’re required to sit with people convinced that their identitarian enlightenment signifies a higher level of being and collectively go through a Maoist-style indoctrination session in critical race theory designed to break down your whiteness through confession of “microaggressions” and “racial privilege,” and when your reticence to join in is regarded as deeply suspect and others in the workplace can report you for wrongthink, that’s a kind of soft authoritarianism.
What can be done about all this? Well, to borrow a term from the #NeverTrump ignoramuses, “resist.” Personally, I would rather livestream my prostate exam than acquiesce to the illiberal demands of the grand inquisitors of identity. I think it’s important not to go along to get along, but to speak up, lest your silence contribute to the illusion of assent. Otherwise, the double life you’ll end up leading in which there’s a growing gap between your public and private self will begin to feel oppressive. If you don’t believe something, don’t let these humor-impaired puritans force that belief on you. Aspire to be cast out of the progressive pantheon for wrongthink. The vast majority of people disapprove of cancel culture, all the bizarre pet ideologies of the modern Left, and preening moralists demanding they atone for their “innate racism and privilege.” Your refusal to submit to the bullshit will likely encourage others to do the same.
The CDC recently released its own comprehensive list of “stigmatizing language,” which it has disseminated to medical institutions, hospitals, doctor’s offices, schools and universities, and other U.S. government agencies and institutions. For example, the term “smoker” is now frowned upon because it might make smokers feel bad for smoking.
Under the terms of BlackRock’s $4.4 billion credit facility, for example, Wells Fargo will lower the firm’s interest rate by 0.05% if it hits two benchmarks — a 30% increase in the share of black and Hispanic employees by 2024, and a 3% increase in the share of female executives each year — or hike the rate by the same amount if it misses both.
The flip side of the woke revolution is that it’s so trivialized the idea of injustice that a generation is growing up unable to see and understand the depths of the real thing.