‘Woke Racism’—A Review

A review of Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America by John McWhorter. Portfolio, 224 pages. (October, 2021)

If you had told someone a decade ago—after the election of the first black president, and in anticipation of the first black female vice president—that race relations in the United States would devolve into hysteria and incivility, it might have seemed like the counter-historical fantasy of a satirical novelist, in clear violation of the arc of history that, Martin Luther King assured us, “bends toward justice.” Today’s anti-racist activists, in that sense, are not progressives (although they claim to be). They are anachronists who fail to faithfully acknowledge and inhabit the spirit of their time.

In his new book, Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America, John McWhorter demonstrates that there is far more Martin Luther than Martin Luther King in today’s anti-racist movement. McWhorter, a linguist and a professor at Columbia University, is a critic of luminous intelligence, and his book’s apparently oxymoronic title plays on Robin DiAngelo’s (equally oxymoronic) Nice Racism: How Progressive White People Perpetuate Racial Harm. DiAngelo’s dubious contention is that white progressives are often more injurious to the cause of racial equity than skinheads or bedsheet bigots, because their racist transgressions are the result of well-meaning ignorance. McWhorter asks the corollary: can even those supposedly enlightened and self-appointed champions of anti-racism (whom he calls “the Elect”) think and act in ways that harm black America?

McWhorter identifies three waves of anti-racist activism in the United States, the first of which was the fight against slavery and legalized segregation. The second was the struggle against racist attitudes, which sought to instill the idea that racial prejudice was a moral defect. The current strain of anti-racist activism constitutes a “third wave,” and like any movement in an advanced stage, it is characteristically decadent. The Elect’s ideology, like so much contemporary social justice, is a grotesque contest of elite moral exhibitionism, inordinately preoccupied with policing speech and regulating behavior. It is fundamentally performative and, above all, pretentious, in both the etymological sense of the word (to pretend) and in its common usage (attempting to impress).

This approach to battling racism tends to appeal to well-educated white people afflicted by a guilty conscience. The only remedy for them—the load-bearing pillar of white America’s new moral responsibility—is a declaration of one’s own “privilege.” This, McWhorter assures us, is not progress or even compassion, it is a form of self-help. “The issue,” he writes, “is not whether I or anyone else thinks white privilege is real, but what we consider the proper response to it.” [Italics in original.] Privilege is indeed real, and making oneself aware of it is morally important, but when employed as a cudgel, it becomes a monstrous prop.

Encouraging black people to see themselves as perpetual victims, while assigning to white people the task of becoming enlightened enough to recognize their own inherent and irredeemable racism creates a culture of soft-bigotry, furnished by polite lies and low expectations. “White people calling themselves our saviors,” McWhorter writes, “make black people look like the dumbest, weakest, most self-indulgent human beings in the history of our species, and teach black people to revel in that status and cherish it as making us special.”

This endless condescension is writ large in DiAngelo’s work, and we can see it in the training seminars now required by many companies, in which things like “logic” and “punctuality” are ascribed to “Whiteness.” Do the people running these seminars really believe that black people can’t be rational and on time? Do they think that science and math are things that only white kids are good at? And, McWhorter asks, if black students perform poorly on standardized tests, is it fair to assume that the test is racist, and should therefore be discontinued, as the Elect now propose? Would it not be better to ensure that those students have access to resources and tutoring? Far from helping anyone, these distortions of essence and aptitude actually hurt the advancement of what is now commonly referred to as “racial equity.”

The goal of third wave anti-racism is ostensibly concerned with “dismantling” racist “structures,” but it is actually an attempt to narrow the discourse and limit the range of honest thought in pursuit of a phony consensus. This is achieved through a ruthless evangelism, which McWhorter manages to condense as follows:

Battling power relations and their discriminatory effects must be the central focus of all human endeavor, be it intellectual, moral, civic, or artistic. Those who resist this focus, or even evidence insufficient adherence to it, must be sharply condemned, deprived of influence, and ostracized.

For support, McWhorter offers a spate of scandals and PR nightmares that would signal, to an alien observer, a kind of collective insanity or Salem-esque panic. One of the salient and most stupefying examples is the case of Alison Roman, a (now-former) food critic at the New York Times. Roman ran into trouble when she criticized two of her contemporaries—model and food writer Chrissy Teigen, and life coach Marie Kondo—for their hypocritical commercialism. Despite coming from different ethnic backgrounds and cultural milieux (Teigen is half-white and half-Thai and was born in America; Kondo was born and raised in Japan), both are assimilable as “people of color” according to the progressive Weltanschauung, so Roman’s criticism placed her under suspicion. What reason could a white New York Times journalist have for criticizing two non-white celebrities, other than sublimated bigotry?

A few days later, singer Lana Del Rey responded to criticisms of her music’s use of sexual themes by pointing out that plenty of other artists, including Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé, also sing about sex. Del Rey was immediately attacked by social media mobs, who denounced her in an endorphin-rush of self-righteousness. These two cases make the Elect’s devotion to rooting out racial bias seem like a protean neurosis, which sees racism even when it isn’t there.

Social media has helped make this kind of behavior easier and more acceptable. McWhorter reminds us that, of the many professional “defenestrations” that occurred in 2020, most were carried out over Slack or Zoom, where empathy-producing mirror neurons (activated when being physically present with someone) were unavailable. Technological mediums have a way of rewiring our psyches to meet their demands: books give us bookish minds, just as television encourages us to see things televisually. It’s not surprising then, that activism inside the hive-mind of social media, which incentivizes performance and attention (virality), will invariably lead to mob justice.

The central tenets of the third wave are provided by what McWhorter pointedly calls a “Catechism of Contradictions.” These include such prescriptions as: embrace multiculturalism, but don’t culturally appropriate; silence is violence, but remember to defer and elevate oppressed voices above your own; more black students should be admitted to top schools (via adjusted test scores and grade standards) in order to foster diversity, but it is racist to acknowledge that students are admitted for these reasons, and it is racist to expect them to represent a “diverse” view.

The catechism, in this case, is not a metaphor: McWhorter earns his subtitle, and he is not being rhetorical. He does not argue that third wave anti-racism is “like” a religion—it is a religion in all but name. It is religious in the infinite elasticity of its arguments and in its claim to be an all-solving theory, which banishes irony and contradiction and treats all opposition as blasphemy. We see also the prayer sessions and genuflections, the insistence on sin, the creation of saints (see the George Floyd murals), and the same extraordinary moral arrogance masquerading as humility and meekness. Church leaders, in sympathy with white protestors at a rally in Cary North Carolina, actually washed black protestors’ feet. This is not a distortion of religious thinking, as critics like Andrew Sullivan (a Catholic) have claimed. It is religious thinking to a T. It is Christianity in drag.

This is most evident in the two texts that have become the synoptic gospels of the anti-racist movement—Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility and Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Anti-Racist. Both are the confessions of sinners who tell their readers that they too have sinned, and must repent. This requires the acknowledgment of “white privilege”—hence, the celebrity “I Take Responsibility” PSA in the summer of 2020, and Rosanna Arquette’s viral Twitter declaration: “I’m sorry I was born white and privileged. It disgusts me. And I feel so much shame.” These ostentatious outbursts of self-flagellation are quasi-Christian displays of self-incriminating and self-mortifying masochism. Perversely, people want to feel bad about themselves and to be told that they are sinners, so that they can throw themselves on the mercy of their clerics.

One of the pillars of third wave anti-racism is consequentialism—the idea that, because impact supersedes intent, it doesn’t matter what was meant by a statement or action, what matters is how it is received. This is common to both DiAngelo’s self-policing prescriptions and Kendi’s definition of racism, which shifts its focus from perpetrator to victim. At first, this seems like a useful re-definition that relieves us of the need to interrogate one another’s souls. But the consequentialist model is slippery. Rather than deriving claims from available evidence, modern anti-racism affirms a priori conclusions (that people are inherently racist, and that all unequal outcomes have racist origins) and then demands that the evidence be made to support them.

According to Kendi’s own definition, all unequal outcomes are evidence of unequal opportunity, and anything that widens unequal outcomes must therefore be racist. During an episode of his podcast, Ezra Klein asked Kendi if supporting—or even remaining neutral about—a policy like a tax break for capital gains could be considered “racist,” since capital gains tend to differ significantly between black and white Americans. Kendi’s response was that yes, this legislation should be considered racist if it contributes to racial inequality in any way. (Kendi has even recommended a constitutional amendment to guarantee that such policies cannot be passed, and a Department of Anti-Racism be created to monitor it.)

During a subsequent podcast, Klein asked Kendi how he felt about any policy for which the outcomes would be mixed. Lowering interest rates, for example, help people (of all groups) start families, buy homes, and open businesses, but they also push up the value of stocks and thereby increase the disparity in investments between black and white Americans (a policy that Klein described as “taking with one hand and giving with the other”). Kendi didn’t have a good answer to this, other than recommending that people come together and talk about it. Nor should he, because staking all anti-racist behavior on such a consequentialist paradigm breaks down at the slightest introduction of nuance; it can’t even accommodate the simplest policy proposal.

“Systemic racism” is not necessarily an invalid term, it is just too vague to properly serve those who use it in earnest. As a linguist, McWhorter is alert to usage, and he points out that much of third wave anti-racism comes armed with this kind of abstract, Latinate language. Ask the Elect what their goals are, they’ll tell you that they want to “dismantle racist structures” or “decentralize Whiteness.” But press them to explain what these things mean, and they approach tautology. At the Aspen Ideas Festival in 2019, when asked to define racism, Kendi answered with a closed loop: “[It is] a collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity, that are substantiated by racist ideas.”

Pointing any of this out, however, only invites suspicion. Denial, according to DiAngelo, is tantamount to self-indictment: if you become defensive when someone calls you a racist, it just proves that you are one. The remedy for this, she recommends, is a life of endless contrition, scraping and apologizing for one’s blind spots. At the same time, we are reminded that “white tears” are equally harmful, because black Americans don’t need their struggles validated by the sympathies of white people. This double-bind can be illustrated using DiAngelo’s own example: if you don’t ask your black colleagues how they’re feeling after seeing a story of racial injustice in the news, you are racist because you are ignoring someone else’s pain. But if you ask them how they’re feeling, you may be perceived as attempting to validate their pain, thus diminishing them, which is also racist. This is a morally incoherent house of mirrors from which there is no escape.

It is hard to see how any of this will redress real “structural” inequalities. “People supposedly committed to political transformation,” McWhorter writes, “breezily ignore the yawningly abstract relationship between testifying to ‘privilege’ and forging change in the real world.” How, for example, will DiAngelo’s micro-behavioral prescriptions make poor black communities less poor? How will dropping to one’s knees and admitting one’s privilege end the mass incarceration of black Americans caused by the disastrous failure of the War on Drugs? How will separate graduation ceremonies and separate national anthems raise standards in public schools, boost literacy, or make vocational training more accessible? None of these concrete problems receive a fraction of the attention given to the regulation of conduct and demands for intellectual rewiring.

Like many others, I had hoped that this rewiring had already taken place, and that a new model had presented itself for how we might think about “the state of race” in America. That model was exemplified by Barack Obama. Far from being a definitively “post-racial” moment, Obama’s election seemed to represent a new way of thinking, where a person’s skin color is incidental to their identity and not the whole of it. It appeared to confirm the Enlightenment individualism espoused by Dr. King, which emphasized the content of one’s character.

But today’s anti-racist activism is not liberal. It is the opposite. It encourages a vulgar consanguinity—what D.H. Lawrence called “blood consciousness”—which the Enlightenment sought to overhaul with notions of universalism. As McWhorter observes:

All of the Enlightenment’s focus on individualism, all of modernism’s permission for people to be themselves rather than live bound to preset classifications, falls to pieces before this idea that to be anything but white requires obsession with the fact that you are not white, and diminished by their possibly not seeing you in your totality.

McWhorter knows that the tribal mind is more comfortable cognitively than the individualized mind. Individualism is new, and its psychology is still being grooved. This problem is dramatized in Saul Bellow’s novel Mr. Sammler’s Planet, which takes place at the end of the 1960s, when liberal American Jews, alienated by black power separatism, were embracing Zionism. Artur Sammler, an educated European Jew and Holocaust survivor living in crime-rife New York City, senses a crab-in-bucket struggle settling in between modern Jewry and black America, one that inflames savage instincts and a ghetto mentality. The struggle for civility thus becomes a debasing ordeal. Stanley Crouch (in his introduction to the novel) described it as “what causes a civilization to embrace ruthlessness as the best way to realize its ambitions and handle its fears.” Near the end of the novel, reflecting on the growing pains of post-Enlightenment liberalism, Sammler concludes that it has only been two centuries since people starting thinking of themselves as individuals, and “It is clear that this revolution, a triumph for justice in many ways … has not been altogether a success.”

One of the banes of liberalism in our time is the unwillingness to criticize bad ideas honestly for fear of being misconstrued as a bigot; the assumption of the lowest possible motive when assessing these criticisms is the other. Together, they constitute a strait jacket—they make progress impossible, unless one’s definition of progress is: “Widespread beliefs founded in transparently irrational assumptions, fiercely held by otherwise empirical people, for ulterior, transcendent reasons.” But this, McWhorter tells us, is actually the definition of a church, and like all churches, it should be walled-off from the state.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://quillette.com/2021/10/26/woke-racism-a-review/
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grotesque contest of elite moral exhibitionism

I usually use the term moral narcissism, but I very much like this description, too. The exhibitionism is a key feature.

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Man, I remember the “…it doesn’t compute!..” look on Kendi’s face when I dropped a comment, during a live stream, about the true nature of racism in America. See, I wrote, racism is not actually about the colour of the skin – rather, it’s, umm… the SIZE that matters.

That’s because "Everything is about sex, except sex. Sex is about power. – Oscar Wilde

The Source: Extensive Data Shows Punishing Reach of Racism for Black Boys - The New York Times

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A concise example of the lunacy of impact-derived evaluation can be seen in the minimum wage.

Minimum wages were introduced in America with the very explicit purpose of preventing black Americans from “stealing jobs” from white Americans. Democrats like JFK spoke of this intent as recently as 1957. This early understanding of minimum wage was correct - it prevents employment that pays less than a certain rate from existing.

More recently, though, America’s Democrats have developed a contrary narrative about the impact of minimum wages. The newer narrative says that minimum wages elevate compensation without requiring work to actually be more valuable. This is economically ludicrous, of course, but it has become the accepted narrative of left-wing movements throughout the West.

Under this incorrect understanding, minimum wages benefit black people more than they benefit white people, whereas under the correct understanding, minimum wages harm black people more than they harm white people. The judgement as to whether minimum wage is racist in the proper direction depends on which understanding of minimum wages is used (keep in mind that America’s Democrats adhered to both understandings at different points in their history!).

If people disagree in good faith as to whether a policy positively or negatively impacts black people vis a vis white people, we can’t use impact as an authoritative means of determining racism. Even if we decided that some sort of majority/consensus belief would reign, that belief would sometimes be wrong, as it is in the case of the present-day majority view of the minimum wage.

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I had subscribed to McWhorter’s Substack, and read the book as it was published in serial. It was a powerful piece there. And not the reviewer has done an excellent job of condensing it while retaining the power.

We are left with the question, "Is it like a religion or is it a religion ? And what if it is one? For McWhorter himself, that’s an easy question, because McWhorter is a self-declared atheist, happy to shred any belief system which depends on belief in non-empirical constructs. And when he says that something is more like Martin Luther than like Martin Luther King, for him that is necessarily a condemnation. But I can’t necessarily say as much. Part of the core of Christianity is that it let’s us acknowledge ours sins and move on without obsessing over them; it allows us to work in our imperfect ways in an an imperfect (and non-perfectable) world. It gets us passed the paradox of the fear of failing. And even if the doctrinal basis of forgiveness in entirely ‘mysterious’ and unprovable, nevertheless the belief allows us to be, in many ways, ‘better’ people.

Onn the other hand, Wokeism offers no relief. There is no forgiveness, there is only constant performative wailing and rending of garments. Wokeism is a bad religion, it’s an awful religion demanding constant sacrifices and destruction. I do understand McWhorter’s use of the term Elect – it is an appropriate comparison to the beliefs of the Calvinist Puritans, based on the self-assuredness of one’s own status as being among the God’s Elect. And it’s easy, at lest in hindsight, to say the Calvinism, at its extreme, was a bad religion, an awful religion. So Elect is a good name, by analogy. But Wokeism not a ‘bad religion’ simply because it’s a religion, it’s bad because it’s destructive, almost by intent.

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If forgiveness is mysterious, it is because there has never been anything to forgive. We are always doing the best we can — every time, all the time — for if we could do any better, we would, wouldn’t we?

We are still responsible, of course, but not before our past (what’s done is done regardless), but before our future. Specifically, we are responsible to find it out — not what we did wrong, but why we did it (and the real reason too, not your “because I’m a bad person” or other excuses for not trying to learn what really happened).

After all, how can we be sure we are not going to do it again unless we understand how come we did it the first time? In fact, how can we be sure it was the wrong thing to do, if, again, we don’t understand the true reasons behind it?

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can’t disagree with anything there, but we’re still left with Pascal’s dilemma: When I can do what I want to do, that is liberty for me, but what determines what I want to do? It’s that nagging worry that it WAS my fault that I didn’t do what I could have and should have. And Wokeism insists that I didn’t do enough, could never have done enough. It insists that I do more (performatively, at least) while telling me it can’t be enough. The Christian teaching, in contrast, is to say that, of course you couldn’t have done enough, 'cuz you ain’t perfect, and nothing you can do now will completely atone for your past, but acknowledging that much is a useful step.

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The reason why the postmodern anti-racism of the woke fails so miserably by comparison to far more potent predecessor, the anti-racism of the Civil Rights era with its agápē-based insistence upon consciousness-raising, rather than guilty consciences- is because in every sphere other other than the political (which uniquely operates through fear of the opposition), power is only a second order effect. I could talk about all the other motivations of people how we are swayed by love, compassion, kindness, beauty, the pursuit of truth or excellence, but I will repeat it again- power is only a second order effect. In every area other than politics, it is gained through the accumulation of a far more important human commodity: trust.

To be sure, the activism of the critical social justice acolyte has the power to harm, to intimidate, to injure reputation and cancel careers, but when it comes time to implement change based upon this new religion, philosophically it not only fails, but inflicts harms upon those it intends to help. This Harvard Business Review article say it all in the title ‘Why Diversity Programs Fail- And What Works Better’. My only criticism is that it isn’t sufficiently explicit in stating how in almost every workplace situation where implicit bias training, the white privilege mantra or other racial sensitivity training is deployed diversity goes down, as do your chances of gaining a promotion if you are African American.

Meanwhile the article elucidates solutions which are proven to work far more successfully. Encourage managers to voluntarily participate in trips to colleges and help in the hiring of talent- that way they will be invested in their future. But far more importantly create formalised opportunities for fostering mentoring relationships. It is doubtless a symptom of the awkwardness and absence of trust which exists across artificial and arbitrary divisions that managers fear entering informal mentoring relationships, worried that there constructive criticism may be taken the wrong way and land them in trouble.

But we all know that mentoring can be a powerful tool. For most of us who have been successful, that first mentoring relationship is crucial. It not only shows us how complacent we were before and opens us up to a whole word of real world opportunities, but also kicks open the metaphorical doors of the mind, forcing us to see problems and people from new angles, with an entire toolkit of problem-solving and trust-building heuristics. And for those of us who have been privileged enough to mentor others, it can be one of the most rewarding experiences to be found in life.

You see that is the folly of the more modern postmodernism inspired critical social justice activist- by garnering the power to destroy, they forever place the ability to create beyond their reach. The only thing they can build is distrust, creating artificial and arbitrary walls between people, making them walk around on eggshells and forcing people who might otherwise be real friends through shared and reciprocal experiences, to instead live atomised, isolated and lonely work lives, always carefully self-editing everything they say and engaging in the performative narcissism of self-flagellation.

And to be honest, wasn’t that really the problem all along? Where there were power imbalances, wasn’t it mainly due to deficits of trust and the failure of important and powerful people to get over themselves and conquer their awkwardness with people different to them? The reason why postmodernism was so intellectually stupid is because its adherents pathological worldview could never conceptualise the prospect that in most cases power was earned- it was simply that so many were barred from process of accumulating it. They couldn’t conceive of a world in which power was not the product of corruption and venal group nepotism.

In a way, it was an easy and understandable mistake to make. Historically, they saw the Country Club, and felt the hurt of exclusion- but simply couldn’t understand that despite this Great Unfairness, its inner workings were efficient and hyper-productive- even if was made all the poorer for not drawing on the full and total sum of the talent of human society, it still worked.

This delusional belief in the corrupt power practice of groups, is having real world consequences in the here and now. The failure to understand that power is the product of cumulative and compound trust and reciprocity, causes the activist types and diversity apparatchik to sabotage the very thing which should be our salvation- more trust, greater reciprocity and the breaking down of invisible walls of discomfort. It is a very real and unfolding human tragedy, for being the higher road not travelled. We’ve lost the moral arc of history by failing to recognise that power is only a second order effect.

As usual, my essays are to be found on my Substack which is free to view and comment:

Great essay by the way, and I definitely plan to read John McWhorter’s book.

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I believe that is how Pascal described the paradox of free will — we can’t have it in deterministic Universe! That’s why many philosophers panic and give up on determinism completely — which is neither helpful (‘cause just as bad), nor necessary.

I think it is true that we don’t have the free will when we make the choice, in that moment that is. But that’s OK. We still have the freedom of choice with respect to our future actions. Even if the future has been determined from the start, we still do because we don’t know the future — determined or not, we still must make our choices for it to happen.

Or put it this way — if you do nothing, then, yes, we would learn that our future is the one determined by your inaction. But if you act, we will learn that our future is a different one, the one shaped, in part, by you.

Does it even matter, then, whether the Universe is deterministic? — absolutely! It means that you could not have chosen differently in the past. You are not responsible for your past, no one is. And you can rest assured that you have done your best — because, again, if you could do better, you would.

Again, many — tho not all of us — find that notion deeply uncomfortable. After all, it invalidates the whole concept of punishment for one’s crimes. And, yes, it does — but if you stop and think of it, you’d see that there are better ways to learn from your mistakes than adding insult to injury… namely by figuring out why you did whatever was wrong.

For starters, how can you be sure you won’t do it again if you don’t know why you did it? Moreover, how can you even be sure that it was the wrong thing to do in the first place — unless, again, you know why you did it? Those are important questions, and they are the reasons why, even though not responsible for your past, you are not off the hook until you have found the answers, and have determined and taken corrective actions… all of which, unlike changing the past, is, actually, within your means :wink:

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Well… I don’t know how to say it, so I’ll just say it — I think the whole concept of “privilege” is simply evil ‘cause reverse racism and it’s not even privilege.

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Those who cannot wrestle with contradictions and paradoxes are the poorer for it. God gave us two eyes and two years so that we can see in perspective and recognize the direction a sound comes from.

A complete aside to the topic of the article, but reading the bit about Kendi made me wonder: has anyone ever in a public forum confronted Kendi with the overrepresentation of East Africans and persons of East African ancestry among elite long distance runners? Or, for that matter the overrepresentation of African-Americans in the rosters of NBA teams? (The former is better at rubbishing his thesis that all disparate outcomes are evidence discrimination, though the mental gymnatists he’d have to go through to explain the latter as a result of white racism, if displayed openly would probably peel off some of his less committed supporters.)

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Kendi’s claims have been disputed a fair amount by some other fairly well known public intellectuals, including a few others who have written articles for Quillette. Wilfred Reilly and Glenn Loury, have made some pretty solid rebuttals. I don’t know if Kendi or any anti-racist proponents have responded. Maybe someone else here knows and could fill us in.

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I am aware of that. I meant to his face in a public forum where he would need to respond.

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While I agree with McWhorter that the race narrative has neo-clericalist tendencies that give it that cult feel with all the irrational, affirmational and condemnatory posturing and heresy sniffing we have come to know and love, it doesn’t really explain the hystericism that is driving it and where it is coming from. Jared’s pithy summary of McWhorter’s work gives us a good description of the phenomenon and its antecedents, but it doesn’t tell us why it is happening, and particularly now.

That requires systemic analysis. What is going on within America Inc and its cultural subsidiaries (like Australia for instance) that might be driving its ruling classes into a collective flight from reality…and not just the Woke Ascendancy?

The Woke Ascendancy represents the regime apparatus that controls the means of social administration and its reproduction. It exercises that control through its graduate stream coming out of tertiary training seminaries that it now totally dominates as an intellectual monoculture comparable in its character, influence and power with the old established Church, whose role it parallels exactly, using social bureaucracies and now social media as its ‘churches’.

That control has been in assembly since the 1960s, when Indulgence capitalism began to systematically break the traditional restraints of an economy and culture based around a rational hierarchy of needs and wants, and moved to ones based around fantasies of desire and satiation that would erode and delegitimized fundamental axioms, render their boundaries opaque and deny the rules based behavior that would join them together as a working entity, so that in the end, the distinction between knowing fantasy and unknowing delusionality would cease to exist…enabling a mega-system of public relations and marketing to colonize and dominate the space in ways that were more totalitarian consciousness compliant than any of its predecessors…whereby evidence based reasoning and argument gave way to perception, feeling and the emotionally loaded language of persuasion; i.e., keyword stereotypes, aphorisms, slogans, euphemisms and dysphemisms that would short circuit debate and suffocate reflective thought and rational criticism…and make way for the dream run of postmodernism as the official regime ideology.

That this is not obvious is because it was designed to innocuously disappear beneath traditional identifiers of totalitarian governance, which is what accounts for its very considerable effectiveness.

The virtue of the system is that it produced unparalleled conformity in an apparently democratic society. The problem with the system took a while to surface, but when it did, it appeared as an arbitrary, opportunistic and desecured irrationality of disturbed, disturbing and bizarre behavior, because the adult autonomy software that builds and keeps a human as a coherent entity was beginning to look like a surrealist nightmare of behaviorally dysfunctional and morally disconnected ruin.

The weaker players with the least going for them in the first place were the first to go down, followed by the rest, until there was nothing to tell between the Geckoesque hucksters and space cadets from bankworld and the hoods from the 'hood…which is what happens after the loss of fundamental boundaries that would tell good from evil…where life and the relationships it generates become much less existentially secure, much more dangerous and much less predictable.

For at least a generation or two, underneath the glitzy color and movement of apparently very affluent and successful societies, there has been a building set constituencies whose doubts about Wokism has been slowly crystallizing, as those societies start to to show signs of wear and tear that just weren’t ‘normal’ to economic, social and cultural ‘outsiders’ who never really were absorbed properly into the New Order. Ol’ style religious communities that against all the odds hadn’t secularized and liberalized, from all religious traditions, started to coalesce into increasingly hostile opposition to what they saw as ‘liberalism’.

That trend was joined by large groups of working class populations whose jobs had been sent to Asia and who had found themselves marginalized and ignored, and increasingly started to both hate and despise the economic and sexual free-for-all in the ‘decadent’ coastal cities, whose fat salaries for fat cats employed to sit on their bums all day and lauding it over them, was increasingly resented, and it all came to head when Trump was borne on their shoulders into the presidency.

Let us remind ourselves of the absolute panic this caused, as for the first time, the Woke Ascendancy saw its power being challenged, its legitimacy ignored, its precepts mocked and agendas brushed aside.

The Woke riposte was to to use minoritarians as trumps to both blacken and brush aside what to them was a peasant Jacquerie of rural and ‘ignorant’ hayseeds. The BLM and transgender push would hit at the black heart of an adversary that dared to challenge its class and educational betters.

The Wokes, like their early fourteenth century French aristocratic forebears, moved to crush ‘the Jacques’ by plunging daggers into their civilizational, sexual and law 'n order family values heartland narratives, to discredit and destroy them…to push them out of national politics, isolate them back into their rust belt hinterland states and then pick them off using federal institutions, to return them to an inchoate state of muttering resentment and ineffectual rage, not unlike the old south after the civil war.

This is almost bound to end in armed struggle that may get a start as the trials from the Congress break-ins bring in their guilty verdicts and judicial punishments…or Trump gets impeached and their and his supporters react in rage…and start shooting…And then it will be ‘on’ for young and old…

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It’s a start.

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I don’t think it could invalidate punishment for crimes. You KNEW punishment was a likely future consequence of committing the crime before you did it, so punishment is a valid consequence. I would say it does invalidate whining about being punished, though.

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OK, let me clarify what I meant — it invalidates the punishment as something just, fair or at all helpful.

Punishment is the wrong way to deal with mistakes. And two wrongs don’t make it right. Get it?