Let's Discuss Being "Woke"
Wednesday, May 4th, 2022
Partisan buzz word or righteous state of mind? Google defines "woke" as being "alert to injustice in society, especially racism" - but there is so much more to it.
Being alert to injustice is something any rational human being is on board with, but it seems that the political left of today is overcompensating for past injustices by pushing for more teaching of "Anti-Racist" philosophies. These philosophies usually manifest into pushing white guilt onto our children, conditioning white kids to believe they were born into the role of "oppressor" and non-white kids that they were born into the role of "oppressed".
Treating maligned members of society as incapable of succeeding without a hand due to their race or their gender, is racist or sexist itself. Yet we've now entered a time where children's shows focus on race, diversity quotas are becoming laws, and Supreme Court Justices and Vice Presidents are being selected based on the color of their skin or gender, rather than the content of their character.
It seems Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream has been misinterpreted and twisted into a nightmare.
The left, largely separated from traditional liberalism, claims they have been “awoken“ to social justices issues, and their “woke” mindset has promulgated prescriptions like race and gender focused curriculums rather than actual substantive teaching. This mindset has all but destroyed the idea of a meritocracy and has focused on beefing up equity rather than equality.
What's worse is that our society has become so sensitive to offense that it would rather play the victim than play a good defense. We cower in fear, and attempt to censor those we disagree with. We fail to make good arguments, and would rather coerce and condition than persuade.
This is a dangerous time, especially with the advent of irrational reactions to the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade leak. If you aren't pro-choice, you are incapable of being "woke" are therefore an enemy.
But how is that thought process productive? Shouldn't differing opinions be allowed at the table and discussed when contemplating law?
Moral High Ground?
(Yes, its May the 4th, insert Obi-Wan high ground joke here.)
The right has done everything it can to shoot itself in the foot on this issue. Rather than compassionately address the problems at hand, they’ve devolved to mocking the “woke mob”. Outlets like The Daily Wire, with famed front man Ben Shapiro, spend most of their time dunking on the left rather than attempting to understand their perspective and finding solutions with the most buy in. They traffic in what gets the most clicks and interactions on their website, which is abhorrently counterproductive.
But don't worry, the left equivalents do the same thing. Around and around we go.
Both sides treat issues like abortion rights, transgender issues, etc. as a good vs evil argument. "If you don't agree with us, you are evil." Every election cycle, both parties claim we face an existential crisis if the other wins. They pigeon hole themselves into strawman arguments and fail to address any of these complex issues with even a grain of good faith or nuance.
However, there is a main difference between the left and right when it comes to open discussion.
If you even question transgendered participation in sports, the left labels you as a bigot. They have no interest in the diversity of thought because any dissent from their opinion is seen as unspeakable.
The Democratic National Committee actively censored Tulsi Gabbard and Andrew Yang for offering different ideas for the party. Leftist groups on social media have taken to "cancel" anyone who may have made a poor taste joke back in 2003 about gay people, labeling them as anti-LGBTQ and homophobic and they've even lobbied studios to put disclaimers ahead of movies like Gone With the Wind to ensure audiences acknowledge racial insensitivity.
The left seems more concerned with diversity of race or gender, which they flaunt this as if they are on a moral pedestal defending the rights of maligned groups and protecting the black and LGBTQ communities against anyone who laughs at a Dave Chappelle joke. The level of sensitivity has turned so many off from the party and has made the Democrats an easy punching bag for the GOP.
Example: Donald Trump won in 2016. How do you lose to the guy who hosted The Apprentice? You pander to and use the very voters you claim to be helping.
Well intentioned policy prescriptions or not, the left has failed to win over any right-leaning independents, let alone engage in meaningful discussions that could potentially breed bipartisan solutions. Rather, they have clung to a perverted Critical Race Theory-esque ideology in which they lose the average rational voter.
The left doesn't want us to have our own opinion, they want us to have theirs.
With so many irrational examples to cite, I'll just include one of Bill Maher's clips from Real Time with Bill Maher in which he calls out the ridiculous sensitivity surrounding race and how the left has been dealing with issues surrounding it:
Representation or Indoctrination?
Blockbuster movies are ripe with moments of what is considered "woke" culture. Moments that seem to only serve a quota set forth by the studio just to make sure the twitter mob of screen warriors doesn't dislike them. For example, in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, two female characters kiss briefly at the end in celebration of the victory against Emperor Palpatine. A blink and you'll miss it moment.
Unessential to the plot, side characters that no one cares about, and clearly shoved in to make Disney feel good about itself and its righteous showing of diversity and inclusion. Disney was celebrated for its bravery, but so many are willingly oblivious to the fact that Disney censors any scene that is remotely controversial for international release. So brave.
There is nothing inherently wrong with showing two people of the same sex kiss on screen in the same way it applies to a straight couple. People kissing, or engaging in intimate activity isn't the issue. How moments like that are used in media feels forced and manipulative of those they are trying to cater to. If you are doing it just to appease the social justice crowd who will cry "lack of inclusion" otherwise, you aren't doing it for the right reasons.
And if you are going to do it, do it with characters that matter and write a good story. Don't just do it as a throw away box to check.
Representation is incredibly important, and we should welcome well written entertainment that does just that. Will and Grace was a successful show based on its well written comedy and depth of characters, not because a character on the show was openly gay. Orange is the New Black was dominant on Netflix and featured lesbian story arcs and a transgender character played by a real transgendered actress. The show blew up because of its heart and well written stories, not strictly because of these character attributes.
If these character traits are in service of the story - it works, and we should welcome that. But if its just a random shoehorned moment to meet a quota and appease "woke-ness"? Seems kind of gross.
This ideology has now traveled to mediums consumed by our children, and is more on the nose than ever before. The right has consistently pointed the finger at the left's "woke mob" attempting to indoctrinate children and young adults on social justice issues. But is this an exaggeration?
The more I learn from first hand accounts, the more I believe there is most definitely a number of classrooms and children's shows inappropriately peddling a specific ideology on topics that have limited business being discussed at a young age. Especially without a parent's consent.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with education, the sharing of different stories, perspectives, experiences, etc. But it has to be done tastefully and at the correct age. Florida's "Parental Rights in Education" bill restricts teachers from discussing certain issues like sexual orientation with young children. Gov. Ron DeSantis and others in his party believe issues like this should be left to the parents.
Should teachers discuss these issues with kids? Maybe in some capacity? It depends on how they are being taught or discussed and how symbiotically it is discussed with parents. I am a huge proponent of parental engagement, especially on issues like this.
Additionally, children's shows and cartoons have taken to exposing children to "woke" ideas at early ages. Matt Walsh of The Daily Wire, whom I am no fan of, does a good reaction/breakdown of examples here:
Is Walsh overreacting or hamming it up for an online video? Maybe, but maybe there is also something truly problematic within these examples.
Many argue exposure breeds empathy and understanding, and helps to normalize people of different experiences and lifestyles. There is no question that regardless of our positions on the topics at hand, people need to be treated with respect and compassion. But at what point are we being counter productive?
At such a young age, should children be concerning themselves with "white privilege" or "gender fluidity"? Perhaps there is a real conversation to be had with young children in a "birds and the bees" type manner, but teachers and cartoon shows should not be going out of their way to subject students to sexual orientation discussions.
The Difficult Path Ahead
This is by no means a dismissal of the very real issues many maligned communities deal with. The suicide and poor mental health rates among the transgender community severely concern me, and makes it all the more frustrating that things have become so dangerously partisan that we are incapable of addressing things without losing our minds.
I have my share of issue with the right, and how they've conducted their politics in my lifetime. But the sheer silliness of the Democratic Party and their leftist wing has made some Republican politicians palatable, even at their worst. We are in a culture war, and neither side is doing much to persuade or bridge the gap. They have both devolved into belittlement and grandstanding, further dividing us.
The answer cannot be to out-insane the other.
To solve these issues, we will need to learn to work together and listen to each other. Things like racial injustice and gender fluidity are complex topics with thousands of different opinions. Understanding that there isn't one true perspective is at least a step in the right direction. Truth and scientific consensus matters, but so does civil discourse. Without an established ability to have a discussion free of censorship and personal attack, how can we ever hope to solve any social issues?
These are interesting, trying times. With abortion reentering the main discussion there will be even more partisan division and "woke" attempts to dismiss and censor different schools of thought. We must keep our ears and hearts open.
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