Elite Spaces, Elite Absurdity
Posted On March 1, 2021
As a general proposition, this blog’s focus endeavors to avoid “hot button” social issues in order to center its discussions on elections and matters of policy. However, a number of recent incidents in the realm of “wokeism” merit discussion on this site, and this blogger desires to address them.
Effectively, the concept of “wokeism” is that race-related disparity in the United States is the product of structural or institutional racism amongst major American institutions and its citizens. As many critical commentators have pointed out, being woke has a religious-like aura, where the concept is not supported by facts and hard data, but instead its advocates submit that their ideas stand on their own as truth without supporting proof. For a quintessential example of woke ideology, the mere fact of greater rates of poverty and crime and lower educational attainment among African Americans proves that present-day America is racist. Moreover, the woke are devoted to the concept that no other explanations of inequality of outcome (such as variable rates of two-parent families) other than racism should even be considered in the discussion of a highly complex sociological phenomenon.
In practice, since the turbulent summer of 2020 (likely a somewhat Covid-inspired event), wokeism has moved away from the discussion of disparity and towards a bizarre, extremely insular form of thought policing in elite spaces, which of course receive a wildly disproportionate amount of coverage relative to their actual importance. More specifically, last summer the woke could at least point to a general societal engagement on matters such as better police practices and continued poverty among certain minority communities concentrated in urban communities. Now, their discussions have in short order evolved into a completely insane hypervigilance demanding immediate cancellation of any hint of anything that could be considered “racism” within their own spaces.
Turning to recent examples of wokeism run amok, this column was inspired by the recent chastening of “Bachelor” host Chris Harrison, who was insufficiently condemnatory of past racially insensitive behavior by a young white women now vying for the affections of the current African American bachelor contestant. Harrison’s supposed offense was noting in a discussion with former African American Bachelorette Rachel Lindsey (who, notably, is the daughter of a federal district court judge) that the young women’s conduct, while ill-advised, was less offensive to many in 2018 when it occurred than it has become in 2021. Harrison was quickly forced to apologize for his remarks and removed from upcoming episodes of the reality TV show he has hosted since its inception years ago.
In a similar event, New York Times reporter Donald G. McNeil, Jr. – who after years of obscurity as a health reporter has recently risen to stardom for his Covid coverage – was fired from his position at the NYT for, alas, his “conduct” as a tour guide during a 2019 trip to Peru. McNeil had the bad judgment to repeat the “n word” in the context of a story about someone else’s use of this slur and, perhaps more importantly, argued with a bunch of teenagers that a number of sociological phenomena, including those related to race, are too complex to be broken down into simple leftist sloganeering. Two years later, his job was sacrificed at the altar of the woke mob, likely at the behest of some of its leading advocates within the NYT newsroom.
Finally, in a recent woke crisis that defies reality even more than is typical (should that actually be possible), the probable Senate defeat of Indian American Neera Tanden in her bid to be confirmed as President Joe Biden’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget has been decried on the left as both a product of sexism and racism. While Ms. Tanden’s defeat can be singularly tied to her exceedingly hostile use of Twitter to target Republicans (admittedly, it is hard to believe that Democrats could ever think an individual’s use of Twitter might be inappropriate), Democratic Congressman and former Presidential candidate Eric Swalwell tweeted the following:
Rep. Eric Swalwell on Twitter: “I represent one of the largest Indian-American districts in U.S. How do I look at what’s happening to @neeratanden and tell little girls of South Asian descent that they’ll have the same opportunities in life as white men? The answer: I can’t. And that’s a shame.” / Twitter
[While Mr. Swalwell’s tweet certainly scores woke points, it manages to ignore the reality that Indian Americans are, on average, extraordinarily well educated and in fact have the highest median income of any ethnic group in the entire country. And turning to Congressman Swalwell’s own political sphere, a woman of half Indian descent was just elected Vice President of the United States, he may even know her in light of them both being Democrats hailing from the Bay Area.]
Having given context to the woke policing of largely elite spaces, this question must be asked: who in the world is benefitting from this? Because, let us be clear, poorer and even middle class minorities obtain utterly nothing from the thought policing on “The Bachelor” or of the staff at the NYT; it basically ignores their existence. This elite absurdity does nothing to rectify the problems that supposedly inspire the doctrine of the woke, and the woke movement seems genuinely unconcerned by the plight of those that woke doctrine purportedly arose to assist.
This blogger would submit that the winners from the current iteration of wokeism are twofold. First, its minority elite advocates, who obtain exalted status via their immutable physical characteristics, have been elevated to “high priests and priestesses” of the woke tribe (despite the reality that the existence of a growing minority elite seems to undermine the claim of structural/institutional racism). Second, the segment of white leftists who have proven they “get it” when it comes to the evil that is America’s treatment of race relations (or the US generally) have become “the faithful,” sitting in their online pews and freely able to claim moral superiority over the unwashed masses outside of elite spaces. The losers, of course, are those chased from their employment, positions of influence, and social status via their violations of woke elite mores. The befuddled are the rest of us, who see this elite absurdity in elite spaces and are powerless to do anything but shake our heads about it.