A couple of days ago I read an interesting article about the importance of discussing 'Peak Woke', especially with those whom might themselves be part of the Woke crowd. This got me thinking about when I reached Peak Woke, and what pushed me over the edge. So here I am to tell that story, even if I may be vox clamantis in deserto.
I peaked comparatively recently. There was always a soft, simmering scepticism surrounding concepts such as 'microaggressions' and 'cultural appropriation' but I brushed these off as the ramblings of fringe weirdos on the internet.
Then, of course, George Floyd was murdered in May of this year, social media imploded, and I became an inveterate anti-wokist.
In the weeks preceding this, several protests had happened in cities across the United States. These protesters were protesting the ongoing COVID-19 lockdowns, their subsequent negative impacts on the economy and perceived governmental overreach. If one gave Reddit even the most cursory glance during this time, it would be easy to think that these protesters were selfish, ignorant rednecks who were just desperate for a haircut. These protesters were excoriated in mainstream and social media, and it wasn't long before accusations of white privilege were floated in the media.
In the UK Dominic Cummings, a senior adviser to the British Government and a fairly controversial figure in his own right, was dragged in the mainstream media for violating lockdown rules and driving to a residence some 250 miles away from his usual home in London. His motives remain unclear, but he was ostensibly driving to be closer to his parents who may have been able to assist with childcare had he and his wife been rendered unable by COVID. A YouGov poll found that 59% of the British public thought Mr. Cummings should resign.
Mere weeks later social media was alive with praise of the bravery of the anti-police-brutality protests, and their perceived willingness to speak truth to power. The spirit of being a good citizen, following lockdown regulations and staying home to avoid endangering 'grandma' had simply evaporated overnight.
It wasn't long before a pernicious seam of anti-authority, pro-anarchist rhetoric sprang up on Reddit, with many commenters not only failing to condemn, but actually celebrating the violence and destruction of property, since 'violence is the last tool of the unheard'. All cops were suddenly bastards, nothing short of bloody revolution would redress this imbalance, and those who were burning police stations or looting large 'exploitative' chain stores were the vanguards of the revolution and should be allowed to continue with their noble work.
What's that you say? People unaffiliated with the protests are using them as cover for their nefarious, petty vandalism? Excellent, well now we can say wholeheartedly that the violence is being perpetrated by white supremacists, not anyone affiliated with the protests. We'll condemn their violence because we disagree with them.
Protests spread outside the United States, to countries like Iceland and Japan, both well-known for having serious issues with anti-black racism in their own police forces, what with both Iceland and Japan having enormous black populations./s
Then came the iconoclasm. George Washington? Irredeemable racist. Thomas Jefferson? Hateful bigot. Winston Churchill? Vicious imperialist. Frederick Douglas? Uncle Tom. And so on. Founding a nation or literally defeating the Nazis are apparently not good enough reasons to have a statue commemorating you, not if you were racist. Who will be fit to stand on these plinths now? Some random, apparently. But even the statue of the no doubt divinely pure Jen Reid wasn't good enough because a white man made it.
Which brings me on to the penetration of dangerous ideas like 'white fragility' and 'anti-racism'. 'White fragility', the unfalsifiable belief that white people cannot have productive discussions about racism without becoming defensive or simply disengaging from the conversation, is the brainchild of (white) Robin DiAngelo, in her book of the same name. The book has exploded in popularity recently, rising to the top of several best seller lists, and appearing on several corporate 'recommended reading' lists.
'Anti-racism', popularised by Ibram X Kendi in his book How to be an Antiracist makes for similarly bleak reading. It is no longer enough to be 'not racist' or, perish the thought, colourblind. No. Now one must frequently recite the catechism of anti-racism and constantly reaffirm one's commitment to the cause. I'm also not a paedophile, must I constantly tell people I'm not one of those, too?
Both of these books are reductive, and argue that, despite what MLK (how dare I sully his name with my white words?!) may have wanted, it's not the content of your or indeed anyone else's character that matters, it's the colour of their skin. A is white, B is black, and that's all that matters. A is racist, and the more she denies it, the racister she becomes. B is oppressed, and there is nothing he can do about it, because of the society he lives in. President of the United States? No, oppressed minority because of 'structural racism'.
Which brings me onto my final point, because this is long enough as it is. The Woke have now corrupted language itself, and nothing means anything any more. Men are women, mathematics is racist, words are violence, anything I disagree with is fascist, and literal Nazis are everywhere.
I'm over it.