As the 2024 presidential politics starts heating up, I will inevitably write more political posts. Let me tell you about something that’s been on my mind for a long time now.
It’s this whole “Woke” debate you read about everywhere.
First, I consider myself a progressive. I’m anti-Trump, anti-MAGA, pro-inclusiveness, really hate discrimination, am in favor of strong voting rights and equal rights for all. And I believe in science. And also teaching historical facts.
Yet for all that, this whole “woke” discussion, and the whole idea of “identity politics” drives me crazy.
My first question is, when did progressives lose their sense of humor about “woke”? Did you see this Tracey Ullman skit on BBC – “The Overly Woke Support Group”? It’s funny. Why did we let far-right conservatives take control of joking about being woke?
Even though it can get amusing, people seem to be losing our ability to laugh at it. DeSantis and Trump and the far-right have managed to take control of woke and are using it for what amounts to racist, anti-women, anti-gender diversity, and homophobic attacks. Like attacking basic Black history programs in schools. Black history isn’t “woke” – it’s a common history that all students need to learn.
But progressives are going in the other direction by distracting in strange ways. And I fear that can cost us at the polls in the future. We need to use common sense and allow for diversity of opinion and tolerance of different ideas as well! That’s where things are getting uncomfortably strange.
Some examples about where things are going to the extreme
Police funding pledge splits NYC’s Progressive Caucus (Politico) – The caucus demanded 100% uniformity in agreement to a set of principles. As a result, 15 of their 34 members chose to resign. An unwavering, intolerant demanding of complete purity to a set of ideas causes damage. As it says in the article, “Mayor Eric Adams seized on the friction to further his criticism of far-left Democrats. “Right here in the city, we have a group that is calling for removing members of their own caucus if they don’t sign a pledge to defund the police. That is not who we are as Democrats and I’m going to continue to stand and state that we’re pro-public safety and we’re pro-proper policing,” the retired NYPD captain said on CNN Thursday morning.”
Beyonce Broke the Grammys Record. It’s Not Good Enough (Rolling Stone) – I mean, give me a break. She has won more Grammys than any other recording artist. Harry Styles won best album. Which was really the best? I don’t know. But what I do know is that her race should not be considered when deciding. Who thinks of Beyonce as a “black performer” anyway? She’s just Beyonce! But the article says, “…on a night when Black artists’ contribution to music history was highlighted so well, Beyoncé’s snub feels especially infuriating. Black artists have defined every genre of music. But music’s biggest night has defined itself by its refusal to award Black artistry the praise it is due. Beyoncé deserved better.” If they start giving awards to people because they are or are not a particular race I’m outta here. Don’t they see that that is itself racist?
The recent rewording of Roald Dahl books to make them more politically correct is very strange. For example, “Augustus Gloop, Charlie’s gluttonous antagonist in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” which originally was published in 1964, is no longer “enormously fat,” just “enormous.” See “Salman Rushdie, more slam changes to Roald Dahl’s books: ‘This is absurd censorship’” for more weird examples of rewriting his books.
This article – The New Homophobia (Newsweek) – struck a personal chord with me. It’s a very interesting column, and the author, who is gay, writes, “I was exhausting so much mental energy memorizing my coworkers’ pronouns and all of the new progressive dogmas out of fear that I would be fiercely condemned if I slipped up, I had none left to think critically or to question where any of these dogmas had even come from.” He goes on to explain the origins of so-called “queer theory” and how it seems to be an attempt to blur the identities of well-adjusted gay and lesbian men and women who are perfectly content with their gender and sexuality.
Anyway, I could go on and on with recent examples, including complaints about Academy Award nominations which overlook actresses of color, whether to abolish gender-specific actor/actress categories altogether, who has the “right” to play certain roles based on their ethnicity or gender or sexual identity, the exact terminology you must use when talking about groups of people to avoid offending…. somebody… somewhere.
While progressives are shooting themselves in the foot (probably not a politically correct expression because of the violent reference) we have truly serious problems with far-right conservatives censoring books and banning discussions in schools about black history, or prohibiting information about gender identity by labeling all those topics “woke.”
It’s become a cacophony of weird identity politics and woke gone over the top from all sides.
Meanwhile, very importantly, how this will effect elections in 2024? The practical political truth is most voters in swing states don’t want to hear identity politics blasted at them all day long. They want financial security. And safety. And a future for their family. Isn’t it best to concentrate on things we can build coalitions achieving? Like freedom of speech, the right to vote, the right to privacy, a clean environment, peace, and financial security.
So does this mean I’m not a progressive? I think I am. I just don’t agree 100% with everything somebody came up with as the politically correct way to speak or think. I’m an educated person who can think for myself. And that’s the thing: most people can think for themselves and a big tent political caucus trying to make progress needs to be open to that.