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How do we think about the "woke" debate? Show more Show less
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To proponents of "woke culture", the term denotes only a simple awareness of the fundamental inequalities and injustices suffered by minorities - religious, racial, social (LGBTQ). To its critics, woke culture smacks of liberal authoritarianism - a new cultural religion that tolerates no dissent on threat of 'cancellation'. Which is it?

Wokeness is being misrepresented to sustain systemic injustice Show more Show less

Wokeness has been co-opted by the right to undermine important social and economic injustices.
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Wokeness is used as an insult to defend structural violence

Many argue that the woke backlash is brought on by a creeping insecurity. Wokeness is powerful because it highlights how many people cling to factors such as race for their status in society.

The Argument

Critics of woke culture have decided to use the term against its practitioners. "Woke" has become a pejorative among conservative critics of the movement. Their use of the term is a misrepresentation, which displays how threatening the movement is to their ideological system.[1] Woke, in fact, is not often used as an identifier among social justice activists.[2] This is in part due to the use of the word being bastardized by critics and used as a blanket term to describe social justice causes they view as threatening to their authority. Wokeness aims to fight the oppressive systems that affect black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), as well as the LBGTQ+ community, and beyond. Each of these groups has been oppressed by the societies they live in and the inherited systems from a bygone era. Considering critics of the movement are overwhelmingly heterosexual, white conservatives, its no wonder that they deride the term in an effort to discredit the social activism, as it threatens their supremacy across several privileged positions of power in government, religion, media, and the workplace. [3] Key to their criticisms of wokeness is their lack of an alternative means of fighting for these social causes, and that suggests that they would rather keep the status quo. Their use of the term is merely a reflection of the reality that their positions of privilege are on shaky ground.

Counter arguments

"Woke" is only seen as an insult now because the cause is so riddled with issues. Criticism is easy when wokeness engages in so may excesses that are not only unpopular with most people, but also not practical. It's hypocritical to accuse all critics of being white conservatives when polls show that those most concerned with social justice are white liberals.[4] If wokeness did aim to correct oppression, then why is the liberal elite the most opinionated about it? Lastly, conservatives are just as concerned about justice and equality. However, the right has a different idea of how to achieve it. Through economic opportunity and reducing government overreach, everyone will have more freedom to live the lives they want. Plus, radical change never has the intended outcomes, so a conservative approach to these issues is necessary to see actual changes.

Proponents

Premises

[P1] The term "woke" is misrepresented by the right in an effort to undermine the cause for social activism. [P2] Critics of woke culture are overwhelmingly white conservatives. [P3] The right offers no substantive alternative for fighting inequity.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] Woke culture sets itself up for criticism. Its excesses and vaguery make it an easy target for criticism. [Rejecting P2] Proponents of wokeness are overwhelmingly white liberals. [Rejecting P3] The right chooses to look at issues through the lens of economics and opportunity, rather than race and gender.

References

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/society/shortcuts/2020/jan/21/how-the-word-woke-was-weaponised-by-the-right
  2. https://www.npr.org/2018/12/30/680899262/opinion-its-time-to-put-woke-to-sleep
  3. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jan/30/anti-woke-backlash-liberalism-laurence-fox
  4. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/04/20/some-democrats-are-bothered-nominee-is-an-older-white-man-and-they-solidly-back-biden-in-november/

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This page was last edited on Friday, 28 Aug 2020 at 09:35 UTC

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