The Woke wield their power through social media spectacle; but nonetheless, this power is close to absolute. The Woke can mob who they want, slander who they want, deprive who they want of reputation and livelihood and ultimately destroy them.
The other day, I was scrolling through Twitter when I happened upon this particular tweet, directed against the former New York Times opinion editor Bari Weiss:
“Imagine if @bariweiss offered 10% of the defense she gives white supremacy to all the antifascist, Jewish-allied, Black and brown women of color she has made a career putting in danger,” it said. “NYT staff of color felt so unsafe around her that she had to resign.”
I also understood, however, the likely motivation behind the attack: Weiss has recently emerged as a strident voice against cancel culture and the amorphous but potent phenomenon known as “Woke.”
To its adherents, to be “Woke” is to be awake to the systemic injustices of American society and, by extension, the rest of Western civilization. This civilization, it is held, is a skein of oppression and genocide that must be torn down in its entirety. To impose this idea on others, the Woke use the tactics of mob harassment, public auto-de-fés, hysterical denunciation, and most of all the weaponization of cancel culture to deprive people of their platforms, livelihoods, and reputation.
Cancel culture is necessary in order to prevent the spread of racist, violent, and insurrectionary incitement. But the use of cancel culture by the Woke is quite different: it is not only an attempt to force people to assent to certain ideas in which they may or may not believe, but also ideas in which no one believes.
I am quite certain, for example, that everyone in the world — including the Woke themselves — believes that Western civilization is more than just racism and genocide. Everyone believes that, while transgender people should never be subject to prejudice or violence, biological sex is nonetheless immutable and cannot be changed. Everyone believes that Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill are not the moral equivalent of Hitler. Everyone believes that, contrary to the New York Times’ quintessentially Woke 1619 Project, the United States was not founded in 1619 on the basis of chattel slavery. Everyone, in other words, is being told by insane people to adopt insane ideas.