Confronting The Snake Oil Of Woke Ideology

By J Peder Zane for RealClearPolitics

Woke ideology is proof that the world has gone Mad – as in Mad Magazine. What passes as penetrating insight on the left is just a newfangled version of the old fill-in-the-blanks word game Mad Libs. Try to guess what the Princeton University students are talking about here:

  • Our goal is to colonize the practice of ______ even though ______ continues to be an imperialist and colonialist art form. (Answer: Ballet)

How would you complete this statement from Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau?

  • ____ are extremists who don’t believe in science. Many misogynists and often also racists are ____. (Answer: Unvaccinated.

For extra credit, take a crack at this doozy crafted by an American feminist author named Carol J. Adams who was invited to speak at Oxford University last November:

  • The racist belief that ____ exists is unacceptable. To be complicit in the new colonialism, ____ is a racist belief. These events are particularly harmful for young women and girls. Misogyny is a part of your ______. (Answer: Eating meat)

If you didn’t guess right, don’t fret: There are no wrong answers in Woke Mad Libs. Pick a subject, any subject – from health, highways and fashion, to movies, mathematics, biotechnology and, of course, America itself – they all work just as well.

Everything is just a nail for the hammer of woke ideology. No idea, person, or institution has its unique history in this collective mindset. Everything has evolved or emerged because of complex, specific circumstances. These situations require detailed study that can be analyzed and addressed.

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Everything and everyone that exists – you, me and even burritos – are just the expression of the inexorable forces of racism and patriarchy. If you’re skeptical, that’s your patriarchal racism at work.

All of this is, of course, absurd – just out and out, head-slapping simple-mindedness. This modern form of snake oil claims that you can understand the complex history, desires and motivations of individuals, institutions, and ideas through filling-in-the blanks analysis.

Like the traveling medicine show hucksters of old, these wokesters promise to cure a legitimate malady – instead of your aches and pains, it’s tribalism and inequality. Take a deep breath and enjoy the miracle elixir which will heal you soul as well as society. The only thing missing is a complimentary bottle of spray-on hair.

Let’s watch this miracle cure in action by applying it to the tragic situation that black students (especially boys) are less likely to excel in the classroom and more likely to be suspended and wind up in jail than other Americans. Our bottle of Woke promises us that the problem doesn’t hinge on complex issues of family structure, violent popular culture, subpar public schools, secularism, well-meaning (but flawed) government programs, and personal behavior. It’s all just “structural racism.”

Snake oil is snake oil. Therefore, its sellers can only wish away any problems that they claim to be solving. Why do African American students score less on the tests? Eliminate the testing. You are more likely to be suspended. They should be limited in suspensions They end up in jail too many times. You must stop incarcerating lawbreakers.

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What does this mean for anyone? They have the answer. If the cure isn’t working, buy another bottle.

Woke’s repeated use appears to have an adverse effect on brain function. This can lead to seemingly intelligent people uttering absurdities. On Feb. 18, the Baltimore Sun ran a long apology for its racist past. Among its transgressions was “the identification of Black people by race in articles into the early 1960s.” The solution – identifying all people by race:

Our approach today, unlike that of the country’s “colorblind” era of the 1980s and ’90s, is to actively see the differences among us and work to understand: why they exist, what they mean to whom and why, whether they’re real or perceived, and whether they should be honored or struck down. Pretending we were all the same never worked, because it ignored the fact that we’re not all given the same opportunities to succeed or fail on our merits; some are privileged, others are oppressed.

One can only laugh at this muddled word salad – “why they exist, what they mean to whom and why, whether they’re real or perceived.” They sound like dorm room questions following one too many bong hits.

This absurdity puts intelligent people in an awkward position. We must, on the one hand, make this absurdity more ridiculous and offensive. Woke is legitimized by being engaged on its own terms. But we can’t ignore it.

Powerful people from government, academia and business use Woke every day. They may not be serious thinkers – but they are deadly serious. They won’t stop insisting on believing them, rather than us.

As they peddle their snake oil, we must call them out – while never forgetting that laughter is the best medicine.

Real Clear Wire granted permission to syndicate. 

J. Peder Zane is an editor for RealClearInvestigations and a columnist for RealClearPolitics.