‘If you don’t know, vote No!’ This tag line from the recent Voice referendum captures succinctly the political stratagem of the conservative right. Turning ignorance and indifference into celebrated public virtues in a bid to capture the vote of the dominant white cohort. The sustained attack on all things ‘woke’ is part and parcel of this 21C campaign. Identifying examples of woke in workplaces and public life have been vote winners for socially conservative candidates and parties. I remember it began with things like the apparent banning of racially offensive terminology from children’s books. Niggers and gollywogs were the first to get the chop. White folk were upset about the removal and amendments of characters and aspects from much loved stories from their childhoods. Big Ears had to bow out from Noddy: The woke conspiracy. Roald Dahl stories were full of inappropriate and politically incorrect characters and terminology. There was this air of ‘how dare they!’ The majority white view was – can’t these people take a joke. Of course, this is the problem in a nutshell, because unless you are in the shoes of those being racially slurred you have no idea what it feels like.
“For years, many on the right have been lambasting a certain kind of progressive sensibility denoted with the term “political correctness”—endless fodder for Rush Limbaugh and others in the nineteen-nineties. But those semi-comic tirades were nothing compared with the serious political fight against “woke.” Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, for example, recently signed a so-called Stop woke Act into law, and made the issue the center of his midterm victory speech. In Washington, there has been talk in the House of forming an “anti-woke caucus.” “
Conservative Idealogues’ Big Ears For All Things Woke
The whole anti-woke movement is predicated on cultural entitlement. In the recent past, the Anglosphere was the loudest and only voice in the room. It did not have to contend with a diversity of views about stuff. Its comfort zone stretched from the coastal shore to the highest mountain range and everywhere in-between. Whiteness was the Alpha and the Omega. Anything else, anything different was fair game for derogatory remarks delivered with humour. The put downs were usually accompanied with the leavening of a bit of a joke. Funny if you were standing with the mob, maybe not so funny if you were the butt of the joke – ‘the other’.
A Nod Toward Identifying Political Correctness
What I find when examining the public outcry against political correctness and woke – is that it is largely based on laziness and shallow thinking. The mob consciousness doesn’t look at things from any other perspective than their own. This is the way things have always been and any shift from this is ridiculous and wrong, according to their me-centric opinions. Poorly educated people are like children in that they only think about themselves. Higher education in the humanities actually trains students to consider the perspective of others. The world is progressing and a diversity of views is now countenanced and encouraged. This is because time doesn’t stand still and things do change. The make-up of the population is changing, whether you realise it, like it or not. Unthinking standpoints from the past are no longer appropriate to the current reality. Life is forever moving on. What was politically acceptable a decade ago or more is no longer appropriate. Dinosaurs die out despite their large footprints left behind in the fossil record. The politics of grievance is the manipulation of socially conservative attitudes and groups for electoral advantage.
The Conservative Distraction
As Cher sang, you cannot “turn back time’ and the conservative stratagems are never ultimately effective. It is a distraction from the real game, which is economic grift. Social conservatives and Christian Nationalists have sold their economic futures in return for promises of autocratic authoritarian leadership. Those on the right are funded by big business and their intention is always to increase profitability by whatever means possible. Turning to Trump, as supposed champion of the downtrodden working class is like the German Jewish population of the 1930’s voting for Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. It is the stupidity of these folk so caught up in their bigoted beliefs about other people that they get into bed with a conman BS billionaire who has made a lifetime mission out of screwing people. Dictatorships don’t just end badly for their most obvious victims; they ultimately bring the whole nation down. What you get from governments like Trump is a lot of inactivity on the really important issues facing communities. At the same time, tax revenues are decimated due to things like lowering the corporate tax rate, as Trump did in his inaugural term in office.
Nepotism and jobs for the boys becomes rife and this produces incompetence and corruption. Nearly a million Americans died from Covid during the pandemic, which was the worst health outcome from a wealthy nation in the world by far. The stupidity and selfishness of Republicans is quite astounding really.
Americans for many years had the world believing they were the best of us. The white man in his element and all this BS about the land of the free. Nobody anywhere believes that anymore. The rise of Trump has sullied that delusion permanently. America has never been able to throw off the influence of the slavers. They and their progeny have sat like fat spiders pulling the strings to favour their interests at the expense of others. Abraham Lincoln was an outlier, a rare light in a dark tunnel of greed and exploitation. Oh yeah, they murdered him in their cowardly fashion gunning down an unarmed man watching a show in the theatre. This has been a constant theme ever since, Garfield, JFK, Martin Luther King Jnr, RFK, and the many more progressive leaders who have been murdered by right wing extremists. Still, they demonise the left as radicals and dangerous anarchists. If there was any truth to this surely someone would have taken out Trump by now. No, the gun violence and insurrection always comes from the hard right.
The rumours abound that Trump has syphilis. The sores on his hands, the dreadful smell emanating from him, and the mental derangement being revealed of late. Trump is not sure if he is running against Obama or Biden. He is mixing up Nikki Hayley with Nancy Pelosi. Historical dates are being confused too frequently for mere chance. The mental acuity of the man has been exposed as not up to the job of being President. Trump wears so much fake tan that he looks like an orange clown. Still, his Republican mob see and hear only what they want. The bigoted voice of their small town America, where foreigners, gays, and the like are not welcome. White supremacy waves its flag like a sad relic from a forgotten time.
Robert Sudha Hamilton is the author of Money Matters: Navigating Credit, Debt, and Financial Freedom.