Guest Essay: Tuning out Wokeism

By Victor Davis Hanson

The woke Left seeks a top-down erasure of America, engineered by the likes of LeBron James from his $40-million estate talking revolution to Oprah at her $90-million castle, as Mark Zuckerberg throws in $500 million here, and his colleagues $400 million there, and as the top executives of Coke, Target, and Delta Airlines believe their $17-million-a-year salaries make them experts on the crimes of non-diversity, exclusion, and inequity.

Victor Davis Hanson (Photo: National Review)

As big-city prosecutors choose not to prosecute “property crimes” or “brick and mortar” arsons and thefts, or what they consider “minor” misdemeanors or “nonlethal” felonies, crime spikes. The ancient principle of human nature then reigns supreme. The criminally inclined conclude the upside of hurting the weak, killing the innocent, stealing, destroying, looting, or simply causing mayhem far outweighs the rarer downside of being arrested, convicted, incarcerated, or worse. So all deterrence is lost.

Police in response make the necessary adjustments. Consider their bleak choices. Either they: 

1) Go into increasingly high crime areas and get attacked or shot in the failed effort to make an arrest or restore calm; or

2) proceed to make an arrest, but the suspect, usually with prior felony convictions, resists, bolts, or attacks, and they use force to subdue him. In some cases, they can make a decision to risk doing so lethally, if they judge, rightly or wrongly, that the arrested is a threat to their lives. As a result, they are suspended, ruined, doxxed, vilified in the media, and their families and homes are put in danger; or 

3) they apprehend the suspect, make the arrest without incident, but the woke district attorneys decide the suspect was not worth the time and controversy of prosecuting, or

4) they safely arrest the suspect without incident. The state successfully indicts and prosecutes the accused. And, if he is found guilty, he is incarcerated to protect society and to pay for his crimes.

In these revolutionary times, I think plenty of police officers—if they still have career choices and can afford temporary financial losses—will make the necessary adjustments. So they will decide that the odds of scenarios one through three are as great or greater than number four.

Therefore they will quit, retire, or move to rural, mostly crime-free jurisdictions. Or if not, they simply will not respond promptly to 911 calls from high-crime areas, and perhaps suggest that other police, those less likely to inspire community wrath, go in their stead. 

The public is now increasingly bombarded by 360-degree, 24/7 wokeness in the fashion of the Maoist Red Guard gangs. There appears little refuge from it. Not in television commercials. Not from CEOs. Not from professional sports. Not from movies or television shows. Not from Wall Street, the internet, and social media.

It is largely the well-off professionals, the “privileged” and the rich—CEOs, news anchors, actors, star athletes, college presidents, foundation heads, corporate board retired military brass, Wall Street grandees—who usually do the woke remonstrating (or fund it) to the supposedly non-privileged but guilty un-woke.

Does the propaganda of NPR and PBS news and editorialization cancel out their good programming of art and culture, such as they are, that is not propagandistic? Sadly, yes. People will tune both out. They’ve had one too many sermons from one too many condescending, nasal-toned grandees.

Do they put up anymore with network news? No, half the country has no idea who is currently the NBC, ABC, or CBS evening news anchor.

Do they care about The New York Times or Washington Post? Nope.

Ask anyone to distinguish a Grammy from a Tony from an Emmy from an Oscar, and you encounter, “Who gives a f–k?” about these strange runes. 

Is there a sort of Turbo-Tax formula that churns them out, “We will not tolerate systemic racism . . . ,” “We confess that our past was . . . ,” “We will immediately hire the following . . .,” “We will take steps to make amends by . . .” These are the psychodramatic versions of the 1930s-era Soviet show trials when terrified provincial officials testified to all sorts of counterrevolutionary thought crimes in hopes of saving either themselves or their families. Do most Americans know the name of a single university president? Do they care if they don’t? 

What is saving the country, for now, is not the third of Americans who have bachelor’s degrees, given the university has become a woke deductive, anti-empirical, anti-Enlightenment institution. For now, the more practical two-thirds of the population who did not graduate, and either never experienced the academic mind or got out quickly after they did, are our rear guard at Thermopylae.

Most non-woke don’t always know which words in a given day are dangerous, so they listen more than speak. If referring to a high-crime area, the correct terminology is “an underserved” or “marginalized” area to virtue signal the fault is society’s, not any individual’s. 

The public translates the woke ethos into the vocabulary of reality—like segregation, racism, hatred, and derangement. Jaded, they decipher rather than read the news: if a suspect is not described and not pictured, they assume he is intersectional; if he is, he is not. A story appears if the victim and the victimizer fit narratives; ignored if they do not. Half the country has become like wary Poles and Hungarians circa 1956, with the D.C. bureaucracy now a politburo of sorts. 

So Americans, conservatives especially, fear that the once-revered FBI can become analogous to the Stasi, the once indomitable CIA after 2015 began emulating the KGB, and the federal prosecutor has become a vindictive Inspector Javert. And just when you think they are crazier for such fears, another couple is rousted out of bed by agents for supposedly being at a riot they were not at, or a federal attorney is on TV, virtue signaling how the law can be warped to go after “them.”

 In dystopian novels from “Nineteen Eighty-Four” to “Fahrenheit 451,” the dissident from the omnipotent state seeks refuge in an alternate universe. So now some Americans quietly still revere Jefferson, Lincoln, and Washington—as if they are Christians reading their gospels in secret under Diocletian. They pray their neighborhood school will not be renamed. They think their school’s or corporation’s “diversity training” is not much different from what they saw in “The Manchurian Candidate,” or popular stories of “brainwashing” from North Korea. So they prep for it, and are ready to nod, smile, parrot “yes” and “of course” but have pre-programmed themselves to have the edicts and commands of the “facilitator” or “trainer” and “educator” go in one ear, pass unnoticed, and zoom out the other. 

They trade private tips on how to endure the mandatory three-hour video on racism, sexism, and the potpourri of -isms. That is, how best to multitask and see whether a brief tap-in to the 10-minute screed suffices to pass the moronic multiple-choice, endless gotcha questions that follow. 

When they pass by a statue of a president, a general, a donor at a university or municipal square, even if a liberator, an abolitionist, or a philanthropist, the non-woke assume the stone and bronze are doomed. If it is skipped over by this month’s mob, it won’t be by next year’s. After all, can any reader cite the case of a statue toppler, or a monument defacer who has ever been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted of a felony? 

The current madness is the stuff of history as we watch it predictably unfold, until—and if—a few, a “happy few,” finally say to the mob, “no mas”, and pop this nightmarish balloon.

[Editor’s Note: This is an edited version of a much longer essay. The publication of occasional guest essays does not mean I agree with the points of view, but that I find them interesting.]

10 thoughts on “Guest Essay: Tuning out Wokeism”

    Victor David Hanson has become known to many through FOX. He is indeed, a shining light at the end of the tunnel.
    With all that’s taking place these days, in conversation, I say to people, “do you remember the t.v. show ,’The West Wing'” ( September 22, 1999 –May 14, 2006 )? You could follow that show and see the world in truth. Good or bad decisions were shown on that show as you watched the workings of the inner circle in the White House. That makes you wonder what the hell is going on today in the White House. In t.v. land, everybody worked as a team to make America the land that it should be. Not the case today.
    How about the show ‘Blue Bloods” ( September 24, 2010 – ongoing ) ? A almost real show about a cop family in NYC. So real that the show actually listens to real cops to see how real life plays out on the streets of the city. The good, the bad and the ugly are right there on your t.v. every Friday night.
    Last but not least. I always shout out my battle cry, DRAIN THE SWAMP! and VOTE THEM ALL OUT ! . Donald Trump tried to right the wrongs in this country. Like him or not, the man knew what he was talking about. I’m not calling him a saint just as none of us are saints. He exposed a lot of the ugly truths. He tried to tell us that the government was not working for us and we were heading down the road to our own destruction. Can anybody really argue intelligently against that statement ? Trump brought in ‘outsiders’, knowing how useless Washingtonians were. Most couldn’t survive the constant backstabbing and undermining, which filtered down from congress all through the ranks of government employees. There were even people in the White House that undermined the President. Care to dispute any of the above ? Having said all of that. What are we going to do about the situation ? Aside from calling your inept congress people, our biggest tool is our vote . VOTE THEM ALL OUT ! Make Washington understand that THEY work for US !

  2. I remember all those “isms” trainings from my years teaching at universities. You are right, we endured them and the very fact that we had to suffer through them resulted too often in exactly the opposite of what the powers-that-be were hoping to achieve. Reactions ranged from weary forbearance to cynicism to frank hostility.

  3. This brilliant essay is a frightening summation of the power of the genie now out of the bottle and brings despair because thinking people know there is no way to put the genie back.

      1. I actually listened to Mr. Hanson on Saturday morning on his radio show on XM channel 125 (Patriot Channel) talking all about this essay. I’ve always found him to be very engaging, soft spoken, well thought out and most of all DEAD RIGHT!
        Thanks, Stu for this guest column.

  4. Factual information, hope our political direction can change. Otherwise American Excellence will fade away.

  5. I agree with you on all points. Its impossible of late to even have an open discussion with friends or family on most of these issues. I am glad tgat I am no longer young. I fear for the lessons of life that someday will come upon the younger generation.

    1. Mr. Goldstein: Yes, you are correct. The wreckage we have left in our generation’s wake will, more than likely, sink their dreams. I too am glad I am in the winter of my life. I feel for my children and their children.

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