What is Woke Really About?

Most Americans were as indifferent to the unexpected loss of our Olympic women’s soccer team as they were once excited about their World Cup win. 

In between was the team’s nonstop politicking, from whining about compensation to virtue signaling their disrespect for the United States. The celebrity face of the team, perennial scold Megan Rapinoe, is going the way of teenage grouch Greta Thunberg—becoming more pinched and scowling the more she is tuned out.

BLM co-founder and self-avowed Marxist Patrisse Marie Khan-Cullors Brignac used her corporate grifting to buy four homes. The last in Topanga Canyon, surrounded by a new $35,000 security fence. 

Critical race guru Ibram X. Kendi offers virtual, one-hour workshops for $20,000 a pop. He is franchising woke reeducation kits—in between bouts of damning capitalism as a catalyst of racism. 

The woke movement, in other words, is a slicker, more sophisticated, and far more grandiose version of the Al Sharpton-Jesse Jackson corporate shakedown cons of the 1990s. 

The latter, at least, were far more honest in leveraging corporate cash with unfounded charges of racism—and came without the academic gobbledygook of critical race theory. 

Our freeways are jammed. Airports are crammed. Labor is short. Huge pent-up consumer demand for essentials and entertainment outpaces supply. Yet Major League Baseball’s recent All-Star Game saw record low television viewership—about a fourth of the audience of 40 years ago when there were 100 million fewer Americans. 

The Summer Olympic Games are looking dismal with anemic American viewership. Ditto the reduced interest in the recent NBA playoffs. 

Professional basketball’s crashing ratings followed the downward trajectory of the NFL. Woke sports earn the same public disgust as the accusatory and boring Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony awards. 

Cable news networks CNN and MSNBC fueled the Russian collusion hoax. They contextualized (to excuse) the 120 days of summer looting and rioting in 2020. And both cheered on two impeachments—as a prelude to their 24/7 woke drumbeat. Their ratings, too, have now dived.

Never has TV been more politicized. Sitcoms, dramas, and commercials are designed more to resonate race and woke messaging than to entertain. So naturally their dismal TV ratings reflect the expected public boredom when art serves politics. 

How many times will a disingenuous Dr. Fauci appear on television to swear that he never sent federal money to the Wuhan virology lab for gain-of-function research, or blame his critics for pointing out his gyrating advice on masks, or offer yet another noble lie on herd immunity? 

In short, Americans are worn out from elite virtue signaling and woke performance art from the critical race theory capitalists, multimillionaire corporate CEOs, revolving-door Pentagon brass, Malibu celebrities, and credentialed elite.

The problem is not just that most of America is exhausted from being smeared as racists, or hearing that a wonderful country—the most free, just, equitable, affluent, and leisured in civilization’s history— must continually pay penance for its past and present. 

The public is even more tired of projectionist hypocrisy. Those who scream the loudest are usually the most guilty of woke crimes. 

Joe Biden sees a racist under every American bed—except his own bigoted son who texts racist slurs about blacks and Asians. 

Meanwhile finger-pointing Marxist activists get rich peddling their critical race theory snake oil. Can we insist that those who scream at us about “equity” at least not live in mansions worth over $10 million?

Yet the woke madness coincides with an epidemic of crises that go largely ignored as a distracted America cannibalizes itself. 

The border is wide open at a time of pandemic. Two million are scheduled to enter America illegally. They barge in without either COVID-19 testing or vaccinations—during a coronavirus spike when the government promises to go door-to-door to roust out American citizens to get vaccinated. 

Whiteness is supposedly the cause of America’s problems. But our inner-cities are suffering historic violent crime waves. Commonplace looting and assault are now daily urban events. Could not our critical race theory accusers first take time out of their merchandising to address the black-on-black murders and soaring violence among young males in the inner-city?

The Biden Administration denies that huge deficit spending and generous cash payments to workers fueled inflation. But a seething public hasn’t seen anything like the current price hikes and labor shortages in the last 40 years.

The military, CIA, and FBI have lost the confidence of the public—and not just because of their woke politicking. Instead, they are perceived as distracted and ignoring their primary missions of winning wars, catching terrorists before they strike, and offering superb intelligence about our enemies. 

A finger pointing Hollywood’s movies are increasingly trite, predictable, and boring.

Wokeness is many things. But increasingly it seems a cover for careerism, profiteering—and utter incompetence.

About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness and the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is an American military historian, columnist, a former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush. Hanson is also a farmer (growing raisin grapes on a family farm in Selma, California) and a critic of social trends related to farming and agrarianism. He is the author most recently of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won and The Case for Trump.

Photo: iStock/Getty Images

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