“The Great Awokening”
A critical glimpse inside the latest viral (and counterfeit) religious movement
As you may remember from your high school U.S. History course, the “Great Awakening” was a period of revival within American Christianity, beginning in the 1730’s. At the time, the Enlightenment’s influence on religion started to wear out its welcome. Congregationalist and Episcopalian religious leaders noticed how their congregants were turning to atheism or a general deism, as the Enlightenment’s focus on hyper-rationalization and empiricism drained much of their community’s spirit. With the arrival of George Whitefield (a well-known preacher in England) and the emergence of the fiery Jonathan Edwards, America became over-swept by evangelical fervor. Emotion and experience usurped logic and doctrine. People turned out in droves to listen to these religious leaders preach about the fires of hell and blame natural disasters on humanity’s waywardness. These preachers emphasized the sinfulness of their audience, who needed to convict themselves of their crimes against God, and only then could they experience redemption. Preachers chose their words carefully, knowing how to bend language in order to evoke an emotional response in the audience members. The Great Awakening’s “anti-authoritarian” principles and reaction against traditional Christian structures would later play a part in fermenting the American Revolution.
Fast-forward nearly 300 years, and America is on the brink of another revolution, one catalyzed by what some pundits call the “Great Awokening”. No, that is not a typo. For some years now, the word “woke” has entered popular parlance, denoting a sense of awareness at perceived injustices, whether that be those of gender, race, sexual orientation. A person who is “woke” is oftentimes a left-leaning progressive activist, fighting for “equality”, “freedom”, “representation”, and other celebrated causes. Social justice becomes wedded to identity politics, and certain identities and views are considered to be good a priori. Questioning the goodness, validity, or rationality of such identities & views automatically incurs a penalty — whether that be termination from a job, leaking of address and phone number, or as most recently reported, physical violence. Such is the Way of the Woke.
Woke-ness does not only apply to individuals, but to corporations and groups, as well. For example, every Pride Month, countless corporations, such as Sony, American Airlines, Apple, and others (see below) update their profile pictures to a rainbow flag to celebrate the LGBT community (interestingly enough, the Sony PlayStation account for the Middle East didn’t change theirs). Amazon, Nike, Pringles, Pepsi, etc. made public statements supporting #BlackLivesMatter, public political statements being an all-too-familiar move for “woke capitalism”. Pay no mind to the fact that many of these corporations continue to use child-labor in China— the real “woke points” are won when the company releases an LGBT-themed shoe priced at $150. The National Football League stated that they would play “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” — long-considered the “black national anthem” — before the USA national anthem during all Week 1 games this upcoming season. Such gestures are largely symbolic (it will be sung only for that one week of games) and slightly ironic, given how singing that hymn does not change the effect of football on black, male bodies and minds. On Mother’s Day, Nabisco’s Chips A’hoy! cookies tweeted a video wishing all “drag momma’s” a happy Mother’s Day. Not to be outdone, Nabisco’s other major brand, Oreo Cookies, released a special LGBT-themed line of cookies called “Pronoun Packs” to “celebrate inclusivity for all gender identities and expressions.” As far as unhealthy snack companies go, Nabisco is among the wokest — as long as you ignore their former CEO’s $185 million cumulative paycheck, American layoffs, and exploitative labor practices in Mexico.
The Woke™ believe that statues honoring “problematic” historical figures should be toppled, that teenagers who say racist things should not be allowed to attend college, and those who crack their knuckles the wrong way deserve to be fired. Marquette University — a Roman Catholic university in the Jesuit tradition — threatened to rescind an offer of admission to an incoming freshman student who posted a pro-Trump video on her social media account. Elsewhere, perpetrators of “thought-crime” are being collectively denounced by their peers, branded as a threat to society. WIlliam Torgerson, an undergraduate student at Georgetown University, wrote in a blog post that “Black Lives Matter is a movement entirely based in unfalsifiable ideological possession, and it does not deserve your support,” as well as stating how “everything is racist if you redefine what racism is and view everything through a dogmatic lens of ‘oppression’.” The Georgetown University Student Association passed a resolution to condemn Torgerson’s blog post, which they described as “racist, ignorant, discriminatory, demeaning, and hateful”. An educator at Whitesboro High School in NY who said “All Lives Matter” at a virtual awards ceremony was criticized by the student body, to the point where #Whitesboro was trending nationally on Twitter. He later issued an apology, saying that he “was unaware of the deeply political and racial undertones those words carry.” Young adult novelists “cancel” each other over their portrayals of various communities. Even novels which simply take place in a racist, segregated society (and do not condone or glorify it) are considered “dangerous” and “offensive”, and the authors are subject to a coordinated “review-bombing” attack by the righteous mob. High school students are “calling out” and exposing their “racist” peers, whose crimes range from using prejudiced language to not asking out black students to prom. A 16 year-old girl in Florida whose father is a police officer promoted “Blue Lives Matter” on her Instagram & TikTok profiles. The result? She was subject to an online harassment campaign, to the point where she said she was afraid for her safety. Such online behavior is reminiscent of 1960’s China and the Red Guards, a student-led movement that reported “wrong-thinkers” to the communist government, and dragged dissidents through the streets as the crowds cheered on. Online shaming and “dragging” is Woke currency. The Woke are here to stay, and those who oppose them should “cancel” themselves and get out of the way.
The killing of George Floyd led to protests erupting across the nation, demanding change and dissolving entire police departments. Make no mistake about it — Floyd’s death was unjust, disturbing, and inexcusable. But was it racist? Did former officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on Floyd’s neck for 7 minutes & 46 seconds, act with racist intent? Philonise Floyd, George’s own brother, suggests it was “personal” and “premeditated”, but stopped short of calling it “racist”. Chauvin was charged with murder and three of his fellow officers — Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J. Alexander Kueng (the latter of whom were of Asian and black descent, respectively) — were charged with aiding and abetting. The murder of Ahmaud Arbery was racist. But despite there not being any evidence that Floyd’s death was racially-motivated, the narrative has become this: black Americans are being “systematically” killed by police officers and such killings reflect “systemic” racism within our American society. But is this true? According to data from a 2019 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, there is “no evidence of anti-Black or anti-Hispanic disparities across shootings, and White officers are not more likely to shoot minority civilians than non-White officers.” That did not stop the narrative, as pushed by CBS anchor Gayle King, that “it’s ‘open season’ on black men in America”, nor did it curtail others attending a memorial for George Floyd from declaring that his death is symptomatic of a “pandemic of racism” in the United States. A writer for the Chicago Sun Times actually wrote that “the killing of George Floyd proves that America suffers a dangerous and abiding racial divide.” In the world of identity politics, facts are trumped by narrative, and The Woke are among the world’s greatest storytellers.
The Woke tell their stories again and again, time after time. Their stories become the dominant narratives produced by the media. It seems as if there is an endless stream of news headlines which seemingly defy all logic and sound reason. You know what it feels like to scroll on your Twitter feed and see a story that makes you wonder, “How much farther can our society stray from the light?” A few years ago, the United Nations was scolded for using the term “pregnant women” instead of the gender-neutral “pregnant persons”. The critics claimed that using the original term excludes “transgender people who have given birth.” In a similar vein, it is now considered “a transphobic lie” to say that “only females get cervical cancer”, even though the only persons with a cervix are, well… females. Speaking of female anatomy, the Human Rights Campaign requests that the word “vagina” be replaced with “front hole”. On the male side of things, there also is not much clarity. On International Men’s Day, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) tweeted:“Men who get their periods are men” and “Men who get pregnant and give birth are men.”
In the United Kingdom, a child of Jamaican ancestry was suspended after refusing to participate in her classroom’s “gay pride” activity. More recently, “polyamorous relationships” were awarded legal rights in Massachusetts. Teen Vogue, a magazine directed towards teenagers, published a “guide to anal sex” and promoted prostitution as “real work”. The co-founder of Toronto’s Black Lives Matter chapter publicly stated that white people are sub-human, justifying her position with “scientific racism” so obscure that it would make Thomas Jefferson himself blush. In a recent interview, Nick Cannon said that Jews and whites are “the true savages”, claiming that their “lack of melanin” leads them to act violently. Speaking about (pseudo) science — after telling millions of people to “stay home”, forbidding families from saying goodbye to their loved ones (or even attending their funerals), and calling those protesting to re-open individual states “selfish”, over 1,000 so-called “health experts” signed a letter approving of the protests following George Floyd’s death. Their rationale? “Racism and oppression is a public health issue.” Does COVID-19 discriminate between which protests it will spread? Is coronavirus more likely to spread at a socially-distanced funeral than in the crowded streets of downtown Philadelphia, where thousands of protesters — shoulder to shoulder — marched against police brutality? If you wanted to visit your elderly grandmother in the nursing home, The Woke called you a selfish “grandma killer”. However, if you joined thousands of other protesters in the street a few weeks ago, you were an “ally” and “on the right side of history”. These are the fables the Woke tell.
The problem with The Woke is not in their progressive, liberal views. The issue isn’t even that “they are liberal, which is bad, and I am conservative, which is good.” There have been a number of thinkers throughout history (across ideological lines) who have espoused erroneous theories that, after critical thought and serious engagement, were proven wrong. The problem with The Woke is that their “theories” by and large, lack a philosophical or scientific rationale. They simply profess their beliefs simply because they believe the beliefs to be true, ipso facto. “Abortion is healthcare”, “sex work is real work”, “love is love” — they hold these falsities to be self-evident, and think that layering those phrases upon each other validates their opinion. Our American society has moved beyond the liberal principles which guided the Civil Rights Movement and its famed leaders. Identity politics is the true “opiate of the masses”, and in particular, the favored drug for The Woke.
It is time to call “Woke-ism” what it actually is: a pseudo-religious movement, a fundamentalism of the worst kind. The Woke have no rational basis for their beliefs, nor does their counterfeit faith have any theological coherence. The Woke operate like a religious cult, adoring the altar of “progress” and treating those who disagree with their beliefs as “dangerous outsiders”. Their liturgy is protests, their communion, hashtags. The Woke have their own hymns and anthems, ritual actions, religious instruction, an unforgiving inquisition, and all of the other elements which are befitting to any organized religion. As one writer explains,
“To a devotee of Wokeness, being unWoke is tantamount to being a rank heathen or an evil infidel. They see Wokeness not merely as a matter of politics; it is the only righteous worldview, and it must be embraced with pure religious fervor.”
And so, we see how “being woke” is more of a religious posture than a political one. Woke-ism differs from the universal liberal spirit of activists like Frederick Douglas, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King, Jr, just as identity politics differs from actual social justice. What is the difference between a movement rooted in true justice and Woke-ism? Let a group of brave, dissenting scholars point out the difference:
Universal liberalism focuses on individuality and shared humanity and seeks to achieve a society in which every individual is equally able to access every right, freedom, and opportunity that our shared societies provide. Identity politics focuses explicitly on group identity and seeks political empowerment by promoting that group as a monolithic, marginalized entity distinct from and polarized against another group depicted as a monolithic privileged entity.
This explains why you oftentimes hear the Woke say, “You can’t be racist against white people, because white people never experienced oppression or systemic racism.” The mentality is a severe form of “us versus them”. It is common to hear this discourse within the halls of the academy. As one famous academic wrote, “We should not confuse the occasional mistreatment experienced by whites at the hands of people of color with the systematic and institutionalized mistreatment experienced by people of color at the hands of whites.” For the Woke, moral fault does not reside within an individual choosing evil, but instead being born with the wrong skin color. As another academic wrote,
“My schooling gave me no training in seeing myself as an oppressor, as an unfairly advantaged person, or as a participant in a damaged culture. I was taught to see myself as an individual whose moral state depended on her individual moral will…
In proportion as my racial group was being made confident, comfortable, and oblivious, other groups were likely being made unconfident, uncomfortable, and alienated. Whiteness protected me from many kinds of hostility, distress, and violence, which I was being subtly trained to visit, in turn, upon people of color.”
Not only does this line of thinking smack of identity politics, but it also reflects a move towards erroneous epistemology. In other words, even the Woke’s concept of how we attain knowledge is flawed. For them, knowledge does not come from principles, evidence, or rationality, but rather by identity and experience. In what can only be seen as peak academia/critical race theory, three young scholars write,
[This work] represents our collective agency and solidarity as we exist and resist within a racist and sexist educational system. While our racial identities differ, as an Asian American, Latina, and African American respectively, we formed — out of necessity — a powerful womxn of color sista scholar familia. As graduate students who began our studies at the same time, in the same program, at the same predominantly white institution in the rural Midwest, we gravitated to one another for survival…
We too call for an epistemological and spiritual decolonization by articulating the criticality of a community of woke womxn of color sista scholars. We honor past and present womxn of color feminist ideologies by proposing a political and personal identity that unites womxn of color who feel and articulate their experiences of oppression
In the past few years, you probably heard the word “social construct” more times than you had in your entire lifetime. The constructivist approach sees knowledge as “constructed”, truth as relative, and reduces everything to power dynamics. Objectivity is unavailable to us; all we have at our disposal is “personal perspective”, subjectivity, and “lived experience”. The Woke believe that all of the knowledge we have had as a society (such as the nature of marriage, the protection of innocent life, the reality of sex differences, etc.) only reflects the views of “straight, white, heterosexual men and excludes knowledge that can be obtained only by inquirers who are not that.” This line of thinking becomes dangerous, James Lindsay writes, because it begins to mimic attitudes found in many religious cults.
All cults have three main stages: initiation, indoctrination, and reprogramming. Cults oftentimes prey on the weak and insecure, targeting their psyche to make them “feel morally deficient or unacceptable”. The cult promises freedom, community, and power… but first, the initiate must recognize their own sins and neediness that only the cult can heal. Lindsay, who has researched religious psychology and cults, offers the following example:
“Did you know you’re a sinner?” is an example, when a lot of emotional pressure is added about how bad that makes you as a person or in the sight of God. “Did you know you’re complicit in racist systems?” is another obvious example…
[O]nce this vulnerability has been successfully manufactured in the mark (or identified and inflamed, if already present), cult doctrine is given as a potential resolution to the emotional distress. “Christ died for your sins, so you can be forgiven” is a Christian example, and “Be an antiracist. Help us dismantle the system and build a better world” is an “antiracist” example.
Another clear sign that one is dealing with a cult indoctrination rather than something healthier is making the mark live up to contradictory demands. You must understand racism and admit that you cannot understand racism. You must admit to your complicity in racism and pledge to do better knowing that it is impossible to do better. You must be an ally but accept that you will always do your allyship wrong.
Once initiated into the Woke cult, the next step is to receive its teachings about right & wrong. To use the race-identity politics as an example, it is not enough to simply change your profile picture to a black square or put “ACAB” (“All Cops Are B*stards”) in your Twitter display name. True members of the Woke will be able to regurgitate the movement’s doctrines and to explain them to the ignorant. In the case of Antifa, it takes combat “training” (how to gouge out someone’s eyes) and PowerPoint slides about how to not to be identified by the “enemy”. The inductees are taught the entire glossary of SJW/Woke activism, from terms like “internalized misogyny” (having traditional beliefs about women and femininity) to “micro-aggression” (subtle thoughts or actions which “communicate bias toward historically marginalized groups”). Once learned, the Woke neophytes can then begin to sprinkle their received teachings into everyday, ordinary conversations. “You’re showing your cisgender privilege”; “The United States of America is literally the most systemically racist country in the world”; “You don’t think two men should get married? What a homophobe!” Those who occasionally slip and make heretical claims are told to “do better”, “educate yourself”, “do your research”. Of course, the Woke are not talking about actual research, but rather researching their list of canonized authors.
Robin DiAngelo, now famous for her controversial book White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, perfectly demonstrates woke indoctrination. In a glowing interview about DiAngelo’s book, CNN journalist Sandee Lamotte states it bluntly:
If you’re a white person in America, social justice educator Robin DiAngelo has a message for you: You’re a racist, pure and simple, and without a lifetime of conscious effort you always will be.
You just can’t help it, you see, because you’ve been swaddled in the cocoon of white privilege since you came sputtering out of your mother’s womb, protesting the indignity of it all.
You may be indignantly sputtering right now at this insult to your humanity — for how can you be a racist? You have black colleagues you consider friends; you don’t see skin color; you never owned slaves; you marched in the 60s; you even protest today against the uniformed “bad apples” that use the power of their authority to smother minority lives and minority rights.
“How dare you say I am anything like them?” you grumble, as you pull the cloak of your bruised and fragile feelings around you.
And there — with that simple act — you personify the theme of DiAngelo’s best selling 2018 book, “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism.”
In what can only be seen as a brilliant grifting tactic, DiAngelo sets up an impossible dilemma: either you admit that you are racist, or if you deny it, then you show your “white fragility”. But, no need to worry: for the small price of $6,000/per hour, DiAngelo can visit your local university and lecture about “white privilege” and help “fix” your inherent racist tendencies. Of course, we should not question why DiAngelo’s fee is more than a quarter of the annual median income for black families.
The final step into entering Woke-ism is in the reprogramming of your brain to adopt the Woke mindset in all that you do, think, or say. You begin to think that men who do not want to date “trans-women” are actually “transphobic”. You believe that denying women the ability to legally kill their unborn child is “oppression”. You start to wonder if “objective truth” and the scientific method is a sign of “whiteness”. At the reprogramming stage, no idea is left untainted by the Woke mindset.
The Woke’s operating system is “critical consciousness”, a particular worldview which sees everything in the lens of critical theory and Marxist dialectics. As Lindsay notes,
“[Critical consciousness] is to have taken on a worldview that sees society in terms of systems of power, privilege, dominance, oppression, and marginalization, and that has taken up an intention to become an activist against these problematics. To have developed a critical consciousness is to have become aware, in light of this worldview, that you are either oppressed or an oppressor — or, at least, complicit in oppression as a result of your socialization into an oppressive system. To have a critical consciousness is to be aware of — and generally unhappy about — your positionality in society, i.e., your relationship to systemic and institutional power as determined by Theory and based mostly on facts concerning what demographic groups you are a part of.
Woke-ism’s Dogmas & Doctrines
Every religion has their dogmas and doctrines, their teachings based on divine revelation. Christians believe that God is a Trinity of three Persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). Jews believe that God directly revealed His law to Moses and that the Torah is an infallible guide to proper moral observance. Muslims believe that God dictated all the teachings necessary for salvation through the prophet Muhammad. These religions hold these beliefs through a submission of faith, and not by empirical or logical reasoning. Faith is the submission of the intellect and will to divine revelation, and although faith can have philosophical reasoning as a handmaiden, certain dogmas are beyond human explanation and must be accepted based on the authority of God alone.
Woke-ism has its own dogmas and doctrines, its teachings which require blind submission. Failure to adhere to its tenets results in excommunication (being “cancelled”, getting milkshakes thrown at you, getting punched), exiled and deemed unfit for participation in the social sphere. Critically questioning Woke-ism’s teachings will result in you being branded a “homophobe”, “racist”, “sexist”, “xenophobe”, “ableist”, and so on. The irrationality of the woke cult is seen in the way innocent people — and by “innocent”, I mean people who do not even hold dissenting views — are fired from their jobs simply for stating facts. For example, David Shor, a data analyst at a progressive consulting firm, Civis Analytics, tweeted a simple graphic, showing that nonviolent civil rights protests were more successful in ensuring Democratic votes than violent ones (data gathered and explained by a Princeton professor, Dr. Omar Wasow). Shor was ripped apart by the Twitter mob, accused of “trolling”, and the mob demanded he lose his job. Sure enough, Civis fired Shor a few days later. Let’s recap: a data analyst was fired simply for posting a graph showing information gathered and analyzed by a black professor from Princeton. A mob which sees objective data as harmful, “oppressive”, and dangerous is a mob which has lost all credibility and who should be treated not as one political or philosophical school among the many, but rather as a religious cult that needs to be resisted and dismantled. The Woke have largely abandoned rationality, trading human reason with a fideistic pietism rooted in postmodern social theory. To this end, Woke-ism is a religion — albeit a counterfeit one.
And what are the religious tenets of Woke-ism? Some have been alluded to already, but here are a few others:
- All of history can be reduced to the story of the oppressors versus the oppressed. (n.b. The Woke largely operate with a less intelligent, popular form of Marxism, one without any of Marx’s philosophical nuance.)
- The only valid interpretation of traditional religions (especially Christianity) are ones which strip away all of the “problematic elements”. Therefore, the Woke say that “Jesus wasn’t perfect”, that the inspired authors of Scripture had “oppressive” views of women, and that there is a Christian case for using porn.
- “I identify (as), therefore I am.” All a person has to do is “identify” as a particular identity, and voila — that identity is now theirs to own. And if a low-income immigrant single mother refuses to wax your male genitalia, she is trespassing against your identity and deserves to lose her job.
- The highest virtues are “open-mindedness”, an appreciation of diversity, and inclusion. Of course, this does not apply to being open-minded enough to allow the inclusion of diverse opinions which go contrary to the zeitgeist.
- Left-wing is good, right-wing is bad. Calling BLM a “radical left-wing hate group” will get you fired. Criticizing a right-wing group is expected and normative. If you Google search “right-wing extremism”, you will find thousands of articles decrying anything from white supremacy to the Catholic Church’s teaching against contraception. If you Google search “left-wing extremism”, you will find articles which wonder if it even truly exists.
- Every white human being, from the moment of their conception, is tainted with the sin of white supremacy and racism. It does not matter if you have said or done anything racist; by being born white, you are complicit in racist systems. Nothing you do, no great number of anti-racist actions, no amount of ally-ship will ever absolve you of this.
- “Free speech” is just a dog-whistle for white supremacy.
- Individualism, the nuclear family, respect for authority, European culture and history, etc. are all “signs of whiteness” and must be rejected at all costs.
- Heretics should be kicked out of college, fired from their jobs, and publicly shamed. Even if they recant and apologize, it will never be enough. There is no salvation or redemption in Woke-ism.
- Your identity is the *only* important and essential part of you. Whereas prior liberal activists fought against segregation and promoted equality, Woke-ism teaches that you are only your identity and that’s all you are. If you are white, you do not have culture. If a white author decides to write about the Civil Rights Movement or suffrage, he will be promptly cancelled, because those topics can only be written by black people and women.
- “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.” Humpty Dumpty’s philosophy of language is how the Woke understand language. “Abolish the police” does not actually mean “abolish the police”, except for when it does. “Kill All TERFS” (an acronym for “trans-exclusionary radical feminists”) does not actually mean that J.K. Rowling should be killed, except for when it does. Language should be manipulated to achieve the Woke’s goals.
That’s all I will say about this topic, for now. See you in the re-education camps.