Countless right-wing politicians and media figures are using the term “woke” to attack any liberal or progressive idea they dislike. And in GOP primaries, accusing a fellow Republican of “going woke” is as much of an insult as calling someone a RINO (Republican In Name Only).
Right-wing columnist Bethany S. Mandel considers herself a scathing critic of “wokeness.” But when host Briahna Joy Gray asked Mandel to “define” the term “woke” during an appearance on The Hill’s “Rising,” she struggled to articulate what it means.
Mandel responded, “So, woke is sort of the idea that, um….” And she went blank before telling Gray, “Woke is something that’s very hard to define…. Sorry, it’s hard to explain in a 15-second soundbite.”
That interview was quite a contrast to Bill Maher’s recent interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper. When Tapper asked Maher — a liberal critic of “wokeness” — to define “woke,” he didn’t struggle. The “Real Time” host for HBO quickly slammed “wokeness” as a “collection of ideas that are not building on liberalism, but very often undoing it.”
Agree or disagree with Maher, he had no problem articulating to Tapper why, as a liberal, he dislikes “wokeness” and what he considers it to be. Maher views “wokeness” as “political correctness” on steroids and an authoritarian departure from traditional liberal values.
Mandel, however, angrily attacks “wokeness” but draws a blank when asked to define what it is. And social media users have not been shy about discussing her inability to explain the meaning of something she vehemently opposes.
Twitter user @Gay_lumberjack remarked, “This was not great for the center-right rationalist movement. And it’s why we shouldn’t be using ‘woke’ at all. Be specific.”
@MickBeeBlues posted, “Yea, it was funny to see you try to find a way to explain that woke means having empathy for struggling and marginalized people but keep your stance that it is a bad thing.”
Twitter user Dave Scheidt, @DaveScheidt, in a March 14 post, commented, “‘Take your time.’ Holy f***.” And photojournalist Daniel Stainer, @danielstainer, sarcastically posted, “Your Trump University degree is really paying off.”
Meanwhile, Molly Knight, @molly_knight, tweeted a precise definition of “wokeness,” writing, “Woke means being aware this country was built on the backs of slaves, that systemic racism still exists, and doing all we can to undo our conscious and unconscious biases to treat all people with the same dignity and respect regardless of their skin color.”
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