Gore Vidal had fun with some of the clumsy terms that right wingers invented. For example, he would ask if the Drug "Enforcement" Agency demanded we use controlled substances. So when you think about it, not being "woken up" implies you're sleepwalking. I'd rather be awake to the world instead of a mindless zombie stumbling along behind fascists.

Expand full comment

One problem with the term “woke”, at this point, is that it is used in multiple ways, so it grows to mean different things to different people. When a person claiming to be woke attacks people verbally based on an over-generalization or misunderstanding of an actual woke concept (e.g. white privilege) it makes some people feel threatened. I’m over 60, white, male, heterosexual, monogamous and middle class, and I have been railed against by some younger people as being a misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, conservative, Republican, capitalist pig, essentially, and none of that is true. However, I don’t adopt new and popular ideas without thinking about them. I can see how people who don’t know what woke positions really are, or don’t trust the sources of information about woke ideas, can be compelled to resist woke-ism or suspect it to be a scheme intended to disrupt society. The GOP has been playing on that phenomenon.

Expand full comment
Jun 6, 2023·edited Jun 6, 2023

Agreed. Also over 60 (75), white, male. The way "woke" is used and by whom is a shape-shifting verb. I'm normally way ahead of the issues as defined by woke, SJW, MeToo, often by decades. I wondered, for example, where MeToo had been all those years ago (1980's) when I worked in an office mostly staffed by women whose boss was male and who was a mini Weinstein.

What drives me a little nutty is seeing these principles used to justify and boost instant attacks on someone for some small error in speaking or for pure imagined views. It reminds me of one of the ultimate example of movements eating their own, the French Revolution and the Committee for Public Safety. Thankfully we have not yet seen anything so severe, and likely won't. Still, the instant accusations, and denouncements, so easy on social media and comments sections, leave me with a bad taste in my mouth, both for the "woke" community and for the magats, etcetera who condemn the "woke" community.

I think many of those identifying as woke are too young to understand or want to see nuance, or method. They, like their radical opponents are more interested in the heady feel of throwing around ginned-up attacks. A method which only creates more opposition, which may be the purpose, in order to feel superior.

As far as the original usage of "woke," I am right there and have been for a long time, longer than most of the "kids" using the term or their parents. I like to think that I am aware (I will use "aware" simply because "woke" has gathered too much baggage going in all directions), have been and will continue to be aware.

Expand full comment
Jun 6, 2023·edited Jun 6, 2023

The Committee for Public Safety, was first used in Virginia, during the early days of the rebellion. It's purpose was to keep an eye on loyalists, report their behavior, connections and punish them economically, then later tarred and feathered and run out of the community on a rail.

It was so successful, that the French and Bolshevik revolutions used it and the name, to protect and perpetuate their own revolutions.

Except in France the victims were drug to the guillotine, and in Russia they were savagely butchered in garages or where they stood.

But I can sympathize for some commenter called me an antisemite because I dared speak a fact, with a reliable source link https://observer.com/2016/03/algemeiner-celebrates-power-jews-at-packed-manhattan-gala/

An eclectic cast of characters gathered inside Broadway’s Gotham Hall on Monday night where The Algemeiner, a conservative-leaning Jewish-American newspaper, unveiled its “Jewish 100” list.

This year’s “Jewish 100” includes the billionaire media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy, British Secretary of State for Justice Michael Gove, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ivanka Trump (who is married to the publisher of the Observer). Just mentioning this fact from a Jewish source is considered antisemitic. or right wing, and I am as progressive as can be.

There are anti democratic, racist, homophobic scum in the white, bla ck, brown, Asian community, Christian and Muslim community. So I guess that makes me an androphobe and a gynephobe., a Christophobe and an Islamophobe as well.

Phobe, phobia, means fear. There are rational fears and irrational fears Ratioonal fears are biologically evolved to protect us from harm, like fear of snakes,until you gain knowledge and know that not all snakes can kill you.

Their are angry birds in every segment of society, and there are those that are self assured, self validating and comfortable in their skin.

The KKK and Neo NAZIs are all white, and mostly male.

Does that mean that ll white males are Neo NAZIs and KKK. Hell no.

There are scumbag Muslims, Does that mean all Muslims are scumbags? No.

Same with Christians, Jews, Hindu, Zoroastrians.

Expand full comment

So what positions do you hold, that cause people to describe you as misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, conservative, Republican, capitalist pig Where there is smoke....

When one person calls you an asshole, that is a personal opinion, when hundreds call you an asshole, then it is time for introspection.

Expand full comment

"WOKE" still confusing but they have done such a great job and defining it to there base. Democrat do not get much "me time" on our lamestreet media entertainment shows and that is what needs to be done. Lamestreet media is a conglomerate of billionaires lying to the American people by saying nothing, explaining nothing, analyzing facts from fiction. "If you don't learn from history, you are bound to repeat it." Whose dropped the ball, surely not you Thom or Heather Cox Richardson?

Expand full comment

What "woke" means to Republicans is, in not so many words, "anything I don't like".

Expand full comment

Nikki Haley declares:

“Wokeness is a virus more dangerous than any pandemic, hands down.”

Oh poor Nikki. Not (yet) facing a credible threat of indictment, which appears to be de rigueur for serious contenders for Repug nomination, she is left to resort to hyperbole.

No Nikki, wokeness (sic) was not and is not in any way more dangerous than our recent coronavirus pandemic.

Get a clue.

Expand full comment

This rings of "you're either with us or against us" and I don't accept that. I'm generally in agreement with the principles of fairness, responsibility, and decency that underlie much common usage of "woke", but there is a cult-like aspect to some woke culture that does not allow for any argument and is quick to ostracize those accused of wrong-think.

Expand full comment

The reason DeSantis and the others hate us woke people is because we win! Each huge movement along the way has changed our country. And not just America, these movements have spread all over the world. Boy, that must REALLY burn their butts.

Black Lives, Me Too, the climate crisis, and gay rights---the results aren't always perfect, but we have brought the light and will continue to do so. The cockroaches can scurry off to the dark-side, but the majority we have gathered will be waiting for them everywhere and always. They cannot escape us; that's why Ron needs to talk about killing "woke". He knows damn well he has lost these battles. He can't stop anyone from loving, living their truth, or trying to fix what is wrong with the world.

So my talking point would be to list these things as a done deal and maybe irritate them further by asking which of these winning movements is actually hurting YOU! Has your marriage suffered, how are your black friends doing, have you had to quit sexually harassing someone, or OMG, HAVE YOUR KIDS TURNED GAY?

Gotta hand it to Taylor Swift---she wanted that country market, but she woke-up. Now she's acting like Lady Gaga.

Expand full comment

Anti-woke=comatose nazi bigot zombie.

Apologies to actual zombies.

Expand full comment

Some Rs, Some !!!, are cruel, vicious, and sick. Some will say anything for power/money/both. And they have found a sad constituency who have not been able to capitalize on their race. So, they cast insensitive aspersions.

Mental health is in short supply within that insurgency.

Expand full comment

It worries me that white people seem to be too easily appropriating the word “woke” to mean everything liberal. I agree that the primary focus must be on the original use of the word as a warning about vigilance in the face of racial brutality. We can reinforce our wider embrace of liberality by proudly defending our status as liberal/progressive.

We have a lot of valid complaints about Republicans. They have tried to get in the way of every good thing and every small step toward progress and any constructive attempt to solve the very real crises we have faced for decades. But do Democrats understand Republicans? Do Republicans understand Republicans? Does anybody understand Republicans?

These are serious questions. Democrats may know a lot of declared Republicans and some of us may believe that we have figured out what makes our political counterparts tick. But I do not think that any of us have the slightest clue about where Republicans are coming from or where they intend to go.

Our first problem is that we only imagine that we know who Republicans are and what they believe. We cannot distinguish clearly, or at all in most cases, between those whose beliefs are more reactionary, libertarian, anarchist, religious, conservative, authoritarian, oligarchical, or some bizarre combination of some number of those separate ways of thinking or ideologies.

The typical Republican appears to have constructed some sort of mental frame around a canvas on which are painted pictures of a kind of junkyard. The frame and the junkyard represent the idea that government is inherently untrustworthy and whites are inherently superior. As they fill in the canvas, they picture every imaginable fault, problem, and unfairness that happens to validate their suspicions and doubts about government and "the other". Regulation – bad. Bureaucracy – bad. Waste – bad. Taxes- bad. Laws they disagree with - bad. Woke – bad. Compassion for the less fortunate – bad. Etc., etc., etc.

Their list of complaints and grievances is endless. They can cite hundreds of examples of things which haven’t had a result they judge optimal and actions which they perceive as harmful to the common man, to society, or to a particular group with which they identify. Regardless of what government or the courts have done with the objectives of justice, protecting rights, or solving disputes, they can make an argument that the other party was cheated, deprived of “their” rights, or made to compensate for some legal, social, or economic injustice.

Libertarians are particularly bothered by democracy as liberals and progressives see it. To the Libertarians, I believe, democracy requires too much government or a government that is too big and too pushy. To be effective in governing, the federal government must exercise power. The only legitimate power in the eyes of Libertarians is the power of individuals to decide what they should do and when or how they should do it, with few exceptions, and based on the idea that individuals nearly always know what is best for them and should be free to proceed uninhibited unless they are proven to violate the most basic tenets of civilized life (which involve very broad rights and very narrow limitations and the most essential laws).

This creates problems, however. Libertarians are schizophrenic. They have the greatest possible faith in individuals, except for when individuals make up the government, such as in a democracy where the government is of the people, by the people, and for the people. Suddenly, they are convinced that the people are incompetent, untrustworthy, corruptible, wasteful, exorbitant, extreme, and power-hungry. Therefore, democracy is a good concept in theory, but has been taken much too far for them. Rights are just for certain specific people, although we must never allow ourselves to explore those implications fully.

As I understand libertarian thinking and philosophy, government is always necessarily imbued with great power. Its purpose is to exercise some level of supervision and control over the citizenry. They think that it must always automatically become unwieldy and unyielding. It has too many moving parts, too much scope, and a compelling interest in its own perpetuation. It is like a Rube-Goldberg device, or maybe like Hal, the program from the film “2001” which developed a mind and a will or purpose of its own which was not in sync with the crew’s purposes.

To them, however, the individual is sacred. They see the private citizen as some sort of modernized version of the noble savage. They have a strong sentimental attachment to the concept of the individual as darn near infallible and personal autonomy as too worthy and precious to question except in the most egregious circumstances. Somehow, individuals can make decisions for themselves and their entire families (males, at least) and run big businesses and corporations, but if they are elected to a public office, they are doomed to screw it up.

In short, libertarians are more than a little irrational or too enamored of their theories to see past their exaggerations and overgeneralizations. While they do have plenty of good instances from past and present to illustrate their points about the risks associated with government, they see everything through a distorted lens and they cannot imagine that there have been and can again be innumerable examples of government policies and practices which have been total successes. They are pros at making the perfect the enemy of the good and at using cases such as the Bush/Cheney administration as proof of their theories, rather than proof that fanatics, ideologues, and corrupt officials, when not properly penalized for maladministration, will ultimately spin out of control.

There is only one place where I have some small agreement with these people. They complain that voters are uninformed, gullible, reckless, and disengaged. They blame our schools. They also believe that compulsory attendance laws are a violation of civil liberties and the principal reason our schools are not preparing students for full and useful participation in democracy.

However, despite their dedication to the individual, they do not seem to think that democracy can be improved enough or that schools can educate students adequately to save democracy, meaning that government must be reduced to a tiny fraction of its current size. I believe that ending the attendance requirement will make a world of difference. I believe that their cynicism regarding the improbability of youths becoming well-informed, involved, and capable of spotting and stopping fraud, waste, abuse, corruption, and authoritarianism is misguided.

As one would expect, their logic is bass ackwards. They have concluded that children are indoctrinated with liberal values and ideas in public schools. The truth is exactly the opposite. They believe that schooling should be privatized. While schooling, curriculum, and credentialing should not be controlled by government, it must fund, oversee, and support schooling and guarantee the rights and dignity of children. Government can and does provide valuable assistance to individuals and organizations devoted to education apart from those directed to schools, and government can provide all manner of ancillary services which are beneficial for the health, welfare, and educational attainment of citizens.

We have a constitution and bill of rights which point us toward liberty, justice, equality, and freedom from oppression. Government is fully justified in prohibiting practices and policies which restrict people, organizations, and government agencies and personnel from discrimination, abuses of power, coercion, denial of rights, exploitation, etc. However, paternalism, moral instruction, and inordinate control, supervision, and manipulation are not included as government functions.

The libertarians are correct in saying that government may not take over the educational aspects of schooling or to require wholesale programming and conditioning of children under the auspices of providing educational services or the guise of educating them. But schooling for children is one special case. Government surely does have a responsibility to establish social programs which elevate the national welfare and enhance equal distribution of common resources and national wealth, including those which seek to right wrongs and enhance fairness and community solidarity.

To be continued. I started out with the intention of trying to describe several elements of the different variations on Republicanism. My tangent went off on a tangent.

Expand full comment

The uncivilized, unevolved, irrational thinkers, hate being made to be civilized. Almost all of them are right wingers. There are lunatics and thugs all over the Earth. Until humans do a better job of raising the children, it will only get worse. The family unit,, unlimited greed and religious indoctrination of children, has to end. I don't see that happening, so the future holds a lot of uneeded stress, suffering, abuse and anxiety ahead for the human race. Not good! Do we really know Republicans? How can we know them when they don't even know themselves? They certainly don't know us and can't know us.! Rational thinkers and emotional believers, don't mix. They act like rational thinkers are just here to clean up their messes and serve them and worship them... There's my tangent.

Expand full comment

On good days I am less pessimistic than you appear to be. But I have fewer and fewer of those good days now. I agree that the most crucial factor is childrearing and presumably, you were referring to education as part of that. You probably know that I do not believe that our schools as they have been constituted for generations do not and cannot educate or otherwise prepare students for the kind of civilization which most of the people who watch Thom have hoped to see eventually. However, I cannot abandon the hope that things will change. That change cannot happen until the most prominent features of our hostile and antisocial character is mitigated via a radically different educational and social paradigm. Those features come from hyperrationality, as much as from emotionality, and from our pathological dependence on arbitrary authority in families, social institutions, and government. Arbitrary authority is erroneously believed by most of the world’s population to be essential to the development of self-discipline among children and citizens and is inescapable in schools under laws which compel attendance. People are steeped in a view of human nature which originates from the theory of original sin and from the “strict father metaphor”. Those core and mostly unconscious beliefs and impressions are nearly ubiquitous and lead to much of the misery, sanctimony, and hate in society. They are the precursors to authoritarianism and fascism.

Expand full comment

What IS woke? A noun, a verb, or another animal altogether? It seems to have evolved from a word in the 1930s meaning "stay alert, awake, so you won't be killed" to a type of repub SLUR they use to call anyone they don't like, disagree with -- or maybe they feel shouldn't exist. Reminds me of the slur the British used against American rebels once upon a time -- Yankee Doodle Dandy. We know how that turned out. It became a popular label and song for the rebels of the day. It rather soured on the British tongue. When overused by certain goppers/repubs woke begins to sound like the F word, ho-hum and silly. The way the goppers/repubs entangle woke amidst their barrage of lies, it makes them sound ignorant and ridiculous. These pitiful goppers/repubs seem to think (sorry, they don't THINK) believe or feel that Dems, Liberals, Progressives, Positive type of real thinkers as their "enemies." Maybe the hopeful pro-democracy people ought to wake that "woke" word up and start using it to mean great and good things in all its iterations. Woke means a person is awake and alert to the good stuff as well as the tactics of the beastie goppers/repuibs twists and turns. Yes, they are for the pro-bigotry and pro-violence, pro-hate, pro-anger, pro-self-pity and pro-back-stabbing. We have to go around those who can't talk plain and keep tripping over the big old lies they use to blame. They point their big old finger and can't see the mirror before them where the lies linger on their own faces that so enthrall them. Their voices screech and grate on ears that are not woke enough to hear their own nastiness. Their eyes are not awakened enough to see the open madness emanating from those deadened eyes. WOKE means love, acceptance, peace, calm, and dignity. It even has OK in its middle. To be responsive, caring, compassionate, helping, building, creating beauty are what folk who are woke hope and work for. Onward and upward for all who are WOKE. No time for sleeping. Ruthie B

Expand full comment