McWhorter on Dealing With Woke Slander

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Over at the conservative Hot Air blog is a John Sexton post discussing John McWhorter's thoughts on "Wokeism," which he is hammering out on a substack blog and will eventually transform into a book titled The Elect. (This is also the term he is using to describe the "woke," and reminds me of Thomas Sowell's analogous term, the annointed.)

The following passage also just as much reminded me of Objectivist analysis of global warming catastrophism as resembling a religion as I found it thought-provoking:

Image by Nsey Benajah, via Unsplash, license.
[T]he elect don't feel the need to make converts through persuasion. Their default is to make them through fear. Confront someone and dare them to disagree with your premise about white supremacy or any similar topic. They will either kowtow or they will dare to disagree in which case they can be denounced.

Eventually, interviewer Nick Gillespie asked McWhorter what the solution was to this. McWhorter said he was still working on that but said it basically had to come down to pushing back and refusing to take these kind of ritual denunciations seriously.

"We have to understand that you can not reason with people like this," he said. "It's very rare that you teach somebody out of their religion and this is a religion. And so to try to talk these people down doesn't work. All they know is that you're a racist and that's all you're going to get. So the idea is not to try to have a dialogue with them about these sorts of issues ... I think we simply need to start telling people like this no."

McWhorter added that it won't stop them from calling you a racist but by ignoring those attacks and going about your business you can demonstrate that "screaming that you're a racist isn't going to get them what they want." He added, "We need to start telling them no." [bold added]
I'd summarize the situation like this: The woke are like terrorists threatening to blow up livelihoods and reputations, and negotiating with them is a fool's errand. That said, I agree with Sexton here that McWhorter is on to the right approach, but that the devil will be in the details. This is a difficult problem, and I am glad to see someone like McWhorter working on a solution.

This problem is one that can be met only by confrontation, and lots of us need to be on the same page to succeed.

-- CAV


Anonymous said...

Hi Gus,

A couple of weeks ago on the Objectivism Seminar, one participant mentioned Vox Day as an example of taking a lesson in tactics even when one disagrees in principle.

Here's an example. A small victory but illustrative.

This isn't just an instance of opposing the NPC wokeists but also an instance where the Gramscian Long March has been forced into retreat on one small front.

c andrew

Gus Van Horn said...


Interesting. The emoting part was interesting to me as I have (a) seen it work on people who have been caught off-guard multiple times, and (b) total immunity to it from a relatively early age.

"I am not an emotional spittoon," I would say in college when I would hear of the latest exploits of someone who cornered others for hours with her tales of woe. I left without saying anything once -- before I knew about this -- when she showed up and started humblebragging.