The Woke Mob’s Destruction of the English Language
In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible.
George Orwell, Politics and the English Language
Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, a member of the progressive “squad,” recently accused those who disagree with student debt cancellation of "policy violence." That is, to disagree with the left now is “violence.” This kind of linguistic legislation by the left is now common. Words mean whatever they want them to mean in order to achieve their far-left goals.
Pressley’s statement is also an implied threat. Since violence is justified in response to violence, Pressley is letting American’s know what is coming if they do not get their way.
The venomous hatred spewed by the Woke mob in the name of tolerance and inclusivity is indefensible. That is why they do not defend it. Instead, they generally try to bully people into submitting to their demands.
Some people may express astonishment at my claim that that they do not defend their views. Are not their defenses found everywhere these days? However, when I say that they do not defend their claims I do not mean that they do not produce a lot of verbiage. I mean that in order, actually, to defend a thesis one must first formulate it properly with careful definitions and mobilize arguments and evidence in favor of it (a procedure that used to be commonplace in universities). This they do not do. Consider first Northeastern University Gender Studies Professor Suzanna Danuta Walters’s claim (in a 2018 Washington Post article titled “Why can’t we hate all men?”) that “it seems logical to hate all men.”
Walters’s article has been correctly criticized on many grounds by numerous writers, both male and female. However, my point here is different, namely, that, like those who attempt to defend the indefensible, or, to be more precise, those who attempt to promote the impression that they do so, Walters does not mean what she says or say what she means. That is, Walters only produces a semblance of a defense of her view, very similar to the semblance of argument practiced by Protagoras, Gorgias and Thrasymachus in ancient Greece.
Some writers have correctly criticized Walter’s claim that “it seems logical to hate all men” for the straightforward reason that it is as inappropriate to make such a universal claim as it would be to claim that one should hate all women, all Black people, all gay people, and so on. However, Walters’s words are deceptive. No sooner does she make that indefensible statement than she takes it back and explains that she doesn’t “necessarily” mean “non-American men” or “men of color.” That is, by “all men”, she does not actually mean all men. Since “America” is a political polity, and since she specifies she does not necessarily mean men that do not belong to that polity, and since “men of color” are expected to hold certain political views, namely views akin to hers, what her statement actually means, when decoded, is, therefore, that it seems logical to hate men that don’t agree with her politics. In other words, it is a political statement she uses in her pursuit of power for her own tribe. She makes this explicit when in her article when she asks the “men” that she hates to “step aside” so that her political group can take power.
Similarly, the word “Black” as used in the expression “Black people” no longer means black when used by the woke left. This is illustrated by Vanderbilt University Professor Michael Eric Dyson’s reaction to the November 2021 election, which caused so much distress to the left, of the Black Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears in Virginia. Employing his usual alliteration of superfluous verbiage, Dyson stated that when Sears articulates her patriotic pro-American views “there is a Black mouth moving but a white idea running on the runway of the tongue.”
Orwell, in the same work, describes the technique:
“When there is a gap between one's real and declared aims, one turns, as it were instinctively, to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink. … All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.”
Thus, when Dyson uses “Black” and “white” to classify ideas, he is using these words to denote, not two races, but rather two political affiliations. By “Black person” Dyson means, roughly, someone who agrees with his leftist views and by “white person” he means, roughly, someone who disagrees with his leftist politics. This has nothing to do with race proper anymore. The reference to race is a smokescreen to damage one’s opponent.
Dyson is not the first the employ such deceptive linguistic revisions in the pursuit of political power. When Bill Clinton, who is a Caucasian of Irish ancestry and whose skin color is white, was called “the first black president”, it was not meant that he was literally black. It was meant that he held certain political left-of-center views the people who used that description found useful for their own pursuit of power.
The same deceptive use of the word “black” occurred in 2018 when, at a Young Americans for Freedom talk, a student “woman of color” indignantly asked Allen West if he “identified as Black.” When West replied with an astonished laugh, the woman replied, “It’s a serious question. You might not identify that way.” In fact, her question is not serious and her assertion that it is does not make it so. That ruse only works in the relativist fantasyland she imbibed in certain university classrooms.
West is, assuming that one is speaking in the English language, Black and proud of it. The point, once again, is that by “Black” this student does not actually mean black. It is not clear that she knows what she means. What is clear is that she raises this question because West’s political views are not what she believes they should be. Her indignation gives her away. Since there is no reason to be indignant because of West’s skin color (black), she can only be indignant because West’s political choices conflict with the political orthodoxy she memorized at university. By “Black” she means, roughly, leftist.
There is, therefore, a sense in which one should not be distressed when members of the “woke” mob make such indefensible statements. For, whether they know this or not, they are not actually speaking English. They are speaking a code that superficially resembles English. When, however, a clear-minded person decodes their deceptive words one invariably finds that they do not mean what they seem to mean. Suzanna Danuta Walters does not mean men by “men.” Michael Eric Dyson and the female student that indignantly addressed Allen West do not mean black by “Black” and white by “white”. Walters can be fine with men who submit to her political demands and Dyson can be fine with Caucasians who submit to his political demands.
Walters and Dyson are not doing what one thought they were doing. One assumed, foolishly, that they wanted truth. In fact, truth is the last thing on their minds. Walters and Dyson, and the woke mob generally, use language as a weapon of control, that is, as an instrument to achieve political power. Walters’ message to men is that if they don’t want to be called hateful they must submit to her political views. Dyson’s message to Black people is that although they may believe slavery ended 150 years ago, they are still owned by his political tribe.
None of this implies that Walters, Dyson and the woke mob know that they are not speaking English. One cannot assume self-knowledge. That commodity is as rare now as it was in Socrates’ day. Unfortunately, since the Left’s achievement of its agenda requires the destruction of the English language, it is not clear that anyone really understands what anything means in the woke tower of Babel the left building in its frantic quest for unlimited power.
Photo credit: Oregon State University CC BY-SA 2.0 license