A conservative definition of 'woke'
The left loves to play with its definitions, changing them when they become inconvenient or embarrassing.
Just two years ago, leftists roared that being woke meant driving social change and justice, silencing dissenting voices, and forcing equity over merit in all decisions. They were proud of their bullying efforts. Now that the 2024 election looms, and there is a general feeling among the American people that woke thinking is bad, they seek to whitewash their definition.
As such, the progressive left have adopted more benign definitions, saying wokeness is an "awareness" of systemic racism and that the nation was built on inequalities and an awareness that there are many diverse groups that are held down in society based on race, sex, sexual preference, and a myriad of other categories that they make up as they go along. They erroneously position their definition as positive — that it has been around for decades, and merely highlights problems — namely, that America is a deeply flawed nation that requires dramatic cultural changes.
This definition clashes with reality, but to their true believers, that means little. The progressive left implements changes based on this definition, utilizing violent riots, boycotts, social justice warriors, cancel-culture censorship, identity politics, Critical Race Theory, control of language used to describe oppressed groups, diversity and inclusiveness programs in business, reparations programs, and forced hiring and staffing policies. Leftists are willing to utilize force and conflict as the means to achieve their goals.
Oftentimes, conservatives confuse how the left is attempting to drive these changes with the definition itself. We need to be clear about the difference between the definition and how leftists seek to implement it.
Conservatives have struggled with a definition of woke. Adding to the problem, leftists arrogantly believe they own the definition of the word, so it can mean whatever they desire. As someone who has been on the receiving end of the cancel culture crowd's ire, I felt obligated to try to define the conservative meaning of this four-letter word.
Simply put: Woke is the progressive left forcefully inflicting social, economic, and cultural change on the American people without consideration of facts, laws, or the desires of the people impacted.
None of their changes has been voted on by the people they impact. The left has a sense of entitlement when implementing these changes. Leftists believe they are empowered to force these changes on society. Better yet, anyone who does not agree with them is smeared with words like, racist, fascist, Nazi, book-burner, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, and a litany of other slurs. To them, labeling equates to them solving a problem, and the more vicious and nasty the label, the better.
The differences in definitions to conservatives are stark, but where the left is concerned, there are no differences. They blur in a myriad of concepts in terms of the execution of the woke agenda. Where conservatives look at some books and say, "These should not be in a school library because they are inappropriate for children," the left says, "It's not enough that this author's books should be banned. He should not be able to write any other books." In the left's mind, these two views are equal. Leftists' view of this scenario is that conservatives are executing censorship, whereas their actions are merely a consequence of the author's bad decisions.
The same applies with drag shows for children. Where conservatives say such displays are inappropriate for children, the left claims that there is a bias against transsexuals that must be addressed with forced changes to society. In this case, such shows must be made the norm and accepted, regardless of a person's individual opinions, religious beliefs, or outlook.
This example is used to highlight a key element of this definition. The progressives do not care what anyone else thinks or believes. All that matters is that they get their way, by force or other means. They perceive individual rights and freedoms as a speed bump. The law is merely an obstacle. When the courts rule against them, their default setting is to pack the court or force justices into retirement. If they can't get their way, they seek to change the rules so they prevail.
When they are challenged for being woke, they almost universally say the challenge alone is proof of the flaws in the American culture or history. Anyone saying it is wrong to have staffing models based on race is clearly a racist, and proof that systemic racism is at the core of problem. Leftists use this same approach for whatever challenge they face.
Many Americans are weary of this woke ideology. With the election looming, prepare yourself for the progressives changing many of their unpopular definitions, watering them down so they seem less offensive. This is not, however, their prerogative or right — and they should be held accountable for what they have done.
Blaine Pardoe is a New York Times bestselling and award-winning author canceled by one of his publishers in 2022. He is a regular contributor to a number of conservative sites. His conservative political thriller series, Blue Dawn, includes A Most Uncivil War and the newly released Confederacy of Fear. This series tells the story of the violent overthrow of the government by radical progressives. His bestselling military science fiction series, Land&Sea, includes Splashdown, Riptides, and Storm Surge.