Woke danger alert! Woke danger alert!
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at The Rosen Shingle Creek on Feb. 24, 2022 in Orlando, Florida. CPAC, which began in 1974, is an annual political conference attended by conservative activists and elected officials. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
It is bad enough that we are advised of the danger of being woke and wokeness in our communities and cities. Now we are told the “wokes” might be out in the countryside as well.
It may no longer be safe to take a walk in the woods. We have it from recognized authorities – Elon Musk and the Great White Woke Hunter himself, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida – that wokes carry an infectious mind virus that is debilitating.
There is no vaccine that will help, never mind that anti-woke fighters are not in favor of vaccines anyway. You have to stamp them out. Herd them to Florida where they die.
A major problem, however, is that no one has actually seen a woke. Regrettably, they are in the same category as the Loch Ness monster and Big Foot. Several experts have tried to define them for us.
Elon Musk says it has something to do with free speech, but it is unclear how that works since major ways to fight wokes are to kill free speech, revise history and ban books. Conservative writer Bethany Mandel says wokeness “is sort of the idea that… well it is very hard to define” and “complicated,” but wokes are definitely out to “restructure society.”
Merriam-Webster’s definition of “woke” is “being aware and attentive to important societal facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice),” and other definitions stress the search for fairness and justice. So, if wokes are out there dealing with facts, and awareness of issues in society, and seeking justice and fairness –my God– you can see how dangerous they are.
But how can we identify wokes and eliminate them if no one can actually tell us what they look like? The answer is simple: It is like U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewarts’s 1964 definition of pornography, “I know it when I see it.”
Also, like tracking animals in the woods, they leave telltale signs. You find them trying to provide meals for hungry school kids, making it easier for people to vote in elections, providing Christian (or Muslim, Hindu, or Jewish) kindness to others who may not be so well accepted in society, offering a helping hand up to those who have not been so fortunate, providing good educational opportunities, trying to keep humans from destroying the planet, and these sorts of things.
It is easy to understand why it doesn’t get more threatening to society than this.
Some misguided people say that “woke” is just a term used in a 1962 article in The New York Times written by African American novelist William Melvin Kelly that was subsequently used as a Black slang term for awareness. But the fact that it was in The New York Times first should make you immediately suspicious. If you have read Jack Finney’s 1954 novel, “The Body Snatchers,” or the great science fiction story by Henry Kuttner (1948), “Don’t Look Now,” you know this bland media history is just a plant. This is serious and sinister business and these wokes are lurking out there even if you can’t see them.
So you had better get out there and get after these wokes as quickly as you can. For starters, this means banning books, rewriting history so kids don’t get the wrong ideas from unpleasant facts, making sure it’s hard for wokes to vote in elections, resisting vaccinations that may give you the woke mind disease or something worse, protecting your children from people who are “different,” and preventing professional educators and teachers from controlling your schools.
Or, instead, you could collect some real facts that might support your view about progressive policies or actions that meet with your disapproval, or you consider to be too stridently promoted; and then find some words in the English language that have well established and reasonably precise definitions; and then use the facts and the precise English words to engage in discussions and debate on the issues. You know, like responsible adults might do.
David Darby held leadership positions in several US agencies and Montana state government. He also served as U.S. senior advisor on budget policy and management to over a dozen foreign governments. He is retired and lives in Billings.
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