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Do Conservatives Really Want to Die on the “Woke” Hill?

Conservatives’ pejorative use of “woke” shows how weak and hollow their culture war issues are. Are they really willing to die on a hill this dumb?

Tucker Carlson Being Upset About "Woke" M&Ms

Fox News

One thing law school teaches any student is how to form an argument. Even when you don’t believe it in your heart, you get taught the nuts and bolts of how to piece one together using rules and analysis that tighten its logic and [hopefully] harden it to scrutiny. So, I usually take pride in my ability to see things from the other side and form an understanding of what their motives may be, but when it comes to conservatives' “war on woke,” I just draw blanks.

What do they think they’re going to get out of taking a stand against the “horrors” of proper education and diverse workplaces? Who do they think they’re protecting by getting mad that M&Ms decided to be less sexy? Or that The Little Mermaid will feature a Black Ariel?

I just don’t get it.

But, since it seems like they’re willing to die on that hill, we may as well get out of their way while they do it. To paraphrase Brad Pitt in Moneyball: “When your opponent makes a mistake, don’t interrupt them; just say ‘thank you.’”

What does “woke” even mean?

Honestly, at this point, who the hell knows.

It started as a term among Black Americans to signal cultural awareness and consciousness, and now generally seems to mean left-leaning policies and beliefs.

Conservatives see it differently, describing it with varying degrees of “anything I disagree with” to “it’s destroying the world.”

So, it’s funny when conservative media folks like Bethany Mandel (who had herself one hell of a week) and Tim Pool offer their “definitions” of what it means by torturing their words and masking their nonsense with faux-intellectual phrases.

Bethany Mandel defining "woke" on Twitter

Bethany Mandel on Twitter

Is it “radical” to suggest our country’s systems have discriminatory practices baked into them when our founders only gave representation and property rights to one group, of which all of them belonged? Or that Black families haven’t had the same opportunities to build wealth because we enslaved and then segregated them?

Tim Pool defining "woke" on Twitter

Tim Pool on Twitter

Were Americans being “social zombies” with “rapidly changing ideological foundations” when we decided that Black and white children should attend the same schools? Or that women should be allowed to open a bank account?

It’s cute that Timmy tries to carve himself that “modern” exception, before starting the very next tweet with “feminism,” which has its roots in the 19th century.

But let’s go with his “modern” approach.

Was it “social zombism” in the 1980s when the Supreme Court reaffirmed affirmative action policies as a way to fight discrimination? Or in 2003 when it struck down a Texas law criminalizing gay sex? Or in 2015 when it legalized same-sex marriage?

Disregarding the tortured definitions, replete with the type of multisyllabic words people use when they want to sound smart (see what I did there?), I just can’t wrap my head around what conservative media heads like Beth and Tim and politicians like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis think they’re going to get out of waging this war.

Here’s a list of some things conservative media pundits and politicians have attributed to “wokeism” and why they attacked it:

Putting aside the very real threats to transgender people going on in states like Tennessee and Florida, doesn’t it all just seem so ridiculous?

An Asian puppet? More efficient appliances? Elves? These are the hills conservatives want to die on in 2023?

Ron DeSantis Stopping Woke

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Facebook

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is so committed to the bit that he and his cronies passed a bill literally called the “Stop WOKE Act” last summer (it’s since been blocked by a federal judge), and back in January, he gave a speech with the following excerpt:

“We must fight the woke in our schools. We must fight the woke in our businesses. We must fight the woke in government agencies. We can never ever surrender to woke ideology.” 

I’m sorry, but that’s f**king hilarious to say on a stage with a straight face. Meatball Ron really thinks he’s that guy. Having the audacity to evoke Churchill’s “We Shall Fight on the Beaches” speech while flapping his hands around in a style he very clearly copied from Trump also shows how deluded DeSantis’s vision of himself is.

Let’s stay out of their way:

The truly perplexing part of it all is the fact that polling shows Americans have a positive view of what it means to be “woke” and support the values associated with the term.

A USA Today/Ipsos survey released this month found a solid majority (56%) of U.S. adults, including over a third (37%) of Republicans, consider “woke” to be a positive term, meaning “to be informed, educated on, and aware of social injustices.” Just 39% agreed with the negative definition: “to be overly politically correct and police others’ words.”

A recent survey by Morning Consult also found 71% of Americans don’t think politicians should punish companies that speak out against discrimination, like DeSantis did to Disney after the company spoke out against the state’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill prohibiting classroom discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity issues.

Speaking of children, a survey this month from Navigator also shows how out of step Republicans are with the rest of the nation when it comes to issues involving America’s kids:

Navigator Research on Twitter

While majorities of Democrats, independents, and parents want to protect children from the very real threat of gun violence, Republicans are busy worrying about “woke ideas.”

Recent polling in Florida also shows how deeply unpopular some of DeSantis’s anti-woke policies are inside his own state:

Simon Rosenberg on Twitter

If Republicans were actively trying to suck at national elections, this would be the way to do it.

So, the next time a conservative talking head goes on a ridiculous crusade against wokeism, maybe we should take a page out of Moneyball: ignore the nonsense and “just say ‘thank you.’”