‘Wokeness is elitism
masquerading as compassion’
Laurence Fox’s foray into Question Time’s chicken run, and the subsequent fallout, has certainly set the cat of disdain among the pigeons of wokeness.
Wokeness, it seems, is a problematic condition, because those who suffer from it are making racist/sexist mountains out of molehills: they are “virtue-signallers”; they are “smugly righteous”; they are “perpetually offended”.
I know these things because there is ample testimony on Twitter from those who self-identify as wokeness experts. These stalwarts can spot wokeness at a hundred paces, and, having spotted it, they safely ignore whatever take was being expressed, secure in the knowledge that it is irrelevant to their worldview.
Take this tweet, commenting on criticisms of Meghan Markle, as a case in point:
The “woke-drones” keep “banging on” about racist criticism. How do we know they are woke-drones? Well, it’s obvious: as the author points out, he hasn’t seen any examples of actual racism against her. QED.
Helpfully, he then provides us with a clear definition of actual racism in this context: “specifically criticising her because of her ethnicity”. Case closed! Disregard the woke-drones!
Well, not quite so fast. At the risk of being considered a woke-drone myself, is it true that racism requires specific examples of criticism, mentioning race, nationality, colour or ethnicity? Do commentators have to tie their racism or sexism up in a neat little bow by making blatant references to ethnicity or gender? Should we disregard a vast array of alternative scenarios, where racism or sexism is presented in a more passive-aggressive manner? Should we draw a discreet veil over an entire class of discrimination described in the Equality Act as indirect discrimination? Would pointing those out be a case of “banging on”, or merely the introduction of much-needed perspective into a widely misunderstood area of debate?
In a nutshell, “woke” seems to have become the pejorative term of choice for dismissing those who might draw the demarcation zones of racist behaviour more judiciously than others. Following Question Time and the subsequent Twitterstorm, a common view seems to be “Thank God for Laurence Fox. He’s speaking up for the common man, at last!”
I beg to differ. What he’s doing is conveniently blurring the edges for those who don’t much care for introspection. He’s packaging potentially valid concerns as bleats or whines, rather than encouraging deeper thought around a difficult and complex issue. He calls thoughtfulness “elitism”. In this post-truth age, he is essentially saying don’t trust the educated. Where have we heard that before?
Those who insist that some debaters are over-sensitive whiners are really just saying “accept our rough and ready best guess”. Don’t ask questions. Don’t rock the boat. Think like us. Columnists like Piers Morgan are, as someone pointed out to me today, paid to stir the pot, and they do it well. The question is, though, to what end? Whose interests do they really serve?