Wokeness as Class Marker

One of the big ideas here at GetReligion is that we live in an age in which many of our comfortable journalistic labels are becoming more and more irrelevant. They simply don’t tell readers anything.

For example, there is this puzzle that I have mentioned before. What do you call people who are weak in their defense of free speech, weak in their defense of freedom of association and weak in their defense of religious liberty (in other words, basic First Amendment rights)? The answer: I don’t know, but it would be totally inaccurate – considering the history of American political thought – to call these people “liberals.”

from “Short test for journalists: Label the cultural point of view in this commentary.
As quoted in Lots to think about: Weiss and Sullivan on rise of illiberalism in news media and America in GetReligion.org

Reconstructed Christians always knew that there is no such thing as neutrality, that “tolerance” is just a pose until a new – and pointedly anti-Christian – ideology was made the law of the land.

But most Christians are of a somewhat gullible sort, when dealing with Our Betters. With their broad smiles and semi-hidden malice.

Their malice is becoming less hidden by the day, incidentally.

(For clarity, I’m adding the double-quote marks below.)

The key is that Weiss is suddenly being called a conservative for defending the beliefs and traditions that surrounded her as she grew up in old-school liberal Jewish circles. Now, she’s a conservative of some kind because she is saying things like this:

“Did you see that the Ethical Culture Fieldston School hosted a speaker that equated Israelis with Nazis? Did you know that Brearley is now asking families to write a statement demonstrating their commitment to “anti-racism”? Did you see that Chelsea Handler tweeted a clip of Louis Farrakhan? Did you see that protesters tagged a synagogue in Kenosha with “Free Palestine” graffiti? Did you hear about the march in D.C. where they chanted “Israel, we know you, you murder children too”? Did you hear that the Biden campaign apologized to Linda Sarsour after initially disavowing her? Did you see that Twitter suspended Bret Weinstein’s civic organization but still allows the Iranian ayatollah to openly promote genocide of the Jewish people? Did you see that Mayor Bill de Blasio scapegoated “the Jewish community” for the spread of COVID in New York, while defending mass protests on the grounds that this is a “historic moment of change”?

Listen, it’s been a hell of a year.”

Bari Wess, in “Stop Being Shocked: American liberalism is in danger from a new ideology — one with dangerous implications for Jews.”
as quoted in Lots to think about: Weiss and Sullivan on rise of illiberalism in news media and America

“After the Christians have been properly housebroken to their true Lord and Master, it’s time to deal with the Jews.”

Surely Wess has seen this movie before…

(Again adding the double-quote marks.)

Here’s the key: Weiss hasn’t changed. She’s just trying to keep the old civics faith she was taught, including the old “liberalism” she knew as a journalist.

“I didn’t even know that this worldview had a name because it was baked into everything I came into contact with — my parents’ worldviews, the schools they sent me to, the synagogues we attended, the magazines and newspapers we read, and so on.

I was among many millions of Americans cosseted by these ideals. Since World War II, American intellectual and cultural life has been produced and protected by a set of institutions — universities, newspapers, magazines, record companies, professional associations, labor unions, cultural venues, publishing houses, Hollywood studios, think tanks, historical museums, art museums — that aligned, broadly, with those principles. As such, they had incredible power — power that demanded our respect because they held up the liberal order.

No longer. American liberalism is under siege.”

The old State Religion has served it’s purpose in disposing of Christianity from any position of authority or social governance.

Now, the mask of Old Liberalism can be tossed out without a second thought, and insert a more pleasing, strictly naturalistic ruling religion that our Betters find deeply satisfying… and deeply pleasing to impose on the Cultural Inferior.

The key is that — I will apply a phrase from C.S. Lewis — the creed of the new illiberalism is the dogma of the “Inner Ring” at the highest levels of American culture. Resistance? Only if The New York Times, Apple, Facebook, Harvard University, Amazon.com, the Associated Press, Twitter and the rest of that circle are the weak and powerless who are united to fight against the establishment.


Social aspiration also plays a part. The etiquette of wokery is increasingly indispensable for high society. They mark you as someone high up in the American social hierarchy. The right words and phrases signal your ease in this elite; the wrong ones — “sexual preference”! — expose you as a rube, a bigot or, worse, a middle class provincial. Rob Henderson argues that this aspiration to be in the upper classes helps explain why Asian-Americans, who are targeted for direct race discrimination under CRT, nonetheless often support it: “While money and education are tickets to the middle class, prizing diversity is a requirement to join the upper class. It’s part of what the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu referred to as cultural capital — tastes, vocabulary, awareness and mannerisms which give social advantages to those higher in the social hierarchy.” Reihan Salam has also written brilliantly about this.

There’s little doubt, either, it seems to me that there is a religious component to wokeness. A generation of nones can feel bereft of transcendence and meaning, and “becoming woke”, like being “born again,” fills that spiritual hole. In an atomized and lonely age, feeling as if you are on “the right side of history”, banishing doubt, joining with countless of your fellow converts in marches and seminars, can abate the isolation and emptiness of it all. Many moderns want the experience of religion without God.

Always another justification to control others.

“But it’s important that the justification for power comes strictly from what *I* think is right, and not from some loathsome Outside Point of View and His repulsive Laws and Commandments (that I cannot control or rewrite).”

As the Laws and Commandments are as deeply hated by most Christians as they are by Our Betters, they can find a way to base some kind of shared alliance.

We all know who will kneel to who.

But what is even more important is the One they will both turn their back to.

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