Expert Explains Roots of ‘Woke’ Ideology and Deliberate Effort to Cancel Joe Rogan

By Masooma Haq
Masooma Haq
Masooma Haq
Masooma Haq began reporting for The Epoch Times from Pakistan in 2008. She currently covers a variety of topics including U.S. government, culture, and entertainment.
and Jan Jekielek
Jan Jekielek
Jan Jekielek
Senior Editor
Jan Jekielek is a senior editor with The Epoch Times and host of the show, "American Thought Leaders." Jan’s career has spanned academia, media, and international human rights work. In 2009 he joined The Epoch Times full time and has served in a variety of roles, including as website chief editor. He is the producer of the award-winning Holocaust documentary film "Finding Manny."
February 20, 2022Updated: February 20, 2022

Wokal Distance, an expert in postmodernism and critical theory, explained how the influences of these two ideologies created the “woke” mindset that is behind the attempt to cancel Joe Rogan. The woke believe they are justified to take anything someone says or does out of context, and criticize and shame them for it, he said.

“When Joe Rogan says, ‘But I’m not a racist,’ and he tries to give the context for what he said, what do we do? We say: impact, not intent. ‘It doesn’t matter what you meant, Joe. It matters how we’re interpreting it, and we’re allowed to do that,’” said Wokal Distance, a Twitter pseudonym for Michael Young, a visiting fellow at the Center for Renewing America, on EpochTV’s “American Thought Leaders” in a Feb. 9 interview.

He explained how, since the 1960s, postmodernism and critical theory converged to create the unforgiving cancel culture that exists today.

“Critical theory says that the assumptions and presuppositions our society rests on need to be criticized ruthlessly,” he said. “And so that’s everything from reasoning, logic, beliefs, tradition, practices—anything that our society has produced needs to be critiqued along these lines.”

“If you think about postmodernism as being like a solvent or an acid, when you throw the acid onto the piece of metal, the metal doesn’t just evaporate like that, it takes time. The dissolving of objective truth isn’t an overnight process, but it’s been chipped away at, it’s been rusting slowly,” he said.

Critical theory was made well known by a group of neo-Marxist thinkers at the Frankfurt School in Germany. “They forged a tool or discipline or way of doing analysis called critical theory,” he said.

“The underlying assumption of critical theory is that we are being dominated or oppressed by our society. So, questioning the legitimacy of every single aspect of our civilization is deemed necessary to achieve liberation from all of the oppression.”

A member of the Frankfurt School and philosopher, Max Horkheimer was famous for his work in critical theory and, “said that critical theory can’t just have any direction of moral vision, the moral vision must be geared toward the ‘Emancipation’ quote of human beings,” said Wokal Distance.

He explained that the Neo-Marxist starting point is that some are oppressors and some are oppressed, who need to be liberated from the existing patriarchal, sexist, straight, racist, society.

Epoch Times Photo
Max Horkheimer (front L), Theodor Adorno (front R), and Jürgen Habermas (back R)—some of the main German Marxist scholars from the Frankfurt School in the development of Critical Theory—are seen at the Max Weber-Soziologentag in Heidelberg, Germany, in April 1964. (Jeremy J. Shapiro/Wikimedia Commons)

The woke “would say that all of the ideas that you put forth about human rights, all of this is a veneer for what’s really going on, which is people preserving their own power, maintaining their own privilege, trying to preserve their space in the hierarchy, trying to create and keep their own power,” he said.

“They would take our doctrines, they would rip them apart and show how the way that we’ve interpreted the world, the way that we’ve interpreted science, the way that we interpreted human rights, the way that we’ve understood the world is really a product of the biases and the power-seeking and clout seeking,” said Wokal Distance. “So, when they call literally everything racist, what they’re saying is ‘look, all of your presuppositions, all of your ideas are really just built to protect the power of white people.’”

He said that the education system has been used to spread such ideology throughout the entire society.

“It is a view that has been kind of absorbed by people who live in the media ecosystem. So, people who work in music, movies, television, journalism, those sorts of people have adopted elements of this, they have adopted this kind of worldview,” he said.

Deliberate Effort to Cancel Joe Rogan

Wokal Distance believes political groups have used the woke mob on social media to invoke outrage against an opponent, in this case Joe Rogan. “I absolutely think that there are political actors who are cynically ginning up woke people to cancel people all the time,” he said.

He said these groups reposted the video of Rogan saying the “n” word and then other groups with leftist ideology reposted the same video to increase the outrage against Rogan.

“They just keep retweeting it over and over and over and over again. Why? Well, they didn’t just tweet the video in some kind of organic reaction. It was a pre-planned media strategy,” said Wokal Distance. “And what are they doing? They’re creating a narrative. This is a professional media shop.”

The video is a compilation of edited clips of Rogan from various interviews, using the “n” word out of context.

“And we see that with Rogan, what did we have? We have a video of Joe Rogan saying the ‘n’ word and what did they do? Did they include the big long conversation? So, we get all the context? Oh, they just sliced up him saying the ‘n’ word, and it’s one right after another,” he said. “And the nuanced discussion is lost.”

“If you think about an analogy of a forest fire, sometimes lightning strikes a tree and causes a forest fire. And sometimes the guy grabs a bunch of twigs together, lights them on fire, fans the flames, and then throws gasoline on it,” said Wokal Distance. “What they’re trying to do is they want to burn down Joe Rogan’s life but they want it to look like lightning hit a tree.”

He thinks that these groups don’t like the power and influence Rogan has because he appeals to people from a broad segment of political views. He said that these groups are highly skilled at using language, communication, and the media to spread their message and make it look like everyone agrees with them.

“And all the normal people who don’t know these social media tactics and aren’t professionally paid, are just sitting there with their 50 followers going: ‘What do I do, I don’t want to get canceled. If they can cancel Joe Rogan, they can cancel me too.’ So, everyone just kind of puts their head down.”