What Is American Wokeness Really About?
Most Americans were as indifferent to the U.S. women’s soccer team’s recent loss to Sweden in the Olympics as they were excited about the team’s World Cup win in 2019. In between was the team’s nonstop politicking, from whining about compensation to virtue-signaling their disrespect for the United States. The celebrity face of the team, perennial scold Megan Rapinoe, is going the way of teenage grouch Greta Thunberg, becoming more pinched the more she is tuned out.
Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Marie Khan-Cullors Brignac used her corporate grifting to buy four homes. The one she bought in California’s Topanga Canyon is surrounded by a new $35,000 security fence.
Critical race theory guru Ibram X. Kendi offers virtual, one-hour workshops for $20,000 a pop. He is franchising “woke” re-education kits—in between bouts of damning capitalism as a catalyst of racism.
The woke movement is a slicker, more sophisticated, and far more grandiose version of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson’s shakedowns of the 1990s. Those, at least, were far more honest in leveraging cash with charges of racism—and came without the academic gobbledygook of critical race theory.
Our freeways are jammed. Airports are crammed. Labor is short. Huge pent-up consumer demand for essentials and entertainment outpaces supply. Yet Major League Baseball’s recent All-Star Game saw record-low television viewership—about a quarter of the audience of 40 years ago, when there were 100 million fewer Americans.
The Summer Olympic Games are getting anemic TV ratings. The NBA’s crashing TV ratings have followed the downward trajectory of the NFL’s ratings. Woke sports earn the same public disgust as the accusatory and boring Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony awards.
Cable news networks CNN and MSNBC fueled the story that former President Donald Trump allegedly colluded with Russia. They contextualized—to excuse—the summer looting and rioting of 2020. And they cheered on two impeachments as a prelude to their 24/7 woke drumbeat. Their ratings, too, have now dived.
Never has TV been more politicized. Sitcoms, dramas, and commercials are designed more to resonate woke messaging than to entertain. So naturally, dismal TV ratings reflect the expected public boredom that ensues when art serves politics.
How many times will disingenuous Dr. Anthony Fauci swear that he never sent federal money to the Wuhan virology lab for gain-of-function research, blame his critics for pointing out his gyrating advice on masks, or offer yet another noble lie on herd immunity?
In short, Americans are worn out from elite virtue-signaling and woke performance art from critical race theory capitalists, multimillionaire CEOs, revolving-door Pentagon brass, Malibu celebrities, and credentialed elite.
The problem is not just that most of America is exhausted from being smeared as racists or hearing that a wonderful country—the most free, just, equitable, affluent, and leisured in civilization’s history—must continually pay penance for its past and present. The public is more tired of projectionist hypocrisy. Those who scream the loudest are usually the most guilty of woke crimes.
The woke madness coincides with an epidemic of crises that go largely ignored as a distracted America cannibalizes itself.
The border is being breached at a time of pandemic. Illegal aliens barge in without either COVID-19 testing or vaccinations—during a coronavirus spike that has government officials talking about going door-to-door to roust American citizens to get vaccinated.
Whiteness is supposedly the cause of America’s problems. But our inner cities are suffering historic levels of violent crime. Couldn’t our critical race theory accusers take time out from their merchandising to address the soaring violence?
The Biden administration denies that huge deficit spending and generous cash payments to workers fueled inflation. But America hasn’t seen anything like the current price hikes and labor shortages in the last 40 years.
The military, CIA, and FBI have lost the confidence of the public—and not just because of their woke politicking. They are perceived as distracted and ignoring their primary missions of winning wars, catching terrorists before they strike, and offering superb intelligence about our enemies.
Wokeness is many things. But increasingly, it seems a cover for careerism, profiteering, and utter incompetence.
Victor Davis Hanson is a conservative commentator, classicist, and military historian. He is a professor of classics emeritus at California State University, a senior fellow in classics and military history at Stanford University, a fellow of Hillsdale College, and a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness. Hanson has written 16 books, including “The Western Way of War,” “Fields Without Dreams,” and “The Case for Trump.”
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.