Columns

The Rejection of Wokeness Is Causing a Delicious Confusion

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

The NBA has the worst ratings in history. The Emmys and Oscars are no longer must-see TV. ESPN just announced layoffs. What do all of these have in common? An annoying level of wokeness that most Americans are sick of.

The left has tied itself to a social order based on intersectionality, a group of theories born out of the universities that arranges society according to group characteristics. It assumes minority groups think alike, want preferential treatment based on their identity, and all disparities are attributed to discrimination.

At its most basic, it divides society into oppressors and the oppressed. The oppressors must acknowledge their privilege and advantages over those they supposedly oppress. To be truly woke, you must constantly look for evidence of discrimination and act to correct it. A perfect example of this was Senator Mazie Hirono bristling at the term “sexual preference” during Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearings.

Five minutes before, that was a perfectly acceptable term. Truth be told, to most Americans, it still is. But Senator Hirono is obligated to be offended on behalf of minority groups she is not a part of. This is the epitome of wokeness.

You must also assume that all disparities are based on discrimination, even when a multivariate analysis would be more appropriate. The best example of this is the gender wage gap. It assumes all income disparities are based on gender. This is a ridiculous premise, as income is based on many factors, including education, profession, years of experience, and the economic sector. But the third-wave feminists cling to it with an absurd ferocity.

Intersectional theory is also applied to race and has been one of the primary weapons used against President Trump and his supporters. Despite all evidence to the contrary, including long-term funding for HBCUs, criminal justice reform, historic investments in Opportunity Zones, and historic employment levels for all Americans, he and his voters were painted as irredeemable racists. Even by “unifier” Joe Biden.

Then the election happened, and the intersectional left is very confused. President Trump received a larger share of minority voters than any Republican candidate since 1960. Despite Democrats having the media, Hollywood, the university, and corporations on their side, the racist narrative didn’t stick.

Musa al-Gharbi, the Paul F. Lazarsfeld Fellow in Sociology at Columbia University, took note of this in an article for NBC News before the election:

Going into Election Day in 2020, Trump seems poised to do even better with minority voters. His gains in the polling have been highly consistent and broad-based among Blacks and Hispanics — with male voters and female voters, the young and the old, educated and uneducated. Overall, Trump is polling about 10 percentage points higher with African Americans than he did in 2016, and 14 percentage points higher with Hispanics.

Perceptions of Trump as racist seem to be a core driving force pushing whites toward the Democrats. Why would the opposite pattern be holding among minority voters — i.e. the very people the president is purportedly being racist against?

Al-Gharbi tripped over the explanation later in the article:

It may be that many minority voters simply do not view some of his controversial comments and policies as racist. Too often, scholars try to test whether something is racist by looking exclusively at whether the rhetoric or proposals they disagree with resonate with whites. They frequently don’t even bother to test whether they might appeal to minorities, as well.

Yet when they do, the results tend to be surprising. For instance, one recent study presented white, Black and Hispanic voters with messages the researchers considered to be racial “dog whistles,” or coded language that signals commitment to white supremacy. It turned out that the messages resonated just as strongly with Blacks as they did with whites. Hispanics responded even more warmly to the rhetoric about crime and immigration than other racial groups.

It seems the left may want to acquaint themselves with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It is a theory of motivation that talks about the needs people must satisfy before moving on to higher-order needs. Physiological needs come first, such as food and shelter. The next level is safety and security.

Trump’s economic and trade policies put the wealth and prosperity of Americans first. Historic employment levels, real wage growth, reduced regulation, and lower taxes helped all Americans provide more for their families and were a relief to small businesses in minority communities. Defund the police, and other ridiculous law-enforcement proposals had very little support in black and Hispanic communities. These ideas make communities less safe.

Within intersectional theory, there is also assumed victimhood that is offensive to many minorities. It is as if they cannot be successful without government help or white liberal largesse. White voters being offended on behalf of minorities based on what university researchers define as racist is being repudiated by the very groups they think they are helping. Putting American workers first, controlling the border, and increasing opportunities for everyone is not racist. It’s what most working- and middle-class Americans want. The party that internalizes this first will consolidate that demographic across the board.

Some on the left are getting it. Vox co-founder Matt Yglesias hit the nail on the head:

People who want to provide for their families, improve their communities, and chase the American Dream are not reading HuffPost and Salon. They are looking at their paychecks and are concerned about the security of their communities. America First policies and support for law enforcement improve both of these measures. This election was a referendum on wokeness. And the woke crowd is losing.