March 15, 2023


A viral moment reinforces the hollowness of 'woke' as an attack (Philip Bump, March 15, 2023, Washington Post)

She was on the show to promote a book she wrote with another conservative writer, Karol Markowicz, a book that purports to demonstrate how "radicals" are "indoctrinating" young people in America. Mandel began the interview by asserting that there is "sort of a woke reimagining of our society" that is "happening in a lot of different ways" -- spurring Gray to eventually ask her what she meant by the term "woke."

Mandel paused.

"So -- I mean -- woke is sort of the idea that ..." She paused for an extended period. "I -- this is going to be one of those moments that goes viral."

In fairness to Mandel, most of the interviews she's done for her book are with interviewers who use "woke" in the same vague sense as she does. So she started over.

"I mean, woke is something that's very hard to define," Mandel said. "And we've spent an entire chapter defining it. It is sort of the understanding that we need to -- totally reimagine and re- -- redo society in order to create hierarchies of oppression." Another pause. "Sorry. It's hard to explain in a 15-second sound bite."

"Take your time," Gray replied. But her co-host, Robby Soave, jumped in, assuring Gray that "it's definitely something that you know what it is when you see it."

We might rephrase that slightly: "Woke," as often deployed by the right, refers to something emanating from or related to culture war issues that you understand as or want to portray as bad. You know it when you see it in the sense that "woke" is applied to a broad array of rhetoric and actions that share no common thread beyond being anathema to the political right.

Posted by at March 15, 2023 4:21 PM