by Victor Davis Hanson
Ed Bastian makes $17 million a year as chief executive officer of Delta Airlines, Georgia’s largest employer.
Bastian just blasted Georgia’s new voting law. He thinks it is racist to require the same sort of ID to vote that Delta requires for its passengers to check-in.
Yet most Americans believe voting is a more sacred act than flying Delta and, moreover, may have noticed that Delta has all sorts of partnerships with a systemically racist China. So polls show Americans approve of voter IDs.
Bastian fears the woke mob more than the majority of Georgia residents who support the law. Apparently, his theory is that the greater numbers of average folks won’t threaten his multimillion-dollar perch as much as fewer but more powerful left-wing elites.
The most privileged CEOs of corporate America—those who sell us everything from soft drinks and sneakers, to professional sports and social media—now jabber to America about its racism, sexism, and assorted sins.
The rules of cynical CEO censure are transparent.
First, the corporation never harangues unless it feels it has more to lose—whether by boycotts, protests, or bad publicity—than it stands to gain in staying neutral and silent.
Second, class concerns are never mentioned. Bastian is paid about $65,000 for each working day of the year. In a sane world, he might seem a ridiculous voice of the oppressed.
Third, CEOs never fear offending the conservative silent majority, who are assumed not to boycott or protest.
The woke revolution is not a grassroots movement. It is powered by a well-connected and guilt-ridden elite. Yet the religion of Wokeness assumes these high priests deserve exemptions. Their wealth, credentials, contacts, and power ensure none are ever subject to the consequences of their own sermons.
Multimillion-dollar NBA stars blast America’s “systemic racism.” They utter not a word about Chinese communist reeducation camps, the destruction of Tibetan culture, or the strangulation of Hong Kong’s democracy.
Such stars’ salaries are geared to coaxing a huge Chinese market. Their domestic endorsements hinge on a younger, woke American clientele. Defending the professional sports lifestyles of rich and famous stars apparently requires loud penance by blasting an unfair America.
Take almost any woke hotspot and a growing class divide is clear.
Academia? Tenured administrators and university presidents pulling down seven-figure salaries are far more likely to virtue signal their universities’ “racism” than are untenured, poorly paid, and part-time lecturers. It is easier for a college president to blather about his own “unearned privilege” than to support the rights of exploited part-time faculty—much less resign to give someone else a spot.
The woke media? Its clergy are elite network newsreaders, not so much reporters on the beat.
The military? The retired and current military who lecture us on the evils of Trump or promise to ferret out “insurrectionists” among the ranks are mostly generals and admirals—and some retired top-brass multimillionaires.
We don’t hear privates, corporals, sergeants, and majors pushing through subsidies for transgendered surgeries or petitions to garrison a quiet Washington with barbed wire and national guardsmen.
The richest in America—the families who own and operate Amazon, Apple, Bloomberg, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft—are the most likely to voice their derision for its unwoke lower- and middle-classes.
Ditto the multimillionaires of politics—an Al Gore, Dianne Feinstein, John Kerry, or Nancy Pelosi.
The richest celebrity billionaires such as Jay-Z, George Lucas, Paul McCartney, or Oprah Winfrey weigh in a lot about the oppression of a supposedly rigged system they mastered, rarely about the plight of the less-well paid in their own professions.
So wokeness is medieval. Sin is not given up as much as atoned for—and excused—through loud confessionals.
Self-righteous elites rant about carbon footprints, needless border security, defunding the police, gun control, and charter schools. But they rarely forgo their own private jets, third and fourth homes, estate walls, armed security guards, and prep schools. Apparently to rant about “privilege” means the less you need to worry about your own.
Wokeness is an insurance policy. The louder the damnation of American culture, the more likely a career will be saved or enhanced.
Wokeness is classist and elitist. Those who made or inherited a fortune, got the right degree at the right place, made CEO or four-star rank, live in the right ZIP code, or know the good people, believe they have earned the right to decide what is moral for their inferiors.
So some of them have created an entire vocabulary of deplorables, irredeemables, clingers, dregs, chumps, and Neanderthals—for the peasants and “losers” who must do what they are told.
Wokeness is not really about fairness for minorities, the oppressed, and the poor, past or present. It is mostly a self-confessional cult of anointed bullies, and hypocrites of all races and genders, who seek to flex, and increase, their own privilege and power. Period.
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Victor Davis Hanson is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness and the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is an American military historian, columnist, a former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush. Hanson is also a farmer (growing raisin grapes on a family farm in Selma, California) and a critic of social trends related to farming and agrarianism. He is the author most recently of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won and The Case for Trump.