by Victor Davis Hanson
There are lots of reasons why wokeism spread like wildfire once America lost its collective mind during the pandemic, quarantine, self-induced recession, and rioting of 2020.
Wokeism was never really about racism, sexism, or other -isms. Instead, for some, it illustrated a psychological pathology of projection: fobbing one’s own concrete prejudices onto others in order to alleviate or mask them.
So should we laugh or cry that Black Lives Matter’s self-described Marxist co-founder turns out to be a corporate grifter? Patrisse Cullors has accumulated several upscale homes and is under investigation by the IRS for allegations of the misuse of funds from one of her foundations.
Is it the case that the more Cullors professes Marxist ideology and damns toxic whiteness, so all the more she feels at home living in a $1.4 million Topanga Canyon home, in an almost exclusively ritzy white neighborhood?
Consider outspoken liberal icon Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.). He’s one of the Senate’s most woke. Yet Whitehouse turns out to be a mostly unapologetic member of a de facto all-white prestigious “beach club” of elites in Newport, Rhode Island. Is Whitehouse committed in the abstract to rooting out white privilege so he can concretely relax amid it with fellow bluebloods?
Barack and Michelle Obama occasionally venture out of either their multimillion-dollar Washington, D.C. mansion or their Martha’s Vineyard estate to lecture the country on its systemic racism. They express worry over the dangers that apparently white people pose to the very safety of their own daughters.
Does such sermonizing square the circle that the Obamas have no desire to return to their Chicago home—a city where nearly 700 African-American males were murdered in 2020, the vast majority by other black men? So far, Chicago in 2021 is on a trajectory to suffer over 30 percent more murder victims than last year.
Joe Biden about every two weeks lectures America on its racism. And he unleashed the bureaucracies of the federal government to root out mythical white supremacist conspiracies.
Does Medieval penance explain Biden’s fixation on systemic racism? After all, when he condemns anonymous white racists, does his outrage mitigate his son Hunter’s habitual use of the N-word and anti-Asian riffs?
No Washington politico has compiled a longer record of racialist put downs than Joe Biden. So apparently, the more Biden hunts for a white racist under every bed, the less necessary it becomes to look in the mirror or at least to beg his son Hunter to knock off his racist slurs.
The second catalyst of wokeism is the distraction it provides from scary problems that threaten the very existence of American civilization. While the country consumes itself in demanding more than 12 percent representation of black actors in television commercials, it is nearing $30 trillion in national debt. Eventually, the astounding red ink will require recessionary belt-tightening, more inflationary money printing, or both.
The woke Biden Administration cannot stop 2 million immigrants this year from crossing illegally and with exemption into the United States. Almost all are in need of free American health care, housing, food, and legal subsidies. Violent crime is spiking at an astonishing rate. Yet few dare say why that is—or how to stop it.
America also cannot face the likely truth that Chinese researchers engineered a gain-of-function virus—with oversight from the Communist Chinese military, and subsidies from Drs. Anthony Fauci and Peter Daszak.
So instead of offering real solutions to these crises, we war with each other whether the deceased children’s book author Dr. Seuss or the plastic toy Mr. Potato Head was racist or otherwise exclusionary.
When our elites are clueless about national debt, inflation, illegal immigration, crime, soaring gas prices, and a global pandemic, they reassure themselves that at least they can cancel out Father Junípero Serra or knock down another statue of Robert E. Lee.
Finally, the hysterias of wokism are being channeled for profit—if they do not already reflect the reality of many of our most woke being the richest among us.
One reason why Oprah Winfrey, Meghan Markle, and LeBron James hype charges of white racism is that their oppression reminds America that one can become rich as Croesus yet remain sympathetic victims.
For next-generation grifters, like Ibram Xolani Kendi (a.k.a. Ibram Henry Rogers) and Robin DiAngelo, to claim that America was, is, and always will be racist, means more than just speaking gigs and book sales.
The solutions for the pseudo-crises they invent are mass reeducation of self-confessional whites—with lucrative consulting fees for both, and tens of thousands of others.
America is systematically being conned by those who disguise their hypocrisy, who manipulate the guilt-ridden, who have no interest in solving America’s most dangerous problems, and who get or stay richer by hyping an America in need of massive rebooting—and with it their own careerist remedies.
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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.