Inoculate Against Woke (2023 Mar)

by Barry A. Liebling

For a long time the leftist woke elite have completely dominated education – from elementary schools through professional and graduate schools. If you want to be student at a selective school you have to agree publicly with leftist progressive theology. If you aspire to be a teacher or researcher an increasingly large number of institutions are requiring that applicants pledge in writing that they are supporting DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) objectives.

Of course there are students and educators who do not go along with toxic woke dogma. But they are vastly outnumbered and have learned that if they express their true opinions they are subject to being cancelled, shunned, and even expelled.

There is a political backlash to woke domination. At the state level, notably in Florida, new rules are being put in place to limit and partially curtail public college indoctrination “that argues that members of one race or sex are morally superior to another, that an individual by virtue of his or her race or sex is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, or that an individual’s race or sex necessarily determines his or her moral character.”

What is the likely effect of officially banning woke propaganda at public educational institutions? On the positive side it sends a clear signal that there are benevolent alternatives to the racialist Neo-Marxist world view. While everyone can see that the leftists have the upper hand, the cultural conflict is not settled. Those who recognize the malice of DEI and CRT (Critical Race Theory) programs will be encouraged to learn that they are not alone.

However, whether or not pushing DEI and CRT is sanctioned by the government, the progressive-left cabal still has the most power and influence and will continue their long march. New rules may slow them down slightly, but will not discourage them from continuing their mischief.

It gets worse. If Florida puts policies in place attempting to thwart leftist brainwashing, politicians in other states (think California, New York, Illinois) will be inspired to double down on their efforts and require even more odious ultra-DEI and ultra-CRT policies.

While we are focusing on educational institutions, do not ignore that students, teachers, and administrators are fed a lot left-progressive propaganda outside of the school setting. The largest news organizations, entertainment companies, and corporations have bought into the woke cult and will continue to disgorge baleful messages.

How can the leftist onslaught of bad ideas be defeated? Develop inoculations to woke mendacious thinking.

Consider the logic of an inoculation. The idea is to present the subjects (students, teachers, parents, citizens) with an accurate, genuine dose of something that is toxic (Neo-Marxist, racialist venom). At the same time deliver valid messages that refute the fallacious thinking. Note that this is a different strategy from attempting to shield people from being exposed to woke refuse. It is much too late for shielding or banning, because we are all swimming in a woke ocean. And of course, banning any material is generally the wrong way to go.

Here are some examples of authentic woke toxins with the antidotes that can defeat it.

Toxin 1: Groups are important, and individuals do not count for much. You are not to be judged as an individual (except how much you support or do not support your assigned identity groups). Your worth (or lack of worth) is determined according to what groups you belong to (and how well you subordinate yourself to the groups’ goals).

Antidote 1: The best Enlightenment philosophy explains that you are responsible for your own actions. How you conduct your life is an individual responsibility. You deserve praise or blame that is completely unrelated to how the collectivist Neo-Marxists classify you.

Toxin 2: Groups are either oppressed (marginalized, victimized, under represented, lacking European ancestors) or oppressors (have unearned power and unearned privilege. Query to woke masters: How could power and privilege be either earned or unearned if group membership is automatically assigned by the “progressive” clerisy?). The leftist intellectual elite has the full authority to label which groups are oppressed and which are oppressors. The more oppressed groups you belong to the better you are (independent of your actions). The more oppressor groups you fall into, the worse you are (regardless of your actions). Oppressed groups deserve every consideration and should be showered with prizes, unconditional respect, and affection. Oppressors are permanent bad actors and deserve eternal shame and punishment.

Antidote 2: If you understand and appreciate Antidote 1, groups do not count, you are immune to Toxin 2. The Neo-Marxists see human beings as similar to bees in a hive, and their collectivist arguments do not make sense. In fact, every human being has exactly the same natural rights, and every person can decide to act properly or behave badly.

Toxin 3: The worst oppressors are straight, white, American males. Still, they can become “allies” of the woke movement if they sincerely loath themselves (for their involuntary group memberships) and urge other oppressors to do the same.

Antidote 3: Every human being should be evaluated according to individual actions. That means how you think and what you do is everything, and who your ancestors or relatives are is completely irrelevant. Collectivism must be recognized as wrong and soundly rejected. That is the essential message of “all men are created equal” and of Lady Justice wearing a blind fold.

Notice that each of the toxins is nothing new. Each is omnipresent in American culture. But they are deliberately disguised by leading woke representatives. Typically when normal healthy people object to the poisonous dogma, leftist intellectuals reply that they are merely reporting “historical injustice” that is perpetual, or that all Americans should be alarmed about today’s “inequities,” or that any resistance to the racialist putsch is a symptom of “white fragility.” Putting the woke positions front-and-center – without pretending they are inoffensive – is what will make the inoculation effective.

Notice also, that the inoculation strategy will work sometimes, not always. Recognize that after the essential issues are clearly described some people will say “yes” to racialist collectivism. I have been personally acquainted with committed leftists all of my life, and I know they will not be deterred. However, there are a lot of people who do not understand the significance of the cultural conflict and can benefit from receiving a clear explanation of what is really at stake.

How should inoculations be administered? It has to be done privately. The incumbent educational establishment (and the leftist ruling class) will fight against Enlightenment sensibilities to the end. Fortunately, the internet has many channels that can deliver our important messages.

*** See other entries at in “Monthly Columns.” ***

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