Dear Republican, Waking up is an honor, not a dishonor. please call me that
The disdain for “vocalism”, once expressed primarily by far-right conservatives, has spread widely to mainstream Republicanism (whatever that term now means). Republican state officials and legislators in Indiana and elsewhere now routinely apply the term as a slur against supporters of more liberal social policies. More specifically, “woke” appears pejoratively to describe an attitude of hypersensitivity to perceived wrongdoing or policies that may harm or victimize more disadvantaged individuals in our society.
As an example, last September, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita criticized some “big businesses” as “woke” because (explicitly) they are “collaborating with their left-wing allies to destroy state pensions.” Fund managers may be urged “to refrain from investing in the stocks or bonds of companies that create adverse environmental impacts, such as fossil fuel companies, or that benefit from repressive human rights policies.”
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Rokita claimed that using such investment criteria was contrary to state law and was not reasonably calculated to maximize investment returns. But it must have been frustrating for Rokita that the draft legislation introduced in the 2023 Indiana legislature barred state pension fund managers from considering “waking up” concerns in their investment decisions, according to a fiscal analysis by the state Legislative Services Agency. , costing the state $6.7 billion in lost investment revenue over the next decade.
Another example involves the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, who promoted the “Stop Woke Act”, which was later adopted as state law. The law substantially limits discussion of racism and white privilege in public schools and workplace training to prevent students or trainees from feeling guilty or responsible for the wrongdoings of previous generations of their race or gender. DeSantis supporters explained that the law helps protect employers and parents against “discriminatory” claims of critical race theory and systemic racism.
But why? Why is there such encouragement among partisans of the right to disdain concern and compassion for the less fortunate? Let’s take a look behind the scenes.
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Attacking the ‘wok is as old as time
The attacks on “vocism” appear to be politically motivated, rather than explicitly, to broaden the appeal of claims made by former President Donald Trump through his frequent attacks on “illegal” immigration. Are. consisting mostly of racial minorities). Trump – an astute observer of the undercurrents of discontent between different factions of American society – clearly recognized the kind of discontent between two disparate groups that he could use to his advantage.
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On the one hand, there was long-standing discontent of the very wealthy (a class from which Trump emerged) at higher marginal tax rates for government assistance to lower economic classes that arose with President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal policies.
On the other hand, anger among low-income white Americans about government aid programs (even if they do benefit from such programs) stems from their misconception that such aid has a “zero sum” value. Games are included, meaning that every dollar given to someone of a minority race under such programs was considered to be taking a dollar away from “more deserving” white claimants.
So apart from their essence, attacks on rhetoric can be understood as manipulative ploys to gain voter loyalty by appealing to our base emotions such as greed, fear and distrust of people from other “tribes”. How does one effectively resist such an insidious, mean-spirited, divisive grab for political power?
Partly by exposing it for what it is. Partly by making it clear that everyone, including the very wealthy, does better when everyone in our society has a fair chance to succeed.
But the motives behind such attacks are as old as the mountains themselves. As illustrated by a recent political cartoon by John Darko, it is quite likely that Christ and his ministry would have been criticized as “too awake”.
Given that Wackism, as used by the political right, refers to efforts to help the socially and/or economically disadvantaged among us, I would consider it an honor to be called “woke.”
Larry Kane is a retired environmental attorney living in the Indianapolis area. This column first appeared in The Indianapolis Star.