The irrational obsessions behind our woke fever
We dwell in a society gripped by a quasi-religious fervor — and obsessive about symbols and irrational fears.
Something that’s thought to have the slightest affiliation with racism, irrespective of how attenuated the connection or how harmless the reason, should be crushed and expunged.
The mere presence of a probably offending phrase is deemed a menace, whether or not it’s really offensive or any actual individuals have really taken offense. We’re engaged in a warfare with shadowy forces that we will’t really perceive, however should train the utmost vigilance, lest they sneak up on us unawares.
Ours is an enchanted world, like that of the Previous Norse who believed in land spirits who may bless or hinder vacationers who didn’t pay them heed, or animists who take into account all the things alive and fraught with non secular that means, or the 16th-century English who hunted down witches based mostly on hyper-sensitive suspicions and presumed indicators.
Our society isn’t progressing, however falling again right into a superstition that everybody should imagine or faux to imagine for the supposed welfare of the group.
A NASCAR storage pull is formed like a noose, so everybody instantly assumes that a racist has snuck into Bubba Wallace’s storage to ship a nefarious sign to him. All individuals of excellent must unite to struggle towards this unseen, mysterious, malign power. When the FBI reviews that, no, generally a storage pull is only a storage pull, and this one has been within the storage since October 2019, individuals nonetheless insist that it was a noose — as a result of the desire to imagine is so robust and, hey, higher secure than sorry.
The band the Dixie Chicks modifications its identify to the Chicks, regardless that there was nothing remotely improper with the origin of its identify. It referred to not the people music “Dixie” that was the unofficial anthem of the Confederacy (and has its personal sophisticated historical past), however to an album from the band Little Feat referred to as “Dixie Rooster.”
The title music of that album isn’t about lynching, the KKK or white supremacy, quite a man assembly a fascinating woman, who, after he spends some huge cash on her, leaves him — not an uncommon theme in American music.
No rational particular person would ever hear the identify “the Dixie Chicks” and really feel excluded, threatened or routinely consider chattel slavery. However rationality has nothing to do with it.
The College of Florida dumps its so-called Gator Bait chant, a practice relationship again to a boast of star defensive again Lawrence Wright, an African American, after an enormous win in 1995: “In the event you ain’t a Gator, ya Gator bait, child!”
Why should or not it’s shelved? As a result of there’s racist imagery of African-American kids as alligator bait from greater than 100 years in the past that nobody performing the Gator Bait chant over the past quarter of a century was conscious of or may probably have supposed to invoke with their high-spirited cheer.
And on it goes, from one absurdity to the subsequent. So long as this ethical fever lasts, there shall be extra targets. There isn’t any slaking the hunt for phrases and practices to vilify and erase — no quantity of purity will ever be sufficient to guard the group, and the hunt itself has its deep satisfactions.
None of this has to do with police reform, which entails particular and concrete proposals that may be debated utilizing information and purpose and may — if thoughtfully achieved — enhance policing and the lives of our residents. No, mere modifications in police practices can’t evaluate to a deeper, quasi-relgious venture.
The woke shamans are defining and implementing a brand new symbology. They insist that their non secular sense is best attuned than anybody else’s and can attempt to excommunicate anybody who says in any other case. Their work could appear shockingly new, however it’s actually a throwback to ages previous — ones that no superior society ought to need to revisit.