The struggle for equality is real. The ‘woke police’ are a myth

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09/26/2019

There’s a lot of talk these days about new political tribes, so allow me to introduce another one: the “anti-woke”. The first curious thing to note about members of this group is that they define themselves in opposition to an identity that doesn’t actually exist. They are anti-woke, even though there is no “woke”. Woke – a term once used by African Americans to denote people who were alert to racism and social injustice – has been retired. As is often the case with black innovations, overuse by the white mainstream killed off its authenticity. Today, the person using the word is likely to be a rightwing culture warrior angry at a phenomenon that lives mainly in their imagination. Take Douglas Murray, whose new book is almost entirely a rant against what he perceives as a kind of authoritarian “wokeness”. The real cause of conflict and polarisation in political and social discourse today, he argues, is this group (whose existence I think he’s imagined) pursuing its grievances (which he thinks we have imagined). Confusing, I know, but the simple version of his argument is this: the struggle for feminist, gay, trans, and black equality is over; the battles are won. And for some strange, irritating reason, instead of just enjoying the spoils of the victory, the woke keep on complaining that they want more.

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