The Reign of the Woke is starting to totter. The excesses of the tyranny of the tiny trans minority is getting significant pushback, from consumers boycotting woke corporate fellow-travelers like Bud Light and Disney, to parents challenging schools that attempt to usurp their authority over their children.
More significant in the long run, some state universities’ governors are rejecting requirements for faculty and scholars to sign loyalty pledges to the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion ideology.
The latest grove of academe to end this noxious practice is the Arizona system comprising five campuses with 142,000 students. In addition, the Foundation for Individual Freedom in Education has filed suit against California’s community college system on behalf of six professors to stop the state’s imposition of regulations that require allegiance to highly contested political ideologies, virtually cancelling both academic freedom and the First Amendment.
We should all celebrate these pushbacks, since the politicized dogma of “woke,” as well as the requirement of fealty to it, violates the very core of the university’s traditional mission and purpose: “to know the best that has been known and thought in the world,” as Matthew Arnold defined it, “irrespectively of practice, politics, and everything of the kind; and to value knowledge and thought as they approach this best, without the intrusion of any other consideration whatsoever,” and “through this knowledge, turning a stream of fresh and free thought upon our stock notions and habits, which we now follow staunchly but mechanically.”
The pseudo-concepts of “diversity,” “equity,” and “inclusion” have long been “stock notions” that our “woke” commissars “follow staunchly and mechanically.” Typical of all tyrannies, these words have been warped into propaganda advertising an illiberal political program of expanding the political power of one faction of citizens at the expense of others’ freedom––the cost being paid by our unalienable rights to freely think, and freely speak in the public square our opinions and beliefs.
This political abuse of language was identified as far back as Thucydides’ justly famous description of social and civil breakdown that followed the violent revolutions during the Peloponnesian War: “Words had to change their ordinary meaning and to take that which was now given them. Reckless audacity came to be considered the courage of a loyal supporter; prudent hesitation, specious cowardice; moderation was held to be a cloak for unmanliness; ability to see all sides of a question, incapacity to act on any.”
Our unholy verbal trinity displays the same corruption. “Diversity” is the most abused, having been written into federal law by the recently overturned Bakke vs. Regents Supreme Court decision of 1978. This word, however, never has been defined by our race-mongers, nor have the benefits supposedly provided by it. But it’s clear that this spurious “diversity” never has had anything to do with actual diversity, whether of complex ethnic diversity, or the more critical diversity of individuals, their minds, and their characters.
Instead, old “scientific” racism’s crude, indiscriminate, superficial categories like “black” or “white” ––much easier for government seeking to identify political clients for its purposes of distributing benefits like set-asides in government contracts––now provide the only meaning of “diversity.” As David E. Bernstein writes in Classified: The Untold Story of Racial Classification in America, “The government developed its classification scheme via a combination of amateur anthropology and sociology, interest group lobbying, incompetence, inertia, lack of public oversight, and happenstance.” In short, to achieve partisan political aims, not true diversity.
And, just as 2400 years ago Thucydides recognized, today “diversity” in fact means the opposite: a rigid, homogeneous orthodoxy of an illiberal political ideology that brooks no dissent, and seeks to silence the true diversity of ideas and opinions in order to aggrandize more power and influence for one faction, the “woke” Democrats, at the expense of all the other diverse factions.
Like “diversity,” “equity” also recalls a dysfunction of representative democracy recognized 2400 years ago. True equality is the equality of opportunity and equal rights on a level playing field, where each is free to strive as far as his character, talent, hard work, and yes, luck, can take him. But one of the most pernicious consequences of collectivism has been radical egalitarianism, which depends on levelling off all those disparities of talent, industry, and virtue. As Aristotle wrote, “it arises from the notion that those who are equal in any respect are equal in all respects; because men are equally free, they claim to be absolutely equal.”
But since people are in fact unequal in various respects, to create absolute equality requires a tyranny that can take from some to redistribute to others against their will. And given humanity’s innate destructive passions like greed and the lust for power, this levelling will require, as Rudyard Kipling put it, “robbing selected Peter to pay collective Paul.” Those who take, moreover, will not base redistribution on merit or even need, but to reward political clients and promote one factional ideology and interests over those of others.
As we have increasingly seen, the result is––apart from the gross violations of our unalienable rights–– the dilution of standards and the abandonment of merit in order to ensure the right clients benefit, and the “disparate impacts” that naturally follow from diverse differences in talent or virtue, are corrected.
Yet in actual practice, the result is not justice, even for the beneficiaries, who are robbed of the pride of achievement and reduced to dependence on political patrons, but rather injustice as those who do succeed on their merits must be punished to reward those who don’t. But even that injustice is not the worst consequence: eventually, as the state grows more powerful and intrusive, the masses will indeed become more and more “equal” in their poverty and subjection, while the elite aggrandize more and more wealth and power. “Equity” then becomes its opposite, inequality.
The last bastardized word, “inclusion,” is a mere redundancy. Once “diversity” and “equity” make their mischief, you will perforce have “inclusion,” which means the ruling party’s political clients who now share in the favorable regulations, transfers of tax dollars, social and political recognition, and the privilege of being exempt from the laws that are applied with ruthless vigor to their political enemies. Just compare the fates of journalist Andy Ngo to Antifa thugs, trans activists to pro-life Christians, BLM rioters to conservative Catholics, or Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton and the Biden clan.
Still think we have the 14th Amendment’s “equal protection of the laws”?
The DEI phenomenon is diametrically opposed to the principles and laws comprising our Constitution: unalienable rights that inhere in individuals rather than collectives, and are beholden only to “Nature and Nature’s God,” not other men; the sovereignty of citizens from whom government derives its powers, and to whom government is accountable; and the primacy of laws rather than the power and interests of corruptible, flawed human beings.
Finally, and most important, these empty slogans are nonetheless a threat to the whole purpose of our government in the first place––political freedom and political equality for citizens, families, and civil society. The “woke” tyranny of DEI policies weaken all those principles and the freedom they make possible, and as such, it needs to die.