Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Unlocking the Mystery of the Bari Weiss Anti-Wokeness Gestalt

The woke vs. anti-woke back and forth is so reminiscent of the 80s’ rendition of culture war politics, pitting the moral majoritarians who were convinced America was becoming Sodom and Gomorrah against the liberals who thought the US was on the verge of a theocratic revolution led by televangelists. Now we have supposed conservatives like Bari Weiss (a Jewish lesbian) criticizing wokesters as  moralistic prigs, with progressives thinking a fascist coup is on the horizon.

By Will Wilkinson

Bari Weiss’s latest New York Post column, “10 ways to fight back against woke culture,” is a pretty wild ride. I honestly can’t make out the argument that leads to Weiss’ conclusion that “It’s time to stand up and fight back” against woke scolds and her ten tips for beating them back. That said, the column is just jam packed with confident declarations advanced in a grand spirit of resounding moral authority that are, upon inspection, pretty puzzling. Yet I’m intrigued.

I doubt that Weiss’ piece hangs together intellectually, but now that I’ve read it a few times, I feel that it has a strong impressionistic emotional/moral/ideological coherence that bubbles up from the column’s jumble of assertion, admonition, and exhortation. I want to understand it! Maybe if I can make sense of the Bari Weiss gestalt, I can finally begin to understand the moral panic about “wokeness” and “cancel culture.” Maybe? Seems worth having a go. Even if I can’t bottle the ghost, I’m bound to learn something, right? So let us plunge into the unknown and proceed to parse and interrogate this New York Post column with a spirit of analytically rigorous adventure!


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