Culture Wars/Current Controversies

John McWhorter On Woke Racism

By Andrew Sullivan

We also discuss the many qualities that make wokeness a new religion.

For anyone who follows online debates over race in America, John needs little introduction. The Columbia linguist just wrote a bracing tract, Woke Racism, against the new elite religion. He, like me, despises the racism inherent in critical race theory and its various off-shoots, and let’s just say we talked very freely about many of the dynamics of our time.

You can listen to the episode right away in the audio player embedded above, or right below it you can click “Listen in podcast app,” which will connect you to the Dishcast feed. For two clips of my conversation with John — on the banality of wokeness, and how the woke religion hurts African-American kids — head over to our YouTube page.

Speaking of John, a reader mentions him in the context of this dissent:

Love your podcast, but your complaints about the NYT are becoming tiresome and seem to reflect a lack of recent reading. With Bret Stephens, Ross Douthat, and now John McWhorter writing consistently reasonable columns that are not knee-jerk liberal, your tirades against the Times sound more like sour grapes every week. (No rational person supports Trump, so those voices aren’t going to be heard there except in the occasional guest column.)

Sometimes you paint with such broad strokes that you fall prey to the same distorted view of the opposition — lumping them all together with the most extreme elements of the woke left and exclaiming, “Can you believe what they’re saying?!” Stop with the straw men!

Sour grapes? The NYT has published many of my essays and reviews, and gave my new book a rave. But if my reader thinks that non-left views have more than token appearances in that paper, then I don’t know what to say. Conservative writers need not support Trump, but might be able to defend the non-interventionist, neo-protectionist agenda that also seeks to limit immigration. Another reader is curious to find good alternatives:

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1 reply »

  1. From the comments: “I’m not a fan of McWhorter pushing (in his NYT newsletters, to which I subscribe) acceptance of the anti-sex movement’s Orwellian pronouns, which I refuse to use.

    (“Anti-sex” rather than “trans”, because it is biologically impossible to change an animal’s sex, no matter how much cosmetic surgery and chemical ingestion is performed.)” – Man, reading a guy saying that the transformation of the pronoun ‘they’ from a plural only noun into a gender non specific singular noun is a natural language evolution and then think that he is supporting the ‘anti sex movement’ is paranoia delusion.

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