Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Why Black Moderates Awoke The Woke

By Michael Schellenberger

The backlash to progressive Wokeism, or victimology, has been brewing for years. Why did black moderates tip it over the edge?

For a period of time last year it felt as though everything having to do with race, crime, and policing had changed. The killing of George Floyd, and subsequent Black Lives Matter protests, resulted in a broad and intense reaction from from every major institution in American life. Mayors and city councils of San Francisco, Oakland, New York, and Los Angeles acted to defund the police. Senator Elizabeth Warren effectively ended the brief and expensive presidential run of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg at their only debate through a single, devastating attack on his police department’s use of “stop and frisk,” a policy widely viewed by progressives as racist. And sweeping federal legislation on policing and criminal justice reform seemed inevitable, not least because President Joe Biden promised it.

Today, that time seems very far away. Police reform died in the Senate in September for lack of bipartisan support, a significant loss for progressive criminal justice reformers and the Biden Administration. After homicides rose in 2020, San Francisco, Oakland, New York, Los Angeles, and most other cities that had acted to defund the police reversed themselves. Homicides rose 30% in 2020 and will rise in two-thirds of America’s big cities in 2021; at least 13 cities will break homicide records, with Philadelphia coming in number one with 545 as of today. And some of the strongest voices for a crackdown on crime are New York Mayor-elect, Eric Adams, San Francisco Mayor London Breed, and former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, who are all black and moderate Democrats.


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