Questionable Motives

August 14, 2020

What is this ‘Woke’ movement and what does it have to do with me?

Filed under: Uncategorized — tildeb @ 12:01 pm

As Princeton mathematician Sergiu Klainerman, an immigrant to the US and refugee from Nicolae Ceausescu’ Communist  Romania (anyone who has lived or spent time in and under a totalitarian regime knows why this history matters) describes ,

American colleges and universities, as well as many other institutions, are under attack by an ideology that I cannot but describe as insidious. This ideology is built on a combination of “critical theory” (an offspring of Marxism); a weird type of moral-cultural relativism that generates its own opposite, namely, fierce moralistic dogmatism; deconstructionism; and intersectionality. The net result of this stew is to view people as irredeemably divided by race, sex, sexual preferences, etc. into grievance groups, all suffering under various forms of oppression. Having evolved from this noxious mixture of implausible but influential academic theories, the ideology has succeeded in taking over many departments in the humanities and social sciences and is now making inroads into the sciences. By an extraordinary stealth quality, it has continued to move, largely undetected until now, into society at large, producing the “Woke” phenomenon.

How does it work at a university like Princeton, world renowned for its mathematics faculty? As a faculty member there, he describes that the administrators and faculty heads,

are constantly on the defensive, making great efforts to correct a racism that they themselves know does not exist, as a way of covering themselves against ever expanding accusations of racism. Paradoxically, these institutions are thus fighting the ghost of racism in their middle by abetting the racialist agenda of their accusers.

Yeah, so? Why does this matter to the rest of us? Klainerman understands better than most, having come from an equivalently totalitarian system. He says,

We are facing something we did not seek and by no means welcome, namely, the moral equivalent of war. This has been clear to the aggressors in the struggle from the beginning. They embraced it in a revolutionary spirit and as a quest for power. Those of us who want nothing more than to preserve traditional ideals of academic freedom, integrity, and civility have been reluctant—and therefore slow—to acknowledge it. Here is a call to action.

The tools we need:

Our weapons in this war of ideas are simply the belief in the old ideals of the American revolution: equality under the law, our freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rights, the power of reason and reasoned debate, the scientific method.

The front line:

We academics and educators are facing an uphill battle to reverse the decay of our most badly compromised institutions, schools and universities.

The tactics:

We should utterly reject the centerpiece of our adversary’s ideology—the notion that our society is irredeemably racist.

The misguided targets, those who hold an incorrect assumption that the lack of equity (the same results, or results statistically aligned by percentage of groups populations) proves systemic racism are factually WRONG, namely those who argue behind:

any manifestation of disparate or unequal outcomes. Differences of any kind—whether in income, education, or life expectancy—are all defined as manifestations of systemic racial animus.”

Disparity does not justify the claim of discrimination. I cannot stress this point enough because this tactic has fooled almost all of the people who support this Woke movement almost all of the time. It is not true, It is a falsehood. It is almost always a lie. Disparity does not prove discrimination. Those who believe it does are factually WRONG. This is a logical fallacy.

To unite against this totalitarian and Marxist push under the banner of ‘social justice’ he says,

We should reject any attempts from the Right or the Left to politicize our fight, even as we should attempt to form a broad coalition of conservatives, traditional liberals, and civil libertarian progressives supported by our immigrant citizens.

And he concludes with a call to each and every one of us to be responsible citizens, unite, and rise to this deeply anti-American threat against secular western liberal democracy:

Above all, though, we have to stop being frightened, intimidated, and afraid to fight back. No matter how dangerous the present cancel culture is, it offers no match to the reign of terror of Nazism or of Soviet and Chinese Communism. If truly courageous dissidents like Solzhenitsyn and Sakharov could oppose the Soviet system, it behooves every one of us to take on this weaker but insidious form of oppression—before it becomes still worse. As a first step we can start by defending each other based on the principle that a woke attack on one is an attack on all.

An attack against one is an attack against all. That’s an understanding that needs to wake us all up.


  1. Disparity does not justify the claim of discrimination. I cannot stress this point enough because this tactic has fooled almost all of the people who support this Woke movement almost all of the time. It is not true, It is a falsehood. It is almost always a lie. Disparity does not prove discrimination. Those who believe it does are factually WRONG. This is a logical fallacy.

    Which specific logical fallacy do you think is being committed? And what sort of evidence would convince you discrimination was occurring?

    Comment by consoledreader — August 15, 2020 @ 9:08 am | Reply

  2. Coleman Hughes describes it this way: “The disparity fallacy holds that unequal outcomes between two groups must be caused primarily by discrimination, whether overt or systemic.” It is a logical fallacy in regards to the Woke movement because inequity – unequal outcomes, meaning differences relied upon to supposedly demonstrate systemic racism – is what defines diversity, so you cannot have both social equity and diversity. Also, disparity in favor of certain minority groups – say, college educated Black women vs college educated White women or Asian academic achievement vs Whites or Blacks or police shooting by crime rates rather than population (see Heather MacDonald’s excellent review above of the data) – is rejected out of hand because it doesn’t fit the narrative.

    To prove discrimination is occurring requires causal effect to be demonstrated and not assumed.

    Comment by tildeb — August 15, 2020 @ 10:02 am | Reply

    • But how would you specifically go about demonstrating causal effect on something like systemic racism?

      Comment by consoledreader — August 15, 2020 @ 2:07 pm | Reply

      • You would have to compelling evidence of patterns of behaviour, policies, and practices that are part of the structures of an organization which creates or maintains disadvantage for racialized persons. You have to link the maintenance of the disadvantage to polices and practices that is part of the structure of the organization. Every situation might look quite different but the point here is to provide that causal link to the organization. Without that, there is no systemic problem. Yet even when this is done at Harvard to cause disadvantage to Asian students based solely on racial affiliation, magically it’s not racism of the bad kind but utilizing the colour of one’s skin regardless of character and so this apparently is not racist… because the word ‘not’ is used.

        Comment by tildeb — August 15, 2020 @ 2:49 pm

  3. Democratic Representative Deberry gets it right: we need to listen to this and act accordingly.

    Comment by tildeb — August 29, 2020 @ 9:12 am | Reply

  4. Been saying this for years and years and getting censored for it by those who think they are actually well-meaning, concerned and patriotic liberals, those who believe they are actually against Trump’s reelection, yet absolutely and utterly blind to the real problem, the problem that FUELS Trump’s power electoral attractiveness, the problem almost everyone refuses to confront and address AS a liberal, as a concerned and patriotic liberal.

    From Peter Boghossian:

    “For years we begged the academic left to clean up its own house. We pleaded for intellectual diversity, the promotion of civil discourse, & honest dialogue about Critical Race Theory. The Left wouldn’t, couldn’t, & didn’t. So now, this is what you get. And likely, four more years (of Trump).” (Regarding this speech from Trump)

    Check out this in depth interview between Joe Rogan and Douglas Murray talking about the cumulative effect of the ongoing self-inflicted train wreck the idiotic Woke Left is foisting on everyone that, in turn, gives rise and fuel to the worst of the Right wing despots who alone stand up against it… and to repeated electoral success.

    Comment by tildeb — September 18, 2020 @ 9:13 am | Reply

  5. John F. Young, the former CEO of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, calls this ideology an “allegiance to a singular, illiberal, gnostic perspective that rejects dialogue itself.” It is a form of religious belief using faith in the reality of groups and identity over and above any respect whatsoever for the individuals who supposedly constitute them. This social justice movement in action – the Woke movement – is the antithesis of holding any respect whatsoever to shared human rights; it is fascist in action and totalitarian in doctrine.

    Comment by tildeb — October 15, 2020 @ 8:38 am | Reply

  6. Bari Weiss describes the movement this way:

    “No one has yet decided on the name for the force that has come to unseat liberalism. Some say it’s “Social Justice.” The author Rod Dreher has called it “therapeutic totalitarianism.” The writer Wesley Yang refers to it as “the successor ideology”—as in, the successor to liberalism.

    At some point, it will have a formal name, one that properly describes its mixture of postmodernism, postcolonialism, identity politics, neo-Marxism, critical race theory, intersectionality, and the therapeutic mentality. Until then, it is up to each of us to see it plainly. We need to look past the hashtags and slogans and the jargon to assess it honestly—and then to explain it to others.”

    And that is exactly what I have been trying to do and why this is foolishness beyond measure and dangerous to all regardless of any other partisan allegiances a person may have. This article is well worth reading.

    Comment by tildeb — October 16, 2020 @ 11:18 am | Reply

  7. An attack against one is an attack against all… you got me there.

    Comment by Cynthia Coleman — November 5, 2021 @ 6:33 am | Reply

  8. I must say watching from afar it is hard to believe that there is so much fear in American society (this may not be so, just my view as an outside observer from what I read and hear). Fear from whatever spark or trigger breeds division and disrepect and hatred between people. I think anything extreme, be that on the right or the left side of politics is dangerous. I was once confused by a theory that abounded in disability arena some decades ago. This theory seems to espouse contradictions between equality and the rights of disabled peoples, yet insisted on extra considerations that some “abled persons in management,” felt the disabled person was due from all the so called, ‘wounds’ the disabled person with disability has had to endure over the years to this point. And I did witness outright discrimination of disabled persons at the time. Yet, I felt confused – as this theory contradicted equality in a broad sense and included as evidence of discrimination very minor issues any person faces as they journey through the challenges society might throw at them. I don’t want people to misunderstand me. I think a level playing field for all is desirable, irrespective of race, skin colour, creed or abilities. But it can be such an individual matter to decide what that looks like in the real world and which is pertinent to another person. It can so easily spill over into claims of racism, discrimination, prejudice or even the opposite way to reverse discrimination as in the woke movement. Does that make any sense?

    Comment by Forestwood — March 6, 2023 @ 9:26 pm | Reply

    • I think there is a whole lot of confusion about what’s happening, hidden behind a whole bunch of nice words hoodwinking most people. In a nutshell, the terms describing liberalism are being hijacked and successfully replaced by a very illiberal ideology. For example, ‘tolerance’ is a very nice word. Its liberal value means accepting differences between people as long as there is an acceptance of equality in base rights and freedoms for all. Be as different as you want but do not impose those differences as some kind of reason or justification to privilege one’s self in law over the next person. Under the new progressive framing, an illiberal framing, it means accepting differences as various TRUTHS that cannot be questioned. The more TRUTHS one has (lived victimizing experiences), then more privilege in law one is granted. Questioning or criticizing this assertion cannot be tolerated in law so we have the rise of ‘hate’ laws to be used as a bludgeon against the ‘enemies’ of ‘tolerance’. You see how this works? People of good intentions are supporting the extremism that strips individuals of legal equality and turns them into the cogs of various groups. Groups – based not on equality of rights of those who constitute them but inequality of hierarchical social imbalances – then gain legal supremacy and privilege, in the name of achieving some magical ‘equity’. And so on. And this quasi-religious ideology (you must BELIEVE groups are a coherent and real thing while the people assigned to them are cookie counter cogs) has captured institutions and many businesses everywhere. It is anti liberal to the core.

      So of course there is going to be a lot of fear and uncertainty when the entire liberal order is attacked (in the name of ‘justice’ of course) and institutions and businesses cave to the extremist mob driving it. Notice that the fronts are always group based issues, like race, like sex (what the hell is ‘gender’ if not sex-based stereotypes we’ve been fighting against for decades already?), like ethnicity, and so on. So, under this ideological capture we see the hostile takeover of liberal values by hijacking what these terms mean and which are used to fool people into justifying and supporting some loss of equality of rights and freedoms and replaced with privilege for some. Liberalism is circling the drain.

      The ONLY push back against this hostile takeover of western liberal democracies by the group based ideology disguised as ‘progressive’ (it’s exactly the opposite!) comes from the libertine political extreme. THAT is what I see as a huge problem. We need more moderate political voices raised in defence of liberalism but just look at how censored people are: if one speaks out, it’s hate; if one doesn’t, it’s capitulation. And we see the rise in self censoring now exceed 50%.

      So yeah, all were left with are ‘extremists’: with the ‘progressive’ mob on one side and the ‘libertine’ mob on the other. And that serves the ideology – one that wishes to tear down liberal democracies and take over to destroy all of its institution – PERFECTLY.

      Comment by tildeb — March 7, 2023 @ 10:29 am | Reply

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