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Tuesday 21 September 2021

Woke, Propaganda, And Misinformation

Over at the Guardian, political correspondent Peter Walker has registered mild irritation this morning: “The seemingly unstoppable rise of ‘woke’ as a lazy shorthand for, 'Anything I disagree with which is vaguely to the left of my newspaper's views' really is one of the more dispiriting developments in UK journalism of recent years”.

Speak to the forehead

He gives four headline examples of what cannot really be called a craft, such is the crude way the word is used as a pejorative. One is the all-too-predictable ranting of the deeply unpleasant Dan Wootton at Mail Online, there are two steamers from Tim Stanley at the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph, and remaining at the Tel, another from the worryingly wayward Sherelle Jacobs. That last is a significant intervention.

Why so? Because the word Woke has a very straightforward definition: “alert to injustice in society, especially racism”. Someone who is not white railing at people who are alert to societal injustice, and especially racism, eh? That, in a nutshell, is why so much use of the term Woke is, as Walker puts it, “lazy shorthand”. From an all-too-predictable culprit.

Wokeness: once you know it, you’ll hate it … Most people don’t understand what woke means. But those who do are dead against it”. Guess who? Yes, the beings from the planet Spiked, telling “Of the 41 per cent of people who say they understand the word ‘woke’, most think it’s a bad thing - just 29 per cent of them see themselves as woke, while 56 per cent do not”. But one thing is missing: the actual definition of the term.

Thus another of those circular arguments: the assembled contrarianism of Spiked throws out the word Woke, associating it with Very Bad Things Indeed, and when those who claim to know what it means, but probably do not (and no check is carried out, natch), confirm the successful deployment of the Spiked propaganda, the Spiked crew tells the world that this proves the point made, and off round the circle we go once more.

That Spiked merely uses Woke as a pejorative to frighten the unwary can be seen in this artfully confected drivel from Brendan O’Neill: “Woke book-burning”. Cranking up the quote generator to the max, Bren gives uswoke lexicon … book-burning. Woke book-burning … self-selected guardians of correct thought, the neo-priestly elites of political correctness”.

And we can stop right there. It’s not just the projection - O’Neill, who gets regular commissions from the Murdoch Sun, and the increasingly alt-right Spectator magazine, calling “elite” on his targets - but the dead giveaway that he is deliberately using the term Woke to mean something it does not - “Correct thought … political correctness”.

Sherelle Jacobs

If you want to talk about something being PC, then call it that. There is no reason to appropriate a word which means something else - unless, of course, the intention is to discredit the activity to which the appropriated word means. In the case of the term Woke, that would be concern about societal injustice - and about racism.

That is what Brendan O’Neill and his pals have worked so long and hard to achieve: to demonise anti-racism, equate it with mere political correctness. Indeed, they characterise those they call “woke” as bigoted and intolerant. So effective has their campaign been that they now have at least one black woman doing their bidding. That’s where misinformation backed by our free and fearless press can lead. No Orwell quote required this time.

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Anonymous said...

In Weimar Germany, the Nazis used to rabbit on about the 'bonzen' -- big nobs -- who were any prominent person of a left-wing or liberal outlook who had provoked their anger. This category did not include any prominent person who had right-wing ideas, such as the steel tycoon Krupp. Substitute 'élite' for 'bonzen' and we have a very familiar contemporary phenomenon, in which rich and influential right-wingers such as Murdoch are similarly excluded.

The Nazis used the word 'Marxist' to describe anything vaguely left-wing or liberal which they didn't like, be it genuine Marxism, artistic experimentation, or liberal or social-democratic reforms. Substitute 'woke' for 'Marxism', and we have another very familiar contemporary phenomenon.

Most anti-wokers are pretty ignorant ranters, no-nothing no-alls, no doubt ignorant of this methodological similarity. But BoNy and his Spiked chums did, in their left-wing past, pride themselves on intellectual vigour. Have they erased all this to the degree that they are happy to ape the pseudo-intellectual methodology of the Nazis?

Dr Paul

Anonymous said...

A perfectly logical step for a nation in lock step to far right extremism every day.

Cowardly propagandists are par for the course.

We KNOW what comes next in this one party state.

There can be no excuses.

Stephen said...

Even having had a vaccination counts as woke these days.

Anonymous said...

Rather be awake to the dangers of 21st century neonazism than in a compliant gammon coma.

Mr Larrington said...

The last person I saw with mad staring eyes like those sported by Ms Jacobs was noted guitar-slinger Wilko Johnson, who managed to make a career out of it. Does la Jacobs always look like that?