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 us “woke 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”.
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.
Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by becoming a Patron on Patreon at