Americans hate woke culture, as I noted in these pages not too long ago. Black, white, Republican and Democrat, a large majority of Americans oppose it. Even people like former President Barack Obama, Bill Maher and ultra-liberal comedienne Sarah Silverman hate it (Maher calls it “Stalinist”).
But it keeps going. Why is that? And what can you do about it — especially if you or someone you are close to comes under attack? In short, it keeps going because it’s easy and fun — and you have to make it less so.
Lesson one: Don’t panic — and don’t give in. Ian Prior, of Loudoun County, Va., publishes The Daily Malarkey, an Internet humor site that goes after what he calls the “Chardonnay Antifa.” As he recently recounted to Fox News, after he published an op-ed attacking political correctness, he found himself on the sharp end of woke attacks led by a group of teachers, administrators and woke citizens.
According to news reports, the Loudoun Stalinists put together a list of people opposing their policies and planned to “hack” them, “expose” them and “infiltrate” them. Did Prior chicken out?
No. He called them out, he mocked them, and he made sure the whole thing got as much attention as possible. Now there’s a criminal investigation into the group. The publicity not only generated blowback against the people who targeted him, it also brought in lots of new subscribers to The Daily Malarkey. Win-win.
Learn from this. Never apologize, don’t act afraid, and, to borrow a phrase from Obama, “punch back twice as hard.” Call the mob out for what it is: a bunch of bad people trying to pretend they stand for something moral. Going after people for their political views this way isn’t an act of morality. It’s an attempt at political terrorism, and it’s un-American.
The second lesson: Stick together. The woke mob tries to isolate its victims and to make others afraid to stand up for them. Instead, it’s important to ask for help from friends and potential supporters, if you’re a target, and to offer it to the targets if you’re on the sidelines. Solidarity.
This is what’s going on with the University of San Diego Law School, whose dean shamefully capitulated to an absurd student campaign against a professor who did nothing wrong. In a post on his personal blog, Professor Thomas Smith said that those who dismiss the possibility that the Wuhan coronavirus escaped from a lab there were “swallowing whole a set of Chinese” — and here he used an scatological phrase meaning, in effect, “balderdash.”
He was, of course, referring to the Chinese regime’s denials, which are facing growing scientific skepticism.
Asian students complained — preposterously — that this was somehow a racist slur against Chinese people, rather than a criticism of the brutal Communist regime. Rather than telling them that, as law students, they needed to work on their reading skills, Dean Robert Schapiro issued a craven response, suggesting that there was some basis to the complaints. In an e-mail to the law-school community, he charged Smith with “bias” and with using “offensive” language and announced an investigation.
But here’s where the story changes. Some of the most eminent faculty members at the law school — including such big names as Larry Alexander, Maimon Schwarzschild, Steve Smith, Chris Wonnell and Gail Heriot — fired back at Schapiro. They wrote: “We are concerned that treating these complaints the way you are doing validates student reactions and strained interpretations that are misguided, that reflect a lack of critical thinking and that will chill faculty members’ teaching and scholarship.”
Then outside groups got involved, including various organizations that fight for free inquiry and free speech on campus. These included the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which sues universities over such things. FIRE demanded that the university “immediately cease” its investigation of Smith.
It’s a bad week for Dean Schapiro. And that’s lesson three. University and corporate bosses give into the woke because it’s painless and easier than fighting them. Make it painful and difficult instead, and they’ll change their ways. Take this to heart. The sane can win.
Glenn Harlan Reynolds is a professor of law at the University of Tennessee and founder of the InstaPundit.com blog.