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If ‘Woke’ is a Religion, Why Not ‘Trumpism’?

Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

Americans don’t always limit their religions to the most holy of beliefs.

Pollsters who keep track of such matters report that the numbers of religiously unaffiliated — describing their religious identity as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” — now stands at 26%, up from 17% in 2009, according to Pew Research.

Some call it the “rise of the nones,” short for nonbelievers. But that doesn’t mean they have abandoned all trappings of religion. Americans don’t limit their religions to the most holy. Sometimes their devotion is bound tightly with their politics.

That thought came to mind as I mused about John McWhorter’s latest book, which bears the timely title “Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America.”

A Columbia University linguist and intellectual provocateur, particularly in his analyses of race relations, McWhorter is popularly known — some would say infamously — for giving voice to the self-made voiceless. He says many would like to say or raise questions in our world of fickle language etiquette, but hesitate to speak up for fear of inviting a punch in the nose.”

I winced at first when I saw in his title yet another setback for my struggling campaign to erase the word “woke” from today’s social and political discourse. But McWhorter, in his own provocative way, actually joins that fight from another angle.

 

He argues that certain strains of today’s anti-racism movement and its advocates have effectively turned the cause into a form of religion, demanding strict obedience and unfortunately muzzling such niceties as nuance and debate.

His aim, as he puts it, is to explain “why something so destructive and incoherent is so attractive to so many good people” and “why so many Black people are attracted to a religion that treats us as simpletons.”

Appropriately, McWhorter forgoes current woke fashion by spelling “Black” with the traditional lowercase “b.” That debate also goes on.

But, one asks, has the cultural left, along with some major institutions and companies, gone too far in embracing anti-racist ideas?

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