6% of Americans are woke extremists


Will Stancil has a long twitter thread which at least indirectly defends wokism. But this is a strange kind of defense, because it does not critically assess the ideas defended by the awakened, but rather makes two points.

1. Because enlightened people often question the privileged position of white men in our society, white men may have hidden biases that prevent them from fairly evaluating the ideas of enlightened people.

2. In Stancil’s experience, almost all opposition to waking ideas comes from white men.

Stancil doesn’t seem to be trying to convert anyone, because he uses exactly the kind of awakened reasoning process that the unawakened find so boring. He says I’m likely to be wrong because of my white male bias. That is, he uses waking style reasoning to attack opposition to wokism:

And that’s why I have a hard time considering any criticism of ‘revival’ (or ‘cancel culture’ or ‘political correctness’) as valid, ESPECIALLY coming from a white male: society is almost perfectly built to validate and rationalize these particular prejudices, to accept and diffuse them.

To me, point #1 above obviously seems true. I may be wrong about awakening because awakened people attack the comfortable position of white men like me. Yes, it’s true. I may be wrong. Now tell me why I’m wrong. Or at least offer evidence. After all, I have a lot of political views that aren’t normally seen as benefiting me.

Instead, Stancil uses a strange sort of “appeal to a lack of authority”. In the Age of Enlightenment, intellectuals began to attack recourse to authority, and tried to replace dogma with reason (not always successfully). The awakened often seem to want to replace (often flawed) reason with an appeal to the opinions of those who lack authority, the oppressed. They seem to suggest that we should believe them because they are oppressed. But awakened people in America are generally not oppressed. Almost everyone I’ve met expressing enlightened ideas is middle or upper class.

Point #2 above may seem to provide at least implicit evidence of white male bias. But Stancil’s assertion that opposition to woke excesses is a white male thing is simply wrong. Almost everyone I know is opposed to extreme enlightenment. And I live in Orange County, which is only 20% white male.

So who lives in the epistemic bubble – Will Stancil or me?

Here are some recent survey results:

[O]Only 6% of respondents favor schools attributing white students the status of “privileged” and non-white students the status of “oppressed” – compared to 88% against, including 78% strongly opposed.

This is exactly the kind of waking excess that most of us complain about. Here is another:

When asked if teachers should present students with multiple perspectives on controversial political and social issues, 87% agreed, compared with 6% who think teachers should present a perspective that the school deems correct.

The reluctance to entertain unawakened ideas is exactly the kind of cancel culture that most of us complain about.

I have the impression that many people in universities, elite media companies and corporate human resources departments live in some kind of bubble and have no idea that their opinions are considered nonsense by at least 90% of the country.

In fairness, polls show support well over 6% for some of progressives’ less controversial ideas about race, gender, sexual preferences, and the like. But when people like me complain about revival, we have precisely two things in mind: excessive focus on identity and excessive cancel culture. That’s it. Unfortunately, progressives who think the revival has sometimes gone too far (like Matt Yglesias), as well as libertarians like me, are lumped in with far-right wingers who actually have appalling views on race and gender. It’s analogous to the 1930s, when anti-communists included both sensible liberals and fascists.

PS. Matt Yglesias is an example of how opposition to awakening also comes from people who are not white men – from “people of color”. You might respond, “Oh come on, Yglesias is basically a white man.” But when you wake up, he’s a Hispanic, uh sorry. . . a Latinx. And that’s part of the problem with identity politics – its (unscientific) insistence that gender identity is fluid while racial identity is set in stone.

SPP. I sometimes wonder if the woke movement is secretly funded by a right-wing billionaire because it pushes millions of Hispanic and Asian voters into the GOP. “You woke people up saying it’s just black and white. OK, well we’re white.


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