The culture war is raging on, the body count piling up. Last week, it was all about Georgia’s new voting laws, the mistruths pushed by the progressive left, and the collateral damage caused by the woke crowd on the very groups of people for whom they claim exclusive advocacy. Before that, it has been the ongoing battle over free speech — and by free speech, I mean the kind of speech only allowed by the woke gatekeepers, who sit in their cubicles, and methodically ferret out conservative thought on social media. Perhaps the worst example over the last year has been how those of us who love and revere America, who stand for the anthem and who began every school day with the Pledge of Allegiance, have recently learned how evil our country really is, how it is “systemically racist” and “white privileged.”
If none of this sounds familiar, then good for you. The rock you live under must be wonderful. Clearly, you have your priorities in line. We all envy you.
But to me, it is all I see and hear, and it seems like it will never end.
With every new example of the gender, race, or “science” wars, divisions between people in our country grow deeper, more than ever in my lifetime. I keep waiting for the tipping point — the moment when we awaken from this bad dream and realize that the music we hear is being played by the media, by political leaders, and by large tech companies, all of whom are choreographing society’s dance, sublimely moving as if everything is wonderful and a modern-day utopia about to dawn.
My usually optimistic worldview keeps me waiting for the moment when we open our eyes and realize this has all just been a rough patch in our history and that what we have always known about the darkest night yielding to the brightest day, is just around the corner.
But the never-ending focus—or should I say, obsession—over our differences, I fear, has caused irreparable acrimony, distrust and hatred and has fomented irreconcilable divisions where they have never before existed.
The clouds are not parting, as I thought they would. The storm continues to rage all around us, growing worse and worse with every 24-hour news cycle outrage. No amount of reasonable argument or random acts of kindness seem capable of breaking through the emerging pattern. Outrage is a growth industry and its long-term trajectory is skyrocketing. People are voting with their feet and their wallets by moving at breakneck speeds to live in places more aligned with their views. “Those who constantly feel under attack seek refuge from the wokeness and are looking for alternatives to Coke, Delta, Nike, etc.”and wish to patronize companies that “share their values” and reject those companies that use car-buying advertisements as an opportunity to send social and cultural messages.
Public schools that indoctrinate critical race theories and trash our country’s foundations are shunning thought diversity and are undergoing long-term realignment right before our eyes, yet few notice as homeschool and private school populations explode. The monochromatic (yes, how oxymoronic) universities now compete for the same set of woke young people who place a higher value on protesting than they do on preparing themselves for the job market and adulthood.
Pretty soon, we will all be nicely segregated in our own tribes, our own clubs, neighborhoods, factions, and echo chambers. If we aren’t already.
What seems lost to most, however, is that people with options to choose will continue to do just that—making the best choices for themselves and their kids. People who can escape the nouveau riche wokeness of their church, who can choose to stop watching indoctrinating leftist TV commercials that use a laundry detergent ad to push social wokeness; people that can afford to move, who can afford to send their kids to private school, who can afford to stay in the 5-star hotels, who have time and money to play tennis at the club and ignore the world around them? They will continue to choose these things, with greater velocity and with larger impacts than ever before.
And people without choices will become even more reliant on government, corporate “benevolence”, and victimhood, if that is even possible.
Is the irony not clear to everyone else? The irony that as these divisions grow deeper, no matter how much the wokeness crowd screams about inequity, the inequities will just become more pronounced, their calcification even harder to break than before?
With few exceptions, the silence against the woke mobs, last year, was deafening, as they demanded name changes of roads and schools named after founding fathers, the very men who created and preserved the system by which the first government in history eradicated slavery and elevated women’s suffrage. The “defund the police” movement swept across the nation, pushed as a reasonable policy option by many political leaders who take their daily briefings from Twitter trends. I mean, if I had not heard it with my own ears, I would have never believed that any sane person would ever advocate doing away with policing.
Our present state of affairs reminds me of the parable we all read in school, “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Do you remember that? About when a fallacy on its face is so obvious but that it persists when everyone is frightened to point out exactly what their eyes are telling them?
Only in this analogy, the “emperor” is the mob that celebrates racial division, rails against tradition, history, and cancels even the most well-intentioned dissension. Most people stand by quietly, keeping their head down, blindly following rules, avoiding attention, making their own choices, fearful of being called a racist, a bigot, or having their business boycotted or their kids excluded from their alma mater.
Guess what, everybody: the emperor is not wearing any clothes. The Delta Airlines CEO, the commissioner for Major League Baseball, and “leaders” like them? They have been standing there telling the “emperor” that his clothes are beautiful, that everyone should aspire to emulate his wardrobe, that anyone who does not like his clothes should have their head taken off.
If it has been a while since you have read this parable, take a minute and go back and reread it. Compare its basic thesis to today’s villainization of critical voices and critical thinking. (Note: the parable’s roots date back to the 14th century, but formally just celebrated its 184th anniversary, published by Danishman Hans Anderson on April 7, 1837).
At some point, more ordinary people must stand up like the child did when the naked emperor walked on stage, and say, “hey look, he’s not wearing any clothes.” The agenda that values “diversity” more than merit – the antagonists that cry “racism” in the face of the very system that is the envy of the western—and modern—world, for its fairness and equality; the mob that persists in putting skin color and gender preference as the only differentiators that matter—this emperor is not clothed. This naked emperor is destroying us and making us hate each other. His fallacy is self-fulfilling and pretty soon we are all going to be naked. It is time for someone—for everyone—to tell the emperor exactly what he needs to hear—that enough is enough. The empire must no longer be controlled by the emperor. Who is going to say it? I’m standing here, ready when you are.
Woody White, 51, is a resident of New Hanover County. Married to Tammie White and father of two adult children, Woody practices law as a courtroom attorney. He just completed two terms as a New Hanover County Commissioner and formerly served an unexpired term in the NC State Senate. You may email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Woodywhite5.