Is woke ideology similar to Nazism?
NC Senator Julie Mayfield, D-Buncombe, said, “[b]ut he is not a Black woman, and I can’t disagree with the voices that say we just need more of that perspective.”
Erica Smith, former NC Senator stated, “Do we need another white man in the Senate? No, we do not.”
Lori Gilcrist, director of a nonprofit, told the reporter, “If you look around and you’ve got to figure out who to trust, default to a Black woman.”
These were the statements given, among others, to Politico reporter Michael Kruse in his piece about the Democratic Party’s front runners for the U.S. Senate, Jeff Jackson, and Cheri Beasley.
Now, I am sure these statements sounded differently in their heads, but in the real world, the statements are racist and sexist. The predicate for supporting Beasley is not based on her capacity to lead or her character, but in part because of her skin color and sex. I believe Beasley has a moral responsibility to tell her supporters that not a single vote for her, or against a candidate, should be based, even in part, on skin color or sex.
While I start this article with information from the Politico article, this piece is not about the statements themselves or the upcoming senate race. The content in the Politico article is one of many examples of how individuals have made skin color their a priori assumption for how to view the world. This cognitive primer for race essentialism was laid on by individuals like Ibram X. Kendi.
Kendi and individuals like David Duke, for instance, are two sides of the same coin. They both jumped on a Woke or Neo-Nazi bandwagon to promote their race essentialist dogma. However, their particular racist ideology speaks to different feelings.
Duke starts from the false premise that some races are inherently superior to others, while Kendi starts from a place of historical grievance to falsely suggest that some groups are seeking to oppress others. Fortunately, society has rejected Duke’s premise that some groups are inherently superior to others. However, a large part of the American populous has embraced Kendi’s falsehoods. (This is evidenced by the content of the Politico article.) But why?
I think this is because grievance is a much more seductive feeling that gets at this notion of injustice. Kendi does this by looking at the history of slavery and Jim Crow laws in America. From there, he maintains that the reason black Americans suffer today is because of historical injustices that were never made right. He contends that white America has held black America back by creating systematic barriers and policies to oppress them.
Now, Kendi’s narrative of historical events and the modern human condition is outlined in his books “Stamped from the Beginning” and “How to Be an Antiracist.” Upon inspection of Kendi’s works, I find his racist worldview to be surprisingly similar to that of Adolf Hitler’s writings in “Mein Kampf” and other public commentaries.
Like Kendi, Hitler’s racist worldview is one grounded on a historical grievance. After Germany had lost World War I, it experienced economic and social hardship. Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated, provisional governments were established, Germany had to relinquish territory, and they had to pay heavy reparations. The consequence of the social and political issues ultimately led to an economic crisis. The Treaty of Versailles restricted coal and iron ore extraction, which was a significant driver of the German economy that employed many men. Germany struggled to pay their war debts, which led the government to print more money. This in turn led to another economic crisis: hyperinflation. Because of everything that was happening in Germany during the 1920s, the German people no longer trusted the government to serve their interests. And it was this sentiment of fear that allowed Hitler to capitalize and coalesce control.
It is extraordinary to see how similar both Kendi and Hitler structured their racial worldview across different mediums. They both start from this absurd premise that race is inherent to society and therefore must be preserved. Hitler claims in “Mein Kampf,” “[e]very historical event in the world is nothing more nor less than a manifestation of the instinct of racial self-preservation, whether for weal or woe.”
This is not very different from Kendi’s belief that “Antiracists of all races—whether out of altruism or intelligent self-interest—would always recognize that preserving racial hierarchy simultaneously preserves ethnic, gender, class, sexual, age, and religious hierarchies.”
What they point to as the source for their bizarre belief about race essentialism is no less remarkable. “By devoting our attention to the existence of the race problem,” Hitler contends, “we have found the solution for many problems which would have otherwise have seemed incomprehensible.”
Kendi also seems to believe that problems in America start because people are not looking at the world through the lens of race. He states in “How to Be an Antiracist” that “Assimilationists believe in the post-racial myth that talking about race constitutes racism, or that if we stop identifying by race, then racism will miraculously go away. They fail to realize that if we stop using racial categories, then we will not be able to identify racial inequity. If we cannot identify racial inequity, then we will not be able to identify racist policies.”
They both seem to think that by seeing the world through the lens of race, all of humanity benefits. In “Mein Kampf,” Hitler says, “differences between the various peoples should not prevent us from recognizing the community of race which unites them on a higher plane.”
Kendi agrees with this: “[t]he gift of seeing myself as Black instead of being color-blind is that it allows me to clearly see myself historically and politically as being an antiracist, as a member of the interracial body striving to accept and equate and empower racial difference of all kinds.”
To achieve their racist utopian version of the world, Kendi and Hitler only ask that people pledge themselves to their respective racial worldview. For Hitler it is German lives: “all of us pledge ourselves to the one ancient principle: it is of no importance if we ourselves live…as long as Germany lives! This is essential.” (Reichstag, September 1, 1939)
For Kendi it is black lives: “We must continue to ‘affirm that all Black lives matter.’”
But in every hero’s journey to save the masses from oppression, there must be an oppressor to do battle with. For Hitler, it was the Jewish people and for Kendi, it is white people.
“It’s the Jew who prevents everything.”—Hitler
“They divided and conquered by creating more White privileges.”—Kendi
“[T]here are only two possibilities: either we remain German or we come under the thumb of the Jews.”—Hitler
“White power controls the United States.”—Kendi
“Conscience is a Jewish invention.”—Hitler
“A color-blind Constitution for a White-supremacist America.”—Kendi
A side-by-side comparison of Kendi and Hitler’s racial essentialism, historical grievance rhetoric, and the belief that groups are necessarily struggling for power reveals many similarities in their worldview. One can reasonably argue that the foundation of Wokeism is not dissimilar to that of Nazism.
Both are pseudointellectual, and prejudicial frameworks for viewing the world.
Seeing the world through the lens of “race” does not make you more benevolent towards different people. It makes you prejudiced.
Lamenting the past is not going to make your future better. Taking responsibility for your choices is the only way to improve your condition.
Governments, businesses, and universities actively engage in racial discrimination today. And a large part of the population continues to support reprehensible policies that cultivate a narcissistic belief that the so-called privileged are inherently better than others.
We rejected Hitler and the Neo-Nazis’ racist ideology. Now I ask my fellow Americans to reject modernity’s new racist prophets.
Joshua Peters is a philosopher and social critic from Raleigh, NC. His academic background is in western philosophy, STEM, and financial analysis. Joshua studied at North Carolina State University (BS) and UNC Charlotte (MS). He is a graduate of the E.A. Morris Fellowship for Emerging Leaders.