Sunday, May 9, 2021


By Nellie Bly
Spy Washington Bureau

We'll skip the usual 100-day thumbsuckers and get right to how things are going.

We'll admit things are looking up from January 20, 2021, when we feared an imminent coup sponsored by the many friends of the Former Loser Grifter.

On the other hand,

According to Johns Hopkins's count, the United States is rapidly closing in on 600,000 COVID-19 deaths, almost all of which could have been prevented had not the United States Government been paralyzed by the FLG and his state-level taint polishers.  That's equivalent to killing off the entire population of Baltimore, Maryland.

And how's the economy doing?  Well, there are an astounding 13,600,000 unemployed, again principally as a result of the Republican failure to address the pandemic and its economic fallout.

Then of course the nation has still failed to address the crises of police violence directed at persons of color, mass gun violence at rates many times higher than the rest of the world, grotesque voter suppression laws targeting, um, persons of color, and the catastrophic rate of global warming which threatens to inundate large portions of our coastline, including Miami [Is this is a plus or a minus? – Ed.].

With all these problems to focus on, which of them most concerns the Republican party and their media toadies?

If you guessed “none of the above,” you win!  Your prize: a democracy on the brink of collapse.

What Republicans are worrying about is something they choose to call “wokeness,” by which they mean the act and mindset of anyone who criticizes their warped values and priorities. As Erin Gloria Ryan explains in The Daily Beast:

Miami 2100: the Venice of America

The definition of “woke” that relates it to social consciousness wasn’t added to the Oxford English Dictionary until 2017, but, since then, it’s gotten about as much use on Fox News as Tucker Carlson’s neck bronzer. Like a lot of buzzwords the MAGA set colonizes, their use of the phrase is unconstrained by the inconvenience of a consistent definition; it can mean whatever the speaker needs it to mean at that moment, and a different thing the next day. Like “feminist” or “tyranny.” Or, more recently, “triggered.”

“Woke” is now a word that means anything that expresses more cultural sensitivity than a red state Facebook dad whose grown children won’t talk to him anymore due to his aggressive political obnoxiousness. It’s used as a shorthand for the cultural left Going Too Far. It’s a klaxon for other conservatives who blindly want things to stay the way they used to be, when it appears that things may change. . . . 

Declaring everything that makes conservatives uncomfortable “woke” is tedious when it applies to things like updating workplace dress codes to stop classifying hairstyles like afros and box braids as “unprofessional.” But the conservative apoplexy over “wokeness” isn’t primarily focused on the conduct of American adults; it’s much creepier than that. The anti-“woke” movement is disproportionately focused on cartoons, theme parks, picture books, movies that feature talking snowmen and magic mirrors . . . .Modern conservatism is an entire identity built around grown adults not being able to mind their own business. 

So the problem facing this country according to Republicans is not the death and economic toll of the pandemic, racial justice, or saving the planet from climate catastrophe.  It's Dr. Seuss and, wait for it, big corporations.   What makes these plutocratic colossi such revolting exemplars of wokeosity?  According to the corrupt Russian stooge plotting his comeback from his Fortress of Solitude and Fried Chicken in Florida:

Now we're getting somewhere.  Ms. Ryan believes that the conservative fixation on wokeitude is another example of the immaturity and stupidity of threatened white supremacists.  She's right, but the crusade against wokeification has more than one cause.

We think it, like every other Republican culture-war smear since 1972, is designed to change the debate.  Instead of talking about the Republican plan to suppress Black turnout, Republicans and their media fluffers can whine about corporations who have dared to suggest that limiting democracy may not be such a great idea, and may not be so good for business either, i.e. a “woke corporation.”

See how easy it is to shift debate from an uncomfortable ground for Republicans (voter suppression: what is it good for) to much nicer terrain (mocking those supposed liberal elites at Coca-Cola).

There's many things to be said about this rhetorical jujitsu trick, but new isn't one of them. Let's turn the Wayback machine to 1972, when Republicans were desperate to change the subject from their abysmal and pointless prolongation of the Vietnam War for four long years.

Democrats who correctly pointed out the futility and brutality of this cynical Nixon scheme were met not by a claim that four years of pointless suffering and death were a good idea but rather that by demanding an immediate end to the sanguinary dumpster fires raging in three Indochinese countries, Democrats were the party of acid, amnesty, and abortion.

Spoiler alert: it worked:

Since two of those terms aren't familiar to modern readers, we'll tick them off.  “Acid” was the catchall term for illegal drugs, which Republicans fought with a cruel racist incarceration strategy since then.  We know that doesn't work, which is why state after state is decriminalizing marijuana and diverting drug users into treatment programs, not prison. 

So the Democrats were right about that one.

“Amnesty” was the plan to allow draft resisters who had fled to Canada to return to their families and lives in the United States, which Republicans condemned as more treasonous than invading the Capitol to overturn an election.  Despite the noise, President Jimmy Carter implemented the plan.  The draft resisters came home.  Nothing bad happened.

So the Democrats were right about that one too.

Abortion you know. The Democratic effort to make it legally available in the initial stages of pregnancy was attacked then as now as baby murder, but 1,400,000 women a year don't think they are baby murderers, and are probably glad that they didn't have to resort to coathangers to control their bodies.

And the Democrats were right about that.   That's three for three if you're scoring at home.

Now we're getting somewhere.  Republicans wanted to shift the debate from the pros and cons of drug treatment and reproductive freedom to a hate-filled cry that would appeal to their perpetually angry voting base.

So whenever you hear Republicans babbling about wokeomania, ask yourself: what's the real debate that they are trying to obscure?  Find it, and you'll see why they would rather screech about the peril of wokeism in lieu of explaining whey they oppose child care to let parents re-enter the workforce, rebuilding our collapsing infrastructure, or transitioning to a safer green-energy future.

Here's a recent example, from the guy that no one would have lunch with in Leverett House twenty years ago, Ross Douthat:


His argument, to use the word generously, seems to be that Elizabeth Warren unlike Joe Biden is too “woke” to be electable:

Wokeness is “faculty lounge” rhetoric, the language of elite hyper-educated progressivism, entering into mass politics in a way that turns a lot of normal people off. . . .

But at the same time I think the problem he’s[Jim Carville] describing could be manageable for Democrats, because their primary voters already figured out a way to manage it: Don’t nominate Elizabeth Warren, nominate Joe Biden instead. Or to depersonalize the strategy: Don’t nominate a candidate who talks like a member of the Harvard faculty, nominate the candidate who can talk like an old-line Democrat and, once elected, shovels money out the door.

Does Elizabeth Warren sound like a pompous Harvard faculty member when she recalls how she was able to go to college for $50 a semester? Or when she advocates for affordable child care so women can re-enter the workforce without risking their children?  Or proposes single-payer health care, used successfully in well-known Socialist hellholes like the UK and Canada?  

Frankly, although Elizabeth Warren, unlike the scourge of the Leverett Dining Hall, was a real member of the Harvard faculty, we don't think she sounds nearly as pompous and out of touch as Ross.

But that's not really the point.  The point is that Ross and his ilk deploy the dreaded wokeyman to obscure the real crises of American life, which we outlined right at the beginning.

And that's the whole point of terrifying the electorate about Wokezilla.  It gives elected Republicans who spend their days rigging America to serve the interests of rich entitled white man something to talk about when Democrats try to address real problems, like the pandemic, economic decline, crushing inequality, worker's rights, systemic racism, or the Republican assault on what's left of our democratic institutions.

And the deflection has worked for decades, whether it was called “acid, amnesty, and abortion” or “political correctness” or “wokeness.”

It will continue to work until one of three things happen:

(1) American democracy is successfully dismantled and replaced by one-party Republican rule, 

(2) angry white supremacists value their economic interests over indulging their fear and racism (unlikely) or  

(3) the majority of Americans realize that until they mobilize to protect themselves from predatory Republican plutocracy and fight every single election at every level every year, they will lose control of their future and their country.

We're hoping for door number 3.  But that would require a lot of folks, especially white ones, to get and stay – woke.

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