The most useful thing about the word “woke” is that it allows me to instantly recognize the lying idiots. All these conservatives complaining about “wokeism”…it’s like they’ve tattooed “LOSER” on their foreheads, and they’re proud of it.

Ron Desantis, of all people, gave the game away when his lawyers had to explicitly define “woke”, and this is what they came up with.

Asked what “woke” means more generally, [Desantis’ General Counsel Ryan] Newman said “it would be the belief there are systemic injustices in American society and the need to address them.”

Newman added that DeSantis doesn’t believe there are systemic injustices in the U.S.

That’s a fine definition, and that Desantis “doesn’t believe there are systemic injustices in the U.S.” confirms my opinion that those who use the word disparagingly are all lying idiots.

I am surprised and reassured to learn that I’m not some weird outlier in this, as well: in one poll, a majority agree that “woke” is not an insult.

Republican presidential hopefuls are vowing to wage a war on “woke,” but a new USA TODAY/Ipsos Poll finds a majority of Americans are inclined to see the word as a positive attribute, not a negative one.

Fifty-six percent of those surveyed say the term means “to be informed, educated on, and aware of social injustices.” That includes not only three-fourths of Democrats but also more than a third of Republicans.

Overall, 39% say instead that the word reflects what has become the GOP political definition, “to be overly politically correct and police others’ words.” That’s the view of 56% of Republicans.

I disagree that it’s a mistake for Republicans to abuse the term, since a majority of them think it’s a synonym for “politically correct.” It’s a rallying cry used to gather all the lying idiots under the banner of whatever yahoo is running for office, and in that sense it’s effective, as long as you don’t mind using language dishonestly and misrepresenting what people actually think.

I find it a handy flag to recognize that someone doesn’t believe systemic injustices exist, and that they sure don’t feel any need to oppose injustice, because they think everything is hunky dory, and we should just maintain the status quo. It certainly has made it fast and easy to spot bad people to block on social media.

But here, I’ve got a video from Cody Johnston that explains the whole absurd, horrible situation at length, almost an hour of length. It’s an entertaining and theatrical and detailed hour, though, so you might enjoy it more than my cursory dismissal of anyone who thinks “woke” is a bad thing.


  1. Reginald Selkirk says

    When the right uses woke it means “insufficiently bigoted.” Trying to turn it into an insult is like the old school calling someone an “N-lover” for not being racist enough.

  2. Louis says

    “Woke” is now a word for bigots too inarticulate to manage the polysyllabic “political correctness”.

    (Incidentally, I have always passionately loathed the term “political correctness” it is an accusation, baseless, of dishonesty. As if, for example, everyone is massively racist but is not admitting it for nefarious reasons.)


  3. StevoR says

    @ ^ madrone : Truth. Correct.

    Although also unfair to arseholes whch serve functions & provide fun to some…

  4. says

    I think of “woke” as “emerged from sleep, ready to actually pay attention to the world around me after sufficient caffeination.” Or maybe just the opposite of “comatose.”

    So in that sense, what they want is refusal to engage with what’s actually going on around one, instead of just fleeting dreams that may have no relationship to reality. Sounds about right.

  5. wzrd1 says

    So, lemme get this straight. Woke is bad.
    That means that awareness of one’s environment is bad. Therefore, being comatose is good.
    Give them what they actually want, render all of the antiwoke crowd comatose!

    As for the anti-PC crowd, I simply ask them why they think being considerate and reasonably polite is a bad thing. After all, anything that tends to remove the urge to cut their throats should be considered a good thing and the converse, outraging me enough to kill them, given my advanced training and experience, should be considered a good thing, as it enhances their chances of survival.
    It’s amazing when having an in person conversation on that subject, how phenomenally polite they suddenly become after making that casually expressed observation.
    Of course, I was carrying a knife at the time. My preferred carry knife, with its massively lengthy 3 inch blade. Which reminds me, I need to resharpen it. Dull knives can cause injury, just like any other ill maintained tool.

    Well, off to consider what to have for lunch. I’m thinking maybe tilapia and tostones, the latter a recent culinary discovery that I quite enjoy and have been experimenting in the spicing of.

  6. robro says

    So if “woke” is the modern knee-jerk conservative bigots buzz word for “politically correct”…or even overly politically correct…can we use “unwoke” for politically incorrect?

  7. robro says

    Reginald Selkirk @ #1 — I haven’t heard “N-friendly” used in a very long time, not since I moved from the South, but I think you’re correct that “woke” is the modern version of that, although they’ll throw in a bunch of other groups they have bigoted opinions about such as women, trans, gays & lesbians, people with disabilities, and so forth.

  8. Joerg Ferber says

    So if you apply this definition, almost every politician is woke – after all, if there was no “systemic injustice thats needs to be addressed” what is the reason you run?
    And what about the folks that thought they were systematically repressed because they had to pay taxes without being properly represented? By this definition, they were very woke and they found a way to address the perceived injustice.

  9. says

    For a long time I was uneasy with the term “politically correct.” It reminded me too much of a term the Nazis had, which translated as political reliability. Essentially it meant adherence to the Nazi ideology, which was more important than scientific facts, professional ethics, family ties or anything else normal people care about.
    In the end, though, I came to see political correctness as more about basic manners, respect for others, and not making hateful, racist, misogynistic remarks and the like. You know, civilized behavior.
    But in their need to oppose any sort of “liberal” concept, right-wingers had to make a virtue out of political incorrectness–and the result, here years down the road, is a bunch of loud, uncouth idiots who think they deserve a medal for being “brave” enough to spout off unfounded and discriminatory opinions, representatives who think it’s okay to heckle presidents, and a political party that treats climbing walls, breaking into the Capitol, threatening Congress, beating up cops and chanting “hang Mike Pence” as normal political discourse.
    And now they have to oppose “wokeness.” Given the definition above, that means either denying systemic injustices exist, or denying that such things need to be addressed. Or both, given the right-wing’s positive gift for cognitive dissonance. People like DeSantis are shutting down any discussion of injustice and inequity, denying they exist, while others publicly celebrate those very things.
    I don’t really want to think about the sort of behavior they’ll be excusing and normalizing a little further down that road.

  10. says

    Louis @4: I’m particularly annoyed by the accusation that I’m only concerned with scoring political points for selfish ends, rather than, you know, justice and fairness.

    It’s also a bit misleading because appealing to the rich and powerful and scapegoating the disadvantaged is “politically correct” in the sense that it’s often a very reliable way to advance in a political career.

  11. cartomancer says

    The thing that gets me most about these “anti-woke” types is that they seem to have a visceral dislike of being kind to people. A knee-jerk reaction to anything that tries to make the world a more pleasant place in even the slightest degree. They may try to dress it up and pretend that’s not what they’re doing, but without fail it invariably is.

    This became most obvious to me recently in the hoo-ha over the Roald Dahl books being edited for sensitivity. None of the critics had any kind of even half-baked arguments, or even a stake in the situation – there was just a visceral dislike of people trying to take others’ feelings into account.

    At its heart, I am fairly sure, there is a sense of self-loathing. Deep down, they know that they are bastards. They know that they are selfish and privileged and angry and frightened and cruel. And most of them probably know that they are that way in order to fit in with wider social currents peddled to them by those in power. But they don’t like it very much. They despise the sort of venial, self-serving, unkind creatures they have become. So they lash out whenever they see others who aren’t like that. They find the mere existence of human kindness a painful reminder of their own inadequacies. So they try to quell it wherever they see it. They long for a post-kindness future where only mean-spirited ghouls are left, raking and railing at each other without the spectre of a better way of being to make them feel bad about it.