The author describes her objective, in part, as ‘not to deride Wokeness (but) to understand it better because it is, in my view, the biggest threat we face to achieving the promise of our Constitution, based as it is on Enlightenment values’. It is ‘also an attempt to support the moderate liberal and social democratic centre, comprising all races in our country, to find their voice and make themselves heard. If we do not do so, loudly and fearlessly, we will become complicit in the failure of our democratic project. Although the odds are currently stacked against us, success is still possible’.
The following extract – the third of four to be published by the Daily Friend in the run-up to the launch – draws on the chapter, Caging Minds.
Because they construe language as violence, Wokes genuinely believe it is entirely appropriate to respond with commensurate force by “cancelling” offenders from society entirely. The bigger the fish they can bring down, the better.
For them, I was the “Big, White, Anti-Woke Whale”.
As soon as they pick up the scent of offence, the woke pack hunt begins, conscripting an army of real people, their sock puppets, and bots on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Not to mention their ever-willing servants in the mainstream media, and every other noch-schlepper, (a magnificent Yiddish phrase my parents used to describe every tag-along-pain-in-the-butt).
Once the whole network is mobilised, the price the “offender” pays is so high that everyone else has been warned: never, ever dare to offend Woke speech codes, not even unintentionally. And don’t dare stand up and defend someone who is being “cancelled”.
In fact, being able to “cancel” offenders, to the point of getting them fired from their jobs, and preferably cast out of mainstream society too, is a badge of honour, equivalent to a military medal for valour in the internal Woke hierarchy.
If you do it publicly enough, you could even have a starring role in an online video, which explains the performative nature of cancel culture.
“Fuck Free Speech” shouted a student collective at Evergreen State College in the state of Washington in the US, which instantly achieved their objective of trending on Twitter and YouTube.
The video ends with a trans person saying sarcastically and to rousing applause: “I am so sorry, but your free speech is not more important than the lives of black, trans, femmes, and students of this campus”.
It is worth dwelling for a while on the events that led to this trending video at Evergreen State College — a place I had never heard of before the Rhinoceros in our living room drew it to my attention.
The Woke insurrection started after a Dr Bret Weinstein, who had taught evolutionary biology on the campus for 14 years, objected to a call for every white person to absent themselves from the campus for a day, in order to create a “safe space” for black people, and to give white students and staff an understanding of what it feels like to be “excluded”.
Weinstein, who self-defines as progressive, wrote an email to fellow faculty members objecting to the “segregationist agenda”.
The most offensive words in his email were “One’s right to speak or ‘to be’ must never be based on skin colour”.
This has always been the progressive liberal creed.
But, predictably, it caused woke outrage. His students shouted him down. They demanded that he be fired. They refused to even listen to his argument for non-racialism. They called him a racist who had forfeited the right to speak at all.
“He has validated white supremacists and Nazis and that should not be protected by free speech,” said a young white student calling for Weinstein to be fired.
“He can go and be a racist shit somewhere else,” said another.
Weinstein was determined to continue teaching, and when “Social Justice” activists disrupted his lectures, the campus police refused to intervene to protect either his right to do so, or his students’ right to attend his classes.
So he continued lecturing in a nearby off-campus public park and sued the university. Both he and his wife resigned after reaching a financial settlement with the Evergreen State College.
Videos of every stage in this horror story were sent around the world, and of course it was not long before South African students were staging similar productions for the world’s social media platforms.
One that shot to prominence was aptly titled “Science Must Fall”.
When I first watched it (without understanding Wokeness) I dismissed it as embarrassingly idiotic.
When I watched it again, after reading Pluckrose and Lindsay’s book, I understood that it reflected the Woke paradigm perfectly.
The video shows a student-led seminar in what seems to be a lecture room at the University of Cape Town.
The contributor, a young black woman, speaks: “If you want a practical solution on how to decolonise science, we have to restart science from an African perspective, from our perspective of how we experience science,” she ventures.
Hearing some mutterings around the room she continues to describe a place in KwaZulu-Natal (I think she said Umhlabuyalingana) where people believe it is possible to send lightning bolts to strike down an enemy using magical powers.
“Can you explain it scientifically?” she asks.
At which point a male voice can be heard shouting: “But it’s not true”.
A male (and likely white) voice talking about scientific truth in a Woke seminar is like frying pork sausages on a gas cooker in a mosque or synagogue during Friday prayers.
His interjection was perceived as an assertion of the “scientific method” which supposedly devalued her “lived experience”. This underscores why Wokeness rejects words like “true” especially when uttered by white males. After all, according to Wokery, their “truth” serves merely to uphold a hierarchy designed to keep them in power.
The chair of the meeting, who also appeared to be a woman, put this interloper firmly in his place, telling him the venue was a “safe space” — safe presumably from white, male, heterosexual discourses.
Order restored, the speaker continues: “Western modernity is the direct antagonistic factor to decolonisation. Because Western knowledge is totalising. It is saying that it was Newton, and only Newton, who saw an apple falling out of a tree and then out of
nowhere decided that gravity existed and created an equation and that is it.
Whether people knew Newton or not, or whatever happened in Western Africa or Northern Africa, the only way to understand gravity is through Newton who sat under a tree and saw an apple fall.
So Western Modernity is the problem that decolonisation directly deals with, to say that ‘we have knowledge that speaks to us, and that is able to accommodate knowledge from our perspective’.”
When this video went viral, most viewers thought it was a spoof.
Now I understand that it makes total sense from within the paradigm of Critical Theory. The lived experience of people who believe that magical powers can throw lightning bolts to wipe out their enemies is, from the Woke perspective, as valid a form of knowledge as Newtonian physics.
All I can say is that, if this young woman lives in KwaZulu-Natal, and if she ever flies home via King Shaka airport, she will be able to depend on the reliability of Newton’s laws of motion for the aeroplane to get off the ground and to land safely.
If she were ever to hope that lightning strikes a rival-in-love, and seeks the help of the experts in Umhlabuyalingana, the outcome will be less certain.
And if universities take these arguments seriously (except for studying their cultural, psychological, and behavioural impacts on communities), they will be irreversibly on the road from Woke to Broke.