Woke is the new puritanism | Guest column

By Quentin Morris

By Quentin Morris,

Guest column

In our dizzying social-political world, one may feel isolated and bewildered as the line between facts and opinion blurs and shifts. When did the line move so far from the observable and evidentiary? Authoritarian censoring, cancelling, and dismissal stalks objective truth. I see this almost daily. Perhaps you noticed as well.

I write today after reading of Keith Livingston’s scolding opinion in the Mirror: “Federal Way can benefit from embracing the woke.” Keith recently challenged me to respond to his “truth.” He could have saved a lot of time and print. I summarize: “This country sucks because of what all your white Bible thumping murdering capitalist ancestors did. So, we have this brand-spanking new religion that will set us all free. So… sit down, shut up and enjoy the show as we roll out the new good times for all. You will own nothing, have no say in it, and enjoy it all! Trust us!” Well, what could go wrong?”

Moving on, Keith misquotes Benjamin Franklin. Correction: “It is a Republic if you can keep it.” (Not a democracy.) This is not a trivial distinction. Then he insults people of conscience calling them the “fundamentalist religious” with their “God-given right to exploit.” Reasonable readings of history observe it was the religious that were the fiercest critics of slavery and who risked all and resolved to see its end. Keith’s reductionist and simplistic views of U.S. history are not new nor are they surprising. Clearly, they are not inspiring either.

I just don’t think “woke” means what Keith thinks it means. Livingston simplistically defines woke as “seeking respect for all, truth and enlightenment.” He then proceeds to malign those who challenge the extreme, novel and unprovable ideas unleashed into academia by 20th century European post-modernist philosophers’ intent on radical transformation of Western society. These malign corruptions have since infiltrated our institutions. Even the employed language does not mean what you think it means. Social Justice is neither.

Wokeism is a radical ideology substantively void of authentic scholarship and scientific inquiry. Wokeism assumes the character of a fundamentalist religion: Its basic claims are never submitted to proof or publicly debated by its ardent sponsors. At its core, one’s status within this belief system is determined by intersectional group membership. Individual attributes or accomplishment are secondary. Imprinting an oppressed mindset risks inflicting cynicism against future success even in the most inclusive economic and social environment. In the hands of a government bureaucracy, this can lead to grave and lasting harms.

It follows that institutionalizing this secular religion enforces it with government power against all rivals, especially traditional faith and values. Why shouldn’t contemporary families be concerned with this state’s ability to hide, sterilize and/or mutilate their gender dysphoric children? DOJ dispatched the FBI to investigate parents voicing dissent at school board meetings as domestic terrorists. Most recently, there is evidence that the FBI sent agents into Catholic congregations. Bob Ferguson’s overtly political Truth Commission was a near miss in the last legislative session. Many immigrant families come to this country with refreshed memories of a tyranny left behind now taking root here. Listen to them!

I have been participating in FWPS School Board meetings for the past 18 months; I cannot even once recall any of Keith’s alleged shouting matches. Incidentally, I seem to have missed the free and open debate by those tolerant woke advocates who get into people’s faces and shout down disagreement at other venues. I’ve been there. Dissenting voices are routinely demeaned, dismissed and silenced. Wokeism is itself intolerant. It is a new form of puritanism. Skeptics include all who embrace diversity of thought, free speech, the treasure of liberties, and the guarantees of religious expression. While our Constitution and Bill of Rights are being threatened, we need these ardent defenders. In closing, in the face of this fundamentalist and rigid religiosity of wokeism, I ask where have all the liberals gone?

Let’s build more bridges within our community, not burn them. Please abandon the divisive and toxic rhetoric. Open hearts and minds.

Quentin Morris is a member of the Federal Way School Board.