Novelist and journalist Huw Lemmey asks why the UK media is so obsessed with demonising the “woke”.
The English media is in the middle of a full-throated culture war, from bendy bananas to woke snowflakes, Stormzy to burqas, trans rights to free speech on campus. It seems like over the past decade the intensification of that journalism, combined with the exaggerating effect of social media on editorial choice, has created a print and TV comment culture dedicated to creating a popular spook or ogre, then to ripping it apart. The English press has developed into a unique combination of bullying and blackmail, where a relentlessly vicious tone of mockery and enforced conformity is policed with the justification that either the enemy is at the school gates, or that their furious mockery is “only banter”. In the process, from sheer incuriosity, a whole generation of journalists have confused disagreement with taking offence, criticism with trolling.
…if you want to know what “woke” means, and why a “woke elite” are trying to shut down all criticism, why not read Andrew Doyle’s new book, ‘Woke’, in character as Titania McGrath, with glowing reviews from Rod Liddle, Sarah Vine and Ricky Gervais? Why not read Brendan O’Neill’s spiked editorial on Markle, “A woke Wallis Simpson”? Why not read Rod Liddle’s latest on the “wokeplace romance”? Why not check out Toby Young on how the Labour Party got woke and broke? Why not see what Sarah Vine likes so much about Ricky Gervais, “the Wokefinder General”? Why not read Helen Lewis on the superwoke elite, or listen to Helen Lewis on the News Quiz, supposedly the country’s leading news satire radio programme, where the assassination of Soleimani revolved around a joke that the Left wouldn’t have criticised the attack if the Iranian general had misgendered someone.
As Lemmey points out, the attack lines and tropes are so lazy that last week, Rod Liddle and Giles Coren wrote almost identical articles with almost identically unfunny jokes. I guess it makes a change from using pseudonymous social media accounts to post racist or antisemitic messages.
I thought this bit was interesting.
We are reaching the culture war singularity. To all intents and purposes, in terms of England, the right have won the culture war on most fronts. But now they’re left with a problem — they need an enemy. After we leave, and Francois has had his bongs, what replaces the narrative of EU tyranny that has driven English Euroscepticism?
We’re starting to see the answer to that. It’s the blacks, and the gays, and the trans, and the young, and the feminists, and anyone else who can be dismissed as “woke”. It’s no coincidence that the people spearheading this backlash are white, straight, cisgender, middle-aged and largely male; the people who applaud them on social media are from the same demographic.
The thing about being “woke” is that being woke is a good thing. It means being aware of injustice in society, particularly racism.
Criticising “woke culture” has become a way of claiming victim status for yourself rather than acknowledging that more deserving others hold that status. It has gone from a virtue signal to a dog whistle.
What we’re seeing here is exactly what happened with political correctness: the perversion of a term by right-wingers in an attempt to claim that the real victims are the people who have all the power.
Comedian Stewart Lee skewered that one a decade ago.
The only time you ever see PC mentioned is when people are complaining about PC. For money. And usually on the very publicly funded radio stations that these dicks believe are involved in a politically correct conspiracy to silence them.