Stop Being Shocked

Stop Being Shocked, by Bari Weiss.

To understand the enormity of the change we are now living through, take a moment to understand America as the overwhelming majority of its Jews believed it was — and perhaps as we always assumed it would be.

Western civilization:

It was liberal.

Not liberal in the narrow, partisan sense, but liberal in the most capacious and distinctly American sense of that word: the belief that everyone is equal because everyone is created in the image of God. The belief in the sacredness of the individual over the group or the tribe. The belief that the rule of law — and equality under that law — is the foundation of a free society. The belief that due process and the presumption of innocence are good and that mob violence is bad. ..

Crucially, this liberalism relied on the view that the Enlightenment tools of reason and the scientific method might have been designed by dead white guys, but they belonged to everyone, and they were the best tools for human progress that have ever been devised.

Racism was evil because it contradicted the foundations of this worldview, since it judged people not based on the content of their character, but on the color of their skin. … The founding documents were not evil to the core but “magnificent,” as Martin Luther King Jr. put it, because they were “a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.”

I didn’t even know that this worldview had a name because it was baked into everything I came into contact with — my parents’ worldviews, the schools they sent me to, the synagogues we attended, the magazines and newspapers we read, and so on.

Woke:

No longer. American liberalism is under siege. There is a new ideology vying to replace it.

No one has yet decided on the name for the force that has come to unseat liberalism. Some say it’s “Social Justice.” The author Rod Dreher has called it “therapeutic totalitarianism.” The writer Wesley Yang refers to it as “the successor ideology” — as in, the successor to liberalism.

At some point, it will have a formal name, one that properly describes its mixture of postmodernism, postcolonialism, identity politics, neo-Marxism, critical race theory, intersectionality, and the therapeutic mentality. Until then, it is up to each of us to see it plainly. We need to look past the hashtags and slogans and the jargon to assess it honestly — and then to explain it to others.

The new creed’s premise goes something like this: We are in a war in which the forces of justice and progress are arrayed against the forces of backwardness and oppression. And in a war, the normal rules of the game — due process; political compromise; the presumption of innocence; free speech; even reason itself — must be suspended. Indeed, those rules themselves were corrupt to begin with — designed, as they were, by dead white males in order to uphold their own power. …

The beating heart of this new ideology is critical race theory...

Critical race theory says there is no such thing as neutrality, not even in the law, which is why the very notion of colorblindness — the Kingian dream of judging people not based on the color of their skin but by the content of their character — must itself be deemed racist. Racism is no longer about individual discrimination. It is about systems that allow for disparate outcomes among racial groups. If everyone doesn’t finish the race at the same time, then the course must have been flawed and should be dismantled.

Thus the efforts to do away with the SAT, or the admissions test for elite public schools like Stuyvesant and Lowell — for decades, the engines of American meritocracy that allowed children of poor and working-class families to advance on their merits, regardless of race. …

In fact, any feature of human existence that creates disparity of outcomes must be eradicated: The nuclear family, politeness, even rationality itself can be defined as inherently racist or evidence of white supremacy …

Woke is built on the lie that civilizations and races are equal. They aren’t. They have different strengths and weaknesses. And it’s an historical fact that one civilization and one people broke out of the Malthusian trap, and shared it with the rest of the world. Humanity has never been better off.

But now the people and civilization that led humanity out of the bleak Malthusian nightmare are being demonized, the civilizational features that allowed that progress are being rolled back, by fact-denying “sharers” of other peoples stuff — by “progressive” socialists. Humanity risks plunging back into a new dark age. Facts and truth are being forced to play second fiddle to power politics wielded by the powerful, the corrupt, and the violent.