When Face Value is Two Faced
I recently read an article by Oliver Traldi in the City-Journal titled, Peak Woke? In the article Mr. Traldi asserted that extreme ideas about race, gender, economics and politics that metastasized into cancel culture, identity politics, social justice, critical race theory, and postmodern neo-Marxism as part of the Great Awokening had infiltrated almost unnoticed into many of the democratic and cultural institutions of America. In recent years, this stealthy infiltration of institutions has become entrenched in human resource departments, DEI committees, ESG ratings and is now overflowing onto our televisions and other media (as I noted in my recent commentary, Weasel Words, July 6, 2022).
But he continued in the article to describe how people are awakening to the Great Awokening. Everything from Glenn Youngkin’s election as governor of Virginia to the box office disaster of Buzz Lightyear are proof that people are not unaware of the leftward lurch of all these institutions and that they are rejecting this wokeness for the un-American nonsense that it is.
This is good news, and I was about to share the article on social media but found that others were already there ahead of me. So, there is no reason for me to write a commentary about Peak Wokeness, except that after I read the article, I read the comments section. One person commented that, “The American Bar Association, for example, once included half of the nation's practicing lawyers; now it's 14%. The American Medical Association used to include most American physicians; now it's 12%.”
Whoa! These once important national institutions are now mere shells of their former selves. Easy for a small band saboteurs to infiltrate in order to redirect the institution toward their woke ideologies. Boy Scouts of America (which is what it was called when I was a scout, and when my sons were scouts, and when my grandson joined scouting) is one such institution. It has been renamed Scouts BSA now that girls and transgender individuals are welcomed. Despite this target market expansion, membership has declined from 4.8 million scouts in 1998 to 720,000 scouts now, according to Newsweek magazine.
But these depleted and compromised institutions still carry a lot of weight. The American Bar Association is still the federally recognized accreditor of US law schools. It also opines on the worthiness of federal judicial court nominations and Supreme Court candidates. Although Republican presidents Bush and Trump did not seek the ABA’s opinion, the Biden administration reinstituted the policy. The ABA has been accused of leaning toward the left and has often supported progressive causes such as abortion rights, same-sex marriage and gun control.
The American Medical Association membership is around 272 thousand (including retirees) of the approximately one million doctors in the US. The Chicago Sun Times reported that in 2021, the AMA published a plan to dismantle "structural racism" that would encourage "explicit conversations about power, racism, gender and class oppression, forms of discrimination and exclusion." They also plan to and utilize critical race theory as part of the dismantling.
As I noted in my commentary on free speech (The Continual High Cost of Free Speech, May 17, 2022) Assistant Secretary for Health, Rachel Levine, recently asserted that there is no argument about gender affirming care and her office further stated that, "There is no debate in the medical community about the medical or scientific validity of gender-affirming care," citing the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP). But these coopted institutions of the medical community are now the willing tools of the progressive left, and their politically motivated opinions should carry no more weight than that of any other extremist group.
It strikes me as passing strange that physicians and scientists who should know better have signed on to a belief system and ideology that rejects empirical evidence and asserts that the scientific method is a tool of white supremacy. Scientists are supposed to be skeptical and new medical advances are occurring every day and replacing old ideas with new therapies. I learned this a long time ago. When our first child was born my wife and I followed Dr. Spock’s advice and had the baby sleep on her stomach. When our second child was born our updated volume of Spock’s Baby and Child Care advised us that baby’s should only be put in their cribs on their back. Or was it the other way around? It doesn’t matter. Medical opinions vary and change all the time. New therapies are discovered. Because there is always debate. No matter what Assistant Secretary Levine and the drones in her department say.
In this divisive era, it is not uncommon to doubt what the other side is saying. But you also need to doubt what your own side is saying. Authoritative sources are no longer authoritative. Many news outlets are propaganda machines. Scientific research is skewed, and peer review can be biased. Fact checkers can be as biased as anyone else. It will take time to rebuild trust in our democratic institutions. But the first thing we need to focus on is integrity.
We should not ignore our democratic institutions, but we do need to rebuild and reinvigorate them. Lawyers need to rejoin the ABA and doctors need to rejoin the AMA. And then they need to get those institutions back on course. Our other institutions, universities and civic organizations need renewal as well. We may be past Peak Woke, as Mr. Traldi’s commentary suggests, but woke is not going to just go away. It will take the concerted efforts of many Americans, at their work, their civic organizations and at the voting booth, to consign this un-American nonsense to the dust heap of history where it belongs.