How Conservatives Should Respond to the Great Awokening

Disinviting controversial speakers from campus speaking engagements is nothing new —the free speech watchdog group FIRE has a database that tracks such occurrences dating back to 1998—but the practice reached a new level in 2016 when conservative Ben Shapiro spoke at Cal State-Los Angeles. First, the university president tried to cancel the speech but relented. Then, as Shapiro spoke, a protester set off a fire alarm to try to force an evacuation. 

Fast forward a few years, and it’s not events that some are trying to cancel, but people themselves. Did you tweet something offensive back when you were 16? Someone will try to get your college admission revoked. When The Atlantic hired conservative writer Kevin Williamson last year, he told his new boss there would be a campaign to have him fired. His boss scoffed. As Williamson wrote a few weeks later, “My first piece appeared in the Atlantic on April 2. I was fired on April 5.”

Atlantic contributor Yascha Mounk just last week listed some examples of how ordinary American citizens have had their lives destroyed and jobs lost over misunderstandings and overreactions to what appeared bigoted to a hypersensitive and overly online public. A Washington Post story “outing” a non-famous woman for having worn an offensive costume years ago aroused so much shock no one at the paper itself could defend it—yet done it was.

Welcome to life under the Great Awokening.

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  • This piece is ignoring a lot of history, specifically the part of history where every time conservatives create “alternative nodes of culture and information” the wind up with a shit show: see Fox News, AONN, Beirbart, and most recently Parler.

    The conservative movement is philosophically incoherent. One cannot be for liberty and for overturning Roe v. Wade, for financial prudence and for exploding the deficit through tax cuts, or for the first amendment’s guarantees of freedom of expression and for banning drag queen story hour.

    Conservatives must come to a self-consistent philosophy before they an hope to create institutions that can counter the mob.

  • “ First, conservatives stand for what they consider to be right and true, even when that view is deeply unpopular.”

    Wait, what? Is this irony, sarcasm, or just parody?

    Conservatives, present company excluded, stopped standing for anything years ago, which is why they fell for Trump.

  • Can we just nuke Twitter and Facebook? How about all social media? We’ll just call it “collateral damage.”

  • Also, I am so happy to be here! Signs of intelligent life!

  • I would just like to say that this ("If we want to somehow counter the white-hot revolutionary zeal driving the woke, we need people who may never vote Republican and who certainly will not tolerate bigotry but who may be more amenable to being against the mob.") seemingly impossible goal is not so impossible. I am a Democrat. I may never vote Republican. But here I am, reading The Dispatch, as a new subscriber, because I like to a good argument. I believe in critical thinking above all else—and I am very, very concerned about "the mob," especially when it comes to free speech.

  • We are seeing the end of the enlightenment ... descending into an age of fear, superstition, mob rule ... intellectual darkness. The new leadership--a mob of violence fostering, history erasing, anti-intellectuals.

  • It's funny, thinkers and leftist like Steven Pinker, Sam Harris, Bret Weinstein, are all realizing (or have realized) something has gone wrong in Academia and the Culture for a long time across the west.

    The breading of antisemitism on the left, the denial of science in vaccination in the natural movements against GMO's and healthy living, and transgenderism that does not want to admit biology and wishes people to conform to anti scientific principles, hate speech isn't free speech, rewriting of grievance history (the list goes on), evidently is becoming a stepping stone too far for some of the guardians of liberalism.

    Because they finally realize that you cannot continually push boundaries without finally running into the wall of reality.

    Now of course the right has its own problems (some similar, some not, but this article is about the left), but if your first instinct to reading this article is to defend Progressivism, the left, democrats, maybe you're in an echo chamber and just don't realize it.

    After all, before you remove a fence, ask why it was put there in the first place.

    1. I've tried to respond to this, but I can't because I simply don't understand what you are saying. I don't understand what the common thread is you see between anti-vaccination and "hate speech isn't free speech" and how that thread wouldn't exist between, say, global warming denialism and "hate speech isn't free speech" and what any of it has to do with pushing boundaries and not asking why a fence wasn't put there in the first place.

      1. It’s pretty much said that...thinkers on the left are acknowledging huge problems on their side. And everything I said has been previously an issue on campus universities has bleed into the workforce. If you want specific examples I can, but I mean you would have to be very much missing the culture war news if you are not sure what I am referencing.

        And the fence is G.K. Chesterton. Look it up! It’s a great reference. I don’t want to spoil everything.

        1. I'm with Mudskipper. I don't understand what you're talking about.
          And "read [some author]" is not a good rebuttal or explanation.

        2. Oh, I understand the culture war references all right. And I understand what Chesterton was trying to say--I just don't understand its relevancy.

          Let me try again: what particular fence do you think the left has foolishly removed that would result in the disparate issues you have listed?

          1. Sure Mud, let me tie some fences together for you here on what I mean.

            First fence, the removal of the science of sex and gender, due to Transgenderism. From the pressure scientific academy is facing in the west to conform to gender and non binary issues, we find a host of radical, fringe, and denial of basic biology in this field, rearing itself up in academia and now, in the culture wars, that is also affecting policy. It has denied the freedoms gained in feminism, and has tortured people in professional fields who are scared to speak out on the issue for fear of losing their jobs, doxxing, harassment, etc.

            Such as the firing of prominent scientists on sex for questioning normal orthodoxy:


            Though I did not sight her in my original statement, J.K. Rowling, perfectly summed up what is going on at the moment (no, I have never read Harry Potter):


            And here is Sam Harris, and Douglas Murray on this issue (behind a backdrop of Islamic extremism but it is still poignant on what has and is, going on currently on the left. Jump to the 3 min mark for Sam Harris)


            In Canada, the government can compel you to use pronounces whether you believe it or not, and fine you for it. Their supreme court ruled on it in favor of this practice.


            In Europe, and the UK, misgendering can get you fined. Whether you believe in it or not is irrelevant.


            And the list will continue to go on. But I will stop there. This is a phenomenon on the left, not right.

            2nd fence, the removal of medical science in favor of junk science on vaccination.

            A little personal experience on this one. About twenty years ago when I was in middle school/high school, my mother became a vegan. The group she had come over and hung with were young adults, that were pushing anti vaccination under the guise of healthy living. The idea that Big Pharma is out to get you in the US and Europe, and its one big conspiracy to keep money flowing into their coffers. They haven't cured cancer/insert whatever diseases/virus here for monetary purposes. Most of the books and articles is based on pseudoscience in the anti-vaccination field. Now, I don't believe they were intentionally trying to deceive people, they just did not understand actual science and they themselves (and many others) still are deceived.

            For a more recent, quick, and easy breakdown of some of the myths associated with this movement that was prevalent on the east coast and west coast, (and in Europe) here:


            Also, I remember Gary Null had a popular NPR radio show, where he pushed anti-vaccination for years. Many doctors, naturalist, and weirdo's on the left has kept this idea alive.

            And yes, my Mother does believe in vaccination. And is still very healthy as a vegan.

            3rd Fence: Hate Speech is not Free speech.

            The evolution from college campuses to modern day American life having this issue is something that has increasingly gained steam. Leading officials and thinkers, are promoting the censoring of the First Amendment using the government.

            Here is Time magazine (A breakdown from USA today in which an former Obama official wants to curtail free speech) on the issue:


            And here is a breakdown in survey that found 40% of Americans believe the government should censor hate speech from the Cato Institute:


            40%. Yikes. This is clearly a movement that has been influenced from Europe and has infected American thinkers on the left. All in the name of protecting people, we have leading people wanting others to give up their right to free speech. This is a left issue. Journalist who should be the vanguard of protecting free speech, won't. This thinking continues to bleed into movements today, such as BLM organization movements from academia.


            On journalist that should be protecting free speech:

            I can continue, but I hope you see my original statements are not said in a vacuum. Yes, the right has problems (happy to go through that another time), but clearly there are certain problems that the left faces that the rest of the nation, does not. However, the rest of the nation will have to grapple with this, as a major political side clearly is going to continue pushing these problems.

            Hope that clears some things up.

    2. Criticisms of academic scholarship in the humanities--especially of postmodernism and of critical theory--have not always been seen as a strictly left/right issue and those criticisms are not new. However believing those liberal and leftist critics will join an alliance in service of Trumpian postmodernism on the right is foolish.

      1. Who on earth would suggest they would join Trumpian postmodernism?

  • BLM isn’t driven by upper middle class white ideology. BLM comes out of personal experience of discrimination or personal identification with those who have been affected. I could tell a hundred anecdotes out of my life in Black culture in the Deep South. BLM promotes values of caring and fairness. Conservatives, in company with racists, have long negated or subordinated those values in public life to their own values of purity, authority, and in-group loyalty. Conservatives have been mocking African-American studies and women’s studies for 40 years, but what we call “woke” comes from a hundred million biographies.

    1. Right on point Scroop Moth. There is a systematic, Institutional and insidiously horrible 60 year gap in every single metric of progress made by Whites compared to Blacks. It is an unacceptable comment by anyone to say well.. "all boats have risen". Systemic racsim is still with us. Not one Liberal, Progressive or Conservative Policy or Program has closed the BIAS GAP.
      FOR 60 years !!!

      Easy to find. Harder to understand. For me.. BLM has and the protests .. are totally in bounds, and frankly insufficient.

    2. If you are talking the organization ideas, it is driven by thinkers such as Ta-Nehisi Coates, Dr Ibram x Kendi, the older guard of Dr. Cornel West, (and more) that have given into a sadly, revisionist history of grievances that surpass what other thinkers, Booker T Washington, Fredrick Douglas, Rev Martin Luther, would not have wanted.

      The current black thinkers, who many of them have rejected or have no ties to the black protestant church, clearly take the writings of W.E.B. Du Bois (Pan-Africanism), Malcolm X (separate but equal and white and black cannot coexist), and a host of other thinkers, and bring the worst conclusions about the West in general and believe as matter a fact, even if their facts are wrong.

      It has festered at the university level for decades because faculty are too scared to challenge a narrative that most professors, who have not ever read black literature, know nothing about. Thus, a whole industry of revisionism has blossomed, and one of the defining features is the 1619 project, riddled with so many factual errors or overly broad generalizations, that other Pulitzer Prize historians had to come out and correct the record. Yet the project still is there at the NYT, and was given it's own Pulitzer even with all the false information in it's essays.

      Also, the BLM organization was started by self trained and professed Marxists, and came out of the false case of the Treyvon Martin shooting that jump started it (it was created before the shooting, but this is when the organization got heavy in activity and was their first successful rallying cry).

      and for the case of Martin:

      Now, if you say Black Lives Matter as just the statement, what you say rings true and we agree. Minorities do feel persecuted, and shunned and ignored, both in the deep south and the liberal cities across America.

      But there is a difference between the statement, and the organization. A massive one. Black Americans, despite high crime rates (story for another time) are highly protestant and religious. Black Lives Matter, is highly LGBT friendly, religiously averse, and wants to see America transformed economically and socially into something far worse that what we have now. It's on their main website by the way. so they do not hide the ball here.

      We should support the statement and peaceful protest's that march because they feel injustice is there. We should not support the organization of Black Lives Matter. They don't care about civil discourse or trying to fix the system. They want it overthrown for a grievance culture of the civil rights era that they were not a part of, who their predecessors paved the path in blood and self sacrifice in a way that this nation must always be grateful for. The old protestant civil rights guard, they were the ones who called us to the better angels of our nature.

      After all, Martin Luther King would forgive his enemies, not punish their descendants for the sins of the fathers.

      1. I'm not sure Martin Luther King would agree with your assessment of BLM. Although he wasn't a communist, he leaned towards socialism and believed a significant economic restructuring of America was needed. He also greatly admired Dr. Du Bois and had this to say:

        "We cannot talk of Dr Du Bois without recognizing that he was a radical all of his life. Some people would like to ignore the fact that he was a communist in his later years. It is worth noting that Abraham Lincoln warmly welcomed the support of Karl Marx during the Civil War and corresponded with him freely. In contemporary life the English-speaking world has no difficulty with the fact that Seán O’Casey was a literary giant of the twentieth century and a communist or that Pablo Neruda is generally considered the greatest living poet though he also served in the Chilean Senate as a communist. It is time to cease muting the fact that Dr Du Bois was a genius and chose to be a communist. Our irrational obsessive anti-communism has led us into too many quagmires to be retained as if it were a mode of scientific thinking."

      2. WEB DuBois was the one guy holding the fort while America’s Best Historians(tm) were embracing the racist Lost Cause view of Reconstruction. Your red baiting is execrable.

        1. W.E.B. Du Bois was right on civil agitation. He was wrong on Pan-Africanism. To disagree and see where other writers take their idea’s from, is not red baiting. It’s researching.

          I also never said anything about revisionism of the southern Dixie Democrats, which they did. That does not excuse the revisionism of the current progressive movement. Both can be true, and are.

  • Wokes. Not original. See Abraham Lincoln and the Wide Awakes marching by torchlight...

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