Yesterday I wrote a post on my Salem Political Snark blog, "I get cited by Salem's Woke Police." Here I'll explore the connection between wokeness and religiosity.
Since many people who visit this blog don't live in the United States, woke is a word that means "alert to racial or social discrimination and injustice." That sounds like a good thing, which usually it is.
But as the saying goes, you can have too much of a good thing.
About three weeks ago I helped start a new Facebook group here in Salem, Oregon. The instigator was a young woman who I've never met in person. She's young, very liberal, and seemed sincere about having a Facebook group that lived up to its name, Let's Discuss Salem.
The woman told me that anybody in Salem could join the group: liberals, independents, conservatives, anybody. That appealed to me, since I mostly associate with fellow progressives, and I thought it'd be interesting to share ideas with people of a different political persuasion.
However, as you can read in the post I wrote about the Woke Police, it didn't take long for the administrators of the Facebook group to become so amazingly woke, sometimes I wasn't sure if they were being serious.
For example, this is a new rule for the group that got added to other equally woke rules: "7) Telling members of marginalized communities how to think, feel, and act about their own oppression is prohibited."
So only Black people in the group (if there are any) can talk to other Black people about their issues. Ditto for Latino people. As a white person, I can't express an opinion about a Black issue. Only Blacks can do that.
As I said in my Salem Political Snark blog post:
I still believe that it is better to be overly concerned about racism, sexism, nationalism, and other nasty "ism's" than under concerned.
However, a balance needs to be struck between awareness of social problems affecting minorities and other historically oppressed groups, and an overzealous righteousness where perceived affronts to social justice are criticized in an absurd fashion.
I emailed a link to my post to some Salem friends. One wrote back to me this morning with some wise observations.
I have just read all of what appeared in the link below. To me, your most powerful statement included "shades of gray, political nuance...." Yes, precisely. Those beating the drums on both the right and the left, including the local "Woke Police," are sending overly simplified messages.
These are designed to capture minds and memories with catchy and easily remembered soundbites. and, in many cases, to quote Shakespeare in the speech by Marc Antony "to cry havoc, and let loose the dogs of war..." to serve their particular goals.
The higher level thinking skills of critical thinking and analysis do not work well in these arenas. You have worked to challenge a general audience to think critically. Of course, that is at best a steeply uphill struggle.
The full statement she referred to said:
This is the problem with having a black and white view of the world. Nuance, shades of gray, moral ambiguity, political compromise -- that doesn't appeal to people on either the left or right who believe that how they see things is how everybody should see things.
Same applies to religious people who have a black and white view of the cosmos. In other words, fundamentalists. They view any deviation from their rigid perspective on reality as a dangerous heresy. I just read that the Taliban in Afghanistan are decreeing that music is forbidden, apparently because some weird interpretation of Islam says so.
A tiny bit of critical thinking reveals the absurdity of fundamentalism. But for those in the grip of it, that rigidity makes sense. And even is appealing.
I sort of shudder when I remember that back in my true believing days, when the guru of the religion I followed decreed that animal rennet couldn't be eaten, I was one of the fundamentalists who obsessively read cheese labels for evidence that the rennet was animal or vegetarian.
The woke fundamentalists of the Let's Discuss Salem Facebook page are similarly caught in the grip of a mindset that abhors reason, common sense, flexibility. Since I try to manifest each of those qualities, the Woke Police have become increasingly irritated with me.
Which not only doesn't bother me, I'm learning to enjoy it. I find a special pleasure in speaking reasonably when they talk about the necessity to not let a single politically impure post or comment appear on Let's Discuss Salem.
I have the impression that this rigidity gives that woke crowd a reason for being, since they can feel superior to fellow progressives like me who are a lot looser in our speech and attitudes. At the end of my Salem Political Snark post, I include excerpts from a The Atlantic story about research concerning the different political tribes in the United States.
It turns out that about a third of Americans are on the fringes of the left and right, so far out there they aren't interested in ratcheting down the rancor and finding common ground.
But about two-thirds of Americans do want to find common ground with those who see things differently. That's good news. Problem is, the extremists tend to dominate the news, because they're the ones screaming about this or that outrage. Same seems to be true of religion.
Most religious believers aren't dogmatic. They wear their religion lightly. They don't take themselves too seriously. They accept that people with different views are entitled to those views, and may even have something to teach them.
"7) Telling members of marginalized communities how to think, feel, and act about their own oppression is prohibited."
What would be examples of this?
Posted by: Spence Tepper | August 26, 2021 at 06:49 AM
Excellent post, Brian. I was in some initial discussions about the Let's Discuss Salem group. I'd just connected (on FB messenger) with the woman you are describing--about 4 weeks ago. I soon learned she is intense, controlling, and passive-aggressive. She started messaging me at 5am on some days and it seemed as though she thought I was her employee. I was misled by her and always felt there was a hidden agenda to the group. She never told me the true intent of the group, which I believe is organizing against the proud boys. I want them out of town too, but sending people into crowds during a global pandemic is absurd. She is all about virtue signaling and I feel the group was started to compete with the FB city council group. I chose to leave the group after being personally attacked by 3 people and being called names. Political fundamentalism indeed.
Posted by: LH | August 26, 2021 at 09:07 AM
Wokey, wokey… no more pokey
Self-righteous people are the least fun.
I would say the Taliban is a tad self-righteous. Just kidding, their self-righteousness is full blown bat shit unhinged. Zero fun.
Posted by: Sonia | August 26, 2021 at 09:42 AM
Critical thinking could not produce any orator equal to Osho Rajneesh or U G Krishnamurti in America or Britain. What kind of critical thinking people are promoting in America or Britain.
Posted by: Vinny | August 26, 2021 at 10:00 AM
Let's be a little critical:
Nasa: 3 Trillion Galaxies in this Universe - my feel says :
+3 zeros more
And there might be an equal trillion Universes in Brahma's/Yahwe s astral.
Chance to meet This Maker : one on a 1000 Trillion figure
Chance that Charan was totally fake : you name it
If some zeros left will be on the RSSB side
What are U doing in these months, . . left 4U
Posted by: 💛 DIRE Nasa report 💛 | August 27, 2021 at 06:48 AM
I don't see the 1st Baptist church or All Saints Catholic parish or any other religious group battling in the streets of Portland, the city which has been a hub of woke riots for the last 2 years.
Posted by: Tendzin | August 27, 2021 at 10:21 AM
Tendzin, here in Salem, south of Portland, a local church has been having anti-abortion protests outside a Planned Parenthood office. The church has the Proud Boys militia group providing "security." Recently the Proud Boys got into a fight with counter-protestors. So fundamentalist churches are aligned with right-wing troublemakers. The Proud Boys were part of the January 6 insurrection at our nation's capitol.
Posted by: Brian Hines | August 27, 2021 at 11:06 AM
"What are U doing in these months, . . left 4U"
NASA? Groovy Charan 💛 asteroid!
Posted by: umami | August 27, 2021 at 08:53 PM
Let's look up this word first:
Past tense and past participle of WAKE (Entry 2); alerted to something.
When we blacks use it, we mean and I'll say this only One time. We mean, never to be under the oppressive rule of white people. EVER AGAIN.
AS SALAAMU ALAIKUM WA RAHMATULLAHI WA BARAKATUH
Posted by: Karim W. Rahmaan | August 28, 2021 at 01:12 AM
No one likes to be judged.
Especially when they are casting judgment on others.
So, when injustice is brought to light people either support that movement or marshall their arguments against it.
And then you see smaller minds arguing even in factions about who is really right and who is mostly but not completely right.
This entirely misses the point of the injustice originally brought forth.
And this sort of fractionalism arises from small minds that must establish their superiority rather than get behind the movement. People who don't know how to support other people's ideas.
But without supporting other people's ideas, even imperfect ones, no progress happens.
They supported the movement so long as they could judge others as wrong.
Now they create factions so they can continue to have an audience judging others as wrong.
This is the problem with nihilistic thinking. It reduces all reality to absurdity, and then claims that isn't rational.
This is what you get when rational thinking crowds out understanding, and submission to reality.
Rational thinking is a whore who will assume any position for the fee of a few hand picked "facts".
Posted by: Spence Tepper | August 28, 2021 at 04:13 AM
"Chance to meet This Maker : one on a 1000 Trillion figure"
No. He is within us, all around us, in the palm of your hand, and you in His palm.
The price? Putting aside our tiny thinking, and accepting our natural ability to observe, accept, and submit.
In submission to our own thinking, there is enslavement.
In submission to truth, to the intuitive within, there is bliss. And that truth sets us free of our own nihilism.
And that is the first step to being truly helpful to anyone else.
It is easy to have faith in God and a good Cause when we understand we are tiny, microscopic in our rational thinking, but part of an infinite wisdom in our submission to it : all equal, all brothers and sisters and others together.
That is our natural state. Let us reconnect with it, cling to it, re-integrate worth the nature within us that binds us all together as One reality.
Posted by: Spence Tepper | August 28, 2021 at 04:25 AM
If rational thinking is a whore, irrational thinking is a barbarian horde. Besides, slut shaming perpetuates rape culture.
Posted by: umami | August 28, 2021 at 05:05 AM
A whore earns their pay by performing perfectly. I used the example as one of perfect subservience.
Rational thinking is a servant of our conditioning. And should not be our master. Rather, we should be aware of our biases.
As for shaming anyone, it's not good idea, right?
Posted by: Spence Tepper | August 28, 2021 at 06:03 AM
Now, if rational thinking can be such a perfect servant to our own biases, admirable in its defense of any position you prefer, why can't we become perfect servants of a single Truth?
I suspect it isn't possible with the flawed biochemistry of thinking. That Truth may be witnessed, but never accurately articulated.
Some folks would like all Truth to be submissive to rational thinking
But intuition and subjective thinking also play their part, and I suggest we can't apprehend any new truth without them.
I suggest that only established truths, commoditized information, old truths, can be apprehended by rational thinking, deductive and reductive thinking. New truths can't be uncovered on a basis of old facts because new truths are outside of old ones. Inductive thinking, Discovery requires imagination, vision, feels, and all these in support of putting aside thinking and learning to observe. To see what we had ignored or dismissed before, because it doesn't fit our auto pilot blinkered conditioned thinking. How do we see something new that our conditioned brain doesn't recognize and can't categorize?
Look to your critics to open up your thinking.
Take yourself out of it, and see things as they are, not as you are.
"Your idea is crazy.
But not crazy enough to be true."
Posted by: Spence Tepper | August 28, 2021 at 06:21 AM
Sorry, but I like rational thinking. Generally speaking, it's when people don't think rationally that they're driven by conditioning and bias. Lynch mobs? Capitol riot?
Posted by: umami | August 28, 2021 at 06:57 AM
You will find that lynch mobs are organized by a whole series of rational steps and arguments carefully orchestrated.
The danger is believing they are irrational and we are rational.
We are all being rational, but based upon a different set of agreed premeses.
Our conditioning determines what we will choose to believe.
Yes, there is irrational thinking. But often that becomes rational when we understand better the "facts" that support it.
The problem arises when we believe we are the true rational ones and "they" are irrational.
This happens when we refuse to understand or accept, or actually deny, the basis of other's thinking because we cannot accept their conclusions.
But doing that, selecting what to ignore, is irrational.
Posted by: Spence Tepper | August 28, 2021 at 08:59 AM
Indeed. I'm guilty of perpetuating civilization culture by shaming the barbarian horde.
Posted by: umami | August 28, 2021 at 09:59 AM