Yesterday I wrote a post for my HinesSight blog, "Woke Racism" is a great book. The subtitle of the book is "How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America."
John McWhorter, the author, is an atheist. So when he calls woke racism a religion, that's intended as a negative judgement.
In his chapter, The New Religion, McWhorter describes the ways what he calls The Elect (meaning, those who embrace woke racism) act in a religious fashion.
Here's some excerpts from that chapter.
With the rise of Third Wave Antiracism we are witnessing the birth of a new religion, just as Romans witnessed the birth of Christianity. The way to get past seeing the Elect as merely "crazy" is to understand that they are a religion. To see them this way is not to wallow in derision, but to genuinely grasp what they are.
One thing that will discourage a general perception of them in this way is that they themselves will resist the charge so heartily. This is understandable.Early Christians did not think of themselves as "a religion" either. They thought of themselves as bearers of truth, in contrast to all other belief systems, whatever they chose to call themselves.
In addition, in our times, it will feel unwelcome to the Elect to be deemed a religion, because they do not bill themselves as such and often associate devout religiosity with backwardness. It also implies that they are not thinking for themselves.
...To make sense of it, we must understand them -- partly out of compassion and partly in order to keep them from destroying our own lives. This can happen only if we process them not as crazed, but parishioners.
To do this, we must examine the ways in which their new religion so closely parallels older ones. It makes what can seem like a mess of weird opinions and attitudes into something quite coherent.
The Elect have superstition. It is inherent in a religion that, amid various other tenets and commitments, one is to accept certain suspensions of disbelief. Certain questions are not to be asked, or, if asked, only politely. The answer one gets, despite being somewhat half-cocked, is to be accepted.
...Elect philosophy requires the same standpoint. One is not to ask "Why are black people so upset about one white cop killing a black man when black men are at more danger of being killed by one another?" Or one might go ahead and ask, only to receive flabby answers after which further questions are unwelcome.
...What you actually don't "get" in your quest to wring logic out of incoherent positions like these is that for the Elect, battling racism is to be questioned only in ways that reinforce the idea that the Elect are correct -- even at the cost of basic sense. This is superstition.
The Elect have clergy. Think of the preacher praised for his sermon as people file out of church. It probably wasn't the kind of sermon that, for most of these people, blew their minds. They enjoyed it because it was a beautiful rendition of that which they knew before, and it gave them comfort.
On race, the Elect cherish certain top-rate thinkers for their gifts in phrasing, repeating, and crafting artful variations upon points considered crucial. These are their priests, their clergy.
You need your preacher to keep telling the religion's truth, and to tell it often, since the superstitious, nonempirical wing of the ideology is easy to drift away from as real life impinges ever upon you in daily existence.
The Elect have original sin. The Elect, then, have magic, clergy, and also a conception of original sin. Under Elect creed, the sin is "white privilege." To anticipate a question, yes, I do believe that to be white in America is to automatically harbor certain unstated privileges in terms of one's sense of belonging.
...But the issue here is not whether I or anyone else thinks white privilege is real, but what we consider the proper response to it. The Elect are to ritually "acknowledge" that they possess white privilege, with an awareness that they can never be absolved of it.
...Coates and DiAngelo are calling these people sinners. Yet the sinners eagerly drink in the charge, revering their accusers, and come away from this self-mortification feeling energized. Cleansed. This is worship, by people embracing the self-mortification of the inveterate sinner, stained by the original sin of white privilege.
The Elect are evangelical. "Why don't they allow people to have different opinions?" You're missing the point. The Elect can seem truly baffling -- until we see they are a religion. Specifically, an evangelical one.
To wit: Do we wonder why fundamentalist Christians do not see their beliefs as just one of many valid opinions? They see themselves as bearers of a Good News that, if all people would simply open up and see it, would create a perfect world.
...To be Elect is to think in exactly the same way. Key to being Elect is a sense that there is always a flock of unconverted heathen. Many of the heathen are, for example, the whites "out there," as it is often put about the white people who were so widely feared as possibly keeping Barack Obama from being elected (twice).
The Elect ban the heretic. The Elect consider it imperative to not only critique those who disagree with their creed, but to seek their punishment and elimination to whatever degree real-life conditions can accommodate.
There is an overriding sense that unbelievers must be not just spoken out against, but called out, isolated, and banned.
...The reality is that what the Elect call problematic is what a Christian means by blasphemous.
...The Elect are members of a religion, of a kind within which the dissenter is not someone in disagreement but is a kind of environmental pollution.
...The religious fervor is absolutist, complete with a Manichaean sense of good versus evil. Many recall Dana Carvey's Church Lady on Saturday Night Live, with her self-celebratory obsession with smoking out the doings of "SATAN?!"
...Why can't they allow other views? Remember, this is religion, not political science, and specifically a religion eerily akin to devout Christianity. To the Elect, racism is the equivalent of Satan. If I deign to walk by Satan with the idea that we just let him be, I am missing the point. I am "wrong."