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Talking With John McWhorter About the "Woke" Religion

Onkar Ghate, Elan Journo, John McWhorter

Presented at: New Ideal Live

Date: Dec 07, 2021

“Woke” anti-racism is ascendant in our culture. But contrary to the claims of its advocates, it
encourages, rather than combats, racism. And it actively harms, rather than helps, the people it
claims to care about. What animates it is not a commitment to facts and evidence, but a zealot’s
mentality: it is a new religion. John McWhorter makes these provocative claims in his trenchant new book Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America. In this episode of the New Ideal podcast, Onkar Ghate and Elan Journo talked with McWhorter about his analysis of the “woke” phenomenon.

Topics we talked about include:
-How the debate over race issues has changed since the early 2000s;
-Key similarities between religion and the “woke” phenomenon;
-What explains the religious fervor over racial issues since the Civil Rights era;
-Why not all black Americans have the sense of having overcome oppression;
-Whether defeatism about race is a consensus among black Americans;
-Why the leaders of the “woke” religion are not uninterested in solving real problems;
-How today’s “anti-racists” oversimplify the influence of historical racism;
-McWhorter’s proposed solution to the problems of racism;
-How the appeal of the “woke” religion relies more on “show business” than science;
-The wisdom of discarding the problematic concept of biological “race.”

00:00 Introduction
00:18 Changes since early 2000s
03:01 Similarities: "woke" and religion
07:28 Why the religious fervor?
13:47 Has oppression been overcome?
17:10 Defeatism about race
19:19 Disinterest in solving real problems
25:04 Oversimplifying historical racism
27:54 McWhorter's solution to racism
31:22 The "show business" appeal of "woke"
34:28 Discarding the concept of biological "race"

politicscurrent events

Parts: 1

Handout: none