Don’t Be Fooled: The Woke Know Exactly What “Woke” Means

In a typical incident, Whoopie Goldberg, once an iconoclast and truth-teller who didn’t bow to political correctness, groveled an apology to Woke World after…

…for using the word “gypped” in a spontaneous comment among “The View’s” usual incompetent blather. Now a virtual slave to the social media mob (Oooh, can I say “slave”?) Whoopie quickly told her Woke masters that she didn’t mean to utter a taboo word when she said, “The people who still believe that [Donald Trump] got gypped somehow in the election will still believe that he cared enough about his wife to pay … that money from his personal thing.”

She should be apologizing for taking a check to communicate like an illiterate 8th grader, but no: here was her actual apology: “When you’re a certain age, you use words that you know from when you were a kid or you remember saying and that’s what I did today. And I shouldn’t have. I should’ve thought about it a little longer before I said it, but I didn’t, and I should’ve said cheated, but I used another word and I’m really, really sorry.”

“Gyp” as a verb supposedly began as a reference to Gypsies and their alleged tendency to steal or trick unsuspecting marks. Did Whoopie use the term to insult the people who the language police demanded be called “Romani”? No. Did anyone have any problem understanding what she meant by “gypped”? No. Is she an Ethics Dunce by falling into line and acting like a good little bootlicker when she should have said, “I have nothing to apologize for. The whole ‘if a word may have originated from a reference that was motivated by prejudice or malice hundreds of years ago, it must be banned in 2023′”‘ is censorious garbage, and I refuse to follow it; grow the hell up!”?


Sadly, poor Whoopie is now stuck for life babbling with a bunch of idiots on TV and can’t afford to be courageous or principled, for she depends on Woke World to make a living.

Woke World has a problem with words and definitions, to say the least. It is constantly redefining or seeking to ban words in order to confuse the public with fuzzy rhetoric and to make it difficult to call out its denizens on what they are trying to do. “Racist” had to be expanded so it could be used to intimidate and denigrate critics for words and conduct that had nothing to do with racism. “Xenophobic” was redefined to mean “wanting to enforce immigration laws.” “Killing inborn children in the womb” was cleverly covered up by calling it “choice.” Using illegal racial quotas in hiring and college admission was blurred into “affirmative action.” The current example is the word “woman,” which is clear and understandable, or was, until the LGBTQ component of the Left’s alliance decided that in order to pander to its “T’ component, the word had to mean anyone who felt like a woman or wanted to be one, and using the word in its reality-based sense was now “exclusive” and offensive, like calling someone “she” when the individual’s “preferred pronoun” was ‘xi’ or ‘zi’ or “Pookey-face.”

When, a couple of decades ago, the Democrats and liberals who in retrospect seem relatively sane by comparison had so ruined their reputation by taking irresponsible positions that they hit on the scheme of changing their label from “liberal” to “progressive,” which hadn’t become pejorative yet. Part of that operation (patterned on the game played by African-American activists, who keep changing what the “acceptable” term is for “black” to make everyone jump through metaphorical hoops or be branded a bigot) resulted in the liberals-now-progressives patting themselves on the back for their virtue and announcing that they had “awakened” to the Good and True Light of the Progressive Way, (hallelujah!) and were therefore “woke.” Originally the word was used to narrowly refer to the embrace of racial justice and civil rights, but once other groups jumped on the Victims of Evil America bandwagon—women, Hispanics, Native Americans, the disabled, gays, etcetera, etcetera, the word became infinitely flexible.

It was and is a silly, obnoxious and arrogant term, from the same linguistic depths as “born again,” with which religious conservatives humiliated themselves in the Sixties. Just as liberals mocked “born again” (I wrote a version of “I’ve Got a Little List” in which among the Lord High Executioner’s people who “never would be missed” were “All people who are born again when the first time was a shame.”) conservatives came to use “woke” to mock progressive extremists.

And thus it came to pass that the Left decided to ditch the word “woke,” with this week representing an escalation in the rebranding effort. The Times op-ed far-Left columnist Jamelle Boiue hilariously attacked accusations of “wokeness” and ended with  this example of the pot calling the kettle black:

This, again, is just one example of how bad actors and interested parties try to obscure serious questions about the structure of our society with claims that serve only to muddy the waters. You don’t have to look hard to find others.

“Woke” is an appropriate term for people who have allowed peer pressure, a desire to be thought of as virtuous, a fear of opposing majority cant, a lazy fealty to the mainstream media’s propaganda, an addiction to ignoring reality in favor of how their gurus wish the world and humanity worked, and a vulnerability to Marxists and totalitarian thought-control techniques, to persuade them to accept all items on the progressive check list uncritically, enthusiastically, and completely.

In “1984,” Winston Smith became “woke” when he realized that he loved Big Brother.

That’s what “woke” means. That’s how Ethics Alarms uses it, and will continue to.

10 thoughts on “Don’t Be Fooled: The Woke Know Exactly What “Woke” Means

    • Here you go:

      “As soon as it was clear that Silicon Valley Bank would not survive the weekend, conservative influencers and Republican politicians had a culprit in sight.


      “They were one of the most woke banks,” Representative James Comer, the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee, said during a segment on Fox News.

      The governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, also spoke to Fox News about the collapse of the bank, and he also blamed the bank’s diversity programs. “I mean, this bank, they’re so concerned with D.E.I. and politics and all kinds of stuff. I think that really diverted from them focusing on their core mission,” he said.

      A Saturday headline in The New York Post declared, “While Silicon Valley Bank Collapsed, Top Executive Pushed ‘Woke’ Programs.” And over at The Wall Street Journal, Andy Kessler wondered if “the company may have been distracted by diversity demands.”

      On Twitter, a number of prominent conservatives took this message and ran with it. Donald Trump Jr. said that “SVB is what happens when you push a leftist/woke ideology and have that take precedent over common sense business practices.” Stephen Miller, a key White House aide to Donald Trump, accused the bank of wasting its funding on “trendy woke BS.” And Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, complained that “these SVB guys spend all their time funding woke garbage (‘climate change solutions’) rather than actual banking and now want a handout from taxpayers to save them.”

      It is unclear whether these conservatives are working from the same memo or just have the same narrow obsession. Regardless, there is no evidence that any diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives were responsible for the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank. It is nonsense. And while it shouldn’t be taken seriously on its own terms, this deflection is worth noting for what it represents: the relentless effort to mystify real questions of political economy in favor of endless culture war conflict.

      The real story behind the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank has much more to do with the political and economic environment of the previous decade than it does with wokeness, a word that signifies nothing other than conservative disdain for anything that seems liberal.

      As its name suggests, Silicon Valley Bank was tied tightly into the financial infrastructure of the tech industry. Founded in 1983, it claimed to bank for “nearly half of all U.S. venture-backed start-ups,” and it worked closely with many venture capital firms. It is risky for a bank to take most of its deposits from a single tightly knit industry. But for much of the past decade, low interest rates, easy money and cheap loans meant that this industry was on the upswing. As tech boomed, so did S.V.B.

      “Flush with cash from high-flying start-ups,” my newsroom colleague Vivian Giang explained, Silicon Valley Bank “did what most of its rivals do: It kept a small chunk of its deposits in cash and it used the rest to buy long-term debt like Treasury bonds.” As long as interest rates stayed low, those bonds promised safe returns.
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      Interest rates did not stay low. To fight inflation and reduce the price of consumer goods, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates seven times in 2022. With each increase, Silicon Valley Bank lost money on its bonds. Worse, the interest rate surge affected venture capital firms and the entire world of tech start-ups, harming the bank’s portfolio as those companies shed value and reduced deposits. Clients started to withdraw money to meet their liquidity needs, and last week, in order to fund these redemptions, Silicon Valley Bank announced it had sold $21 billion in bonds, at a loss of $1.8 billion. The bank then let it be known that it would sell $2.25 billion in shares to cover the loss.

      Worried clients began to withdraw more money, which spooked investors, a development that pushed more clients to withdraw even more money. (Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund reportedly called for its start-ups to pull their cash while they still could.) On Friday, as the bank run gained steam, California’s financial regulatory agency announced that it had taken possession of the bank and placed it under the receivership of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

      That is the immediate situation. But there is a larger context. Silicon Valley Bank had a significant number of large and uninsured depositors — clients with accounts totaling more than the $250,000 maximum guaranteed by the F.D.I.C. Ten years ago, the bank might have been subject to a stress test by the Federal Reserve, which would have forced the bank to diversify its investments.

      But in 2018, Trump signed a bipartisan bill that shielded regional banks like S.V.B. from regulatory scrutiny under the Dodd-Frank Act. Greg Becker, the bank’s chief executive, actually lobbied for this change, urging the government to raise the threshold it used for judging systemic risk, from $50 billion in assets to $250 billion in assets.

      In the fourth quarter of last year, Silicon Valley Bank reported more than $200 billion in assets.

      It’s not as if no one thought this collapse could happen. “The failure of Silicon Valley Bank is a direct result of an absurd 2018 bank deregulation bill signed by Donald Trump that I strongly opposed,” Senator Bernie Sanders said in a statement on Sunday. Senator Elizabeth Warren made a similar point in an essay published in The Times on Monday, in which she also mentioned the failure of the New York-based Signature Bank in the aftermath of S.V.B.’s collapse: “Had Congress and the Federal Reserve not rolled back the stricter oversight, S.V.B. and Signature would have been subject to stronger liquidity and capital requirements to withstand financial shocks.”

      All of this is to say that if you want to understand the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, you have to understand the political environment that led Congress to loosen regulations on regional banking institutions. You have to understand the interests involved, the ideologies involved and the personalities involved, like DeSantis, who voted for the deregulation bill as a congressman.

      The people who blame wokeness for the collapse of a bank do not want you to understand or even think about the political economy of banking in the United States. They want to deflect your attention from the real questions toward a manufactured cultural conflict. And the reason they want to do this is to obscure the extent to which they and their allies are complicit in — or responsible for — creating an environment in which banks collapse for lack of appropriate regulation.

      This, again, is just one example of how bad actors and interested parties try to obscure serious questions about the structure of our society with claims that serve only to muddy the waters. You don’t have to look hard to find others.

      Put simply, you show me a scene from the so-called culture wars, and I’ll show you what’s behind it: a real issue with real stakes for real people.”

  1. “Woke” also has more than a dash of Ebonics to it. Which makes it hip and cool, a little black and kind of daring and a fuck you to standard, grammatical English, which is, of course, white supremacist. I’ve often wondered how white people using the term was not shut down as appropriation. These things are complicated.

  2. It’s the most delicious of ironies (with the unforced benefit that it must chafe Lefty to no end) that WOKE has become the ultimate pejorative.

    Gypsy? Not too long ago, some U.W. Madison Extension Lefties got a Hitch in their Hempen Homespun about a Lepidoptera species named the Gypsy Moth. So egregiously offensive was this name that they were compelled to change it to the SPONGY MOTH.

    But not before they consulted a U.W. Extension Entomology Professor Emeritus (and a neighbor/pal-o-mine) who told them, in so many words, to take a flyin’ f*ck off a rollin’ donut.

    He and had I discussed this while I was planting some (heh!) Gypsy Hybrid Sweet Peppers; c’mon, how often to you see symmetry like that in life…?

    Anywho, before they take my Cherokee Purple, Italian Gold, Zapotec Oaxacan, Ananas Noire (Black Pineapple) Heirlooms, and my Yaqui-n-Jersey Devil Hybrid Tomatoes, they’ll have to pry my cold, dead fingers off’n my ~ seven (7) Gardener’s Supply Trowels!

  3. Many seem to wear the label proudly, saying that “woke” has such positive connotations.

    Based upon this column, I think referring to them as “born again” might please them, as well, for the same reasons.

    Before today, my thought process was that, to explain to them what I mean by that term, they need only imagine their view of an idealistic 17-year old who just finished reading Atlas Shrugged and, consequently, knows everything.


  4. There’s no consensus among experts that the 2018 (bipartisan) law affected the SVB failure. It is a fact that their board had only one member with financial investment industry experience, and the rest were big dem donors. It’s a wonder Hunter wasn’t on there, too, I suppose. Just before their crash, they had touted that the board included ‘1 black,’ ‘1 LGBTQ+’ member, ‘2 veterans’, and was 45 percent women. Woke is as woke does.

    • The interest mismatch is just beginning to surface. That a “woke” bank was an early canary in the coal mine, due the lack of financial acumen, bigger issue is the number of Lehman/BearSterns.

  5. “…wokeness, a word that signifies nothing other than conservative disdain for anything that seems liberal.””
    Nothing? It’s their word! Conservatives didn’t come up with this “woke” term. Btw, is he trying
    to revive the term “liberal”? Maybe “progressive” is now out of favor. What’s the next re-brand? How about “forwardism”.

  6. Oh, and the heavyweight boxing champion, Tyson Fury, calls himself “the Gypsy King”. What a bigot! Shouldn’t he be forced to call himself “the Traveler Sovereign”? (or something)

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