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Woke won’t work – Here's why

Woke society and socially conscious or consciousness awareness of identity politics or being aware of equal justice as a person with awakening to racism and a new world of fairness in a 3D illustration style.
Woke society and socially conscious or consciousness awareness of identity politics or being aware of equal justice as a person with awakening to racism and a new world of fairness in a 3D illustration style. | iStock/Getty Images/wildpixel

For many years, I have been predicting a cultural pushback against the radical left, knowing that, at a certain point, people would say, “Enough is enough.”

I have documented this in particular when it comes to transgender activism, with people as diverse as Joe Rogan, Bill Maher, Richard Dawkins, J. K. Rowling, and Martina Navratilova helping to lead the way.

The Bud Light and Target boycotts have now become cautionary tales, reminding us that your average American does not share these extremist ideas.

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That’s why many of these same Americans became outraged during COVID when, for the first time, they became aware of some of the dangerous indoctrination that their children were experiencing at school. They too began to speak up and speak out, adding more fuel to the fire of this growing cultural revolution.

That’s why it was no surprise to see a headline in November 2023 announcing that, “Miss Universe judge reveals bankruptcy likely due to ‘outrage’ over transgender organizer.”

If you’re going to feature “transwomen” in a Miss Universe event, you can expect to see some backlash. And that’s why, despite the mega-success of the movie “Barbie,” we frequently hear that, from a business perspective, if you go woke you go broke.

This was confirmed by another November 2023 headline stating, “Disney admitted foray into politics, culture wars hurt its bottom line in SEC filing: Jonathan Turley. ‘Disney’s products are now viewed by many conservatives as empty virtue signaling,’ Turley wrote.”

But this was not Turley’s opinion. This was his analysis of Disney’s own annual report which stated that, “the success of our businesses depends on our ability to consistently create compelling content,” and that, “Generally, our revenues and profitability are adversely impacted when our entertainment offerings and products, as well as our methods to make our offerings and products available to consumers, do not achieve sufficient consumer acceptance.”

Put another way, politics, especially radically leftist politics, do not mix well with Mickey Mouse and family entertainment.

Yet the cultural backlash is broader than this, being ideological as well as economic (although, as a result of failing ideologies, there will be an economic backlash as well).

Think of the exposing of DEI on our university campuses and in big business.

If you cannot hire the most qualified person for a job and must instead fill a quota, how can you survive, let alone thrive?

In a battle on X between billionaires Mark Cuban and Elon Musk, Cuban wrote (in a lengthy post), “DEI does not mean you dont [sic] hire on merit.  Of course, you hire based on merit

“Diversity — means you expand the possible pool of candidates as widely as you can. Once you have identified the candidates, you HIRE THE PERSON YOU BELIEVE IS THE BEST ...

“Even choosing the best basketball player is very much a guess. Which is why the best players weren't always the first pick in the draft and some go undrafted

“The reality is that most positions hired in a company don't have a quantitative metric you can use to hire someone.”

To this Musk responded, “Cool, so when should we expect to see a short white/Asian women [sic] on the Mavs?”

Point taken.

The Claudine Gay scandal, which many recognize as the result of DEI career advancement and hiring, brought this all to light.

It is one thing, as Cuban argued, to “expand the possible pool of candidates as widely as you can,” making sure that you do not discriminate against potential candidates because of an unfair system. It is another thing entirely when you cannot hire the best person because they do not fit the preferred DEI categories. That will be the death knell of excellence and success.

That’s why I said recently that the more these radical (often Marxist-based) ideas are exposed to the light of day, the more quickly they will wither.

That’s why it didn’t take long for Johns Hopkins to retract and renounce an internal email that had stated that, knowingly or not, “Males, Whites, Christians, Mid-aged people, Able-bodied people, Middle & owning class, and English-speaking people” were all part of the privileged class.

In response to the backlash created in response to the email, the university stated, “The January edition of the monthly newsletter from the Johns Hopkins Medicine Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Health Equity used language that contradicts the values of Johns Hopkins as an institution. Dr. Sherita Golden, Johns Hopkins Medicine’s Chief Diversity Officer, has sincerely acknowledged this mistake and retracted the language used in the message.”

This is hardly a “mistake,” as if Dr. Golden had a momentary slip of the tongue or allowed for a typo in her email. The mistake was allowing such a ridiculous mindset to permeate a university. (For the record, I wonder if Dr. Golden herself is not able-bodied, at least middle and owning class, and English speaking. Just saying.)

This campus madness — of which I’ve barely scratched the surface here — has now been underscored by a lawsuit filed against Harvard by Jewish students, noting that, “Harvard permits students and faculty to advocate, without consequence, the murder of Jews and the destruction of Israel, the only Jewish country in the world. Meanwhile, Harvard requires students to take a training class that warns that they will be disciplined if they engage in sizeism, fatphobia, racism, transphobia, or other disfavored behavior.”

The radical left is imploding under the weight of its own extremist viewpoints.

In the same way, more and more businesses are abandoning ESG, recognizing it does not make for good financial success. In the words of Robert Jenkins, head of global research at Lipper, a financial data provider, “ESG investing … entering the final quarter of 2023 continues to be a story of declining flows and assets under management.”

Or as stated more bluntly by Elon Musk, “I am increasingly convinced that corporate ESG is the Devil Incarnate.” (He posted this back in April 2022.) Even the massive investment firm Blackrock announced last year that they don’t say “ESG” anymore since it has become so weaponized by both sides.

The fact is, on many fronts, some of which we have not even touched on here, woke simply doesn’t work — in children’s and adult education; in business development; in raising families; in securing our borders; in reducing crime; in fighting terror; in maintain a modicum of cultural sanity.

And on and on it goes.

These radical leftist ideologies, many of them Marxist based, may look good on paper. But in real life they are an accident waiting to happen. Just give them time.

Dr. Michael Brown( is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book isWhy So Many Christians Have Left the Faith. Connect with him on FacebookTwitter, or YouTube.

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