From Madonna to Mr. Potato Head, Coca-Cola to The Bachelor with our education system in between, woke culture was on the march last week. Submit, be cancelled, or rebel?
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and take a look around every once in a while, you might miss it.” Ferris Bueller was referring to taking the time to enjoy the world around given the grind of day-to-day life, but the same could be said about the rapidly increasing pace of our increasingly woke culture. These days, every week seems like a whole new world. If you aren’t paying attention, you might miss it.
On Friday, February 19, Madonna claimed on Twitter, “The Patriarchy continues to try to crush my neck with their heavy boots, cut off my life force and take away my voice—Even those who call themselves artists…………..You know who you are!!! DEATH TO THE PATRIARCHY! Now and Forever.” Keep in mind that Madonna has a net worth of about $850 million dollars. She is one of the most successful and recognizable recording artists in the history of the known universe. In short, she is the establishment, wielding more power than 99.9999% of the entire population while enjoying the absolute freedom to do whatever she wants.
She is not oppressed in any reasonable sense of the word, nor is anyone, short of perhaps Jeff Bezos, powerful enough to crush her neck or cut off her life force, and yet she chooses to plays the victim, poor her. In addition to her health net worth, she is also completely free to speak her mind, with thousands of people reading her every tweet. This is a woman that can even stand in front of a crowd in Washington DC and muse about blowing up the White House, “Yes, I have thought an awful lot of blowing up the White House, but I know that this won’t change anything. We cannot fall into despair. As the poet, W.H. Auden once wrote on the eve of World War II: We must love one another or die.”
Can someone, anyone, tell me precisely how she is oppressed? Oppression generally requires an oppressor, so who is playing that role? She noted “you know who you are,” but I certainly don’t. Perhaps, she can enlighten us?
Likewise, the corporate honchos at Coca-Cola were planning to enlighten their employees with anti-racism training. The training, called “Confronting Racism,” centered around urging their employees to be “less white.” The course was provided by LinkedIn Education, stating up front that, “In the U.S. and other Western nations, white people are socialized to feel that they are inherently superior because they are white.”
How can people be less white? Apparently, they can “be less arrogant,” “be less ignorant,” and “be more humble.” Can we imagine — just for a second — if “less white” was swapped out with less anything else? Put any racial, gender, religion, sexual orientation, economic class, etc. in there that you like, and imagine the reaction?
Fortunately, enough people pushed back that the class was summarily yanked from LinkedIn Education. “The Confronting Racism course featuring Robin DiAngelo is no longer available in our course library, at the request of the 3rd party content provider we licensed this content from,” said Nicole Leverich, vice president of corporate communications for LinkedIn. Amazingly, Robin DiAngelo, who has made millions pushing this very kind of training, has also divorced herself from the program. “The slides included were not created by Dr. DiAngelo,” claimed her representative, Caitlin Meyer. “She was unaware that the videos had been re-edited in this way, or that they were being marketed as a course/training on anti-racism, since the way the content was put together did not accurately represent the way she would facilitate that type of work.”
Note that she made no comment on the actual content itself, merely the way it was put together. Does she believe whites are ignorant because they’re white? It’s a pertinent question, as is whether Coca-Cola is lying about the training not being mandatory. They’ve denied that, but multiple workers are saying it was, perhaps it was a situation of “nice little job you’ve got there, it would be a shame if anything happened to it.”
Speaking of jobs, embattled Bachelor and Bachelorette host, Chris Harrison’s, still hangs in the balance. He’s been replaced by Emmanual Acho for the After The Final Rose special set to air on March 13 and is apparently so toxic that Celebrity Wheel of Fortune had a disclaimer during his appearance last week, letting the audience know that this was recorded before his fall from grace.
Mr. Harrison’s is a truly astounding controversy because he himself isn’t actually accused of any racism. In fact, as far as I can tell, he’s not really accused of anything, except perhaps a poor choice of words. The claim is that he offered an “apparent defense of contestant Rachael Kirkconnell’s alleged racist behavior,” except he did no such thing. In fact, in the contentious interview with former contestant Rachel Lindsay in question, he specifically said, I’m “not defending it.”
Instead, he merely suggested that perhaps, “We all need to have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion. Because I have seen some stuff online — this judge, jury, executioner thing — where people are just tearing this girl’s life apart and diving into, like, her parents, her parents’ voting record. It’s unbelievably alarming to watch this. I haven’t heard Rachael speak on this yet. And until I actually hear this woman have a chance to speak, who am I to say any of this?”
It’s shocking stuff I know, made worse because he had the temerity to suggest that our views on these matters have changed over time. This is where his phrasing was clumsy, referring to Ms. Kirkconnell’s racist attendance at an antebellum dress up party, “Is it a good look in 2018 or is it not a good look in 2021?” Perhaps Mr. Harrison could have phrased that more artfully, but the reaction is enough to make you wonder: Where have his detractors been for the past year? Have they ever heard of George Floyd?
Because we were informed repeatedly, in tones of both sorrow and anger, that there was, in fact, a racial reckoning after the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police. How quickly and conveniently we forget that Time magazine claimed “George Floyd Protests Spark Reckoning Around the World” and that we were experiencing “America’s Long Overdue Awakening on Systematic Racism.” The New York Times claimed “White Americans Say They Are Waking Up to Racism.” CNN said “George Floyd’s death ignited a racial reckoning that shows no signs of slowing down.”
The article noted, “America rises up regularly. It’s in the DNA of a country founded on dissent. Millions have forged their anger into action, from the tax revolts of the nation’s earliest days, to the labor, housing and busing protests that helped shape the civil rights movement. The Me Too-fueled women’s marches of 2017 and 2018 and the March for Our Lives demonstration, born of the Parkland school shooting, each drew a seven-figure attendance. Before Floyd’s killing, the highest estimate for any American protest — the 2017 Women’s March — was 4.6 million. Polls indicate that, as of mid-June, as many as 21 million adults had attended a Black Lives Matter or police brutality protest.”
Yet all of this is right down the memory hole if the host of the Bachelor dares to note that 2018 isn’t the same as 2021. The situation is so dire and Harrison’s crime so brazen that previous contestants aren’t “comfortable” appearing with him. “For myself for example, if they have future shows and if they were to ask me to be on Bachelor in Paradise or something like that — and I’m sure a lot of other contestants feel this way as well — I wouldn’t feel comfortable if Chris is there, to be quite frank,” said former contestant Ivan Hall. “[I’m] not saying he can’t make a recovery, can’t learn from all of this, but, you know…it would just be too soon, really.”
Of course, no date is provided that would not be too soon. Ironically, Chris Harrison also mentioned he was concerned about the “woke police” in the offensive interview. What’s that they say about first they come for your neighbor? Also last week, Hasbro came for Mr. Potato Head, making him and presumably his spud, Mrs. Potato Head, gender neutral.
“Culture has evolved,” Kimberly Boyd, a senior vice president and general manager at Hasbro, told Fast Company. “Kids want to be able to represent their own experiences. The way the brand currently exists — with the ‘Mr.’ and ‘Mrs.’ — is limiting when it comes to both gender identity and family structure.” Amazingly, Elizabeth Segran, writing for Fast Company, believes, “On the surface, it may seem like a subtle shift, but it is designed to break away from traditional gender norms, particularly when it comes to creating Potato Head families—how toddlers frequently play with the toy, according to Hasbro’s research.”
This is a subtle shift? What would constitute an in your face one? Giving the doll a sex change operation on national TV?
It gets better: The backlash was so intense, characterized by Fast Company as being “from consumers resistant to this change,” Hasbro almost immediately backtracked. A day later they announced, rather sloppily, that they would continue to sell Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head. Apparently, they were referring to the brand name of the family, or something. “While it was announced today that the POTATO HEAD brand name & logo are dropping the ‘MR.’ I yam proud to confirm that MR. & MRS. POTATO HEAD aren’t going anywhere and will remain MR. & MRS. POTATO HEAD,” the company tweeted.
Yes, the brand name is changing to a gender neutral construct, but Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head remain Mr. and Mrs., at least for now. Does that make sense to anyone?
Last week, we also learned that the situation on our college campuses continues to make less and less sense to anyone.
In July 2018, Oumou Kanoute claimed she was racially profiled for “eating while black” at the all-women’s Smith College in Northampton, MA. The crime committed against her was being informed she “wasn’t supposed to eat here” by a janitor and then a security guard on campus. Ms. Kanoute took to Facebook after the incident, claiming “All I did was be Black. It’s outrageous that some people question my being at Smith College, and my existence overall as a woman of color.” She said that “no student of color should have to explain why they belong at prestigious white institutions,” going so far as to say the incident left her so shaken she couldn’t sleep.
At the time, the media pounced on the story. CNN claimed “Smith College student who was racially profiled while eating says the incident left her so shaken she can’t sleep.” The Washington Post wrote that “Smith college employee called police on black student eating lunch.” The New York Times jumped in with “All I Did Was Be Black: Police are Called on College Student Eating Lunch.”
Of course, things are not only always what they seem. Over 30 months and countless racially charged headlines later, we learn that the Ms. Kanoute was in an area that was closed for a summer camp when she was noticed by a janitor. “A janitor, who was in his 60s and poor of sight, and had worked at Smith for 35 years, was emptying garbage cans when he saw a figure reclining and eating alone, in a far corner of the canteen which was supposed to be closed. Campus police had advised staff to call security rather than confront strangers on their own, so the janitor called security.”
That was it. Horrific, isn’t it? If you worked at the college rather than being in the privileged position of attending the $80,000 per year school, yes. You see Ms. Kanoute claimed that a cafeteria worker, Jackie Blair, was the racist who called security, publishing her name on Facebook with the tag, “This is the racist person.” The only problem is: Ms. Blair wasn’t involved at all. Nor did this stop Ms. Kanoute from falsely accusing another janitor, Mark Patenoude, even though he wasn’t even on campus at the time.
Neither did the false nature of the incident prevent Smith College from springing into action with mandatory race and intersectionality classes for the staff. We only know this because another long term staffer at the college, Jodie Shaw, a former graduate of the college, resigned and publicly released the scathing resignation letter. “As a divorced mother of two, the economic uncertainty brought about by this resignation will impact my children as well. But I have no choice. The racially hostile environment that the college has subjected me to for the past two and a half years has left me physically and mentally debilitated. I can no longer work in this environment, nor can I remain silent about a matter so central to basic human dignity and freedom.”
Elsewhere in the academic world, a teacher took to TikTok with a bizarre song. “If you don’t believe that there’s white privilege, please don’t teach,” clap, clap, “If you don’t believe that black lives matter, please don’t teach,” clap, clap, “If you don’t believe in systemic racism and how it negatively impacts our students of color, and don’t want to help dismantle those systems, please don’t teach,” clap, clap.
I’d like to end with a song of my own, “If you don’t believe cancel culture is real, you aren’t paying attention,” clap, clap, “If you don’t believe these people are coming for you soon, you aren’t paying attention,” clap, clap, “If you don’t believe they’d do it to you, if you think you’re safe cause you’re a liberal and you can play along, think again,” clap, clap.
The only silver lining here: Enough people pushed back at Coca-Cola and Hasbro that they were forced to change direction, at least a little. The silent majority can strike back, but I fear no one is prepared for the relentless nature and increasingly aggressive pace of the woke army. All of this happened in a week. What will this week bring?