The woke continue to march, labelling formerly beloved leaders as “oppressors,” rewriting the history of a Founding Father, claiming biological sex is problematic, launching a war on sheet music and Ken Burns, and of course the entire state of Georgia. It’s been a busy couple of weeks in the world of the woke!
Just when you think cancel culture can’t get any crazier, that surely, some people are well-liked and respected enough to avoid the wrath of the woke, or some topics are so obvious enough to be uncontroversial, a story comes around that proves you completely wrong. In this case, we have more than one story, from a former President to an entire state.
First, the revolution always eats its own, and even the largely sainted by the media, former President Barack Obama is no longer safe. A middle school in Illinois, currently named for the previously cancelled Founder, Thomas Jefferson, is planning a change. One of the new names under consideration is something to honor both the former President and his wife, Michelle Obama. This, however, was simply not woke enough for the immigration activists.
“I will not be part of renaming a school after someone who did not and does not represent the undocumented community,” said District 60, Waukegan, IL, school board member Edgar Castellanos. He was not alone in his ire. “From the time Barack Obama became President until 2017 when he left, he today is still the highest-ranking president with deportations in our nation,” a local immigration activist told ABC 7 news. “We feel that Barack Obama did a disservice to us. He denied us, and he didn’t stop the deportations, the way he promised.” She continued, “If you’re removing the name of Thomas Jefferson, one oppressor, the name of Obama is another oppressor, and our families do not want to see that name.”
Yes, Barack Obama is now considered an “oppressor.” Nor was Thomas Jefferson the only long-deceased Founding Father that caused controversy recently. Once upon a time, just a few years ago, Alexander Hamilton was considered the “good” Founder, a man of humble beginnings who helped shape a country without owning slaves. His story received international attention thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash hit, award-winning musical, Hamilton.
The woke, however, still aren’t happy, and so Jessie Serfilippi concocted a story that Hamilton had, in fact, owned slaves contrary to all previous scholarship. Though Ms. Serfilippi is not a historian, indeed is a fiction writer who works part time as an “historical interpreter,” whatever that means, she published a fraudulent pamphlet claiming Hamilton was a no-good slaveholder. Ironically, she titled the pamphlet, “An Odious and Immoral a Thing: Alexander Hamilton’s Hidden History as an Enslaver,” despite that the odious and immoral phrase is how Hamilton himself described slavery way back in 1795.
The problem is that Ms. Serfilippi isn’t a particularly good interpreter of history. Her conclusion is based on papers of Hamilton’s that use the word “servants” not “slaves,” taking the one for the other contrary to the definition, and also that Hamilton’s wife’s family owned slaves. Though the pamphlet was quickly debunked by an actual heir of Hamilton’s and real historians, some continue to make the ridiculously circular claim that “Historians have to accept this if the documents are true.”
Yes, if the false, misquoted documents are true, we have to accept it or something, says Harvard Law School professor and Pulitzer Prize winner Annette Gordon-Reed, because that’s logic for you. Incredibly, although Lin-Manuel Miranda owes a good part of his success and most of his fame to his immensely popular dramatization of Hamilton’s life, even he couldn’t bring himself to defend his subject. Instead, he tweeted that the Hamilton criticisms are “valid,” but noted “the sheer tonnage of complexities & failures…I couldn’t get” into a “2.5 hour show.”
Again, what does that mean? How are false claims valid? If Hamilton was so bad, why make the show in the first place? Hamilton’s heir, his fifth great-grandson, Douglas Hamilton, isn’t nearly as nonchalant, saying “The people who want to destroy the culture of this country have got to start somewhere, so why not him? The mission of [today’s] cancel culture appears to be the complete elimination of all our history prior to the 1960s.”
Elimination of all history and, now, sheet music as well. Yes, sheet music, mere notations on a page, is under attack. In this regard, the University of Oxford is concerned about their “complicity in white supremacy” by teaching classical music. Apparently, their curriculum is too focused on “white European music from the slave period” and that this causes “students of colour great distress.” Of particular concern is that teaching sheet music had “not shaken off its connection to its colonial past” and is “a slap in the face” to students.
Sheet music itself was not reachable for comment. Nor was this newly identified carrier of white supremacy the only white target this week. Famed documentarian, Ken Burns, is also in the woke crosshairs, apparently for the crime of making too many documentaries for PBS. Grace Lee, an independent producer, director, and writer whose work has actually appeared on PBS, meaning they funded her and distributed her, asks us “how much does PBS reflect the audiences it was intended to serve?”
She answers the question, “I take this question seriously because I largely owe my own documentary career to PBS. In 2020, I was a producer on Asian Americans, a groundbreaking series for which we had five hours to tell 150 years of history spanning from the Chinese who built the railroads to South Asians targeted after 9/11. Compare this to 16 hours of Country Music, which also aired in 2020, or 13 hours of the Roosevelts—both by Ken Burns. His 2021 slate includes four hours each on Ernest Hemingway, Muhammad Ali, Benjamin Franklin, and the American Buffalo. When bison merit 80% of the airtime afforded to Asian American history, it calls into question not only the leadership of public television but also who gets to tell these stories, and why.”
Apparently, it never occurred to Ms. Lee that Ken Burns is the equivalent of Steven Spielberg in the documentary community. Of course, they spend more time and money on his work. This is like asking why no one gives me the same budget they do Mr. Spielberg for the sequel to Master Pieces. I would suggest instead of complaining that a complete unknown only got five hours, perhaps she should be thankful her work is funded at all. I am sure there are countless independent filmmakers like myself that could use the cash if she wants to forgo the white supremacy tainted dollars.
On another note, I would also suggest to CNN that it is quite possible to determine the gender of a child in utero, hence all the gender reveal party fails in viral videos, and that biological sex is only controversial to the woke audiences they seem to be catering to these days. Instead, the network claimed that “It’s not possible to know a person’s gender identity at birth, and for some people, the sex listed on their original birth certificate is a misleading way of describing the body they have.” Yes, the organization that declares itself Facts First is now actually arguing that terms like “biological sex” are “disputed, and “overly simplistic and misleading.” Perhaps they will take the advice of supermodel Emily Ratjakowski and not determine the gender until the child is 18 years old and can decide for themselves.
The citizens of Georgia, alas, cannot decide how to conduct elections for themselves, at least according to Major League Baseball. Thus, the MLB All Star Game once slated for play in Atlanta, GA to honor slugger Hank Aaron has been moved because the state dared to pass a voting law requiring some form of identification, even as it expanded mail in voting and early voting.
The law itself is so controversial that no less than President Biden himself has decried it as Jim Crow. It’s “Jim Crow in the 21st Century” and “a blatant attack on the Constitution,” he said. “Instead of celebrating the rights of all Georgians to vote or winning campaigns on the merits of their ideas, Republicans in the state instead rushed through an un-American law to deny people the right to vote.” He further called it an atrocity, making a series of false statements. “What I’m worried about is how un-American this whole initiative is. It’s sick. It’s sick … deciding that you’re going to end voting at five o’clock when working people are just getting off work.” “Among the outrageous parts of this new state law, it ends voting hours early so working people can’t cast their vote after their shift is over.”
His claims were so ridiculous, however, that even The Washington Post gave it their maximum four pinocchios, meaning Biden and others are completely lying, for obvious reasons. Perhaps the most amazing and illustrative thing about the whole affair is how any opposition to mail-in voting schemes and other vote harvesting operations, both of which haven’t been widespread for even a full year, is now Jim Crow. Meaning, if you had the same position Biden did less than a year ago, you’re now a racist. In fact, Biden’s own home state of Delaware does not have as much voting access as Georgia, but don’t tell him that.
This should not surprise us, however. This is the way the woke work: The goal posts are forever moving, hence even Obama is not longer safe, much less sheet music. What will they deem unsafe next? Cursive handwriting?