Opinion | ‘Woke’ Went the Way of ‘P.C.’ and ‘Liberal’

“Woke” also followed a path similar to “politically correct,” which carried a similar meaning in the late 1980s and early 1990s: “politically correct” went, unsurprisingly, from describing a way of seeing the world to describing people who saw the world that way To describe how others feel about people who have seen the world this way. Some in the politically correct crowd on the left had a way of treating those outside it with a certain disdain. This led to the term “politically correct” being recast as an ironic term, regularly referred to by the caustic acronym “PC”. The term faded away over the years, and by 2015, when presidential candidate Donald Trump was declaring that “political correctness is just absolutely killing us as a country,” he “wake up” he already had a bigger currency.

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Over the past few years, the word “wake up” has become impossible to use neutrally. It was remade, like “PC”, as an insult. One might say that this was simply out of contempt for leftist ideas, even those relating to the improvement of black lives, but only at the risk of oversimplification. Surrender, as a kind of ideology, has infuriated many because of the tendency of some of its proponents to see those who oppose their views as disingenuous, anti-democratic and even immoral. To be awake, in the past tense, means to be awake, in the present tense, on a way of perceiving societal matters. But it is a short step from seeing things this way to assuming that it is the only reasonable or ethical way of seeing. This last assumption has a way of angering those who see things differently.

Now, those on the left, from Ocasio-Cortez onwards, are faced with a new iteration of an old dilemma: a neutral description of their worldview burdened with negative connotations.

It’s easy to forget how antiquated, or at least vague, “liberal” sentiment has become in recent times. It is mostly because the term has been distorted by the right almost as often as it has been awakened. In an age spanning, let’s say, the presidency of Ronald Reagan, the presidency of Newt Gingrich in the House of Representatives and Al Gore’s loss to George W. Bush, those who believed they were liberals committed to pushing America toward broader embodiments of its ideals, particularly those that involved the dignity of all individuals were denigrated , as unpatriotic sentimentalists devoted to big government and insufficiently concerned with family values.

Timothy Garton Ash wrote in The Times in 2009 of his hope to restore the classic meaning of petty liberalism we learn about in college, embracing big but abstract ideas such as “freedom under the law, limited and accountable government, markets, and tolerance, some version of individualism, universality and some The concept of equality between humans, reason and progress.” After all, who could be against any of that?

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