Right-winger rails against “woke” — then struggles when asked to define what it means

Conservative author Bethany Mandel in an interview on Tuesday struggled to define the term “woke” despite the fact that she ostensibly wrote a book about the term, which has been co-opted by the right to refer to all types of things deemed to be liberal. 

Briahna Joy Gay, the co-host of The Hill’s “Rising,” pressed Mandel to provide a definition for the word “woke” but the author floundered and was unable to provide a clear answer. 

The discussion was focused on Mandel’s new book, “Stolen Youth.” Co-written with fellow right-wing New York Post columnist Karol Markowicz, the Daily Beast reported that the book speaks to the “indoctrination” of children and erasure of innocence by Democrats with critical race theory, “victimhood” culture, and “gender madness.”

Gray, a former spokesperson for Bernie Sanders’s 2020 presidential campaign, spoke about a “cultural cache that’s emerged of hierarchies of oppression” in America’s education system. “Because framing it that way when I think this is a broad concern that a lot of folks have a problem does also recreate this kind of victim paradigm, where you have people saying we’re being under attack by the left instead of kind of coming together and trying to resolve what I think is a broadly understood phenomenon,” she said. 

Mandel asserted that “this is sort of a woke reimagining that is very, very, far-left,” adding that “only 7 percent of Americans consider themselves very liberal, and probably fewer of them consider themselves woke.”

Gray pushed Mandel to elaborate on the term.

“What does that mean to you? Would you mind defining woke?” she said. “It’s come up a couple of times. I just want to make sure we’re on the same page.”

Mandel stumbled as she tried to define it.

“So, I mean, woke is sort of the idea that, um,” she stammered, before acknowledging her blunder.

“This is going to be one of those moments that goes viral,” she said.

“I mean, woke is something that’s very hard to define, and we’ve spent an entire chapter defining it. It is sort of the understanding that we need to totally reimagine and reduce society in order to create hierarchies of oppression,” Mandel said. “Um, sorry, I—it’s hard to explain in a 15-second sound bite.”

“Take your time,” Gray told Mandel, before her co-host Robby Soave, a libertarian, stepped in.

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“I mean, everybody is weighing in against wokeness,” Soave said. “Like we do some of it on this show as well. It’s definitely something you know what it is when you see it.”

Soave went on to define “wokeness” as ” the tendency to punish people formally or often informally for expressing ideas using language that is very new that no one would have objected to like five seconds ago.”

Republicans have long waged war on “wokeness”, broadly applying the term to anything considered too leftist or simply as a scapegoat for societal misfortune. Most recently, several outspoken members of the GOP have falsely blamed the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank on “woke” ideology. 

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about the GOP war on “woke”


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