Merriam-Webster - Woke: aware of and actively attentive to important societal facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice)
Conservative writer Bethany Mandel: “It is sort of the understanding that we need to totally re-imagine and redo society in order to create hierarchies of oppression.”
As they’ve shown over the years, the radical Right notoriously refuses to discuss or debate in good faith. Every high school debate team learns a debate depends on mutual agreement on definitions of terms.
This becomes a problem in today’s political discourse. The Right will often reject accepted meanings of terms to suit their bias, dishonesty, bigotry, racism, and political agenda.
They have usurped the unilateral authority to redefine terms. It's one of their primary propaganda tools. An early example is their suppressing the accurate term “Estate tax” and redefining it as the “death tax”. Estates are taxed, death isn’t. Patriotism itself was twisted into loyalty to Trump and seeing progressives and Democrats as "communists who hate America". Anything tinged with fear and anger is useful for their purposes. They know fear and anger motivates uninformed and uneducated Americans to support them.
More recently radical Right white Republicans have been relentlessly redefining and demonizing terms like Critical Race Theory and “woke”. Their goal is to use these terms as emotional triggers to frighten and infuriate white conservatives into racial resentments and to inflame bigotry. That’s what wins elections for them. Their duplicitous culture war must be vehemently challenged.
Now we see almost everything that annoys conservatives is "woke". Every academic discussion of the history and effects of slavery and racism is “Marxist CRT”. It forces white children to be "uncomfortable" and teaches them "America is racist and you are to blame".
In their propaganda, only white conservatives are allowed to define woke, CRT, and even racism. This has gone to the extreme absurdity that conservative white Americans are being told by their leaders THEY are now the “real victims” of racism.
On the other hand, there’s the fringe on the Left that do no favors for their concept of woke. Protesting racist police brutality is woke. Rioting and destruction isn’t. It is criminal, and it will be falsely branded as “woke” by the Right.
Desecrating or tipping over statues of Lincoln or the founders who owned slaves isn’t woke. It’s vandalism and a crime. It dishonors the legacy of their own wokism of their time. Abolishing slavery and establishing a democratic republic were their responses to systemic injustice.
When Blacks and educators dare discuss CRT and the real history and effects of slavery and racism, they are smeared as promoting “wokism”, as if they are the “evil commie racists”. Behind their howls about CRT lurks the stench of racism. Behind their howls about “woke” lies bigotry.
It is woke to understand members of the LGBTQ community have been victims of bigotry and abuse. But when some of them demand special accommodations and conformity to their chosen pronouns, they should understand this can confuse and upset people who never had exposure to their culture and lifestyles. They might want to consider whether they are forcing too much on other’s beliefs and sensitivities. Most Americans aren’t comfortable with teens or their parents deciding on transgender surgeries.
Many are uncomfortable with trans kids in school sports, or what bathroom they use.
Vandalism and demands for conformity become counterproductive. What happens next is any criminal and aggressive behavior will be what the Right calls “woke”, only to result in more bigoted and racist reaction. Progressives shouldn’t let the radical Right bigots and racists define woke, CRT, and racism. It is not their right to do so.
The sole purpose of these deceptions and outright lies is to fuel division, racism, anger, and hate in their white conservative base. All to get votes so they can have power. This reveals them as basically sociopathic con artists. If they can’t have power, they are more than willing to tear the country apart. Some Texas Republicans even want a vote on secession.
Woke originated as a term for conscious awareness of injustices against Blacks, and efforts to address it in good conscience. These have never been valued by the power seeking Right, so they need to dishonestly distort and redefine woke, CRT, and racism.
The good news is most Americans don’t seem to be buying into the Republicans’ distorted politicized definition of woke:
Republican presidential hopefuls are vowing to wage a war on "woke," but a new USA TODAY/Ipsos Poll finds a majority of Americans are inclined to see the word as a positive attribute, not a negative one.
Fifty-six percent of those surveyed say the term means "to be informed, educated on, and aware of social injustices." That includes not only three-fourths of Democrats but also more than a third of Republicans.
Overall, 39% say instead that the word reflects what has become the GOP political definition, "to be overly politically correct and police others' words." That's the view of 56% of Republicans.
Why would Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis pass a “Stop WOKE Act”? So he can demonize and redefine it to his political advantage. The same is true for the entire Republican Party.
When DeSantis’ lawyers were forced by the court to define “woke”, the lead lawyer correctly described it as “The belief there are systemic injustices in American society and the need to address them.”
The founders, abolitionists, Lincoln, Native American leaders, suffragettes, Martin Luther King and civil rights advocates, as well as the voting rights and civil rights acts were all “woke” by this definition. Many of these Americans were murdered for what the Right now calls “wokeism”. Even Jesus was crucified for his “woke” compassionate teachings about loving your neighbor, welcoming the stranger, visiting prisoners, feeding the poor and healing the sick, the “least of my brothers”.
What did they all have in common? Contemporary conservatives hated them all.