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Guest Commentary / March 26, 2022

The Problem of the Wokeism of the Elites

They are no better that Stalin, Mao, Peron, Castro, or Chavez and just as dangerous.

By Mark W. Fowler

The online Urban Dictionary defines wokeism as the latest religion that allows simpleminded people to believe they are more enlightened, more compassionate, and morally superior to their fellow human beings. Cult adherents of wokeism disdain any criticism of their view as bigoted, unenlightened, and generally so repugnant that the opponents of wokeism must be silenced at any cost.

Socialists as elites begin with presumably honorable intentions such as redefining morality or helping the poor or fundamentally transforming society, but inevitably they become blind to the reality of the harm their policies are causing. In South America, Juan Peron and Hugo Chavez started out with the intent to help the poor. But it wasn’t long before their sycophantic followers and their unrestricted power convinced them they could do no wrong. Blinded or indifferent to the damage they were causing, Peron wrecked Argentina’s economy and Chavez wrecked Venezuela’s. Fidel Castro and his brother Raul wrecked Cuba, keeping it poor and in political bondage for decades. Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot murdered millions of their own people trying to create a more ideal society. Strange how socialists must kill so many people to persuade them to participate in what ought to be a better economy. Peron, Chavez, and Castro may or may not have started out “for the people,” but it wasn’t long before they became true believers and totalitarian oppressors.

These individuals were Marxists, elites, and believers in their own lies, willing to tear down society to impose their vision of an appropriate lifestyle. It is true, of course, that Russia, China, and Cambodia were all poor backward states when the communists took over. However, Venezuela was at one time the richest country in South America. Argentina had significant prosperity until the Peronists were through with it. But in their time, these politicians represented the power elite, and in their own eyes they could do no wrong. They believed their work would usher in a new economic order eliminating poverty and wealth disparities, and they took no thought of the lives and suffering it would cost to make societal changes.

Could they have inflicted all that damage if there had been a vigorous debate over policy and an empowered people to check their abuses? And isn’t this testament to the power of free speech for which so many Americans have given their lives? Isn’t it obvious that freedom of speech is manifestly the most important freedoms and therefore listed first in the Bill of Rights?

There is a lesson to be learned here. Even elitists must be checked, and vigorous debate coupled with free elections is the most effective way for democracies to do so. The elitists in the country on the coasts and in our universities are becoming more and more oppressive and willing to suppress the speech and freedom of their opponents. Personal attacks, not debate on the merits, are their weapons. How else to explain the use of such terms as “homophobe,” “transphobe,” “climate denier,” “racist,” and “bigot”? The elites like Joy Reid (graduate of Harvard) purports to find racism everywhere in every institution, and the unwashed must be made to pay for their lack of enlightenment. They are the drivers of the cancel culture, and in their zeal to impose their will, they seek to destroy those who oppose them. They, like the tyrants mentioned above, are convinced of their superior compassion, morality, and enlightenment. And they are willing to use force to impose it on others.

During the Obama presidency, amidst his fundamental transformation of America, Tea Party groups in various states sought 501(c)(3) status to organize and disseminate their views. At the same time, then-IRS Director John Koskinen met with White House officials over 100 times. Discussing tax policy, no doubt. Certainly, they weren’t discussing enforcing the tax law against Al Sharpton, also a frequent White House visitor and in arrears on his taxes to the tune of millions of dollars. During this time, the applications for tax exempt status were being slow-walked by none other than Lois Lerner. Many applications were not approved or delayed, and the effectiveness of the Tea Party was diminished during Obama’s term. Whether or not this was a coincidence or intentional, the reader may decide. What is troubling is the appearance that the IRS was being weaponized to suppress free speech.

It is not just the government that is involved in the suppression of speech. Although the First Amendment only applies to government actions, it’s troubling that private actors and especially the mainstream media have joined in suppressing the free flow of information and/or weaponizing false information against political opponents. If the purpose of a free press is to secure the free flow of information, it is incumbent on the press to take its responsibilities seriously. The press’s treatment of Donald Trump and to a lesser extent George W. Bush (compared to the treatment of Obama and Biden) was so one-sided and so partisan that the press has lost much of its credibility with the American public. The Russian collusion story, fed by misinformation from the Clinton campaign, was false, but it was kept alive by the mainstream media, Congressman Adam Schiff, and others to the detriment of the country, as it was denied the ability to assess Trump’s performance free of distraction. Likewise, the suppression of the New York Post’s story regarding the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop was overtly partisan and may have affected the election. Who knows how many Biden voters might have voted differently had the story been given its proper attention?

Last week, The New York Times belatedly admitted the story was true in paragraph 24, with a headline that mentioned Hunter’s having to pay back taxes and an ongoing federal investigation. So much for timeliness in transparency.

Another fundamental transformation occurred in the “Dear Colleague” letter to colleges regarding the handling of sexual assault claims. It is imperative for the administration of justice that lawyers freely and vigorously represent the least or most despised among us. The right to counsel doesn’t just extend to the admirable or acceptable criminal accused; it extends to the foulest human accused of malfeasance, without regard to the nature of the complaint. Without this protection, an individual can be destroyed by the government just by being accused.

During the Obama administration, new rules for the management of allegations of on-campus sexual assault deprived the accused of the right to counsel in hearings conducted by school officials. The right of confrontation was restricted, and the presumption of innocence abandoned. Why? Because it was thought by elites that complaints of sexual assault were being ignored, and victims shouldn’t be victimized further by having to endure the process of adjudicating disputes. The problem is that such an approach denies the accused rights deemed fundamental to a fair hearing worked out over centuries of English and American jurisprudence. The right to counsel, the right to cross-examination, and the right to confrontation — though not without pain to the accuser — are intended to produce as fair a hearing as our society can achieve. Nothing is worse than the accused having no resources to test the credibility of the accuser.

Notwithstanding the wisdom of the ages, elites had decided that this was too much to put the accuser through. But these protections aren’t for the accuser; they are for the accused who faces imprisonment.

Lawyers are charged with protecting and effectuating these rights. Lawyers are responsible for ensuring the government doesn’t restrict the right of free speech or freedom of assembly or any of the other rights guaranteed under the Bill of Rights.

There is a troubling trend in law schools and among law students. At Yale, a presentation on the importance of freedom of speech was held featuring Monica Miller of the progressive American Humanist Association and Kristen Waggoner of the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom. The purpose of the program was to demonstrate that individuals with opposite views could meet, debate, and discuss in a civilized manner. The progressive Yale law students were having none of it. They were threatening, disruptive, vulgar, and abusive to the degree that the police had to be called and the meeting prematurely concluded. Ms. Waggoner had to be escorted to safety, so unruly was the mob. Law students of one of the most prestigious law schools in the nation lacked the manners, intellectual temper, and courtesy to sit and listen respectfully to a debate on free speech. Surely, we can expect more from some of the most privileged people on the planet. But apparently, we cannot.

These individuals may wind up at leading law firms, on the bench, in the legislature, or in the executive branch of government. They may be influential bureaucrats enforcing the tax code or mediating sexual assault claims at a university or applying rules to businesses.

Whatever they may become in the future, one thing is clear now. They are mean-spirited ideologues willing to threaten harm to anyone with whom they disagree and willing to disrupt the speech of those with another viewpoint. They are unwilling, unable, and unsuited to thoughtfully apply themselves to consideration of subtle, nuanced questions. They are no better that Stalin, Mao, Peron, Castro, or Chavez and just as dangerous.

These are the very kinds of people toward whom the Founding Fathers were concerned.

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