Critics of "woke" politics should not use the word "woke" because "one should never rely on language one cannot hope to control or even fully explain."
Writes Thomas Chatterton Williams, in "You Can’t Define Woke/The word is not a viable descriptor for anyone who is critical of the many serious excesses of the left yet remains invested in reaching beyond their own echo chamber" (The Atlantic).
I watched the viral clip of the conservative writer Bethany Mandel...
"Late in Anna Karenina, in a period of self-imposed social exile in Italy, Anna and her lover, Vronsky, are treated to a tirade on..."
If you wanted to search for Plato with a 7-year old, what would you do?
When I was growing up, [my father] ran a business out of our home [where] students — hundreds that I witnessed over the years — would pay a fee and come and sit with my father in the living room or kitchen, and he would, quite simply, improve their ability to reflect and reason. Most of the people who did this were teenagers trying to lift their G.P.A.s or SAT or Advanced Placement scores, but I have seen children as young as 5 and adults well into their 50s at his desk with pencil and paper.... [M]y father offered a modern poem or a passage of Confucius or Plutarch’s “Lives” to mull over. These were conversation starters. The students would soon be caught up in the thrust and parry of dialectic....
Raising his own daughter somehow led to "overly ambitious plans of turning the Greek capital into an open-air classroom." He doesn't explain at all how he got from parent-and-child sessions in the home to a big trip, and his "ambitious plans" didn't take into account the what you might think would be the first consideration when traveling, the weather. It was glaringly sunny and over 100°.
His wife solved the problem by hiring a babysitter to stay with the daughter (and another child, a 3-year-old) in the air-conditioned hotel room and at the hotel pool.
I had wanted to impress upon my daughter the feminist aspect of Athens, a city brought to life by the mythological victory of Athena, goddess of wisdom and strategic warfare, over Poseidon, ruler of the sea....
The feminist aspect?! Because there were goddesses? You're selling mythology now, not Plato. And you just let us see that you let your wife solve the childcare problem and you used money to acquire an additional female to bear the burden presented by the reality of children. And you never even noticed how that presented a feminist issue to be analyzed. You just got on with a trip that had turned the children into encumbrances.
Eventually, there's a scene where the author takes his daughter to the place that was the site of Plato’s Academy. There is not much to see there — "stones formed the outlines of rooms." It's meaningful only if you have ideas in your head about what happened there long ago. The author uses speech to put the ideas in her head. What was the value to the child?
You might think that a long piece about Plato would contain Socratic questions, but there is only one question mark in the entire article. It's in something the little girl said: “What are we doing?”Now I simply wanted her to understand what stores of hope and motivation [her grandfather] had drawn from this place that, I reflected, he had never set foot in but had nonetheless taught himself to yearn for....
"The uproar over Michael Tomasky’s hiring at TNR underscores the extent to which any institution that isn’t explicitly right wing now faces enormous pressure to go 'woke.'"
"Tomasky is a through and through liberal but is being cast as a villain simply for not being further left."
That's a tweet by Thomas Chatterton Williams, quoted in a Substack piece John Ganz titled "The Dumbest Tweet I Have Ever Seen/Not Really, but C'mon."
Is there a political aspect to the disappointment with the situation at The New Republic? Certainly. Have some of the things written online about Michael Tomasky been uncharitable to him, not even giving him a chance before he gets started? Also, certainly. But the reality of the situation is not some grand ideological clash, the constant invocation of which is growing monotonous, to say the least. The fact is, first of all, people are worried about their jobs. It’s that simple. Some are having an emotional reaction, which might appear excessive, but it’s ultimately about their livelihoods, after all....
What was happening at TNR is exactly what anti-woke culture warriors say they miss in media and magazines: ideological and perspectival diversity.... [F]rom my perspective, the attitude in that Tweet is just an example of anti-intellectualism, a total lack of interest in the world, an unwillingness to care about or engage with anything but one’s pet issues, myopia, laziness, hopeless decadence and corruption of the mind etc. Whatever you want to call it, it’s just bullshit. I’m getting pretty tired of it.
"I hope to live long enough to see future historians pose the very serious question: What *was* wokeness?"
It's obvious to Glenn Greenwald that "the Letter was signed by frauds, eager to protect their own status."
"I deleted a tweet that in retrospect was mean spirited. I’m mad at myself for commenting on someone’s looks..."
"Okay, I did not sign THE LETTER when I was asked 9 days ago, because I could see in 90 seconds that it was fatuous, self-important drivel that would only troll the people it allegedly was trying to reach — and I said as much."
From the NYT article:
[T]he letter... spearheaded by the writer Thomas Chatterton Williams, began taking shape about a month ago.... “We didn’t want to be seen as reacting to the protests we believe are in response to egregious abuses by the police... But for some time, there’s been a mood all of us have been quite concerned with.”Ha. She would call for his firing, but it might give him too much — the sense of his own martyrdom.
He said there wasn’t one particular incident that provoked the letter. But he did cite several recent ones, including the resignation of more than half the board of the National Book Critics Circle over its statement supporting Black Lives Matter, a similar blowup at the Poetry Foundation, and the case of David Shor, a data analyst at a consulting firm who was fired after he tweeted about academic research linking looting and vandalism by protesters to Richard Nixon’s 1968 electoral victory.
Such incidents, Mr. Williams said, both fueled and echoed what he called the far greater and more dangerous “illiberalism” of President Trump. Mr. Williams said the letter was very much a crowdsourced effort, with about 20 people contributing language. Then it was circulated more broadly for signatures, in what he describes as a process that was both “organic” and aimed at getting a group that was maximally diverse politically, racially and otherwise.
“We’re not just a bunch of old white guys sitting around writing this letter,” Mr. Williams, who is African-American, said. “It includes plenty of Black thinkers, Muslim thinkers, Jewish thinkers, people who are trans and gay, old and young, right wing and left wing. We believe these are values that are widespread and shared, and we wanted the list to reflect that,” he said....
There was particularly strong blowback over the inclusion of J.K. Rowling, who has come under fierce criticism over a series of comments widely seen as anti-transgender.
Emily VanDerWerff, a critic at large at Vox who is transgender, posted on Twitter a letter she said she had sent to her editors, criticizing the fact that the Vox writer Matthew Yglesias had signed the letter, which she said was also signed by “several prominent anti-trans voices” — but noted that she was not calling for Mr. Yglesias to be fired or reprimanded. Doing so “would only solidify, in his own mind, the belief that he is being martyred,” she wrote....
Some other signatories are now backing away from the letter based on the other people who signed. They're afraid to stand with the "Harry Potter" author. They're afraid to sign a letter against cancel culture because it might lead to their being cancelled. They've seemingly never heard of the concept that we must all hang together or we will all hang separately. They want nothing to do with the famous author who's in the process of getting crushed to death. Wouldn't want to get splattered.
"Thomas Chatterton Williams is the son of a black father and a white mother, but grew up identifying as black on the basis that even one drop of black blood..."
From "How Moving to France and Having Children Led a Black American to Rethink Race" a review, in the NYT, of the book "SELF-PORTRAIT IN BLACK AND WHITE/Unlearning Race."