I’m not sure why John McWhorter is giving away his upcoming book for free, chapter by chapter, on his website, but enjoy the largesse while you can. Chapter Two of the book, whose title is below, can be obtained by clicking on the screenshot:
This is one of the best things I’ve seen from McWhorter. It’s the meat of his book: an analysis of not just why anti-racist Wokism is like a religion, but in fact is a religion, for religions don’t need supernatural gods. The aspects of this ideology that resemble religion, says McWhorter, are wide-ranging: there is suspension of disbelief, sermons (which say nothing new but affirm familiar truths in stirring ways), gestures (kneeling), the “Elect” (anti-racists like Ibram Kendi and Robin DiAngelo), the equivalent of Sunday Schools, original sin (whiteness), self-flagellation, an apocalypse that will never come, and the expulsion and punishment of heretics.
You may disagree—and I’m sure some will—with this simile, but McWhorter’s in great form in this chapter. Here’s just one excerpt:
THE ELECT ARE APOCALYPTIC.
Elect scripture stipulates a Judgment Day: the Great Day when America “owns up to” or “comes to terms with” racism and finally fixes it. Apparently this will happen through the long-term effects of psychological self-mortification combined with the transformational political activism that whites will be moved to effect upon being morally shamed and verbally muzzled.
Notice that this makes no real sense? And besides, how would a country as massive, heterogenous, and politically fractured as this one ever arrive at so conclusive and overarching a consensus that would “fix” racism? The whites “out there” are such incorrigible heathens, we are told. Okay, but if so, just what were we assuming would change their minds — reading White Fragility? Try again. Tablets from on high sounds almost more plausible.
And notice that The Elect find such questions unwelcome, or even arrogant – a charge one step from asking how we dare question the divine. Even the language here is liturgical, referring only approximately to actual existence, and only fully comprehensible as poetry, spirit, or prophecy. So, to venture some additional arrogance: What would it mean for America to “come to terms” with racism? Precisely what configuration, event, or consensus would this “coming to terms” consist of? Who would decree that the terms had actually been come to? Why should we assume that the Elect would ever allow that the terms had been come to? They are after all obsessively condemnatory of any attempts to come to any today, they teach us that any sense we have that progress is happening is just another form of racism and “fragility,” and are professionally resistant to allowing that any real progress has happened.
The specifics about The Terms are as hazy as the Rapture. On the ground, the Elect imperative is simply to ever insist how far we are from this Great Day, mired in a present within which nothing changes. For example, the general idea that America is in some kind of denial about race – or racism, which is what people really mean when they say this — is perfectly absurd. America is nothing less than obsessed with discussing and acknowledging racism, and those insisting year after year that America wants to hear nothing of it are dealing in pure fantasy. America has most certainly not heeded The Elect’s particular and eccentric dream requirements on race and racism, but to phrase this as a general neglect of the whole topic is not a matter of mere sloppiness: it’s liturgy.
His book will surely be worth buying.