“The View” is a discussion show, run by a changing group of women, that’s been going for 25 years. They invited John McWhorter on to discuss his new book, Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed America, and I read that there was some “friction” between McWhorter and the regular hosts. I managed to find two clips on YouTube, and here they are.
In this first clip, McWhorter explains the “third wave” of anti-racism (i.e., “woke anti-racism”) and why he thinks it’s ineffectual. The only pushback he gets is a confused question about whether, if McWhorter thinks that “woke anti-racism is a religion”, then is racism itself a religion? But the friction that supposedly occurred isn’t really in this clip. I think it dealt mainly with McWhorter calling anti-racism of the woke stripe a “religion”, which angers both the Woke and the religious.
Here McWhorter is asked about his supposed contention that the extreme right—the Capitol stormers—”don’t have real power.” This seems to be an accusation (one with which i’m deeply familiar), that you shouldn’t spend time calling out the Left when the Right can do so much more damage. I think I’ve answered this repeatedly, and needn’t do so here, but McWhorter’s answer is Luther’s “Here I stand; I can do no other.” Whoopi Goldberg seems to accuse McWhorter of denying the very existence of racism, or at least how serious racism is. McWhorter doesn’t deny racism, but he’s not given a chance to explain his fix before the segment ends.
18 thoughts on “John McWhorter versus “The View””
Elie Mystal, a writer at The Nation, didn’t like McWhorter’s book: https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/at-war-with-the-woke-a-fresh-perspective-makes-the-same-tired-arguments/2021/11/24/7dcd37d8-38e7-11ec-91dc-551d44733e2d_story.html
Mystal is not worth taking seriously, but those who would like a very useful chart of this terrible new faith (tendentious and totalizing) can consult Woke Religion: A Taxonomy, compiled recently by Peter Boghossian and Michael Shellenberger.
I like Mystal. He also offers excellent commentary when he appears as a guest on some MSNBC shows.
I was for many years Books editor of a major newspaper. Item #1 in our instructions to reviewers: Review the book in front of you, not one you would have preferred, or might have written yourself. If Mystal received any such instruction, he ignored it.
On and off, I have “checked” in with The View and see what they are up to. I find that show an embarrassment in how time and again the interlocutors get in the way of a guest, above all and almost exclusively, a guest whose politics are in disagreement with the View ladies, to answer question effectively.
The worst is Joy Behar who has a near fit when someone disagrees with her.
I can’t stand The View. I think, as a woman, it’s an embarrassment since their topics are treated so superficially and without much use of reason. it’s just assertions and opinions.
I don’t watch “The View” except in clips posted by others (or, for that matter, spend much time reading the bible, other than for occasional literary inspiration), but this seems like McWhorter bearding the Whoopster in her own den. 🙂
McWhorter and his arguments are too sophisticated for The View’s hosts and audience. The hosts may be smart enough to tackle these ideas but they choose to pander to the audience. Whoopi Goldberg, in particular, seems to purposefully misconstrue what he’s saying and, judging by the applause, the audience is onboard. McWhorter didn’t really get into the religious aspects of his theory but that’s probably just as well. He probably has to go on these shows but I doubt he won over anyone.
Well, the audience members all left with a copy of McWhorter’s book and, along with the TV audience, a hearty endorsement from Whoopi. If they read it, next time around the applause should go in McWhorter’s direction.
That’s good but I doubt it will change those minds. We can hope.
You are absolutely right about Goldberg. Listen at the 9-second mark to how she emphasizes the word “claims” in a snarky kind of way. At that point she gave away that she wasn’t willing to engage with McWhorter. If she was talking about a book she liked, she would never have said the word “claims” with such sarcasm in her voice.
McWhorter is untenured at Columbia so has to hustle where he can to secure his future. Unfortunately, appearing on shows like The View doesn’t do him or his outlook justice since they seem to be too shallow to accommodate his nuanced point of view, but it’s great that he is willing to take put his head above the parapet and attempt to expound them to a wider audience, regardless.
I think her makes a mistake by focusing on his claim that Wokeism is a religion. This depends on how you define religion, and anyone can rationally disagree with him by using a different definition of religion. I wish he would focus on his strong argument that Wokeism hurts minority interests by infantilizing them, painting them as fragile, promoting tokenism, and betraying the color-blind vision of the great civil rights leaders.
I agree and this is what I’ve been saying for some time now. McWhorter is right that Wokeism has much in common with religion but it just doesn’t help much in the argument against CRT or advance the cause of Black people. Instead, it risks side-tracking the audience as it may have on The View.
If Wokeism is like religion, is he saying we should demonize it like we do religion? Presumably not, since so many people practice religion or at least don’t consider it a bad thing. Is he saying that it is wrong like religion? Again, many people don’t think that religion is wrong but just not applicable to our modern lives. That argument may resonate with an atheist like me but I doubt it means much to The View and its audience.
McWhorter’s argument goes well beyond drawing parallels between religion and wokeism. He says that not only does wokeism possess all the hallmarks of religious belief, but its dogma rides on the same psychological predispositions that religious belief requires: It is a religion, according to McWhorter.
I don’t know if “demonize” is the right word. Maybe “criticize” would be more accurate, with an additional “dismiss” following the criticism.
On your last point, maybe…but all religionists I know believe their religion is the “one true religion” and have no problem identifying all other religions as false and summarily rejecting them. To the degree he succeeds in getting traditional religionists to accept wokeism as a religion, he may succeed in getting them to reject wokeism.
“To the degree he succeeds in getting traditional religionists to accept wokeism as a religion, he may succeed in getting them to reject wokeism.”
If that is McWhorter’s thinking, which I doubt, it is a crazy angle. Surely we have better arguments against wokeism than that it’s an alien religion and, therefore, religionists should shun it. Or perhaps it is to remind religionists that they already have a religion and that one shouldn’t have two so reject wokeism. Nah.
I agree with the comments about the View having many flaws. It is not a perfect conduit, but it is one of the only shows on daytime TV that draws a female audience and actually engages in back and forth discussions about important and timely subjects and usually offers more than one point of view.
I wish we had ten more shows trying to do the same thing. The other mainstream “news shows” often are very one-sided, way too brief because they “have to go now” for some reason right when the actual discussion starts to occur.
McWorther, as pointed out by others, is way too nuanced and intellectual
for the show, but hopefully it can act as a starting point for some to read his book or at least explore the topic further.
I don’t know how many people are in the studio audience but they all got a copy of his book. Maybe a few will actually read it and give it some thought.