Here’s a dilemma I face constantly. A lot of material on this site is devoted to opposing “progressive liberal” (i.e., “woke”) initiatives, particularly in science. And I’m pretty much of an absolutist when it comes to freedom of speech on campus, which isn’t exactly an attitude that’s au courant or ubiquitous among progressives.
Whenever another site links to a post on WEIT, which is fairly often, I get a “pingback” that lets me know that someplace has put up a link. Very often I go to see how my posts are being used, and very often—in fact at least 90% of the time—it’s a right-wing site like The College Fix, or The American Conservative, or someone like that, all of them decrying wokeness. Likewise, you’ll never see my criticisms of the incursion of wokeness into science appear in science journals—or in any left-wing media. In other words, my words are being uses to attack the Left, which happens to be the end of the political spectrum I’m on.
Now I could look at this situation in two ways.
1.) Since I go after what I see as irrational or harmful behaviors of “progressives”—and I do that to try to show that even liberals can call out their own, as well as to help purge the authoritarian and reflexively irrational elements on my own side of the aisle—I could regard these pingbacks as helping me in those efforts.
2.) The audience for these right-wing websites isn’t just interested in getting rid of “progressivism” or authoritarianism in the Left: they want to get rid of the entire Left. To the extent that my words are being construed as tarring the entire Left, I could be seen as hurting my own cause. Or even as helping the most dire Republicans around—the people like Trump who call out wokeness to go after Democrats in general.
Each time I see a pingback from one of these conservative sites, then, I am ambivalent. Am I helping or hurting my own cause? Like all people who take my point of view, I have of course been called “alt-right,” “racist”, and even a white supremacist. I brush off those names because they’re just slurs that progressives who lack arguments use to tar their opponents.
Now I’ve already my decision: I’m going to keep doing what I do (alternative 1) for several reasons. My motivations in calling out woke craziness is not to go after the Left as a whole, and thus I may, as someone with Leftist beliefs and a fairly activist track record, have more credibility than the right-wing sites who call out the same stuff. Further, I cannot bear it when the Left is associated with performative nonsense and general insanity. It’s like when someone in your family is acting badly: you call them out before others do, because, after all, they’re family. Finally, I still think that purging progressives from the Democratic side, or at least letting others know that we recognize the Follies of the Woke, will keep centrists from moving toward the Right. So long as people think all Leftists are “progressive”, they will shy away from the Left, and that would not be good.
I just wanted to air these thoughts. Readers are welcome to react, and you can tell me to dial down my criticisms of “progressivism,” but I’m not going to do it. Oh, and please don’t lecture me about using the word “woke”. I have not found a good substitute and I’ve gotten plenty of blowback about that, which I’ve also rejected.