Finally, someone asked the question.
During a Tuesday interview on The Hill’s online program Rising, conservative author Bethany Mandel was stumped when co-host Briahna Joy Gray pressed her to give a definition of the word “woke,” which has been used incessantly by the right to criticize all things vaguely liberal.
Mandel spent much of her chat with Gray and libertarian co-host Robby Soave promoting her new book Stolen Youth, which she co-wrote with fellow right-wing columnist (and Ron DeSantis superfan) Karol Markowicz. The book’s premise largely centers on the belief that the far-left has indoctrinated today’s youth with racial ideology, a “victimhood” culture, and “gender madness.”
Gray, a left-leaning commentator and former Bernie Sanders adviser, argued that there is indeed a recent movement which posits there’s a “cultural cache that’s emerged of hierarchies of oppression” within the education system. At the same time, Gray said she’s seen “frustration” with that language across the political spectrum, and wondered how Mandel sees this solely as “a war” being waged by the left on conservatives.
“Because framing it that way when I think this is a broad concern that a lot of folks have a problem does also recreate this kind of victim paradigm, where you have people saying we’re being under attack by the left instead of kind of coming together and trying to resolve what I think is a broadly understood phenomenon.” the Rising host added.
While saying she hoped that “parents of all political stripes” would pick up her book, Mandel claimed that “this is sort of a woke reimagining that is very, very, far-left.” Additionally, she asserted that “only seven percent of Americans consider themselves very liberal, and probably fewer of them consider themselves woke.” Gray, however, wasn’t going to just leave it there.
“What does that mean to you? Would you mind defining woke?” Gray pressed. “It’s come up a couple of times. I just want to make sure we’re on the same page.”
Mandel, unfortunately, was unable to get on that same page.
“So, I mean, woke is sort of the idea that, um,” the conservative writer stammered before presciently adding: “This is going to be one of those moments that goes viral.”
A struggling Mandel continued: “I mean, woke is something that’s very hard to define, and we’ve spent an entire chapter defining it. It is sort of the understanding that we need to totally reimagine and reduce society in order to create hierarchies of oppression. Um, sorry, I—it’s hard to explain in a 15-second sound bite.”
While Gray told Mandel to “take your time,” Soave jumped in to offer his guest a bit of assistance.
“I mean, everybody is weighing in against wokeness,” Soave declared. “Like we do some of it on this show as well. It’s definitely something you know what it is when you see it.”
Gray, for her part, then asked her co-host to define “wokeness,” prompting the Reason writer to claim that “it’s the tendency to punish people formally or often informally for expressing ideas using language that is very new that no one would have objected to like five seconds ago.”
Anyway, Mandel’s inability to give a clear-cut definition of conservatives’ favorite buzzword did indeed go viral on Tuesday, with one Twitter video garnering over four million views as of publication.
And while Republicans have spent the past couple of years waging a war on “woke,” a recent poll found that a solid majority of Americans see the term as a positive and that it means “to be informed, educated on, and aware of social injustices.”