American Writer Rod Dreher on the Rise of “Woke”

April 28, 2022

On Thursday, April 28, we welcomed American author and opinion maker Rod Dreher. Previously we discussed his book Live not by Lies at our Reading Table. During an exclusive dinner with him in Utrecht Dreher told us about his personal search for faith and truth, and about his work as a journalist and writer.

What did we discuss?

The values underlying the Western democratic rule of law were, until recently, commonplace across virtually the entire political spectrum. Until about the beginning of this century, both conservatives and progressives had a set of shared ideas about freedom. Particularly the rights to free speech and freedom of assembly were firmly established as non-negotiable tenets of the Western, free way of life.

In the United States, however, an ideology has developed that turns its back on this, and that has managed to spread rapidly throughout the Western world. This ideology calls itself woke and, under the banner of “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” it claims to focus on fighting all kinds of oppression and injustice in politics, science, and the rest of society. As noble as this sounds in theory, it is dangerous in practice. The advocates of “woke culture” employ methods that are strikingly similar to those used by the totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century. Opposing opinions are silenced in the academic world and in public debate, as well as in the workplace. Boycotts are used (the so-called “cancel culture”) and even violence is not shunned. There is also increasing politicization of the judicial system.

What may we conclude?

As in totalitarian regimes, the woke movement seeks to make the individual feel alone and powerless. With the increased individualization in the West and the disappearance of institutions, it is easy for critical minds to indeed develop these feelings. It is therefore important that those who stand for the traditional values of freedom, prosperity, and beauty unite with one another, beyond the boundaries of their own political and philosophical views.

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