According to the Post's 3000-word article on the Halloween party affair, Shafer was a government contractor, not a Washington Post employee.

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A Newbie. I don't precisely understand your comment section, but I shall submit -->

1. What is "racism," or racist? How does the label relate to "native" Americans and tribes? Perhaps it might be uncomfortable to consider this, both philosophically and legally, but it is an issue that I would like you to address. "RACISM" is the basis for tribal rights. Blood quantum does define segregated privileges and rights, though it stands in distinct contradiction to the 14th Amendment.

2. CULTURE(s) ?

....or, subcultures? Huntin' and fishin' culture of rural folks vs hip-hop and gangsta-rap? Consider the view count of 700 million+ of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPw_izFr5PA&ab_channel=Tekashi6ix9ine

3. Who identifies with tekashi6ix9ine? Or others from that cultural genre? What is the mind-set of middle school kids who adore that culture? Certainly, it is not academic in the conventional sense. No wonder that academic performance of black youth affirms a performance "gap." Unless the culture changes, why would any rational person believe outcomes will change? IMO, in future chapters, you must address the cultural divide.

4. Take time and listen to the music that has captured their souls. Listen to the lyrics.

5. Suggestion--> interview members of the National Honor Society at an 'urban' high school. Ask them to explain the performance gap of their peers. Ask them about youth culture. Then, randomly talk with kids in grades 7-10. Review their music-listening tastes. Ask them to describe whom they admire.

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Dr. McWhorter,

It would be illuminating for you to give some names to The Elect. You have mentioned a few names, but there must be many more to have constructed such an alternate universe. Time to call them out!

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Dr. McWhorter,

Thank you for your continued efforts to illuminate this challenging subject, and to provide an informed perspective about and context for this phenomenon.

"Public Discourse" recently published an article authored by Rev. James Wood titled, "Reforming our Successor Civil Religion" that echoes your parallel of "wokeism" to religion, albeit from a more explicitly theological bent. Definitely interesting reading, and I found I better followed Rev. Wood's arguments having had the benefit of yours.

Thank you very much for your thoughtful exposition on this complex subject, and I look eagerly forward to your next installment.



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I agree with the overall thesis that wokeness is a religion and love Dr. McWhorter's work, but I think the point about the Elect not actually trying to bring about results is missing something. Namely, my impression is not that the Elect enjoy grandstanding and making symbolic gestures (changing words and names, etc.) while not actually caring to alleviate poverty and so on. I imagine that many in the Elect are sincere in their conscious intent to be active in making black people's lives better but don't want to admit (not even to themselves) that solutions are not simple or obvious; optimal concrete solutions may in fact be quite complicated and indirect, and the low-hanging fruit for means of bringing about racial equity has mostly already been picked some 50 years ago. Moreover, the actual concrete solutions may require recognizing certain truths that are uncomfortable or taboo because they go beyond "all of Black America's failures are an immediate, direct result of current oppression". So, with a lack of simple, obvious-looking strategies for improving the welfare of African-Americans at hand, the Elect spend a lot of time bloviating and gesturing vaguely at solutions that are "out there" if only we can all get on the same page, and pursuing actions that are simple and have mostly symbolic rather than concrete significance.

Again, I don't think this damages the claim that wokeness is a religion, but maybe it sheds light on some aspects of how anti-racist activism came to be a religion (the aspect of saying a lot of things and punishing those who contradict the dogma without seeming to get around to much action).

(By the way, is there a way of creating boldface or italics in this interface? Last time I tried <i> </i> and it didn't work...)

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The Prof wears his TDS like a badge of honor, and that’s ok because I’m not looking for an echo chamber. It will date his needed book though and might best be left out. He clearly dislikes Christianity, and I would say doesn’t understand evangelical Christianity very well. I bring that up, as some others have, because it confuses his case for Wokeism being a new religion. I agree that it is a good analogy, but like any analogy it should not be pushed too far as it breaks down. Others have suggested it is merely a cynical political power play, which it clearly is also. So far, he has spilled a lot of ink on the analogies but I’m not sure the Believers will be convinced. He needs to show the unmitigated disaster it is for the supposed beneficiaries; as I’m sure he will having listened to him on the Glenn Show.

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If the Elect are from institutions like SF MOMA, Washington Post, Harvard, etc. then these combined institutions must be the Cathedral:

“The cathedral” is just a short way to say “journalism plus academia”—in other words, the intellectual institutions at the center of modern society, just as the Church was the intellectual institution at the center of medieval society."

"The mystery of the cathedral is that all the modern world’s legitimate and prestigious intellectual institutions, even though they have no central organizational connection, behave in many ways as if they were a single organizational structure.

Most notably, this pseudo-structure is synoptic: it has one clear doctrine or perspective. It always agrees with itself. Still more puzzlingly, its doctrine is not static; it evolves; this doctrine has a predictable direction of evolution, and the whole structure moves together.

For instance: in 2021, Harvard, Yale, the Times and the Post are on the same page. If there exists any doctrinal difference between any two of these prestigious American institutions, it is too ineffable for anyone but a Yale man to discern.

In 1951, Harvard, Yale, the Times and the Post were on the same page. But Yale in 1951 was on nowhere near the same page as Yale in 2021. If you could teleport either Yale into the other’s time zone, they would see each other as a den of intellectual criminals.

So it’s not just that everyone—at least, everyone cool—is on the same page. It’s more like: everyone is reading the same book—at the same speed."


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A sane voice in an insane world. Thank you.

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A correction: Gary Garrels was the the senior curator of painting and sculpture at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, not its president. Mr. Garrels championed the careers, at crucial, early stages, of several African-American artist such as Kara Walker and Glenn Ligon.

I knew him and his husband, not well at all, but in social passing. Hadn't seen them in many, many years, though.


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You are letting it all hang out——-I have read you for a while——This attack on Elect is welcome. But we also know many do not fully know you——which is even better—-because you have a lot to give. It’s presented as an “aside” here in your mockery of the Elect—-but readers must know more is to come. I look forward to it.

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I've been following your writing for some time now. It helps me stay sane in a world that has gone crazy. Thank you.

I read this today and thought I would share since it buttresses your argument that woke is a religion by outlining legal recourse for pushing back: https://www.newsweek.com/save-americas-workers-church-wokeness-opinion-1573536 If America is truly a litigious society, as some have claimed, it may end up being our saving grace.

Critical mass is building against this tide. I have hope for the first time in a long time. Maybe we can disempower this zealotry and get back to the business of pursuing practical, workable solutions to systemic problems that introduce or exacerbate inequalities so that real people's lives change for the better. Time to start lifting up instead of punching down. Even shifting focus thusly, we will argue endlessly over what the appropriate solutions are. But, that would still be far better than where we are now.

The US has survived and moved past several religious waves in our history including the Salem witch trials, the first and second Great Awakenings, prohibition, the McCarthy era, etc. Purists will continue trying to impose their utopia, as they have throughout history. We just need to remain rational and patiently expose their totalitarian and inhumane inclinations (as John and many others are doing).

I am grateful for all of the brilliant minds who are courageously objecting, not to the professed goals of anti-race and CRT, but to the Machiavellian methods leveraged in pursuit of those goals. There is no way we can solve the problem of inequality by resorting to dehumanization/infantilization. It is an excellent tactic if you are seeking revenge or to feed an egoistic self righteousness. But, not if you are actually seeking true uplift for those who have been treated unfairly.

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Bravo John. Of course I follow what you’re saying here and of course I will stay with you for the next chapter and the ones after that. Dull? Hardly. Essential. Keep it coming.

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From Batya Ungar-Sargon. Another excellent distillation of what’s at work here. I think it fits alongside Prof McWhorter’s thesis that we’re dealing with a religious elect, and Benjamin Studebaker’s idea that a declassed, would-be credentialed professional class quasi-precariat is desperately or pretentiously trying to compensate by signaling they *get it*, that they belong with the 10-20% titled, financially comfortable cultural elite, rather than the deplorable rabble and hapless rubes or the financially comfortable but culturally out of touch folks in skilled trades, construction contractors, or small business owners who didn’t go to a name-brand colleges or bother with MAs as mostly a social credential, and who aren’t fluent in or would scorn the suffocating, ever-mutating woke jargon, the constantly-uttered personal mission statements about “being 100% committed to dismantling systemic, structural, institutional racism and white supremacy in all its forms”.

This declassed quasi-precariat might not be invited to the same parties or be able to afford the same properties, but many of them are probably well-accustomed to the quotidian routines that pervade middling private sector, nonprofit, and government employment: the endless staff meetings, PowerPoint presentations, and break-out sessions that go nowhere (and of course the DEI lectures that instruct them to interrogate themselves and mistrust others in a way that renders them hyper-sensitive to combating racial oppression without much concrete idea of how - other than to obsessively think about it, talk about it, and challenge (accuse) others. Then, in their free time, it’s book clubs featuring a constant diet of DiAngelo and Kendi, algorithmically-highlighted streaming-service docs and series fetishizing decades if not centuries-old historical oppression as present-day 5-alarm emergency, and too much scrolling through the posts of like-minded people on social media who are all competing to virtue post and signal their anguish that their black friends and acquaintances “literally can’t step outside without knowing they could be gunned down by the police at any moment”* (I’ve seen multiple friends post this sentiment almost verbatim.) In other words, they’re accustomed to talking rather than doing. And, as Beedot writes below, Trump’s election made it absolutely urgent for a lot of white people of this ilk especially to broadcast 24/7 they weren’t like those other deplorable white people.

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I think what bothers me is that this is really about white people using non-whites as weapons to be snobby to other whites who don't share their fake wokeness. They could honestly care less about black or brown people. Once Trump was elected, I saw a sudden increased interest in calling out others as racists. Putting a Black Lives Matter sign in your yard (my neighborhood) doesn't help anyone.

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A purely gratuitous comment; but: this is my first experience with Substack. I am greatly impressed with the quality of discussion here about John's book! Typically serious, thoughtful comments. (Is it just me, or is this unusual on the internet?) I for one am very happy that we have been given this occasion. Thx!

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"The Elect are changing America".

Well, that is what they want to do In what ways though?

Interesting the mention of Martin Luther. In many ways, he certainly changed the world, as a leader of the Reformation, being one of the first to create a Protestant church in Christendom. As such, there are now 700 million Protestants and the 1.2 billion Catholics are also in a group that was changed by the Reformation.

Many of the churches have been changed by wokeism, but that has been going on for some time. My nephew is a pastor, but it is hard to tell which religion he follows - Christianity or the Cult of Woke. He would claim they are aligned.

You mentioned the homeless, but many of these people, at least online, will scoff at the idea of helping the poor. They don't want to help the poor, they want to help BLACK people (but of course, when we say Black Lives Matter we are NOT saying that ONLY black lives matter). If they did start a soup kitchen, then all of the white homeless would have to admit their privilege before they could get some soup. Otherwise - no soup for you Nazis.

I remember bitter argument on DU (Democratic Underground) from people who insisted that economic justice not be allowed to usurp social justice. But, also, to them social justice was/is NOT just anti-racism, it is also 3rd wave feminism. Whites, after all, are not the only privileged group - there's male privilege too (and straight privilege, and post Jenner, also cis privilege). (and able-bodied privilege, and all the other aleph dimensions of intersectionality, but those seem to be the big 4 these days - race, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity.)

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