Identity and “woke” politics are, it seems, an endless game of “hold my beer,” where every face-palm inducing iteration begets an even more outrageous offering.

Yesterday’s escalation arrives from none other than the Coca-Cola company, wherein a training video thrust upon employees tells them to “try to be less white.” The the video, created by an “antiracist activist” named Robin DiAngelo, apparently declares that all white people are born racist.

It arrives hot on the heels of the previous installment, brought to you by a New York City public school principal (Upper East Side, not quite as OG-woke as Upper West Side for those of you keeping score, but pretty woke nonetheless). He asked his student’s parents to “reflect on their whiteness,” and even offered up a helpful chart breaking whiteness down into eight different identities for guidance.

It is followed up by a carefully choreographed lulu from Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland and Nancy Pelosi. Garland promises to prioritize domestic terrorism, and to pursue and prosecute the “white supremacists” who stormed the Capitol on January 6th. Yes, indeed, the narrative being spun is that the Capitol Riot was the product of a raging white supremacy movement that was either born of or produced Trumpism. And, by extension, that all Trump supporters are white supremacists. Even if they’re not white.

Welcome to the land of identity politics, where words keep changing their meaning, where some aspects of your person are immutable, others are fluid, and still others are instillable. Where people are blank slates with no instinctual behaviors or tendencies, except when they are inherent. Where you can choose (and change) your gender, but can also declare you’re “born this way.” Where you can be of minority demographic, but be labeled “white” if you have certain political views.

Where they draw conclusions about you based on your skin color.

In olden times (as in a few years ago), that sort of mindset would be called racist. Correctly.


It’s still racist. I don’t care how often or how radically they attempt to redefine the word, its meaning remains: Discriminating against people based on their race.

Of course, resisting the redefinition will result in your being called names, lumped into unsavory categories, and besmirched in creative ways. However, embracing the redefinition requires affirming that you are a racist, even if you aren’t.

So it goes for the rest of wokesville. Women, long expected to stand up for their rights, resist the patriarchy, demand equal treatment and gender-blindness in the workplace and society, are now being denounced if they don’t acquiesce to the demands of the trans-activists (and thereby flush a lot of their hard-earned gains down the toilet). You can be the most progressive, inclusive, affable, open-minded, and inoffensive person in creation, with a decades-long history of standing with and for the oppressed, but get one thing wrong and you’re toast, cancelled, defenestrated, non-grata’d, na na na na hey hey hey goodbye.

Conform, accept, obey, and act as told, and you lose. You are no longer an equal member of society, judged by the content of your character as an individual. Reject the demands for groveling self-flagellation, and you lose. You risk social castigation and shunning, and quite possibly career harm or destruction.

This is a classic double bind, where you can neither resolve nor opt out of the situation. You can’t even choose not to play the game – the game, like the Party of Soviet Russia or Red China, always finds you.

I am currently reading Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago. Amidst its deluge of priceless observations and aphorisms, I was offered this one just yesterday:

To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good, or else that it’s a well-considered act in conformity with natural law. Fortunately, it is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions.
Macbeth’s self-justifications were feeble – and his conscience devoured him. Yes, even Iago was a little lamb, too. The imagination and spiritual strength of Shakespeare’s evildoers stopped short at a dozen corpses. Because they had no ideology.
Ideology — that is what gives the evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination.

Solzhenitsyn’s assertion is that wrongdoings tend to be limited in scope when they are rooted in the mundane, but can expand to far greater extremes when bulwarked by an ideology. The Soviet “organs” engaged in horrible atrocities that cost tens of millions their lives. To make sense of that utter indifference to others, he realized that some powerful rationalizing force beyond simple individual sociopathy was at play.

Not all ideologies are de facto evil, but any that subordinate one individual to another or the individual to the collective will inevitably devolve to evil, no matter how lofty their goals. This is where we are with identity politics. The moment unequal treatment became acceptable, the devolution to broad-brush condemnations and identity-based mistreatment became a certainty. For anyone caught up in this machine, there is no viable resolution. The double-bind, the Catch-22, the ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t,’ is the reality.

And it’s bound to produce a reaction.

Herein lies an unlearned lesson for the woke-Left, who remain relatively small in numbers despite their outsize influence on culture, government, and the workplace: you don’t win hearts and minds, and you don’t gain converts to your views, by jamming them up in such frustrating (and worse) dilemmas. You’re not going to achieve harmony and a better society by informing people you’ve never met and know nothing of apart from their skin color that they are racist, or that they’re going to be judged by their skin color no matter what they do.

Of course, for many the goal is not harmony and a better society. They seek power and dominance, for a range of reasons. The reasons don’t matter, there is no way to harmonize an egalitarian society with those pursuits. They may not even admit this goal to themselves, but humans are really good at constructing moral veneers for their unjust views, especially when they aspire to a grandiose ideology. And, when they fail to recognize the rot beneath the surface, they become pawns for those who do, to the detriment of us all.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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