The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank earlier this month showed the world how deregulation can cause a calamity that can be felt across the globe. Another thing the sudden foreclosure of the bank showcased is just how intense the current culture war is and how the respective camps interpret “the happening”. While mainstream news outlets reported on the bank run that eventually led to the bank’s demise, conservative outlets had an entirely different explanation.
Blame “wokeness” seems to be the tact for many things, and outlets like Fox News and the Daily Mail found a way to deflect from the neo-conservative policy that led to the bank’s failure to point at an obscure woman in the bank’s UK branch holding diversity and inclusion seminars and pro- LGBTQ events. This is gaslighting and misinforming their respective audiences on what caused the downfall of SVB. However, for them it seems the news does not have to be accurate as long as it feels right and blames the right people. Many on the right seem to be ok with being lied to as long as it confirms their grievance narrative.
Republican Governor of Florida and 2024 presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis has made “wokeness” his enemy in hopes to catch some of that culture war magic that Donald Trump has. The supposed enemies in this war are the media with racial minorities, LGBTQ school teachers and the amorphous radical communist left. What is left unscathed is the grip of American oligarchs who are responsible for the ills many common people feel but don’t know how to express. DeSantis has crafted a policy that is by most parts discriminatory to the gay community but is couched in the everchanging war against “wokeness.”
“Wokeness” provides a good boogieman. The term started in Black America with its definition being awake in the struggle against social injustice facing the African – American community. Now it is thrown about to mean anything that strays from the conservative ideal. Fox news has segments daily decrying “woke” policymakers or decisions. It has become the new “satanic panic” or war against “gangster rap” seen by neo-conservatives as a creeping degeneracy that must be stopped before it corrupts the children and society as a whole.
The conservative movement in North America has often seen itself at odds with standing up for the rights of racial and sexual minorities but the past climate when people could get away with outright discriminatory practice no longer exists. The neo-conservatives are determined to keep the discourse alive. The term “Woke” can act as a placeholder and a dog whistle for these sentiments. It is here to stay and will continue to confuse and obfuscate from real systemic problems.