What's in a religion?
Woke Racism, the new book from social critic and Columbia linguist John McWhorter, has a simple thesis: Contemporary elite progressivism (aka "wokeness") is a religion. "I do not mean that these people's ideology is ‘like' a religion," McWhorter quickly clarifies. "I mean that it actually is a religion. An anthropologist would see no difference in type between Pentecostalism and this new form of antiracism." This religion is bad, he argues, because it demeans both white adherents and black people generally; but this argument is ultimately secondary to his skepticism of its social influence as a religion.
The idea that wokeness is a religion is not unique to McWhorter (I myself have trafficked in it), although his is probably the first book-length statement thereof. There's a certain intuitive appeal—what else to call the dogmatic fervor with which today's progressives prosecute their cause, if not religious?
Charles Fain Lehman is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal.
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