Will Stancil has a long twitter thread that at least indirectly defends wokism. But it’s an odd sort of defense, as he doesn’t actually critically evaluate the ideas advocated by the woke, rather he makes two points.

1. Because the woke often challenge the privileged position of white men in our society, white men might have hidden biases that prevent then from fairly evaluating woke ideas.

2. In Stancil’s experience, almost all of the opposition to woke ideas comes from white men.

Stancil doesn’t seem to be trying to convert anyone, as he’s employing exactly the sort of woke reasoning process that the non-woke find so annoying. He is saying that I’m likely to be wrong because of my white male biases. That is, he’s using woke-style reasoning to attack opposition to wokism:

And that’s why I struggle to see any critique of “wokeness” (or “cancel culture” or “political correctness”) as valid, ESPECIALLY coming from a white man: society is almost perfectly constructed to validate and rationalize these particular biases, to accept and spread them.

To me, point #1 above seems obviously true. I might be wrong about wokeness because woke people attack the comfortable position of white men like me. Yes, that’s true. I might be wrong. Now tell me why I am wrong. Or at least offer some evidence. After all, I hold plenty of political views that are not normally seen as benefiting me.

Instead, Stancil uses a weird sort of “appeal to a lack of authority”. During the Enlightenment, intellectuals began attacking appeals to authority, and tried to replace dogma with reason (not always successfully.) The woke often seem to want to replace (often flawed) reason with an appeal to the views of those lacking authority, the downtrodden. They seem to suggest that we should believe them because they are oppressed. But the woke in America are not typically downtrodden. Almost everyone I’ve ever encountered expressing woke ideas is middle class or higher.

Point #2 above might seem to provide at least implicit evidence of white male bias.  But Stancil’s claim that opposition to woke excesses is a white male thing is simply wrong.  Almost everyone I know is opposed to extreme wokeness.  And I live in Orange County, which is only 20% white male.

So who’s living in the epistemic bubble—Will Stancil or me?

Here are some recent poll results:

[O]nly 6% of respondents favored schools assigning white students the status of “privileged” and non-white students the status of “oppressed” – versus 88% opposed, including 78% strongly opposed.

That’s exactly the sort of woke excess that most of us complain about. Here’s another:

When asked whether teachers should present students with multiple perspectives on contentious political and social issues, 87% agreed, compared to 6% who believe teachers should present one perspective that the school believes is correct.

Unwillingness to entertain non-woke ideas is exactly the sort of cancel culture that most of us complain about.

My sense is that many people in universities, elite media companies and corporate HR divisions live in a sort of bubble, and have no idea that their views are considered absurd by at least 90% of the country

In fairness, polls show much more than 6% support for some of the less contentious ideas of progressives on race, gender, sexual preference, etc. But when people like me complain about the woke, we have precisely two things in mind—excessive focus on identity and excessive cancel culture. That’s it. Unfortunately, progressives who think the woke have occasionally gone too far (such as Matt Yglesias), as well as libertarians like me, are lumped in with extreme right wingers that actually do have appalling views on race and gender. It’s analogous to the 1930s, when anti-communists included both sensible liberals and fascists.

PS. Matt Yglesias is an example of how opposition to wokeness also comes from people who are not white men—from “people of color.” You might reply, “Oh, come on, Yglesias is basically a white man.” But to the woke he’s a Hispanic, er sorry . . . a Latinx. And that’s part of the problem with identity politics—its (unscientific) insistence that gender identity is fluid while racial identity is carved in stone.

PPS. I sometimes wonder if the woke movement is secretly funded by a right wing billionaire, as it’s driving millions of Hispanic and Asian voters into the GOP. “You woke people say it’s simply a question of black and white. OK, well then we’re white.”