An essay first published in Salvo Magazine Vol 59
As America goes, so goes the rest of the world. There’s a great deal of truth to that saying, especially now that we live in an era of 24-7 news, where ideas and movements spread faster than the Covid-19 virus. The rise of Black Lives Matter and Antifa, cultural Marxism and the Woke Revolution has politicized many institutions across the United States and has now reached all the way across the Western world, where it is now influencing liberal democracies like Australia, New Zealand, the nations which comprise the European Union, and here in the UK.
Wokeness is political correctness gone mad. It’s a new secular religion with ‘social justice’ being its new god, and ‘cancel culture’ its military wing. Its despotic power seeks to make western institutions jettison conservative mores and lose faith in their own ideals. The defining characteristics of wokeness are arrogance, ignorance and irrationality in equal measure.
Not long after we saw the horrific pictures on our TV screens of statues being torn down across the USA throughout the summer of 2020, violent protesters in the city of Bristol, UK, toppled a statue of Edward Colston, a prominent 17th century slave trader and dumped it into Bristol Harbor. UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, quickly condemned their actions in a tweet;
“People have a right to protest peacefully & while observing social distancing but they have no right to attack the police. These demonstrations have been subverted by thuggery – and they are a betrayal of the cause they purport to serve. Those responsible will be held to account1.”
The events in Bristol triggered the removal of several other statues across the UK including, Robert Milligan, Thomas Guy and Sir Robert Clayton2. Not content with removing the memory of slave traders from our streets, the same mob defaced a statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square, Westminster, which had to be boarded up by police2.
Our hallowed educational institutions have also become fertile breeding grounds for the woke movement. At Oriel College Oxford, an angry mob called for the removal of a statue of Cecil Rhodes, insisting that he was a white supremacist, colonialist and racist. Although Oriel College did agree to remove the statue, the decision was reversed owing to the financial cost of undertaking such a measure4.
But Oxford University represents the tip of the iceberg. Today, some 90 per cent of British Universities have actively banned or cancelled guest speakers because their ‘controversial’ views offend them5. Over the last several years it has become such a problem that the UK government had to enforce new laws prohibiting this vicious cancel culture, with fines of up to £500,000 should they continue to de-platform people6.
Yet the woke movement has penetrated many more of our national institutions in the UK, including the National Trust, the Church of England, the Police, the BBC and the British Army. In the wake of the George Floyd tragedy, the National Trust sped up the publication of a 2018-commissioned study linking many of the grand houses under its wing to slavery and colonialism7. Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with learning about our colonial past, but when the National Trust insisted that all volunteers must undergo ‘unconscious bias training,7 it led to some resignations in protest. They also pushed the wearing of LGBTQ+ rainbow badges and lanyards on its employees to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Britain, removing those individuals from interacting with the public who conscientiously objected to wearing them7.
The Church of England seems equally keen to preach the woke gospel. During the Black Lives Matter riots in the USA, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, commissioned a new Church of England guidance8 suggesting that artefacts linked to slavery and colonialism could be removed from churches simply because some people might find them ‘disturbing.’
In August 2021, the UK Police Force unveiled a new fleet of cars adorned with the LGBTQ+ rainbow to ‘fight social injustice.’ The move was received with almost universal scorn, with some commentators calling them ‘Clown Cars’ that will only encourage more criminals onto the streets. Perhaps the most scathing rebuttal came from Harry Miller, a former police officer and founder of the campaign group, Fair Cop. Speaking to the Telegraph, Miller said, “We don’t see the Met with special cars for knife crime, even though the number of stabbings in London is appalling. The problem is that the second you see a rainbow car, you know that it is a police force that has made its mind up about some very contentious issues. You no longer see a police car or a police officer who is there to support everyone, from all political persuasions, without fear or favor. They have literally tied their colours to the mast and painted their cars with their political leanings. They are painting rainbows on their cars when we have figures showing that only seven per cent of violent crime ends in a prosecution. They have moved from policing crime to policing thoughts and speech, because it is easier9.”
The BBC, that long-trusted bastion of journalistic excellence has also gone woke. The corporation produced a video called “Understanding Sexual and Gender identities10,” in which they claimed there were 100 different genders! Thankfully, after a storm of protest, they removed the video from their platform. Now the BBC are conducting a gender census to see which of their employees identify as male, female or non-binary to better address ‘gender-related pay gaps.’ Furthermore, they recently tweeted that they will not tolerate any dissent on transgender issues and are willing to inform the police concerning the most egregious ‘offenders.11‘ Not surprisingly, that also sparked a large public backlash, with people complaining that the corporation was just wasting taxpayers’ money.
Finally, in one of the sickest moves yet enacted on British soil, the thoroughly immoral leftist, devolved nationalist Scottish Government is introducing new legislation allowing children as young as four to undergo gender transition, without parental consent, as well as mandating schools to include transgender literature on the curriculum12. Although the move was almost universally described as ‘risible’ and ‘shocking,’ even by the mainstream press, there is no effective political opposition to the nationalists’ woke agenda to stop them in their tracks.
Rebels Without a Clue
So, just like the USA, Britain faces the same war on wokeness that is tearing society apart at the seams. Seen in a Christian light, God has given them over to a Romans 1 ‘reprobate mind.’ But there are welcome signs that the Brits are fighting back, by launching anti-woke TV channels like GB News, and a small number of determined and influential journalists who refuse to be silenced by the woke mob. Furthermore, the British government has summarily dismissed and banned the teaching of Marxist concepts such as critical race theory, intersectionality and white privilege in UK schools, deeming these ideologies harmful to a multi-cultural British society13. You can hit the BBC where it hurts them simply by switching off. Personally, I wouldn’t trust them even with the weather. But a lot of resistance to this immoral movement is also being fostered in sound parental guidance, as well as through the exercising of the general public’s democratic right to air its concerns to local politicians. Though it’s probably too late to turn the tide, let’s hope more brave individuals will join the dissenting ranks to stave off the worst instances of ‘wokery’ in the UK!
Neil English has put down roots in Scotland and is the author of seven books on amateur and professional astronomy. His 650-page magnum opus, Chronicling the Golden Age of Astronomy, explores the history of telescopic astronomy from a Christian perspective.