Making My Case: The Concept Formerly Known as Human Rights
Wokeism hit me hard. I saw people I loved drifting into bizarre, hateful, damaging territory. It took years for me to conclude that I was witnessing the birth of the world's next great faith.
(continued from Reality Makes Sense)
I did not fall into the study of Wokeism casually or happily. I needed to understand what was happening to the people around me—including many of the people I knew and loved. Over the years, the mystery deepened. What began as a casual musing that their commitment to selected apparent insanities was assuming a religious fervor became a theory. And as a theory, I set out to test it using the only two tests that really matter. Does it explain what has happened? Does it predict things before they happen?
My theory passed. By the early 2020s, Wokeism had well-developed notions of pervasive evil (systemic racism), original sin (1619’s slavery), the soul (transgenderism), the hierarchy of suffering (intersectionality), end times (apocalyptic global warming), affirmative justice (equity), retributive justice (antiracist discrimination), the clergy (credentialed experts and prestigious bureaucrats), a community-forging challenge (Covid), religious garb with semi-magical properties (face masks), impurity (positive PCR tests), rites of passage (Covid vaccines), untouchables (the unvaxed), purification rituals (quarantine plus negative test), virtue (the common good), saintly martyrs (George Floyd), and likely myriad other religious parallels.
The notion that government—the font of wisdom and coordinator of the common good—could confer spiritual goods was also in play among the Woke. The Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell decision did far more than legalize gay marriage across the country. Justice Kennedy declared civil marriage—a government license, governmental recognition, and government-granted privileges—as a mark of “dignity.” When Justice Thomas noted in dissent that dignity is an essential component of our humanity, not something that government can confer or withhold, the Woke erupted in outrage. Their debate was instructive. From a strictly legal perspective, it’s incomprehensible. Dignity is not a legal construct; it exists only in the metaphysical realm. Thomas articulated the traditional view long considered universal: Dignity is an immutable divine gift, conferred when God created Adam “in the image of God.” Kennedy articulated the view of contemporary Wokeism: Nothing is innate, divine, or immutable. The government ministers to our spiritual needs as much as it does to our material needs.
It was thus hardly surprising that the moment the Great Plague of Covid descended upon us, governments around the world decreed that no human rights were innate. The concept of natural law underpinning America’s civic religion was tossed on the trash heap of history. In times of declared emergency—declared by executive fiat with little-to-no public input, deliberation, or debate—individual freedom collapsed from inalienable rights into government grants. Governments throughout the Anglosphere—the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., and most American states—where the tradition of rights vested in natural law was strongest, simply collapsed into Woke autocracies overnight.