Carville cancels the concept of woke!


Renounces past use of the N-word: Parker and Goodwin begin their report with a germ of a semi-valid point.

In print editions, their report appears on the front page of this morning's Washington Post. Within the sprawling online Washington Post, their report is quite hard to find.

The scribes begin with the germ of a valid complaint. They start with Ron DeSantis, then continue from there:

PARKER AND GOODWIN (2/22/23): Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), a likely 2024 presidential candidate, used his January inaugural address to warn of “the woke mob” and its “woke ideology.”

Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel, recently released a statement blaming the military’s recruitment challenges on “the Left’s culture wars” and a “woke agenda.”


...Republicans have alighted on a strategy of decrying the dangers of “wokeism” and all things “woke”—catchall terms they have weaponized to include a host of liberal policies and positions they don’t like.

The concept has already enmeshed itself in the 2024 presidential race, with declared and potential Republican candidates deploying the phrase to attack what they view as wayward leftist ideology.

Republican politicians and voters alike have differing definitions of wokeism—and some struggle to define it at all. 

The headline on the analysis piece helps define the reporters' claim:

Republicans use ‘wokeism’ to attack left—but struggle to define it

Is that true? Do major Republicans have a hard time defining such terms as "woke" and "wokeism?" 

We'd have to say that the claim is less than completely convincing. In fairness, the reporters do manage to quote a bunch of Republicans denouncing "wokeness," "wokeism" and "woke agendas."

It's much less clear that major figures don't know how to define such terms—and rather quickly, the reporters stoop to the level of offering such tribal tapioca as this:

PARKER AND GOODWIN: “What we’re seeing is a kind of standard practice of conservatives and conservative reactions to Black political movements—to weaponize the words and concepts they’ve used to undermine efforts of social movements,” said Candis Watts Smith, an associate professor of political science at Duke University and co-author of “Stay Woke: A People’s Guide to Making All Black Lives Matter.” “History shows that you can rally voters around issues of difference, issues that suggest that people are losing power, issues where their values are being challenged.”

Much like the “cancel” of “cancel culture,” “woke” is another word that originated in Black culture before being co-opted by White people. Some credit blues singer Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter for helping to popularize the term in his 1938 protest song, “The Scottsboro Boys,” in which he urges Black America to “stay woke” to social and political injustice as well as physical violence.

More recently, when conservatives began using “woke” in pejorative terms to undermine Black and liberal ideals, it was not an accidental choice, Smith said. “It’s important for us to remember that woke initially became a way to mean Black and to derisively refer to Blackness, and so to use this word that evokes Black folks or Blackness on other things kind of spills over,” she said. “I don’t think that’s a mistake.”

As it turns out, "woke" is just another word which has been "co-opted" by These White People Today! This is the kind of claim our tribunes are now prepared to recite as our tribe, and our struggling nation, slide toward the sea.

According to Professor Smith, "woke initially became a way to mean Black and to derisively refer to Blackness." Now, that derision has "spilled over," the professor says.

Truly, there's nothing our associate professors can say today that our journalists won't align with! Meanwhile, down in Florida, state senator Shevrin Jones—he's a good, decent person—has even taken to saying, to blue tribe acclaim, that "woke" is just "the new N-word."

They won't quote or repeat or affirm claims like that at the Washington Post! On "cable news," though, standards are different. Here is Jones, just last week, reporting this claim to Joy Reid:

JONES (2/15/23): I think we also got to be very clear that these words they're using—"woke," "indoctrination." And because they have dehumanized the word "woke," I have said that woke is the new N-word. 

REID: Yeah.

JONES: Because how they want us to look at it.

REID: Yeah.

 Senator Jones is a good, decent person. He's also fully sincere.

That said, the devolving Post is still too upscale to run with claims like that. The Post restricts itself to echoing the softer version of such emerging tribal scripts.

If a person says that someone is "woke," is that person simply using a new form of the N-word? Our tribe is now inventing such claims, in a way which starts to rival the conduct of red tribe leaders. 

BREAKING! The use of language evolves over time, and the use and meaning of the term "woke" have changed since the days when Leadbelly used it.

No, Virginia (and also, goodnight, Irene)! Wokeism isn't that hard to define, and it isn't a new version of the N-word. We know that because Parker and Goodwin eventually mentioned this:

PARKER AND GOODWIN: Some political operatives are skeptical that anti-wokeism will ultimately prove a successful messaging strategy for Republicans. James Carville, a longtime Democratic strategist, generated buzz early in Biden’s first year when, in an interview with Vox, he criticized Democrats for their “faculty lounge” politics and declared, “Wokeness is a problem, and we all know it.”

Now, however, he said an interview that “I don’t use the w-word anymore” — because it originated with Black Americans “and then overeducated White people ruined the word.”

Carville is one of the most important Democratic strategists of the modern era. As recently as 2021, he was declaring that “Wokeness is a problem [for Democrats], and we all know it.”

No, he wasn't subbing in for the N-word. Also, everyone knew what types of behaviors and policies he was talking about. 

Now, though, Carville has canceled the concept of "woke!" Even the Ragin' Cajun has decided to defer to new tribal talking points. He's now blaming this whole thing on These Overeducated White People Today.

Will anti-wokeism prove to be a successful strategy for Republican pols? We have no idea.

That said, everyone knows what people mean when they talk about "woke" behaviors. Whatever the term may have meant to Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, today the term is a reference to certain types of overwrought and / or denunciatory conduct, generally in the realms of gender and race. 

Whatever your ultimate judgments might be, complaints about "woke" behavior do not automatically come straight outta Crazyland. Also, when Professor McWhorter complains about woke behavior, he isn't slickly employing an alternate form of the N-word.

Everyone knew what Carville meant when he criticized his party's growing "wokeness." Some people agreed with his critique, other people didn't—but that all happened as recently as the year 2021!

By now, the die has been recast, and "woke" is even being peddled as the new N-word. Its current usage isn't what Leadbelly meant by the term, and the Washington Post is willing to go along with such silly critiques.

We call them racists, they call us woke. This is the way a nation behaves when it's preparing for war.

Their tribe increasingly runs on Crazy. Has our tribe decided to run on Basically Just Kinda Dumb?


  1. tl;dr
    "...but struggle to define it"

    Meh. There's no point defining every kind of liberal idiocy, dear Bob.

    ...we know it when we see it -- and so do you. 'nuff said...

  2. "Within the sprawling online Washington Post, their report is quite hard to find."

    Why is it that Somerby still has not learned how to use a search function?

  3. "Has our tribe decided to run on Basically Just Kinda Dumb".

    Let's put it this way. We believe Russia changed the outcome of the 2016 election with $5,000 worth of Facebook ads and some 6 month old polling data.

    1. And a third party candidate named Jill Stein (who was feted in Russia along with Tulsi Gabbard), and Bernie, whose lukewarm support for Clinton gave his own followers permission to stay home. Targeted ads at black and liberal voters in three key states demonstrably gave the electoral college vote to Trump. So, the age of the polling data obviously made no difference (how many people change their political affiliations every six months). And do not discount the impact of those internet troll farms aimed against liberals as well (see Mueller report). And now we are hearing about large Russian contributions to Republican campaigns made illegally in the 2016 election.

      Pretending that such suggestions are laughable ignores the facts of Russian interference that have been steadily emerging.

    2. Your comment is sadly, just kinda dumb. Full of falsehoods. What targeted ads?

    3. There's no evidence Russia used any polling data at all. Their Facebook ad buy represented .0000025% of the amount of money spent on the election. Stop being dumb.

    4. There is evidence that they were given polling data and that it was used in some Republican congressional campaigns. The targeted nature of the Facebook ad buy implies that they were guided by polling data and clearly shows the impact and effectiveness of that effort. But the main impact on Hillary was Comey's last minute intervention, which was both against the rules and according to Comey, instigated by concerns about the recently arrested FBI agent in New York who is known to have collaborated with Russia himself.

    5. There's no evidence they were given polling data! There's no evidence they used any. There is nothing clear about the impact of their ridiculous Facebook ad buy.


    6. Milquetoast strategies, like Democrats running on Basically Just Kinda Dumb are a waste of time.
      Voters can get full -on mouth-breathing idiocy from the GOP. Voters don't want Republican-lite.

    7. Don't leave my favorite, an 11th hour, bullshit
      attack on the Clinton Foundation from Fox News
      "good guy" Shepard Smith (forgiven quickly
      by Rachel Maddow.) Shep promised he was still
      working on the story, but that was the last we
      heard of it ( I hope you were sitting down.)

    8. Once the media made the collective decision to disappear the outright bigotry of Republican voters as the reason Trump was elected President in 2016, stories like Russiagate were inevitable.

    9. And you believe that that changed the outcome of the 2016 election. Really pretty kind of dumb. That's what we have become.

    10. Manafort did give Russia polling data - he even admitted this, Russia did pay for millions of ads, ads that just so happened to target the key swing states, the very states that Trump narrowly won by a few thousand votes. Tons of other stuff happened too, Russia funneled millions through the NRA, for example, on and on.

      The Trump/Russia collusion was no hoax or witch hunt, it was in fact just business as usual for corrupt entities like Trump, other Republicans, and Russia.

      If you want to bury your head in the sand over Trump’s corruption, that’s on you, dont try to spread your misinformation campaign to others. Your sins are your own problem, stop trying to externalize your own f up.

      Russia thrived during the Trump years, now…not so much. They’re getting their ass handed to them by Biden.

    11. Manafort did not admit giving polling data to Russia although I will admit you may have read that in a headline that was disingenuously lying to you. They spent $150,000. Not millions. Half of that was spent after the election. Most of the ads had nothing to do with either political candidate. I guess we know for certain you never read the Mueller report. According to a congressional testimony the amount Russia spent in swing States was under $5,000. Yet you are falsely stating that Russia spent millions and you believe that they swung the election in battleground States with polling data. Battleground States that had been ravaged by globalism. It's kind of weird how dumb you are. Or maybe we can just blame it on the people who are misinforming you. Not sure. Do you blame the guy doing the jacking or the sucker getting jacked?

    12. Even if the polling data Manafort shared with Kilimnik found its way into the hands of Russian intelligence, the Kremlin wound up spending less than $200,000 on Facebook ads. And while Russian trolls tried to organize live rallies for Trump, none of their activities approached anything near the scale of Trump's official efforts. Plus it's unlikely that Manafort's data would've provided much help with targeting, given that the Russians already had Clinton's internal strategy memos, hacked from Democratic servers.

    13. Disinformation is infinite whereas the time to debunk it is limited. My question is why there are so many Russia-supporting trolls and spreaders of right-wing garbage here at Somerby's blog. If Somerby were truly liberal and trying to help Democrats win, why would these people be here, all supporting Somerby's blather? When someone is working overtime to make Manafort appear innocent, something is wrong with the rest of his message too.

    14. "given that the Russians already had Clinton's internal strategy memos, hacked from Democratic servers."

      As well as the hacked Republican National Committee files Julian Assange has been hiding from the world because he's on Putins payroll.
      BTW, can you believe 7:56 is so upset about Russian trolls on TDH while pretty much all of the Republican Congress is as well? Talk about missing the forest for the trees.

    15. 7:07 Manafort did in fact admit to giving polling data to Russia, he had to since his lawyer inadvertently released an unredacted document that exposed the occurrence. It’s in the article as well as tons of other news articles.

      Russian spent millions during the 2016 election, also covered by the linked article and many others.

      You’re just lying your ass off in a pathetic attempt to cover up what a moron you are, and how your nonsense is easily debunked with a few seconds on Google.

      The Trump/Russia collusion was but one of the many corruptions Trump was engaged in during his campaign and reign. It’s a strange hill you’re dying on!

      Only a right wing moron intones with such an authoritative and righteous voice while at the same time being completely wrong, with no hint of self awareness.

    16. Claiming that Russian facebook ads, based on "polling info" that Manafort may or may not have provided resulted in trump's win is just as ridiculous as Trump and his followers' claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him. Did you ever hear of Brad Parsival? Anything the Russians allegedly did was a tiny drop in the bucket compared to the massive efforts of Trump's campaign and all the other groups and websites that supported him. Just like the MAGAs, you can't distinguish between what you want to believe and reality.

    17. AC/MA,
      Yes. The idea that it would take a foreign power to get Republican voters to embrace Trump’s bigotry, could only be dreamt-up by a Right-wing media (AKA the media) pretending Republican voters care about something other than bigotry.

  4. "As it turns out, "woke" is just another word which has been "co-opted" by These White People Today! This is the kind of claim our tribunes are now prepared to recite as our tribe, and our struggling nation, slide toward the sea."

    Somerby's tone is negative as he derides this suggestion, but it happens to be true.

    And notice how Somerby calls anyone on the left who he disagrees with a "tribune". What is a tribune?

    tribune definition: "a popular leader; a champion of the people" also originating from: "an official in ancient Rome chosen by the plebeians to protect their interests"

    Does Candis Watts Smith, an associate professor of political science at Duke University really fit that description? She wasn't elected by the peope to any office. She isn't a popular leader in any sense. She is a scholar and teacher at a Southern university. How does that make her a leader of liberals or anyone else? It clearly doesn't, but Somerby uses the word anyway, to try to shift her opinions and analysis onto the left wing, onto liberals, so that conservative criticisms can be applied freely to whoever they want to mock.

  5. Today Somerby foists the right-wing meaning of the term woke onto us liberals, as if we must accept whatever way the right decides to redefine our terms. No thank you.

    Somerby says: "Whatever the term may have meant to Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, today the term is a reference to certain types of overwrought and / or denunciatory conduct, generally in the realms of gender and race. "

    Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee were black and they certainly would have heard the term "woke" in black culture dating from the 1940s, but they didn't invent the term themselves. They sang a song with the phrase "I woke up this morning," in which the reference to waking up in the morning is literal, not referring to social justice. The song is about blues over a woman, suicide, not wokeness. But perhaps one black singer is the same as another to Somerby, who may have forgotten it was Huddie Ledbetter, an entirely different person, who used the word woke in its figurative meaning. It is a form of bigotry to consider the creative efforts of black musicians interchangeable.

    And no, our meaning for the word "woke" is not about denunciatory or overwrought behavior. It is about being aware of and informed about social justice issues, especially as experienced by black and other oppressed people. It is a civil rights term. As Somerby describes it, it is as if he is confusing it with "Karen," a person who uses her white privilege to abuse others, except with the race and political affiliations reversed. That isn't what woke means to liberals. For us, being woke is a good thing, and that isn't going to change because Somerby, or Tucker Carlson, or even Carville, decide it should be an attack word in the next election.

    This is the strategy of turning liberal strengths into liabilities through attack in right wing propaganda. It is how they swiftboated Kerry and made Hillary seem corrupt, and turned Obama's willingness to compromise into weakness. We aren't going to accept that, especially not from Somerby, who is still pretending to be liberal. But if he is a lefty, why is Somerby helping the right this way? And if he knows who Sonny Terry was, why is he using him as a generic black reference (to perhaps sound hipper than he is) instead of understanding that the term "woke" was also used by labor unions in the 1940s, but NOT by these particular musicians in their own body of music.

    1. Woke is just a viewpoint that isn't straight/ white/ male. That's the reason the Right is furious about it. They can't understand why second-class citizens are getting a say, and it's making their heads explode.

  6. "Everyone knew what Carville meant when he criticized his party's growing "wokeness."

    Everyone knows what Tucker Carlson means too, but that doesn't make him right.

  7. "Its current usage isn't what Leadbelly meant by the term, and the Washington Post is willing to go along with such silly critiques."

    It depends on who is using the word. For many people on the left, the word still means what it originally meant, which is what Leadbelly meant too. The right doesn't tell the left how to use words. Neither does Carville or Somerby.

    1. What did the word originally mean?


      Woke (/ˈwoʊk/ WOHK) is an adjective derived from African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) meaning "alert to racial prejudice and discrimination". Wikipedia

      The Economist says:

      "In 1938 singer Huddie Ledbetter warned black people they “best stay woke, keep their eyes open” going through Scottsboro, Alabama, the scene of a famous mistrial involving nine young black men. The word was first defined in print by William Melvin Kelley, a black novelist, in an article published in the New York Times in 1962. Writing about black slang, Mr Kelley defined it as someone who was “well-informed, up-to-date”. Black people used it in reference to racism and other matters for decades, but the word only entered the mainstream much later. When the Black Lives Matter movement grabbed global attention during anti-racism protests after the killing in 2014 of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, it was inseparable from the phrase “stay woke”."

      People who are now using the word to refer to social justice extremism and mock the left's concern over civil rights issues are misusing the term in a deliberate attempt to discredit the left's involvement with civil rights issues -- which is an important part of the Democratic party platform and of those who align themselves with the left in the US.

      Those who have defended CRT, the 1619 Project, the viral tweeting of videos of Karens who persecute black people for engaging in everyday activities, who support anti-racism activities, who support BLM and similar concerns about police killings, who publicize racist behaviors of celebrities and politicians, and so on, are being targeted as "woke" with the meaning that this is a form of excessive activism that embarrasses the left. In that sense, this is an attack on the values and activities that many (if not most) liberals find important in addressing racial injustice in our country.

      The right has been attempting to make wokeness seem uncool, to get liberals to back-off on their support for racial justice. I don't think it will work with anyone who cares about civil rights, but Somerby has clearly aligned himself with the right by proclaiming us liberals as driving away potential votes with our wokeness. People like Somerby, who engage in such concern trolling of Democrats, are joining with the right in an effort to decrease pressure to be a less racist country. They are on the wrong side of this issue.

      As several people have pointed out here, Democrats get more votes, not fewer, when they strongly support the traditional issues of the party. Progressive candidates have been winning in their districts when they take strong stands, not when they back down to the right (and folks like Bill Maher) who tell them that woke is uncool.

    3. Woke went from its original meaning to being associated with the, real or perceived, overreach and silliness of some ivory tower types in matters of race and gender.

    4. “Went from” and “being associated with” … almost sounds like some natural process with that impersonal phrasing.

      The question is, how is it that it “went from” x to y and WHO is associating it with “overreach?”

    5. It went from what Leadbelly meant to what it means now when gender was brought into it by neologian-obsessed Ivory Tower types which led to it becoming a corporate and political cudgel and means of control. Which may have been the whole plan of the Ivory Tower types.

      Most people were not even aware of it but as they slowly became aware of it, people outside the Ivory Tower who are not influenced by the people in them began to associate it as overreach and weird. This led to charlatans on the right getting into the mix and using it as a political cudgel right back. So here we are.

      Leadbelly was not associating it with making sure high school boys have plenty of tampons.

    6. Leadbelly was simply singing the blues because he foresaw a time in which poor white high school boys would not have a sufficient amount of Tampax to put in their vaginas.

    7. There is a special ugliness to the way you right-wing trolls talk about other people's situations. Jesus would cringe at your complete lack of empathy. Cecelia didn't have the guts to put her name on this one, but it has her special touch.

    8. "It went from what Leadbelly meant to what it means now when gender was brought into it..."

      Yes, it is one thing to talk about civil rights, but something else entirely to talk about civil rights for women.

      Do you people ever listen to yourselves?

    9. 10:56 - the issue isn't talking about it. The issue is using it as a political and corporate weapon. Jesus knows that is a sin.

    10. Lead Belly could have spent time in the cotton fields along side scores of farm boys lacking an absorbing mechanism in insert into their menstruating vaginas. So he wrote a song or two about the injustice of it all.

    11. Sounds like some people are bitter because their lack of wokeness has left them out of being able to engage with the more interesting and fun loving groups of people, and their just left trying to find joy from the other lifeless zombies that just spew hate and notions of oppression.

    12. There's nothing fun loving about being a young man on a farm without a maxi pad.

    13. Old Lardass Trump uses a beach towel as a tampon.

    14. Anonymouse 10:54pm, you are dead wrong, as usual.

      I don’t write anything that I would not sign.

      In fact, I can’t tell what in the hell the ten posts above this post are lead-bellyaching about.


  8. Oh, speaking of incomparable Tucker Carlson -- and wokeness -- there's a great piece today:


    1. "incomparable" Tucker Carlson?
      Nazi Germany wasn't so long ago people forget it existed.

    2. According to Tucker, Trump is a “demonic force” and “a destroyer”.


      I have feeling we have seen the last of Somerby’s pro Tucker posts, for a while.

  9. "We call them racists, they call us woke."

    Yes, and when we call them racists, we are correct according to the meaning of the word. When they call us woke, they have redefined a word in order to use it as a pejorative term, distorting its meaning so that they can turn a strength into a criticism. They are misusing the word "woke," and many others too.

    When people misuse words for political purposes, they are engaging in propaganda and brain-washing. We don't have to go along with the right on this. But it should be clear even to Somerby that the right is widening the gulf between our tribes when they distort and abuse language this way, in order to attack those of us on the left. The right wing tried to do this with the word "liberal" and we reclaimed that word. I feel the same way about the word "woke." The first step to reclaiming it is to reject Somerby's bigoted nonsense today.

  10. It's the job of the corporate-owned, Right-wing, mainstream media (AKA the media) to let the Right define words. Us, non-elite, heartland of America types, aren't paid to let the Right do so.

  11. “That said, everyone knows what people mean when they talk about "woke" behaviors. Whatever the term may have meant to Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, today the term is a reference to certain types of overwrought and / or denunciatory conduct, generally in the realms of gender and race.”

    Likewise, does “everyone know” what “people” (ie right wingers) “mean” when they call Democrats “communists?”

    It’s clear that Republicans have redefined the word and pushed their new “definition” on their voters.

    That’s the same thing they’ve done with “woke.” Of course we know what THEY mean by it, but that isn’t what it means. They shouldn’t be allowed to redefine it simply to mean “overwrought and / or denunciatory conduct.” If such conduct exists, it isn’t synonymous with being “woke.”

    Does Somerby believe that there is any value in a concern for social justice? He has never clearly affirmed it.

    I would also dispute whether Republican opposition to “wokeness” is merely an objection to “ overwrought and / or denunciatory conduct”. They also object to the very idea of social justice.

  12. The Right is getting their ass-kicked in their war on drag queens. I hear they may have to call the big guns (Rittenhouse) in.

  13. This is what is happening, and it is a deliberate campaign on the right to roll-back progress on civil rights:

  14. Punching down on the marginalized is the Get Out The Vote strategy of the Republican Party.