At a much later period in my life, I “woke” in another way. I became aware that all life was not as comfortable as my own and I came to realize that Blacks and women did not have the same benefits as this comfortable white male did. More recently I have observed the increasing discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community.
I now am “woke” in the sense despised by Florida’s Governor DeSantis and the current Republican party that has eliminated independent thought. “Woke” is now officially a bad thing.
But it wasn’t always that way. In the 1960s we seemed to have developed a national conscience and made significant advances in righting past wrongs. Much forward movement has continued past that time.
However, it’s dangerous to threaten the powerful, and that is what “wokeness” did. Many of it’s manifestations hurt the powerful white establishment. In the interests of diversity there was an effect on hiring and college admissions. Some whites who were turned down sued, and the Republicans began to recognize a potential winner. Nixon was one of the first, with his southern strategy, which wound up turning the prejudiced southern Democratic states into prejudiced southern Republican states.
Now, in Florida, there is a war against “wokeness.” It takes many forms from book banning to Disney bashing.
There is a bill working its way through the Florida legislature, heading to the desk of our anti-woke governor, that will encourage college students to record classes without the instructor’s permission. Furthermore, if there is the slightest concern on the recording that there is an “unacceptable” message involving diversity or critical race theory or anything that goes against a conservative viewpoint, the bill encourages the student to report the instructor.
In particular, they are to look for, among other things, instances where they feel uncomfortable about the topic of discussion.
How terrible for a college level student to feel “uncomfortable” about a topic. No way would we want him to examine his feelings and even defend them. Of course, our governor would say such discussions had no place in higher education any way since the only important subjects are STEM related. He’s a lawyer, by the way.
Do I really think students would go through this reporting process?
Many are narrow in their thinking, a situation they will maintain if they are never challenged to think beyond their current state. It is common for their position to reflect the indoctrination provided by parents. How else to explain the many youngsters angered by the presence of Blacks or gays? They wouldn’t hesitate to create a “gotcha.”
I once taught in a cohort for honors students. There were three instructors teaching the three required classes of Calculus, English, and Humanities. We each held our regular class sections, and, in addition, we all got together weekly for general discussions. I had one student who, in one of these discussions, claimed that the earth was formed 15,000 years ago, a claim arising from his religious beliefs imposed on him by his parents.
I suggested, in the gentlest possible terms, that there was indisputable scientific evidence otherwise, hoped he would consider that evidence, and recognize his religious believes would survive the truth.
He was a good kid. I don’t think he would have reported me if the new standard existed back then. But if it was today and he did report, I’d be in a heap of trouble.
I can’t help but wonder if the current bill is just the beginning, and more and more of our citizens will be asked to report to the government about other citizens with unacceptable views.
Like in Nazi Germany, Russia past and present, and so many other countries.