Maybe it’s just us, but a flurry of news in recent days makes us think that the ill-conceived “woke” agenda is beginning to face some serious pushback. Now that it has somewhat of a track record, the wholesale dismantling of traditional ways of dealing with society’s challenges doesn’t seem as enlightened as some of the few have been trying to persuade, if not impose upon, the rest of us. And it’s about time. So, consider what the following developments have to say about how the progressive spin on law enforcement, critical race theory and the LGBT issue is faring these days.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed seemed to capture the moment in her speech last week criticizing the city’s crime spike, which critics claim is due to the city’s defunding the police and a recently enacted California law that decriminalizes most thefts below a certain monetary threshold.
Last year Breed cut San Francisco’s police budget by $120 million. But in her speech she said she now wants more funding for police to combat skyrocketing crime, particularly open-air drug dealing, car break-ins and retail theft: “It’s time the reign of criminals who are destroying our city, it is time for it to come to an end…. [We have] to be more aggressive with law enforcement and less tolerant of all the [baloney] that that has destroyed our city.”
Here in New York, Mayor-elect Eric Adams this year famously ran on a platform of support for police through increased funding, promoting respect for officers and an end to the presumption of an officer’s guilt when things go awry during an arrest – another brilliant progressive idea.
Adams also committed to directly cracking down on the rampant crime by bringing back several of the initiatives of prior administrations that Mayor de Blasio dispensed with in accord with his progressive credo: things like focused anti-crime units, deployment of plainclothes units on the streets, targeting illegal gun possession through stop and frisk, and vigorous enforcement of laws including even low level crimes.
He also railed against New York’s recently enacted woke bail reform law requiring judges to cut many criminals loose without cash bail, including those facing some serious charges. It was good to hear Adams’s incoming police commissioner last week reiterate the urgency of tackling the surging violence: “The first thing we have to do is get a handle on the violence in the city. That’s absolutely unacceptable. We’ll be laser-focused on that.” She went on to say judges need to be able to have the “discretion to determine who is a danger to society and whether or not they should be released immediately after being arrested.
Also, in a significant move, many leading retailers, several of whom jumped on the woke bandwagon out of a fear of being labeled racist, and wrote big checks to organizations that advocated defunding the police (Black Lives Matter and the Equal Justice Initiative) are now calling on Congress for assistance amidst the smash-and-grab looting that is causing them millions in stolen merchandise.
According to Fox News, “Leading retailers are concerned about the growing impact organized retail crime is having,” and have recently signed a letter sent to Congress by the Retail Industry Leaders Association making an almost desperate appeal for help.
Consider also the remarks of the New York City Schools Chancellor-to-be David Banks: “We have suffered through a school system that has not always recognized and given kids the things they need. Not an obsession with race, but, darn it, at least the basis of knowing you are worth something. That’s all I’m talking about. I’m not going to be the chancellor who is beating everyone over the head with race.”
He went on to explain that what he was about was teaching positively about the contributions of all Americans going forward and not tearing down the system because it failed some of us on this score in the past.
Similarly, he said, he said he would try to expand enriched educational programs and make them available to all qualified students who seek them rather than eliminate them – as Mayor de Blasio ordered – because certain groups have been underrepresented in the past. And he emphasized that in this regard that he was committed to maintaining standards for admission rather than dropping them in the name of race-based social engineering. Wow!
Finally, we note here the manifestation of another issue on the progressive checklist, the continuing story of Lia Thomas, a University of Pennsylvania student born male but who identifies as female. Thomas’s story has been largely discussed in theoretical terms – until now.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association, which regulates athletic competitions involving students from more than 1,200 North American institutions and conferences, has allowed Thomas to compete (and thoroughly dominate) in various women’s swim competitions. Thomas previously competed as a man for three years on the school’s men’s team. But Thomas’s regular success and routine shattering of women’s records has renewed criticism over NCAA’s allowing transgender women to compete against biological females.
Parents of biologically female swimmers are raising a ruckus about what they say the inherent unfairness of the NCAA policy. For its part, the NCAA A defends its policy by noting that it requires that a transgender woman can’t compete with biological born women until after undergoing testosterone suppression treatment for a year, presumably to address the issue of systemic physical disparity.
But the parents maintain that the testosterone requirement is not the great equalizer the NCAA says it is and are not backing off.
It is hard to tell how fast, or even how far, all of this will go. But we have felt all along that experience would be the best antidote to the woke ideology-driven worldview. Perhaps we are on the way back to that American realism, imperfect as it was and however much in need of tweaking, that made us the envy of the world.