Conservative commentator Bethany Mandel co-authored a whole book on the “current woke indoctrination” supposedly going on around the country. But when asked to define the term at the very center of it, she flopped.
Mandel struggled for half a minute to come up with an answer to what “woke” means during an appearance Tuesday on “Rising,” a web series produced by The Hill.
“This is going to be one of those moments that goes viral,” she predicted, accurately.
In the end, the author of “Stolen Youth: How Radicals Are Erasing Innocence and Indoctrinating a Generation” — released earlier this month — offered that “woke is something that’s very hard to define,” and said it had to do with reorganizing society “to create hierarchies of oppression.”
“It’s hard to explain in a 15-second sound bite,” she said with an apology.
“Rising” host Briahna Joy Gray responded, “Take your time.”
But Mandel was then rescued by the program’s conservative co-host, Robby Soave, who stepped in to say, “It’s definitely something that you know what it is when you see it.”
The term “woke” originated among English-speaking Black communities, becoming more widely used in the age of social media to describe an awareness of systemic discrimination and inequality. The 2014 police killing of Black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, rocketed the word to prominence on Twitter.
In more recent years, right-wing pundits and politicians — notably Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — have hijacked “woke” to criticize and make fun of progressive ideals. Most do not explain what they mean by using the term, leading some observers to conclude this use functions as a racist dog whistle that riles up conservative voters.
Mandel responded on Twitter to critics of what she called her “viral brain fart.”
She also offered up a definition for “woke”: “A radical belief system suggesting that our institutions are built around discrimination, and claiming that all disparity is a result of that discrimination. It seeks a radical redefinition of society in which equality of group result is the endpoint, enforced by an angry mob.”
Mandel also offered some backstory for her interview performance. She said that before the interview started, she heard Gray “demeaning parenting in general in colorful and nasty terms, stating parents only have kids in order to perpetuate their own narcissism.”
She said that “as a mom of six,” the comment “threw me off just a bit.”
“Are you saying you were the victim of a microaggression and this affected your performance,” wrote one commenter.
Atlantic writer Thomas Chatterton Williams provided similar feedback, tweeting, “This reasoning has to be rejected even when we are feeling sorry for ourselves: it’s the foundation of ‘triggering’ and ‘microagressions.’”
In other words, it’s “woke.”