Bari Weiss
Bari Weiss / Die Welt

There are many bewildering things about the madness of “wokism”. Two questions tower above all others. Where did it all come from? And the nightmarish one is: where will it all end?

Bari Weiss is one of its victims, having jumped from the New York Times when the incursion of the trolls into the echelons of the paper made her efforts to bring a degree of balance to its opinion pages all but fruitless.

That did not mean she was going to run and hide. She went out in a blaze of defiance with a devastating indictment of the paper which she had tried to redeem. Her open resignation letter to Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger made world news.

Has it made any difference? It is too early to say. That we can’t answer the question yet is part of my nightmare. So-called progressivism, in which wokism is deeply embedded, marches onward and downward into imbecility.

After her exit Bari Weiss fighting on many fronts. She is being listened to in online interviews; she is writing columns; and she is piloting a lifeboat away from a doomed ship of fools. She and a few more such give us hope. To keep in touch with what she is doing – talking good old common sense –subscribe to her newsletter, Common Sense with Bari Weiss, on Substack.

In a recent newsletter she tackles the folly in progress at Amazon Studios.

Amazon Studios’ new inclusion policy is vaunted by mindless woke clones in the mainstream media. Its goal is that by 2024, 50 percent of the creative roles in its movies and shows will be filled by women or people of colour.

OK. That’s their business and they should be free to organise it as they see fit. But what is this product I am getting in my living room? Is Amazon in the business of giving us artistic creations or social engineering?

Digging into its documentation Weiss finds the studio declaring that it will in future try to cast actors whose identity — “gender, gender identity, nationality, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability” — matches that of the characters they play. She wonders how Ariel from The Little Mermaid or the sea monster from The Shape of Water would be slotted.

“By now, this is a familiar story,” she writes. “Amazon is turning the making of TV and film into the same woke numbers game played at every other elite institution. (Exhibit A: Sixty-eight percent of the students admitted to Princeton’s class of 2025 self-identify as ‘people of color’.”)

The nightmarish thing is that we are being tumbled around inside a massive brainwashing machine by subscribing to Amazon Prime Video. We are bingeing on programs in which programmers program us. We are assured that, “the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion requires all of us to disrupt (the) biases, and the longstanding customs and practices in the industry, in order to achieve real, lasting change. This work is not easy to do, but don’t worry, we’re in this together.”

Latasha Gillespie is Executive Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Amazon Studios and she tells us her plan.

“Amazon Studios has long prioritized telling innovative and inclusive stories from a diverse range of creative talent, delighting our global audiences. We wanted to move beyond good intentions to creating mechanisms that hold us accountable to a high bar.

“This Inclusion Policy and Inclusion Playbook adds important, additional depth and guidance for our internal teams and external partners to ensure we continue to advance our shared mission of amplifying the best creatives and content around the world.”

All this sounds benign. But what about the silencing, the cancelling and the sacking of voices which even ask mild questions about what is going on?

Weiss read through Amazon Studios’ Inclusion Playbook, designed “to help disrupt the biases that occur across the lifecycle of a series or movie, from the first inkling of a concept to viewers streaming the content on Prime Video.” The playbook directed her to a factsheet that she thought might help improve her familiarity with all things diverse and inclusive.

There is where you will get some glimpse of the brainwashing guidelines — all about how to deal with things like: “acquired limb difference (otherwise known as ‘amputation’). There’s an entry on mean girls, which, she learned, was a ‘stereotype of girls and young women characterizing them as socially aggressive and unkind’ —characterizations that, apparently, not only ‘enforce the bad behavior’ but ‘fail to address the larger social issues girls and women face like insecurity, lack of confidence, and pressure to fit the ‘feminine beauty ideal’.”

Outside the Amazon box – or any other corporate bubble infected by these holier-than-thou missionaries – there are, thankfully, people telling us that the king has no clothes on.

Weiss cites the deputy opinion editor at Newsweek, Batya Ungar-Sargon. She offers the following insight: wokeness is, almost always, a smokescreen. By focusing the attention and energy of the rich and powerful on say, whether using the word Latinx is preferable to Hispanic, we let them off the hook for actually doing something about the fact that Latinos remain more than twice as likely to live below the poverty line as whites and Asians.

Batya put it to this way: “‘Doing the work’ means hiring diversity specialists to call their children white supremacists in a prep school class they can put it on their transcript to help their chances of getting into Harvard. It has absolutely nothing to do with asking those who could actually make a difference with regard to true inequality to sacrifice anything of themselves.”

How did the strange marriage between wokeness and corporate America take place? The answer will not be found, she says, in the mainstream press, but there are two books coming out over the next few months that take it up.

The first, out in August, is called Woke, Inc.: Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam by Vivek Ramaswamy.

The other book, out in October, is by Ungar-Sargon. It’s called Bad News: How Woke Media Is Undermining Democracy.

I can’t wait to read it.

Michael Kirke was born in Ireland. In 1966 he graduated from University College Dublin (History and Politics). In that year he began working on the sub-editorial desk of The Evening...