KJ Hannah Greenberg

Woke Mob

Civic energies are wasted airing the suicide pacts of charismatic leaders, the drug ordeals of runaway adolescents, and the exploits of hijackers. We’d fare better if, instead, we highlighted deeds of loving kindness, including rescuing kittens, clothing the homeless, and making peace, where appropriate with our “enemies.” Conversely, rather than embrace virtue, we pander to woke mobs, to “outraged group[s] that can take away a person’s job or social standing because of a statement or action” (“The true meaning of the ‘woke mob’”). Because we’re “[w]ithout a systematic framework…we [will] proceed [with] a non-cumulative knowledge base…that is subject to fads and folk wisdom” (Glassberg and Oja, 60).

This problem of prizing accommodation over reality, of genuflecting to approval, not merit, occurs even in our highly regarded universities (Meotti). Many of our elite schools have rejected cultural truisms by distinguishing “among theories tested by evidence, hypotheses proposed tentatively, and speculations without support[. T]hey [seek] to place all facts within a logical structure” (Schement and Mokros, 26.) Given that our “scholarly-guided” citadels prohibit us from sharing our understandings, it’s of little wonder that, recently, “[t]he House [had to pass] a bipartisan resolution condemning antisemitism on college campuses and [condemning] testimony from three high-profile university presidents over antisemitism at a congressional hearing” (Foran, et. al.) Simply, critical thinking has been tossed away by our alleged vanguards. These days, hatred substitutes for alliance.

It seems as though our movers and shakers don’t appreciate that there cannot be cognitive powers acknowledged without the reflexive posit of their competence to sort the actual and the apparent[;] no contingent cognitive successes without a transcendental attempt to plumb the conditions for their succeeding; and no reasoned confidence in the realism of science and inquiry (however attenuated) without a theory of how praxis makes this possible (Margolis, 212).

In short, we’re collectively functioning in the dark. Regrettably, our civilization had long been evolving toward doing and saying that which we esteem that our authorities (both individuals and factions) desire. At the present time, it’s a matter of seeing how an “experience” [comes] to be constituted in modern Western societies, an experience that cause[s] individuals to recognize themselves [as] subjects [is an experience] which [is] accessible to very diverse fields of knowledge and linked to a system of rules and constraints (Foucault, 1986, 4). Sometimes, it’s money that rocks chieftains’ socks; sometimes, it’s prestige; sometimes, it’s other factors. No matter their goals, our unwise bosses confound, baffle, and bewilder us in order to achieve that which is important to them.

Per financial gain, weigh the 20th Century example of vacuum cleaner hawkers who deliberately alarmed homemakers. Namely, folks who refused to buy their product were accused of slovenly behavior and worse. Community pressure to “keep up with the Jones” secured many needless sales.

To boot, chew over the infamous incident in which Carol Burnett, a well-liked entertainer, found herself litigating against The National Inquirer, a widely distributed, profitable print tabloid that cared more about sales than about damaging peoples’ character via libel. 

Not only was the newspaper assigned wrongdoing, but it was caused to pay a significant amount in punitive damages. In the words of the case’s judge,

[t]he fact is that this is a publication read nationally by 16 million people…If the risk to an intentional wrongdoer that he will be adequately punished is slight, the defendant may well chance it again. It can in effect “write it off” as an expense or cost of doing business. Thus[,] punitive damages need to be more than “an expense” item or “cost of doing business” which the defendant can calculate and absorb. In a case such as this, reference to the ratio of compensatory to punitive damages, such as emphasized in the majority opinion, is neither helpful nor relevant (“Burnett v. National Enquirer, Inc.).

Second, per prominence, reflect, correspondingly, on the United States’ armed forces’ policy on releasing information to soldiers and the general public. The government’s  mandate to “‘AFVN broadcasters was to entertain, to inform, and to soothe,[’] said AFVN DJ Les Howard, who was on air from January to December 1970” (Frost). Accurate reporting was not as imperative as was being well-regarded by combatants and voters.

Another illustration of behind-the-scenes operators treasuring reputation over honesty would be contemporary environmental institutes that recurrently articulate a biocentric outlook, i.e., a deference to wildlife, yet kowtow to developmental organizations that tabulate values inversely, i.e. feels no compunction when destroying wetlands or deforesting great swaths of land. These extremely incongruent organizations “achieve” comparability when they quietly, jointly concede the appeal of the natural world to the appeal of kingpins’ admiration. Instantaneous with revering policies of nonmaleficence, noninterference, fidelity, and restitutive justice (Tyler, 212-213), too many conservation foundations compromise their missions to sustain their cachet.

Third, further motives often fuel our world’s partiality. Among these pushes are self-doubt and dependency. More specifically, self-doubt “undermines [one’s] confidence and makes [one] second-guess [themselves.] It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy” (Pradeepa). People who believe that they are less dear than “parties in charge” often blindly follow imprudent directives. Mull over the Jonestown suicide-by-Kool-Aid episode. Ponder, moreover, Gazans’ overwhelming support of Hamas notwithstanding the terrorists’ theft of aid meant for the entire population.

Likewise, by not protesting our lack of autonomy, we risk future violence. Human needs can’t be infinitely stifled. “Revolutions are born when the social climate in a country changes and the political system does not react in kind” (National Geographic Society). It’s “woke” to siddle up to trendy minorities. It requires being “awake,” nonetheless, to recognize that suppressing the rights of majorities nearly always leads to civil wars or additional harms.

Whether money, rank, or other interests are what our leading lights chase, their repeated lack of care about us, the multitudes, means we’ll continue to live in a universe where veracity is absent. Us being “woke” best serves the elite.

Providing that we remain gullible

[I]nsofar as [we] are being caused to act in that way due to emotional manipulation that [we] are unaware of, as opposed to being caused to act that way due to [our] considered convictions, we can still raise concerns about the exercise of [our] episodic autonomy, since it is emotional manipulation and not an authentic exercise of [our] agency that determines [our] behaviour (Sahebi and Formosa).

More exactly, unless we actively, publicly, question the status quo, viz., unless we actively, publicly, question our place in woke mobs, we are “liable to eventually weaponize [woke] norms for the sake of advancing claims of victimization that are sincerely felt but mistaken, or else consciously cynical, since such claims become a means of securing power and influence” (Levitz).

It’s grand to be compassionate. It’s impressive to rid ourselves of prejudices. It’s foolhardy, all the same, to allow influencers who suit themselves by keeping the rest of us from discovering and broadcasting truth.


“Burnett v. National Enquirer, Inc.” Casetext: Smarter Legal Research. Accessed 23 Mar. 2022.

Foran, Claire, Melanie Zanona, and Haley Talbot. “House passes resolution condemning testimony by university presidents over antisemitism”[sic]. CNN. 13 Dec. 2023. Accessed 9 Jan. 2024.


Foucault, Michael. M. R. Hurley, Trans. The History of Sexuality: The Use of Pleasure. Vol. 2. New York: Vintage. 1986.           

Frost, Natasha. “Real ‘Good Morning Vietnam’ DJ Offered Escape for Young Troops.” History. 29 Aug. 2018. Accessed 23 Mar. 2022.

Glassberg, Sally, and Sharon Nodie Oja. “A Developmental Model for Enhancing Teachers’ Personal and Professional Growth.” Journal of Research and Development in Education. 14.2 1981, 59-70.

Levitz, Eric. “Do the ‘Woke’ Betray the Left’s True Principles?” New York Magazine. 11 May 2023. / Accessed 10 Jan. 2024.


Margolis, Joseph. “In Defense of Relativism.” Social Epistemology: A Journal of Knowledge, Culture, and Policy. 2:3. 1988, 211-225.

Meotti, Giulio. “Islamic regimes have problems with books. So do woke progressives” [sic]. Israel National News. 13 Feb. 2023. 9 Jan. 2024.

National Geographic Society. “Revolution.” 19 Oct. 2023. Accessed 10 Jan. 2024.

Pradeepa, Sanju. “How Does Self-doubt affect You (9 Simple ways [sic] to Overcome.” Belief in Mind. 17 Jun. 2023. Accessed 9 Jan. 2024.

Sahebi, Siavosh., and Formosa, Paul. “Social Media and its Negative Impacts on Autonomy.” Philosophy & Technology. 35. 70 (Jul. 2022). Accessed 9 Jan. 2024.

Schement, Jorge G. and Hartmut B. Mokros. “The Social and Historical Construction of the Idea of Information as Thing.” International Communication Association Convention. U Dublin P, 1990.

“The true meaning of the ‘woke mob’” [sic]. Deseret News. 25 Jan. 2023. Accessed 9 Jan. 2024.

Tyler, Stephen A.. The Unspeakable: Discourse, Dialogue, and Rhetoric in the Postmodern World. U Wisconsin P, 1987.

About the Author
KJ Hannah Greenberg has been playing with words for an awfully long time. Initially a rhetoric professor and a National Endowment for the Humanities Scholar, she shed her academic laurels to romp around with a prickle of imaginary hedgehogs. Thereafter, her writing has been nominated once for The Best of the Net in poetry, three times for the Pushcart Prize in Literature for poetry, once for the Pushcart Prize in Literature for fiction, once for the Million Writers Award for fiction, and once for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. To boot, Hannah’s had more than forty books published and has served as an editor for several literary journals.