Alexander Brown: I am begging you to stop calling things woke and just grow up

The battle of ideas has become a populist nightmare where catchphrases reign over argument.

Having worked at tabloid newspapers, I am no stranger to nonsense campaigns or calling things something because you need an angle.

It’s a silly aspect of the media where everything needs a reaction, and we have to know if it’s good or bad.

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Then it was calling everyone who had the temerity to point out something was dated or problematic a “snowflake”, a side I more often than not found myself on.

This week Shakespeare's Globe Theatre announced it was doing a Joan of Arc where they are non-binary
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The problem is, in removing meaning from a word by using it to criticise everything you disagree with, eventually you’ll overstep and fall on the wrong side of the argument.

In my paper’s case, it was responding to meditation for children with mental health issues by calling them “snowflake kids”.

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The editors just thought the readers liked complaining about snowflakes, so didn’t think having a go at children might not be the best idea.

Now the term snowflake has thankfully melted away, we’re onto woke, a term used to label literally anything someone on the right disagrees with, even a heatwave.

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Not wanting statues of slavers? Woke. Thinking those fleeing persecution should have a chance at a better life? Woke. Learning about Britain’s colonial history not just World War 2? Woke.

Today’s discourse is constant confected outrage, a one-size-fits all dismissal by figures who should know better but would rather fight than learn.

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And it’s everywhere, with not a day going by without someone complaining about something and punching down.

This week Shakespeare's Globe Theatre announced it was doing a Joan of Arc where they are non-binary, prompting a furious front page in a national newspaper.

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That Joan of Arc was executed after refusing to wear women's clothes, or that William Shakespeare was renowned for men playing women seems entirely lost on those angry about it.

The culture war is not a priority for most ordinary people, with the snowflake public far more stressed about the cost-of-living than pictures of the Queen in an Oxford college.

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But now, perhaps inspired by America, the term woke has infected our politicians and pundits, who seemed intent on fighting battles that don’t exist instead of dealing with real problems.

Liz Truss is the latest culprit of this, warning on Friday of not just antisemitism in the civil service, but also “wokeism”, as if that’s a real word.

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Ignoring the grotesqueness of putting antisemitism in the same sentence, what on earth does she mean?

I’d love to tell you, but at the time of writing her team are not expanding upon the point, quite possibly because there isn’t one.

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An elected official should not be treating the Jewish community as a political football anyway, but to make such an empty comment is absurd.

If she means BDS, she should say so, but if she means wokeness, I’d like to know what is.

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Besides, I can assure you Jews are far more worried about far-right antisemites than people using pronouns.

Debate is good, knowledge is power, but dismissing everything you don’t like as “woke” is meaningless and deeply embarrassing.

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Nonsense catchphrases belong in America, and those using them need to grow up.



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