Nikki Haley Asked to Define 'Woke' During CNN Town Hall


If you want to use a certain phrase or nickname to attack or criticize an idea, you should probably have an idea of what that word means.

And during a town hall event with CNN on Sunday, Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley joined the ranks of conservatives who struggled when she was asked to define “woke.”

“There’s a lot of things,” she responded.

The former South Carolina governor went on, “You want to start with biological boys playing in girl sports. That’s one thing. The fact we have gender pronoun classes in the military now. All these things that are pushing what a small minority wants on the majority of Americans. It’s too much.”

“How are you going to build the morale and a strong military when you’re doing gender pronoun classes? Why is it that you have, you know, kids undergoing critical race theory?” she asked.

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If you notice, Haley responded with a circular answer by sharing issues conservatives might consider “woke,” but not actually defining what it means for those issues to be “woke.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) also was asked to define the term. He responded, “Look, we know what ‘woke’ is, it’s a form of cultural Marxism.”

“It’s about putting merit and achievement behind identity politics, and it’s basically a war on the truth,” he added.

The second part of his answer actually had a definition that is easy to understand.

The word “woke,” for conservatives, has been used to refer to an issue or idea that is crazy or part of a push to transform social norms or an attack on Western values. But the failure to define this popular buzzword is somewhat of an issue. Without knowing what the term means, how can you explain why a policy or agenda is bad?

It is fine to use “woke” as an epithet, but you should know what it means so you can tell if something is actually “woke,” or if you just do not like it.

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For example, you may not like a trade policy of President Joe Biden, but that does not mean the policy is an attack on Western values and is “woke.”

If “woke” just means something you just do not like, then it is easier to dismiss your criticism of it because there is not much of a substantive reason for people to engage with. But if you define “woke” as issues that undermine traditional Western values, or an ideology that focuses on identity and pits Americans against each other with one group seeing the other as an “oppressor,” it is easier to understand why something is “bad.”

And if you find yourself trying to define what “woke” means by saying it is “a lot of things,” perhaps you need some new phrases to discuss the various issues.

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