On the dangers of Extreme Woke-ness
By Femi Olugbile
Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu is an activist and a much sought-after speaker in the press and social media of the United Kingdom just now. She is British born, of Nigerian parentage. She has a PhD in Law from University of London, and an MBA from University of Cambridge. She is voluble and in-your-face. The causes she that excite her passion are women’s rights, racial diversity and social inclusion.
It was interesting the other day, watching some clips from a March 2021 episode of ITV’s Good Morning Britain. In the programme, the popular, pugilistic anchor Piers Morgan, who had earlier let off a harsh tirade against Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, and her husband, Harry, the Duke of Sussex, over the couple’s recent interview with Oprah Winfrey, was affirming that he did not believe a word of what Meghan said, implying she was a liar.
Piers Morgan himself is a broadcaster who has built a rather controversial reputation on both sides of the Atlantic. For a spell his Piers Morgan Live replaced the long-running Larry King Show on CNN. But it did not last. Americans did not take kindly to Piers, it seemed.
Piers talks fast and packs a punch. He is very opinionated, but his ideological identity is unstable. He has been editor of Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World, which is right wing, and editor of Daily Mirror, the tabloid of the working class. He has been friends with Donald Trump, who he interviewed thrice as President, and been ‘unfriended’ on Twitter by the same Trump, when he upbraided him for retweeting the crazy pronouncement of a British neo-Nazi group.
In the recent past he has been expressing right wing views and using his sharp tongue against people perceived as ‘Woke’, counter-cultural, or anyone for that matter who catches Piers’ fancy as a target for invective. He was friends with Meghan Markle at some time. Meghan cut him off when she started dating Prince Harry.
Given that Piers Morgan and Shola Shogbamimu were coming from opposite directions and they both fought every battle as if it was the last war, it was clear sparks would fly when Piers sat down to Good Morning Britain with Shola as a guest to discuss the Meghan interview. She was, he averred, insulting the Queen and the very bastion of Britishness. How dare she! He poo-pooed the accusation of racism.
Shola sailed into her opponent, accusing him of bigotry, and averring that anybody in the land could be called out if they did something wrong, including the Queen.
Shola, as usual, once she started, would not stop speaking, and Piers, his fury visibly rising, could not get in a word.
Later still, the weatherman, a man of mixed race, would take up the same matter with Piers, pillorying him for his negative comments on Meghan. At that point, Piers Morgan, the anchor, lost his cool entirely, and walked off his own programme, live on television. It was extraordinary drama.
In the past few days, Shola has appeared on several programmes, including a Sky News discussion on the report of the Committee set up by the Boris Johnson government to investigate the state of Gender and Inclusion in British society. Her fellow discussant was a quiet scholarly white lady of obviously conservative bent. The report gave a generally positive view of British society and said there was no widespread institutional gender or other bias, though it admitted there were still some problems to be tackled.
Shola erupted. This report was blasphemy from the pits of hell. Britain was a misogynistic society. The other discussant tentatively put it to her that women were in commanding positions in government and in the Boardroom, though there were still isolated issue of wrong-doing, here and there.
At this point, Shola went personal.
‘I’m surprised you as a woman are saying this…’
The lady held up her hand to reply, but as was her wont, Shola went on and on, not allowing her adversary the merest word in.
Shola is increasingly popular with young television audiences, many of whom share her views. The ‘shut-down-the-opponent’ tactic is characteristic of the avatars of ‘Woke’ culture, just like the tying together of unrelated causes, so that if you believe in BlackLivesMatter, you must be ready to go to battle for Feminism, LGBTQI, and Climate Change. An attack on any front is taken as an attack on all. And because they believe so passionately in what they advocate, they see no need to listen to the other side. There is no other side.
This piece is not about Piers Morgan, a loose cannon who can fire in any direction, but about the emergence and increasing prominence of loud, black, female, sometimes Nigerian voices of extreme Woke-ness on television, radio, social media and university campuses all over Europe and America. They are much less audible, at least for now, in Africa, where Wokeness is not yet a compulsory social item.
Polite, civilized public discourse has been the first casualty, as positions have become entrenched – left and right. Shola’s ‘I won’t let you get in a word because I know I am right’, is akin to the Trumpian ‘I will abuse and threaten you and not hear, or let anyone hear, a word you say’.
The danger of trenchant, extreme wokeness in true believers in popular social causes is that it may rub many in ‘the silent majority’ up the wrong way and create a pool of disaffected ordinary citizens who dare not raise their voices for fear of being shouted down, or ‘cancelled’, but who on election day, may quietly proceed to vote against those who label themselves the forces of progress. ———————————————————————————————————— PS FOR YINKA ODUMAKIN The news of his death came rudely a few days ago. He feared nobody, and spoke up to succour a long-suffering people, and bring a haunted nation from the brink. May his soul rest in peace.