16 Mar A Unique and Unifying Power
I know I’ve told this story before, but I’ll tell it again – namely because of what today is.
As a rule, the marketing and publicity folks at Encounter Books did a fantastic job of marketing my book and allowing me to market it (and myself) as well. In the first few months after the book was published, I did more than 100 talk-radio interviews and maybe as many as 200. Not all of them were great, but all of them were positive and featured eager and friendly interviewers who were excited to talk about The Dictatorship of Woke Capital. Only once during the entire experience did I face what could have been considered even vaguely hostile questioning.
Over the past few days, many on the Left and in the media (we know, we know) have mocked Bethany Mandel for struggling on air to define “woke.” I feel her pain – although I was much luckier than she was.
Not long after the book came out, I did an interview with a Memphis radio station. The station mostly played jazz, but my interviewer – whose name has been lost in the vast caverns of my terrible memory – had a talk show for a couple of hours every weekday morning (if I recall correctly). She was black, early-to-mid-60s, a Democrat, and she wanted to know how I defined the word woke. “Woke,” she said, “was our word. It meant ‘to be awake and aware and to understand that not everything about our society is accurately portrayed by the media, education, and political establishments.’ But they took our word from us, made it political. And now, it’s almost always used as an insult. What do you mean when you use the word?”
I hemmed and I hawed, and I tried to explain that I wasn’t defining “woke” so much as “woke capital.” She had just said that she hated that the word was used as an insult, and I didn’t want to define it insultingly. I didn’t want to be unkind. She was a very nice woman and although the question may have seemed hostile, she sure wasn’t. And I struggled.
Then she mentioned something about when she “was growing up in Leavenworth, Kansas.” I saw an opening. “I have relatives who live in Leavenworth,” I said. Then I paused. “I suppose I’m taking a bit of a chance here, but given how close Leavenworth is to Lawrence (and my alma mater), I’ll go on: Rock Chalk Jayhawk.”
She laughed. “Oh, yes! I’m a Jayhawk, through and through.”
We talked a little bit about Leavenworth and a little bit more about our shared affection for the birthplace of college basketball and the winningest program in the history of the sport. When we got back to talking about the book, any tension that existed before had dissipated. She cheerily accepted my definition of woke capital and she moved on to talk about how terrible it is what the big asset management firms are doing with people’s retirement savings. It turned out to be a very good and fun interview.
I don’t watch the NFL any longer – even when the almost hometown Chiefs are winning two of the last four Super Bowls. It’s not that I don’t like football as much as I used to. It’s that I hate politics with my sports. And the NFL is pretty much ruined forever.
I don’t watch ESPN any longer – except for live college basketball games. It’s not that I don’t like watching sports highlights or the day’s top-ten plays or…whatever as much as I used to. It’s that hate politics with my sports. And ESPN SportsCenter is pretty much ruined forever.
I don’t want to make the mistake of idealizing the past, and I know that racial integration, in particular, is a sore spot in American sports history. Nevertheless, sports, more than just about anything else in American culture, have the ability to transcend all differences among the people. Rich, poor, blue collar, white collar, black, white, Hispanic, Republican, Democrat, male, female, non-binary…whatever. Americans of all shapes and varieties can unite in their love of various sports events, teams, and figures. And when they do, they can forget about all the discordant BS that our ruling class is happy to have divide us for every other second of every other day.
You will note, by the way, that I didn’t say that sports “had” the power to do so. Sports still “have” that power. Some sports and some entertainment and sports programming networks consciously chose to give up that power in order to satiate their desire for the dopamine rush associated with being called strong and inspiring by politicians and half-wit intellectuals. But the power still exists and is still extant in many sports and events.
Anyway, as you likely know, today begins the greatest two-and-a-half-week spectacle in all of athletics. In just a few minutes, your defending national champions will be tipping off their first-round game, with their head coach not on the sidelines, having had three stents placed in his heart last weekend. All that I can say for sure about that team is that a dashing, boyish 53-year-old, white, anti-ESG, anti-woke, conservative analyst and author and a sweet, mid-60s, black, Democratic, pro-woke talk-radio host will both be cheering them on wholeheartedly, hoping that they can manage to stick around for an entire 6 game run.
And that’s exactly as it should be.
God bless America.
Oh. And Rock Chalk Jayhawk!