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The N-Word & Wokeness In Power

Morgan Wallen (video)

We have two stories about the N-word making news this week.

The first has to do with a young country music star, Morgan Wallen, who has been dropped by his record label and overall cancelled because someone filmed him coming home apparently drunk after a night on the town, using the n-word to say goodbye to his friends. They were loaded and acting up; a neighbor recorded them, and leaked it to TMZ. You can watch and listen here. From TMZ:

He apologized publicly for what he said, and he should have done. But Wokeness knows no mercy. From The Ringer:

The industry blowback to Wallen has been swift and severe. Big Loud, his record label and management company, announced that it had suspended his recording contract indefinitely. The radio conglomerates iHeartMedia and Entercom both pulled his songs from the airwaves in more than 150 stations, alongside fellow major outlets Cumulus and SiriusXM; cable-TV powerhouse CMT pulled his videos from all platforms, and the Academy of Country Music announced that it would “halt Morgan Wallen’s potential involvement and eligibility” in the ACM Awards scheduled for April. Spotify (which owns The Ringer) and Apple Music both pulled Wallen’s music from playlists, an especially significant blow given that much of his recent chart dominance owed to his popularity on streaming sites, a rarity within a county ecosystem still largely driven by CD sales and ticket bundles. If not for the pandemic, Wallen would very likely be headlining a blockbuster arena tour right now, and that tour would be in grave peril.

The ugliness of that word is necessary here, because it highlights how dehumanizing white supremacy was. You can see in King’s usage why it was so wrong for someone like Morgan Wallen to use that word. But to trash a white professor for quotingMartin Luther King?! It’s insane.

Again, we don’t know specifically the context in which McNeil used the word, but it is almost always a bad idea to use it while white. But the fact that Baquet intended to fire him, but relented after hearing his side of the story, indicates that context really mattered here.

None of that matters to the woke mob inside the Times. They are “outraged and in pain,” and underscore in their complaint that context doesn’t matter — what matters is how others felt, and feel about what the white journalist said.

For this, the Times leadership faces a call to cast aside one of the paper’s most distinguished science journalists, its top Covid expert, to satisfy the passions of the mob. If Baquet and Sulzberger do this, it will be yet another damning capitulation to Wokeness.

We had been living in a culture that, however poorly, attempted to live by a fundamentally Christian virtue of mercy. We know that everybody is susceptible to sin. We used to train ourselves to treat others as we would like to be treated — and that includes offering mercy and forgiveness to wrongdoers who are truly repentant, because we would want the same for ourselves. Any person with the slightest sense of moral awareness understands that the day is likely to come for them when they will have done a bad thing, and will need the mercy of others. There’s a shocking scene in the Apple TV comedy Ted Lasso in which a major character apologizes to sweet, corny Ted for having done him very wrong. He forgives this person unreservedly, explaining without any special flourish that he has suffered too, and he knows that when you’re in pain, you can do foolish things.

It’s shocking, because it is so wise and, well, Christian, even though faith is not part of the show. The joke is that Ted is a cheerful, Ned Flanders-like fool from the American Midwest who comes to England to coach a soccer team, and is set upon by cynical Brits — yet somehow keeps defeating them at their own game. Ted does this because of his Teflon naivete and inherent sweetness. His deepest motivation is to see others succeed. If he can help others be better by withstanding their contempt, and not letting it defeat him, and by offering forgiveness when his enemies lay prostrate at his feet, he’s going to do it, and he’s not even going to pat himself on the back for it. Ted figures that this is what decent people do.

Who actually wins if Morgan Wallen and Donald G. McNeil, Jr., go down here? Will America be a less racist place, one where people are reconciled, and live in respect for each other? Or will the merciless standards — including double standards — of the Woke drive us closer to violent conflict?

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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