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  • Robert Farago

How Woke is Too Woke?

The author sings Kumbaya – in his own special way

So a guy drew a dick on the point-of-sale pad instead of his signature. The customer didn’t know his “signature” also appeared on the computer screen in front of the salesperson. A female salesperson.

Instead of alerting the customer to the fact that he’d inadvertently exposed his dick pic, telling him not to be a dick and wishing him a good day, she filed a sexual harassment charge against him. You can imagine how that went – as long as you can imagine a hefty fine and a criminal record.

That, my friends, is a true story. Here’s another one….

I struck up a conversation with a female employee at a convenience store. I told her I was as a novelist working on a scene for my third, as-yet-unpublished book. I said I was writing a walk-on, never-seen-again character loosely based on her in the scene where the woman helped rescue customers from catastrophe.

The next day, the manager comes around the counter and grills me about the book. “We don’t allow anyone to describe how our employees look.” In a scene that hasn’t been written or published that doesn’t identify the store or employee by name? WTF? Anyway, got it. I’ll pre-censor my work to protect your employee from my four future readers.

Cancelled. Told to leave. Banned. Not by the manager. By an employee the following day. “She showed us your picture,” I was warned. This in a store where homeless people smash the door and piss on the window, where I’ve shopped for more than two years without incident.

Donald Fagan’s Goodbye Look has never seemed more appropriate. “The rules have changed. It’s not the same. It’s all new players in a whole new ball game.” These new players are sensitive AF, angry as hell and “triggered” at the slightest whiff of “intolerance.”

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not overly sensitive about this New Sensitivity. If a biological male wants me to call them “her” or “them” or Lucille, who cares? That’s not a hill to die on. But if I mistakenly/reflexively call someone by the wrong pronoun?

Or suggest that a drag queen keep it clean in front of children? Or that gender reassignment drugs and surgery are best left until an individual reaches the age of majority? Or argue against biological males competing against biological females in sports? Or, God forbid, suggest that Trump was right about anything, ever?

I’m beyond the pale. Subject to immediate hatred. Deserving of any bad thing that can happen to me, from unalloyed disdain to someone going all Talking Heads (i.e., burnin’ down my house).

I know: I was born b-b-b-bad to the bone. I’m the worst thing there is: a mostly straight, small government, low taxes, gun if you want one, abortion if you have to, who you fuck and how is not my business, white conservative. That convenience store ban? I can’t be a victim. I’m the oppressor. Yeah about that…

About two years ago, I was sitting in a cigar lounge listening to an African American tell me how racism had made black Americans’ American dream a living nightmare. In many ways, he wasn’t wrong. Certainly not historically. And I told him so. But when he said “You can’t understand. Your people were never slaves!” I begged to differ.

My father spent five years in a World War II labor camp working for Nazis. He was starved and beaten. Denied medical care. Left to freeze to death in open fields in the dead of winter. Meanwhile, his parents – my grandparents – were exterminated in a concentration camp.

I didn’t share my family history to assert political parity with my African American cigar smoking amigo. I just wanted him to acknowledge that all groups have been shat on from a great height at one time or another.

Irish, Jews, Italians, Poles, Native Americans, Japanese, Chinese, Hispanic, Scottish – which ethnic group hasn’t faced terrible discrimination and yes, slavery. Not to mention people who’ve suffered religious, sex, sexual, wealth, class and/or geographic discrimination. Go a little ways back in history and everyone (save royalty) was a slave or one sort or another.

My main reaction to all this "woke” ideology and PC passive aggressiveness is this: lighten the fuck up.

We live in a world of assholes and sharp elbows. If you spend your life getting self-righteously angry every time someone “triggers” you, you need to put down your gun and learn the same lesson you’re trying so hard to promote: live and let live.

Put another way, let a smile be your umbrella. Force field? Whatever.

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