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How the Woke Debate
The Way Wokesters "Win" Debates Without Ever Making a Single Good-Faith Argument
[The scene is a high-end coffee shop in a gentrified urban neighborhood. An androgynous and porky person, with pink hair and pale, almost translucent skin, named Pat (pronouns “it/its”), stands to its feet and waddles towards a whiteboard on an easel. Pat is surrounded by similarly flabby, ghastly-pale, and sexless people, whose unblinking eyes follow its every move. Pat paces, gestures, and speaks like a professor who thinks it knows everything. The subject of Pat’s lecture is “How the Woke Debate.”]
“Hi, I’m Pat, and my pronouns are it/its!” A few audience members return its greeting and provide their own pronouns. Pat then stiffens its face and tries to look somber before clearing its throat. “Let us all bow our heads for a land acknowledgment and an invocation of the noble spirit of the Indigenous people from whom this land was stolen.”
Pat’s students reverently bow their heads. Many of them clasp their hands together or raise their hands as if praying. One makes muffled weeping noises and beats its breast dramatically.
Pat clears its throat and begins, “Let us acknowledge that the land on which we stand was stolen from the Slappaho Tribe. Let us honor their rich cultural heritage, which unfortunately has been lost to humanity because of the evil COLONIZERS!” —
A smattering of moans passes through the audience. Pat frowns and shakes its head for about ten seconds before continuing, “So in the name of Equity and Inclusion, we invite the spirits of the Slappaho tribal elders to abide with us, to commune with us, and to impart their wisdom and blessing upon us, and to forgive us our sins, and to forgive us the sins of our ancestors, in the name of the goddess.”
The others murmur “amen” and “yes” and “have mercy.”
Pat nods solemnly and wipes away a tear. After composing itself, it begins speaking. “Thank you for gathering here and honoring the memory of our cultural and spiritual forbears, the Slappahoes. Welcome to tonight’s lesson, in which I will teach you how you can never lose another debate ever again! How does that sound!”'
Its audience responds with gestures and inarticulate sounds of approval.
“I never lose an argument,” boasts Pat. “I never lose an argument because . . . I never argue! I attack!”
Pat pretends to be a pirate with a cutlass and briefly swordfights an imaginary opponent. Its students voice their enthusiastic support. Pat stops abruptly, holsters its invisible weapon, and asks, “Do you . . . want to learn how to attack, instead of argue, like I do?”
The others loudly indicate that they do.
“Very well,” says Pat. “I shall teach you. I shall teach you how to attack and defeat your interlocutor . . . without ever making an argument!
“First, you must identify yourself, and the oppressed group for which you stand, one identity, under the goddess, with diversity and equity and inclusion for all! You identify, with all the intersectionality in your body, you identify yourself with and as your position on the issue being debated. Your position is anchored to your identity, and you anchor your identity to your position. Do this publicly and loudly and repeatedly, so that it gets anchored in your audience’s mind as well.
“Let us say that you are a black trans woman, like Laverne Cox, Andrea Jenkins, or Ibram X. Kendi. And let us say you are debating someone about climate change. Well, naturally, you are going to be taking the position that climate change is real and that it is an existential crisis that we must work together to solve, but your stupid opponent is arguing that climate change is fake and that he shouldn’t have to work together with the rest of us to address it, even though it is clearly an existential crisis.
“In that case, the first thing you will do — the very first thing — is declare, very loudly, so loudly that everyone present can clearly hear you, that YOU!” — Pat was clapping its hands together after every word now. “ARE! A! BLACK! TRANS! WOMAN! And that you are approaching it from the perspective and from the AUTHENTIC! LIVED! EXPERIENCE! OF! A! BLACK! TRANS! WOMAN!
“This accomplishes the purpose of anchoring your position to your identity as a Black, trans woman; to your identity as a member of three — THREE — oppressed and marginalized groups: your Blackness, your transgenderness, and your womanhood; and to your identity as the point through which this holy trinity of marginalized identities intersects. You anchor your ideological position to your identity in your own mind, in your opponent’s mind, and most important of all, in your audience’s minds.
“And by anchoring your position to your identity as an intersectional Black, trans woman, you have ensured that your opponent cannot attack your position without also attacking your IDENTITY and EVERY. SINGLE. MARGINALIZED. GROUP. THAT. COMPRISES. THAT. IDENTITY!!!
“As soon as you have accomplished that, the debate is won. You don’t have to make an argument. You don’t have to worry about marshalling evidence, nor do you have to bother providing reasons in support of any particular interpretation of that evidence. You don’t have to do any of that, because logic and argumentation are white supremacist” —
Pat’s voice began growing louder and higher-pitched until it was shrieking, “PATRIARCHAL, TRANSPHOBIC construct! We do not engage in logic, we practice rhetoric and critical dialectic, the tools of choice for those victims, like us, who are oppressed by the WHITE SUPREMACIST! PATRIARCHAL! TRANSPHOBIC!!!” —
Pat’s face turns red and then purple. It froths at the mouth. Spittle flies from its mouth and drips from its lips. Pat’s audience receives the saliva droplets gratefully, as if they are being sprinkled with holy water. Pat finally screams, “SYSSSTEMMMMM!!!”
Pat huffs and heaves and strains to catch its breath. It doubles over and pants for a moment before finally continuing, “When the white man — cis man — for you can be sure that if someone is arguing that climate change is okay it will be a white man — a white cis man — or possibly a white woman who goes to church and thinks women should just be submissive and get all their opinions about everything, like climate change, from their uneducated, redneck husbands, and so she takes her redneck husband’s ignorant cis-male opinion about climate change and adopts it as her own, because she is a self-hating woman with STOCKHOLM SYNDROME in a CIS-hetero-normative PATRIARCHAL SYSTEM!”
Pat begins huffing and puffing and hyperventilating. Someone attempts to offer Pat a bottle of water, but another audience member intervenes, saying, “Don’t interrupt it! It is communing with The Great Slappaho Spirit!”
A hush falls over the spectators. They watch in awe and admiration as Pat swoons and rocks back and forth, caught up in the invisible Slappaho spirit.
After a couple minutes, Pat’s eyes begin to flutter. It starts stammering as if speaking in tongues. The audience cheers encouragingly.
“Yes, yes!” shouts Pat, at long last. “Comrades, I was just visited by the Great Spirit of the Slappaho Lands! The Spirit filled me with righteous compassion for all the people who have been unjustly DENIED THEIR OWN VOICE! DENIED THEIR OWN HISTORY! DENIED THEIR OWN COMMUNITY! DENIED THE RIGHT TO TAKE PRIDE IN THEIR PEOPLE AND IN THEMSELVES! I was filled with so much compassion for them all!
“And the Great Slappaho Spirit also filled me with GREAT anger and GRIEVOUS VEXATION OF SPIRIT against the EVIL ENEMY who has committed these crimes, the white man! The white CIS man! The evil white, cis, hetero-normative man who walks among us and argues with us today about why we should just let the climate go ahead and change and kill the entire human race because WHITE. CIS. HETERO. NORMATIVE. MEN. ARE. EVIL!!!
“The evil white man — evil white CIS man — is the one who denied all of these people their voices, who denied them the validity of their own lived experience, and who spoke for them, rather than letting them speak for themselves, and who stole their history and their land — and that exact same evil white man — evil white CIS man — walks among us today, continuing to occupy this stolen land. And that same evil white CIS man is trying to oppress us all with his rules of logic and grammar, which is why we reject logic and grammar, in the name of the goddess. And it is the identity of the evil white CIS man that makes him evil, that makes everything that comes out of his mouth a LIE unless it agrees with the authentic perspective and lived experience of every NON-white, NON-cis, NON-hetero, NON-normative, NON-male out there.”
The audience applauds boisterously, whistling and whooping.
Pat smiles gratefully and motions for them to be quiet. It continues, “That is the takeaway for each of you tonight. You identify your position with the most marginalized aspects of your identity, and you identify your opponent with the most privileged aspects of his. That’s how you frame the debate. That’s it. And you don’t argue that framing with him, because we do not argue. You just state it as a fact and move on, honey!
“Once you have established the connection, for each of you, between your positions and your respective identities — you as a holy and unblemished sacrificial victim, him as an evil and oppressive COLONIZER — then you condemn him as an evil bigot and a transphobe and a climate change denier, because by disagreeing with you, he is attacking your identity. So you attack his identity as an OPPRESSOR as viciously as you can. And you repeat this attack until he either leaves or starts apologizing. And when he leaves or apologizes, you have won the debate, without ever having had to make an argument.
“I call it ‘The ICACA Method,’ and it works!
“‘I’ is for ‘Identify with.’ You identify your position with your identity, and especially with the most marginalized and oppressed aspects of that identity.
“‘C’ is for ‘Compartmentalize’ and ‘Complain.’ As in, you find anything in your opponent’s statements that relates, however tangentially, to your identity, and you treat that part of his statement as a separate compartment, and you lift that compartment out of context, and you magnify the hell out of it, so that your opponent and, most importantly, your audience, can see that your opponent is an EVIL BIGOT!
“‘A’ is for ‘Ad-Hominem Attack!’ And this is where it really gets fun. Attack his character. Assassinate his reputation. Show no mercy.
“‘C’ is for ‘Counterattack’ and ‘Cry,’ which are closely related. You counterattack by crying and complaining about how hurt you are that he would disrespect your identity, and once he lowers his guard because he is concerned about you or because he is confused and doesn’t know what is going on — whatever the reason — as soon as he lowers his guard, you counterattack by slandering his reputation and dragging it through the mud. Whatever the thoughtcrimes are that will get him banished from the community and fired from his job, you assassinate his character with that.
“And ‘A’ is for ‘Assessment.’ How did it go? Is he apologizing yet? Has he left? Because those are the only two acceptable outcomes. Either he is apologizing, or he is leaving. And whichever one he does, you need to film him doing it. And while he’s leaving or apologizing, you and every comrade within 50 yards needs to be yelling and screaming abuse at him for being a RACIST! SEXIST! TRANSPHOBIC! HOMOPHOBIC! FAT-PHOBIC! ASSHOLE!
“But if he’s not yet ready to apologize or leave, you just repeat the steps of The ICACA Method until he does. And that, my friends and comrades, is how we, the woke, engage our enemies. That is how we win every debate without ever having to waste any time making an argument. The ICACA Method works online, it works in person. And best of all, it works when you record it and show it to his boss and get him fired from his job, because that’s what your opponent gets for being the one who took all of this land away from The Slappaho Nation! He is personally guilty for that, and we are the instruments of the goddess to bring public condemnation upon him, in the name of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion!”
[Note: while presented humorously in the slice-of-wokeness vignette above, “The ICACA Method” is literally how the woke debate. If you find yourself in such a debate and see the wokeist begin using “ICACA,” you must remember that you are not debating someone who is interested in making a good-faith argument, so the normal rules do not apply, because the wokeist has chosen to flout them. The wokeist trick, however, is that he/she/it still expects YOU to follow the normal rules, so that he/she/it can then use those rules against you. But because your brain is not handicapped by wokeness, you should have a freer and funnier sense of humor. Since the wokeist refuses to have a good-faith argument, just have fun with it! Do to them what they are trying to do to you, but do it in the name of giving yourself and anyone who observes the exchange a good laugh. For an example of such an exchange, check out this debate in the comments section of a recent article, where a self-identified lesbian named Laura attempts to employ ICACA against Jay Rollins and gets schooled for it. (Some amount of hilarity ensues . . .)]
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