Seneca Scott with goats in West Oakland, CA, September 16, 2023. (Jason Henry for The Free Press)

Stories About ‘Waking Up from Woke’

A political realignment in three acts.

A black activist fights the progressivism he says is destroying his city. Left-wing Jews say “screw the allyship” after seeing fellow progressives cheer Hamas’s pogrom. Immigrant New Yorkers oppose the new migrants coming to New York “with the expectation they’re going to be taken care of.”

Today in The Free Press, three stories paint a picture of a larger political shift happening in America.

It is sometimes said of the pandemic that it accelerated preexisting trends: we were already living online more and more, reinventing the traditional 9 to 5, automating ever larger parts of the economy, and abandoning shopping malls. And the lockdowns simply turbocharged it all.

Might recent weeks be having a similar effect on our politics? Could outrage at the horrifying events in Israel, the global explosion of antisemitism, and the Hamas apologism on campuses and in newsrooms, crystallize into a big political upheaval? 

Yesterday, Elon Musk, responding to a Free Press story on X, said that “people are waking up from woke.” Last week, a similar argument was made by Konstantin Kisin in our pages with his essay “The Day the Delusions Died.” He wrote that “many people woke up on October 7 sympathetic to parts of woke ideology and went to bed that evening questioning how they had signed on to a worldview that had nothing to say about the mass rape and murder of innocent people by terrorists.” 

One person who has felt disenfranchised from the left for years is Seneca Scott, a black Oakland activist fighting for the future of his city. Scott is a former progressive who used to support defunding the police. But then he changed his mind. In 2020, “I realized how deep the damage was,” Scott tells David Josef Volodzko in a profile for The Free Press. Oakland’s leaders, “the people we had put in place . . . were just complete frauds.” Now Scott says he’s aiming to start a revolution in his city that will spread across the country.

Read the full story of his political conversion here: 

Next up, Free Press writers Suzy Weiss and Francesca Block speak to progressive Jews shocked by people who, until a few weeks ago, they considered ideological teammates. One says he is now “politically homeless.” Another expresses his dismay at the “cloaked antisemitism” he sees whenever he opens social media. 

Read the full story here: 

Finally, Free Press writer Olivia Reingold meets Hispanics in New York exasperated by the city’s handling of the migrant crisis—to the point that some in this traditionally deep-blue metropolis are considering voting Republican. 

Here’s what Marcos Marte, a 62-year-old who arrived in America from the Dominican Republic 30 years ago, told Olivia he thinks of the city giving shelter and expensive services to the migrants: “It’s the mindset of the piñata—somebody’s going to hit it, and everybody’s going to pick from it. And before, it was like, work, save, and enjoy your retirement with dignity. Not anymore. . . . It’s not fair.”

Read Olivia’s rich report in full: 

In other news. . .  

→ Haley on the up, Pence out: A poll published Monday showed Haley tied for second place with Ron DeSantis in Iowa, with 16 percent. Haley is the only Trump challenger to have shown any sign of momentum in recent months. She is steadily gaining on DeSantis in the polling averages—even if Trump remains the comfortable front-runner. 

If anyone is to catch Trump, then surely the field needs to consolidate soon. Mike Pence seems to recognize that truth—and the fact that he has run out of cash. He suspended his campaign on Saturday. 

→ Netanyahu says cease-fire would be ‘surrender’: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a rebuttal to calls for a cease-fire in an address to the international press yesterday. “Just as the United States would not agree to a cease-fire after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, or after the terrorist attack of 9/11, Israel will not agree to a cessation of hostilities with Hamas,” he said

→ Jewish students targeted at Cornell: Jewish students at Cornell are living under the threat of violence on campus. In a statement Sunday, college president Martha E. Pollack reported “a series of horrendous, antisemitic messages threatening violence to our Jewish community.” She said that the messages named the building that houses the school’s kosher dining hall. Antisemitic incidents have skyrocketed—in the U.S. and around the world—in the days and weeks since the October 7 attack.

→ Biden fumes about NYT Gaza coverage: Semafor’s Liz Hoffman and Max Tani report that Joe Biden “raged against The New York Times in a private White House meeting early last week, after the Times amplified a Hamas claim that an Israeli air strike was behind the Oct. 17 bombing of a Gaza hospital.” Maybe he is a Free Press reader. 

→ Star-mangled banner: Don’t listen to the declinists. America is still capable of greatness—like getting Flavor Flav to sing the national anthem at an NBA game. Okay, maybe things have gone downhill a little.

ICYMI: “Gender-Affirming Care Is Dangerous. I Know Because I Helped Pioneer It.

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