by Bob Barr
It was a bad week for British Royals. While one royal family, the Windsors, handled damage control following last Sunday’s interview between Oprah and the now-California based Royals formerly known as Sussex, another British monarch was making waves on Twitter for all the wrong reasons. Burger King UK decided to use International Women’s Day to announce a new culinary scholarship program for women with the tweet, “Women belong in the kitchen.” As expected, it quickly went all to pot.
One might wonder how a brand, especially a global one with armies of marketing and advertising professionals, could publicly disseminate a tweet so obviously tone-deaf it would not even pass for a bad joke in a country club locker room.
This is what “woke blindness” looks like, where someone or something is so “woke” their pious self-righteousness makes them oblivious to normal human sensibilities. Basically, they believe their wokeness, like funding scholarships for women chefs, means they can do no wrong – even when making a joke of misogyny. As Burger King quickly discovered, woke movement scolds lack any sense of humor or mercy (common sense disappeared long ago).
Contrary to the image of unity around the issue of “wokeness” (whatever it functionally means), the social justice movement is actually a highly fractured, highly competitive composite of intersectional groups, each with their own priorities, morality, and superiority complex. On the surface, they cooperate and generally unite around common causes (especially anti-capitalist ones), but when their paths cross – watch out.
One of the best examples of this intersectional infighting is summarized in a 2018 article about Vanesa Wruble, a Jewish woman who helped found the Women’s March. When Wruble met one night with other women who would help found the march, Wruble “said the conversation took a turn when Tamika Mallory, a black gun control activist, and Carmen Perez, a Latina criminal justice reform activist, replied that Jews needed to confront their own role in racism.” As the article highlights, the Women’s March has long struggled to shake off accusations of anti-Semitism, especially after ousting Wruble.
Are you dizzy, yet?
The intersectional squabbling would be comically farcical if not for the tragic consequences to real people once the stakes are raised. Take, for instance, the fight over due process rights for college students accused of sexual misconduct. Feminists cheered when President Obama’s “Dear Colleague” letter, issued by the Office for Civil Rights, dictated to federally funded Higher Ed institutions the procedures that must be followed when pursuing sexual assault allegations, notwithstanding they severely undermined students’ due process rights. No thought was given to how diminished due process protections might impact, say, the group historically most likely to be falsely accused of sex crimes: young black males.
These are the more serious entanglements of intersectional fighting, but even the petty ones can take down figures who were at one time considered “heroes” of the Left. Ellen DeGeneres was “canceled” after reports of a toxic workplace culture (offending the union-minded intersectional faction). Matt Yglesias, co-founder of the ultra-left Vox.com, was “canceled” out of the organization he founded for signing an open letter voicing concern for cancel culture (offending the anti-offending intersectional faction). Then there is Starbucks, once the darling of culture warriors, which now periodically is pilloried by the same people.
Nobody, and nothing, is safe forever. Even Abraham Lincoln has been canceled.
This does not bode well for “The Burger King,” who by the end of the saga, may end up neutered and emasculated just like Mr. Potato Head; penance for its sins against the high priests of wokeness.
Here is some free advice, since clearly, brands are not getting it from advertising teams who see their clients’ marketing budgets as yet another platform for progressive activism – focus on the product and leave politics for the talking heads on CNN and MSNBC. Americans are growing weary with the constant bombardment of scolding and moralizing coming from all sides: Hollywood, pro-sports, and now, fast food chains.
When these brands inevitably screw-up, which they will because it is impossible to walk the progressive line for long without stepping on a crack, their previous woke demonstrations will not save them. Worse, they will have alienated the last remaining customers who just wanted a burger. Wokeness killed the King. Long live the Burger Peasant.
Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He served as the United States Attorney in Atlanta from 1986 to 1990 and was an official with the CIA in the 1970s. He now practices law in Atlanta, Georgia and serves as head of Liberty Guard.