When Dave Chappelle’s sold-out comedy show was recently canceled by First Avenue theater, we saw some strange rhetoric from the online mob that orchestrated the cancellation. The petition by these 128 activists stated that Chappelle has “a record of being dangerous to trans people” and his “actions uphold a violent heteronormative culture.”
This curious newspeak is borrowed from the language of Critical Theory, a supposed scholarly field that has matured over the past decade. While you may be familiar with Critical Race Theory, another main category is Queer Theory. This is where the First Avenue activists got their inspiration and rationalization for their actions.
Critical Theory, rooted in postmodernism, has produced a radical political sect that can be called the Illiberal Left. Highly visible on some college campuses (famously at Evergreen College in 2017), they seek to stamp out speech that counters their idea of absolute truth. They are modern-day thought police with the power of social media.
A profound examination of Critical Theory is found in the book Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity―and Why This Harms Everybody. It dismantles the flimsy assumptions of Theory and separates the noble idea of social justice from the quasi-religious zealotry of Social Justice.
Wokeness is a more familiar term alluding to the new speech police and victimization movement. To resist this ideology, it helps to understand the Critical Theory underpinnings which explicitly reject reason and science to push the idea that truth comes from identity or “lived experience.”
Indeed, the Illiberal Left denies classic liberal tenets such as individuality and universal truth developed by Enlightenment thought. Ironically, our modern systems of reason and science stemming from Enlightenment rationalism give them the equal rights enshrined in law which permit their vociferousness.