This week the conservative writer Bethany Mandel had the kind of moment that can happen to anyone who talks in public for a living: While promoting a new book critiquing progressivism, she was asked to define the term “woke” by an interviewer — a reasonable question, but one that made her brain freeze and her words stumble.
The viral clip, in turn, yielded an outpouring of arguments about the word itself: Can it be usefully defined? Is it just a right-wing pejorative?
Is there any universally accepted label for what it’s trying to describe? The answers are yes, sometimes and unfortunately no.
Of course there is something real to be described: The revolution inside American liberalism is a crucial ideological transformation of our time.