National Post (Latest Edition)
Will this be the woke joke of the year?
The New Year is so fresh upon us it hasn’t even called for a change of diapers, and what is possibly the best woke joke we’re going to meet in all its remaining days has fallen into the headlines.
A pious congressman, the Rev. Emanuel Cleaver, who was called upon to deliver the prayer for the opening of the 117th Congress, concluded his two-minute invocation with the time-and-liturgically hallowed “Amen.”
But because — as Justin Trudeau might be mindful to remind us — this is 2021, and with every passing year the progressive escalator rises to more giddy heights, the Rev. Mr. Cleaver thought it appropriate to add to his “Amen” an “Awoman.”
Before going any further let’s just tag that the congressman didn’t really cleanse the prayer decks, as he so ignorantly thought he did, of masculinist and sexist overload. For even his ambitious semantics did not take into account that his “Awoman” cradled that tri- letter horror — “man” — he was fleeing from in the first place. So be it. And, so wo-be it.
Cleaver, naturally, was acting under the new and so brightly fashionable Spirit (it needs the capital as it has in the mind of progressive preachers replaced the old “Holy” one) of Inclusion. Invoke inclusion as a motive for any alteration of things as they are, any determined safari into illogic or folly, and it is both a shield and a banner.
We all know the formula. We here at The Guild of Toothpaste Tube Manufacturers are fully committed to an inclusive environment. We here at the Yogic Institute for Better Living through Controlled Exhalations are fully committed to an inclusive and welcoming … etc. etc., et fatuously cetera.
It’s an incantation, a train of words meant to avert evil spirits — these being in our enlightened times not the ancient demons of the dark underworld, but the updated scourges of identity vigilantes, gender obsessives, pronoun warriors and others of that menacing ilk.
There is not a corporate statement, a university charter, a Hollywood production or a publishing house that does not profess its eager subjection to this new idol. It figures in every forced apology following attacks from the cancel mobs. To piously mouth the word inclusion, or give it firstline standing in the corporate mission statement, is like swiping the woke credit card for absolution. And if offenders, as they always do, add an obsequious genuflection to diversity (it is our strength), then — thy sins are forgiven, the hive is appeased, and it’s off to woke heaven.
We may gauge how moved Cleaver was by that same commanding spirit, by the curious formulation he gave towards the end of his prayer: “We ask it in the name of the monotheistic God, Brahma, and ‘god’ known by many names by many different faiths.” What to make of that spaghetti ball of a sentence — “God” with a capital, monotheistic, then “god” with lower case, and special billing for Brahma — will challenge minds far keener than mine.
This comment from Twitter captures the general perplexity: “Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, the pastor who offered a prayer to “the monotheistic god,” then cited
Brahma, one of many Hindu gods, and said “Amen and Awoman"... is an ordained United Methodist clergyman. Clergyperson. Whatever.”
The real punchline of this quite unintended joke belongs not to the Rev. Cleaver, but to the House of Representatives itself. Said House, in a bow to the new gods, is set to vote on a series of changes put forward by Speaker Nancy Pelosi that would eliminate gendered terms like “mother,” “father,” “son” and “daughter” from its House rules.
It might be worth a quick stop here. Any time a word is “eliminated” these days is because it is perceived (by how small a number is not a factor) as offensive, or as not — here we are again — inclusive. I am not a philologist but I am willing to go way out on a lexical limb and make the claim that apart from “ouch” ( think about it) the oldest and most venerated words, most common in every language and dialect, first on every baby’s lisping lips, in every prayer to every god, are — and I’m giving them capitals — Mother and Father.
And in whatever portion of the almost 14 billion years or so there has been a universe, that humans have had the capacity for language, they have in every possible variant had these two primal words, known what they meant, how central they were, and — this will shock — did not find them offensive. And next to mother and father, also brother and sister, son and daughter.
But here we are in the swaddling days of 2021, and the mightiest deliberative body in the world is getting ready to purge, under the banners of inclusivity and diversity, the primary identities of the entire human race. Mother and Father are being banned, indicted as offensive. How far, how deeply can we plunge into this canyon of utter nonsense and stupefaction? Will the day come when someone will be fined, or worse, for saying Momma?
Compared with what the House is considering, Cleaver’s Amen and Awoman does not even merit a passing sigh.
Mother and Father are being banned, indicted as offensive.