Bob Ehrlich: We Can Now See the Cost of Wokeness in Our Everyday Lives


There are so many lowlights associated with the woke era. One of the most prominent is the departure of fun, enjoyment and appreciation for country from our daily lives.

For example, my children have no idea that late-night entertainment shows used to be funny — and were intended to be funny. For them, late-night is now simply a jumble of woke PC instructions from unfunny Hollywood types delivered to an ever-diminishing audience.

Similarly, our kids have limited familiarity with the art of stand-up comedy, as even liberal comedians now find it difficult to engage an ever-growing list of taboo subjects — on campus and off.

The general public is, of course, the victim of this no-fun-for-you phenomenon, as a prime tonic for what ails the average person is removed from our culture.

Guess it’s time to dust off those old Johnny Carson tapes from the attic. And, no, I cannot imagine a politically incorrect “Carnac the Magnificent” surviving in this day and age.

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We are a jock family, so sports viewing has been a daily part of our family entertainment options from the jump. But our viewership habits have changed.

I was an NBA playoff junkie my entire life, until last year. The NBA’s in-your-face woke messaging and massaging were certainly a turnoff, but it has been the sport’s biggest stars and their situational indignation with regard to communist China that has transformed me into a former fan.

When a professional sports league goes extreme woke while simultaneously seeking to placate a brutal, autocratic regime, it should not be surprising when so many of us decide we’d rather watch old episodes of “The Office.”

Similar threads of reduced interest extend to MLB and the NFL. Both of these major sports leagues have chosen the progressive path and suffered reduced viewership as a result.

Has wokeness become inescapable?

MLB’s lame All-Star Game switch from Atlanta to Denver (as an act of protest regarding misperceived or deliberately mischaracterized sweeping changes to Georgia’s voting laws) is but the latest shot in the foot here, as polls reflect a clear majority of white and black voters support photo ID at the polls.

True, the NFL’s ratings rebounded last year (during an unprecedented pandemic-generated lockdown), and the country’s most popular sport still rules the television ratings universe. But whether the league will suffer another downturn in interest in light of its recent decision to double down on social justice messaging remains to be seen.

A final note on athletics: An Olympics that includes political gesturing has further diminished an Olympiad without live crowds. Decidedly negative reaction to the U.S. women’s soccer team’s kneeling shenanigans certainly has not helped. It is accordingly not surprising that television ratings for the first weekend reflect a significant downturn.

Outside of athletics (and of course politics) the most obvious example of self-absorbed, ego-enhanced virtue signaling is found in Hollywood at the Academy Awards.

There was a time not so long ago that my mom and wife looked forward to the always-hyped big night. The films were interesting, but it was the glamour (especially the outfits) that held strong appeal.

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And then, over the years, more and more servings of politics were dished up — always from the left, always with a tin ear toward the people who bought the tickets.

It has now been years since either of the Ehrlich women has tuned in. A quick check of the ratings reveals many women (and men) have reached a similar conclusion.

The bottom line: I can think of no pundit on the right who wishes to take away any athlete’s or actor’s right to protest. After all, dissent is as American as apple pie. But, as your parents used to say, there is a time and place for everything — including spouting off about what a hateful place America is.

Allow me to place this one in further context. The clerk who works the register at your local grocery store has every right to his or her political opinions, just not when you’re in line at the cash register. Here, an employee unable to control political opinions while at work would soon find himself or herself out of a job.

Athletes and actors are no different. Thanks to the blood spilled on battlefields and the thoughtful work of the framers of the Constitution so long ago, it is you, Lebron James — and John Cena and Steve Kerr and Greg Popovich and Gwen Berry — who are absolutely free to give voice to your pro-Beijing views. But be prepared for serious fan pushback when your activism backfires.

As stated above, fans look to sports and entertainment for enjoyment, for distraction from their daily lives — especially when it comes to the spectacle of the Olympics.

Woke lectures are a decidedly poor replacement for athletic competition. Just sayin’.

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Robert Ehrlich is a former governor of Maryland as well as a former U.S. congressman and state legislator. He is the author of “Bet You Didn’t See That One Coming: Obama, Trump, and the End of Washington’s Regular Order,” in addition to “Turn This Car Around,” “America: Hope for Change" and “Turning Point.” Ehrlich is currently a counsel at the firm of King & Spalding in Washington, D.C.