I pity Simon Coveney. The Minister for Foreign Affairs is just the latest dupe of Woke Inc. That’s the title of the best-seller written by American entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, who says corporate wokeness is the defining scam of our time.
Mr Ramaswamy explains how business leaders and politicians champion the fad for identity causes, not least because it leads to profit and success. It’s in their interest to mix morality with consumerism, and sort us neatly into demographic boxes.
“All magicians master the art of distraction,” he writes. “Today’s captains do so by promoting progressive values. Care about something other than profit and power, precisely to gain more of each. Wokeness has remade capitalism in its own image.”
It’s “an invisible force” at work in the highest ranks of America; and originally a concept of its academic elite. So it should really be no surprise that Washington-born and Boston-educated professor Katherine Zappone was way ahead of Mr Coveney on its potential for personal progress.
Mr Coveney couldn’t see it; he honestly seems so busy, he’s meeting himself on the way back. But blind faith in the prevailing woke ideology moved him to facilitate a bespoke, prestigious, well-remunerated – and suitably worthy – role for Ms Zappone.
Her UN job would be Special Envoy for Freedom of Expression and Human Rights (with a focus on LGBT), and it’s the part in brackets that led Mr Coveney to the assumption that no one could possibly have a problem with such an appointment.
You can imagine him finally cracking under the weight of her pester power and thinking: Get this done, for the love of God, it’ll be another box ticked, we’ll all look good and no one will make a fuss of a sacrosanct cause.
Anything that involves identity politics, be it gender, race or sexuality – but notably never class, the greatest determinant of life outcome – is beyond question. Who would dare criticise such a noble role, born of the moral virtue of the left?
Instead, it has caused Mr Coveney a massive political headache, created one of the biggest embarrassments ever for the Government and damaged his reputation as one of the most serious and by-the-book ministers in Dáil Éireann.
It was a stroke pulled under a cover of wokeness, but I don’t think Mr Coveney was operating the strings so much as MsZappone, who leveraged her record on progressive politics to further career ambitions in the United Nations.
I’d say it’s unlikely we’ll see her appearing before an Oireachtas committee hearing any time soon.
I’m not saying she doesn’t believe in her policies – she’s a proud, radical liberal on all the “right” causes – but they have been politically advantageous areas, particularly so in recent years. Plus, without her, we would never have seen gender-neutral toilets in our schools and colleges. Where would we all be without that?
But spare me the blarney that the UN role was “only a €15,000 salary”. It was for 50 days a year – if you got a few of those gigs you’d be laughing. It came with expenses, status and the dream location of New York.
Ms Zappone’s fingers were at risk of falling off from the amount of texts she was sending Fine Gael politicians to make it a reality.
In them, she made sure to mention her work with UNFPA, the United Nations’ sex and reproductive health agency, and ambitions to work with superstar diplomat ‘Sam’ Power on gender equality issues. There were nudges about how such issues were “in sync with Irish foreign policy” and how “the time is ripe for change”.
Ms Zappone’s downfall seems to be that she pushed too hard, forcing a distracted Coveney to sign off on it, reckoning it was safe enough without need for the proper procedures. Then it all backfired. Hopefully, it will be a long-overdue lesson for the Government. We often hear in current affairs debates how the people are ahead of politicians, and this is a case in point.
Woke culture – with its identity politics, political correctness and victimhood – exploded in 2015 and was originally supported by sincere liberals who bought into the rosy pledges of diversity, equality and inclusivity.
It divided us more as our costs went up and our pay went down. The biggest survey into attitudes around it – by research foundation More in Common – found that by 2018, only a tiny minority supported woke culture. They were most likely to have post-graduate degrees, earn six-figure salaries and be white. In short, the elites.
More than 80pc of people across all demographics – what the researchers called “the exhausted majority” – opposed it, realising it was harmful to social and economic progress.
It’s now 2021, and the general public is no longer duped into allowing it to be a cover for everything. We’ve all seen how it can be utilised to further personal agendas. People fully realise that, far from facilitating minorities, such culture “robs you of your voice, identity and money”, as Mr Ramaswamy concludes in Woke Inc.
Or, as Donald Trump so eloquently summed it up recently: “Everything woke turns to s**t.”
Simon Coveney, take note.