People who try to be inclusive and fight against oppression should wear the term ‘woke’ with pride, according to former Barnardos CEO Fergus Finlay.
In his latest column, Mr Finlay writes that he is ‘woke and proud’, warning that to some parts of modern society, “the worst thing you can do is try to be inclusive, try to celebrate difference [and] try to understand how easy oppression is”.
He warns that the slurs and sneers aimed those who put forward progressive views should be recognised for what they are: “A weapon designed to make people afraid to speak”.
“We need a new battle cry, I reckon,” he finishes. “Woke — and proud of it.”
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, he said he wrote the piece because he believes it is “necessary” to embrace the idea of being woke in the modern world.
“I think it is necessary because there is a creeping - or a galloping - intolerance; there is a galloping authoritarianism,” he said.
“There is a galloping populism in the world which is very largely based on the term othering.
“The idea that anyone who isn’t ‘us’ can be belittled, can be sneered at, can be mocked – and it is taking on more and more serious dimensions as time goes by.”
He said it is “not far-fetched now at this minute” to worry that if Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was to stand for the US Presidency, “part of his campaign will be to control what people are allowed to read and what schools are allowed to teach – because that is what he is doing in Florida right now.”
He admitted that there are examples of ‘political correctness gone mad’ in modern society but said he expects that to settle down over time.
“I think there is an argument about that,” he said. “There is no doubt about that.
“I think though, that is an example of a pendulum swinging. You know, the pendulum has been very stuck in the corner of the most crass, commercial branding possible and people have discovered and decided that that needs to be corrected.
“I think in some case the pendulum has swung too far the other way – but it will settle.”
Mr Finlay said the reaction to a piece he recently wrote on the recent ‘Ireland for All’ march highlighted the need for people to be careful with their language.
He said half of the responses were “very supportive” but the other hand was “astonishingly abusive”.
“I am used to getting abuse, but I just couldn’t understand why people would be so abusive about a simple statement that, ‘you are welcome here’,” he said.
“It was quite amazing.
“So, there is a need, I think, for people to say, watch your language, mind your language and much more than that, have a bit of a think about your attitudes.”
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