Written By: Anton Sawyer
This article is part of an ongoing series where I break down courses offered at PragerU and expose some of the misdirection they're peddling. Each course is readily available to everyone (the free stuff). I would love to sign up for their complete online courses, so if you would like to see me go in-depth to one of their official courses, then please “buy a coffee”. I will use those funds to “advance my education” through the “prestigious” University that is Prager.
Debunking Courses Offered At PragerU Lesson 13—“When Big Business Went Woke”
In an attempt to maintain complete transparency, all research and statistical fact-checking for all articles can be found in the bibliography linked here.
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When debunking PragerU courses, there’s usually a part of me that gets excited because I know my brain is going to be doing some gymnastics. I’ve found that it’s not only important to attempt to destroy the PragerU hyperbole with facts and statistics, but it’s equally important to understand their viewpoints on the arguments presented. In doing this, I’ve often found myself having to leap from one logical conclusion to the next; this all helps keep me mentally sharp. Sadly, today’s lesson, “When Big Business Went Woke” has such cavernous leaps of logic that attempting to rectify them is painful at best.
In today’s piece, it seems PragerU feels that the 2008 bailout money given to Wall Street was the first step in forcing indoctrinated wokeness into big business and that ONLY the companies who “virtue signal” should be called out for using slave labor in China (if you are conservative, you don’t count). I’m warning you now, it’s a logical mess … but that’s why you’re here in the first place, isn’t it?
To keep things clear, all statements from the video will be in bold, while all my responses will be in italics.
“Woke, Inc.: Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam”
Today’s presenter is Vivek Ramaswamy; Author of “Woke, Inc.: Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam”
Wokeism—the idea that America is a systemically racist country and that your identity is defined by your race, your gender, and your sexual orientation—is no longer about challenging the system. Wokeism is the system.
Some view wokeism as that, though I prefer the Merriam-Webster definition of “aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice).” I know what they’re going for with their definition, so this is picking-nits. Though I will put a pause on the assertion that wokeism IS the system, for now, I promise it will be picked back up here a little later on.
Blame the radical academics. Blame the college administrators. Blame the woke graduates. But these aren’t the people who took wokeism mainstream. That dubious distinction belongs to an unexpected source: big business. That’s right. The largest companies in America, the standard-bearers of American capitalism, have injected this virus into the arteries of commerce. Our story begins in 2008, following the mortgage crisis that led to the near-collapse of the entire banking system. Bankers got paid a lot of money when times were good but got a bailout from taxpayers when times were bad. No wonder Americans were skeptical of capitalism, and for good reason, because it was really just crony capitalism.
OK, this misdirection is incredibly subtle but needs pointing out. Yes, he’s accurate in the fact that the Bush administration was filled with cronyism and that definitely had an impact on all facets of government including treasury, commerce, etc. The deception lies in the fact that this concept and execution of crony capitalism didn’t only happen during the Bush administration, it’s been perpetuated by the GOP throughout the 21st century—especially during the Trump administration. The main difference is, like I stated in The 100-year Lie, for an administration to have a serious/long-lasting impact on the country’s economy, it takes eight years for the situation to become truly destructive. In essence, we got lucky Trump was only one term.
The old left wanted to punish the banks in the usual way—seize their money and redistribute it to “the poor.” But the new woke left added a new twist. The real problem, they said, wasn’t just poverty or economic injustice. It was a 300-year history of white patriarchy. Ironically, this new idea (you know it as Critical Race Theory) presented Wall Street with a way to get out of their PR disaster. A way to go from being the bad guys to—poof!—becoming the good guys. All they had to do was admit that their eyes had been opened. In other words, they “woke” up. You want us to fix global warming? No problem. You want us to get on board with the transgender movement? Sure, we’ll do that too. Solve systemic racism? Sounds great, so long as you don’t talk about systemic financial risk. They were happy to add token minorities to their boards. They were happy to post a black square on their corporate Instagram. They were happy to preach about climate change after flying on private jets to fancy ski towns. But they didn’t do it for free. As long as the banks said the right things, they would be left in peace to make their billions. And abracadabra, like a rabbit out of a hat, Woke Inc. was born.
I’m really confused as to how critical race theory had anything to do with the government bailouts of the Great Recession. Critical race theory is an academic concept that is more than 40 years old. Its basic tenets emerged out of a framework for legal analysis in the late 1970s and early 1980s created by legal scholars Derrick Bell, Kimberlé Crenshaw, and Richard Delgado, among others. I don’t ever recall any of the bailouts being filled with a caveat that the money would be given to the collapsing banks just so long as they made mandatory “woke” classes a part of their rebuilding. This just never happened. I also don’t recall any part of the bailout where the government was to explicitly (or implicitly) force companies to add a certain number of minorities to their governing boards or start flying banners or ads for the trans community. Again, none of this never happened.
I have to admit the most confusing part of this section is when Ramaswamy mentions the black cubes on Instagram. Those didn’t happen until 2020, well after the 2008 financial bailout that he’s still on a tangent with.
Things went pretty smoothly, until the 2016 election. The man who won wasn’t supposed to win. And this time the blame fell not so much on Wall Street, but on Silicon Valley. But they had Wall Street’s playbook they followed it to a T. The new bad guys (big tech) could become the good guys just like the banks, as long as they made sure the next election went the “right way”; that is, the way the new Left wanted it to go. In exchange, big tech would get to keep its monopoly power intact. And that’s how the untold story of how modern big tech censorship was born.
I mean, it makes sense that literally the only time the GOP is going after big business is if they can find some way to ham-fist this woke narrative as being the culprit, but it’s always weird to hear the conservatives attack corporations. With that said, what playbook? Ramaswamy and PragerU have gone all-in on this idea that the 2008 recession bailouts were predicated on social causes when no such thing exists. I promise that Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac wasn’t told that so long as they hired a certain percentage of black employees to head their various divisions, all would be forgiven. This is not at all how the bailouts took place.
I’m still confused about what happened to make big tech the “bad guys”? In fact, this entire section makes no sense. Let me see if I’m missing something. Trump wasn’t supposed to win, but he did, which means that big tech was now the bad guys because they were blamed for Trump winning the election. But big tech will be OK just so long as they use a strategy employed by Wall Street during a financial bailout (which has nothing at all to do with a presidential election). And because of these two completely unrelated events, we now have big tech censorship? Am I getting that correctly?
The newly ascendant left was able to delegate its dirty work to private companies to do through the back door what it could not do through the front door under the Constitution—namely, to censor protected political speech. Then came Covid and the death of George Floyd. Woke Inc. became the Woke Industrial Complex. Now it’s not just Wall Street and Silicon Valley playing the game, but nearly all of corporate America as we know it.
Are these the same companies who mastered the “book of wokeness” that allowed them to proliferate in 2008? Due to how vague PragerU has to be to shove all their square pegs into round holes, they don’t specify hardly any information as to who their specific target is in this section. I understand their use of the George Floyd murder in attempting to show that these levels of wokeness have been amplified exponentially over the last few years, but what does Covid have anything to do with wokeness? It’s a virus. It will permeate any human person it can and has impacted literally everyone on Earth to one degree or another—wokeness hasn’t.
Coca-Cola trains its employees “how to be less white” and issues public statements about voting laws that make it sound more like a super-PAC than a soft-drink manufacturer. Pay no attention to the fact that its drinks are a major contributor to the obesity epidemic. Especially in the black community.
The point about Coca-Cola and “how to be less white” is taken from one lie and then warped into another. They don’t train their employees to be less white. Rather, this lie stems from a doctored image of a Coca-Cola can which made the rounds on the internet in 2021 that had the offensive slogan on it. Dr. Mark Scanlon, Director of the Centre for Cybersecurity & Cybercrime Investigation at University College Dublin, released a statement when he was asked to use his expertise in examining the image and it was pretty clear. He determined that the image of the Coca-Cola can with the slogan “try to be less white” is a hoax. “Given the high resolution and quality of typical printing on Coca-Cola cans, the font should be consistent, and the edges of the font should be crisp. Repeated use of the same character in the sentence should be precisely the same,” he said. When rotating the slogan horizontally, Scanlon compared the lettering and noted irregularities with letters ‘o’ and ‘e’ on the can. The ‘o’ has “inconsistent font-weight” around the entire letter, while the ‘e’ characters are inconsistent throughout the slogan. This statement wasn’t released until after the image had made the rounds on social media widely, allowing for this lie to be fostered by PragerU. And I love how they try to point out facts about obesity without actually giving any numbers or sources when it comes to the sugary drink’s contributions to the epidemic.
Nike condemns systemic racism in the United States and donates tens of millions of dollars to Black Lives Matter while it still relies on slave labor in Asia to make $200 sneakers that they sell to black kids in the inner city who can’t afford to buy books for school. It’s the magic trick of the 21st century. Distract the public with its virtue over here while doing awful (but highly profitable) things over there, including places like China, where companies including Disney, Nike, Apple, BlackRock, and the NBA regularly support a brutal regime while continuing to decry “social injustice” here at home.
PragerU isn’t wrong here, but there’s a bigger picture to be looked at. Yes, these companies outsource to brutal dictatorships and they should be held accountable for it. No company should rely on the slavery or subjugation of another human being in the name of profit. But this is a bigger issue than “wokeness” because ALL big businesses do it, no matter their social opinions.
Of course, this video isn’t going to point out conservative corporations that outsource to the same places as it looks bad (because it is). I’m not justifying the outsourcing of labor, but that’s a completely different systemic issue that will muddy the waters. For that topic, we need to look at living wages, and tax breaks for mom-and-pop stores instead of breaks for the mega-corporations like Walmart, etc. Until those systemic issues are addressed, then yeah, we are going to have a lot of companies (both those who virtue signal and those who don’t) that use slave labor in the name of profit. This section isn’t a “wokeness” thing, but rather an economic one.
Big business wins. Woke activists win. The Chinese Communist Party wins. But Americans lose. We lose because when corporations cynically enforce speech codes and mandate how we act and think, we lose the most fundamental freedom of all: freedom of speech. We’re forced to choose between speaking our minds and putting food on the dinner table. So how do we stop them? Well, you’ve already taken a big first step. You now know how the magic trick works. So when a woke corporation tells you how virtuous they are, just laugh and take your business elsewhere. And then, stand up for your constitutional, God-given rights. And if they try to take those away … sue them! I’m Vivek Ramaswamy, author of “Woke, Inc.: Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam” for Prager University.
Speaking our minds or putting food on the dinner table? It’s always interesting to see when catastrophizing is mixed in with non-realistic outcomes. Sure, it puts fear into your audience and makes them more susceptible to your arguments, but it really makes you look overtly “fire and brimstone”—which is completely on-brand for this “university.” I can’t see the correlation of these two events, even when attempting the mental gymnastics I’ve had to use throughout this lesson.
I do have to agree with the core sentiment regarding corporations telling you how woke (virtuous) they are and to avoid them; I feel the same about organized religion. Whenever someone has to tell you how “good” they are, it’s usually to hide something else … the Duggars come to mind for some reason.
And of course, end with suing people. Just make sure you base your legal argument on everything you’ve been taught by PragerU, then you’re guaranteed to win!
When looking through my rebuttals, you’ll notice there wasn’t a ton of fact-checking per se. The reason why is because most of what is needed to debunk the misinformation presented are just a good memory. Anyone who is reading this right now was probably around to see the fall of Wall Street in 2008 and what occurred over the following years, and I cannot legitimately recall (or find) any addendum which required certain racial equalizers. Neither were there any that involved identity or sexual preferences, or ANY other bone of contention labeled “wokeness” that Prager has mentioned. Taking these facts and coupling them with PragerU’s attempts to stretch reality to where this bailout had a direct impact on Silicon Valley because Trump won the 2016 election makes one thing pretty clear; nothing in this course makes any sense and didn’t require too much in-depth fact-chasing.
The investigating I did do leads me to one conclusion. Sadly, it appears that not a single person in the GOP has heard of Google. If they had, then this video would fold like a chair with their supporters.
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