The Sacrifices The Woke Gods Require


On January 3, a CNN headline claimed, “Patton Oswalt defends his longtime friendship with Dave Chappelle.” Except, that’s not what Oswalt did. What the headline should have said was, “Patton Oswalt seeks absolution for his longtime friendship with Dave Chappelle.” Or even more accurately, “Patton Oswalt seeks absolution for the views of his former friend, Dave Chappelle.”

Because no one who treats a friend as Oswalt did should be able to retain the title.

Few pop culture events have highlighted the cultish nature of wokeness or the legalistic and rapacious demands it makes on its adherents more than Oswalt’s decision to distance himself from a man with whom, by his own admission, he has enjoyed 34 years of friendship.

For what great transgression did Oswalt feel he had to offer a sacrifice of public self-humiliation? He accepted a favor from the much (much) more successful Chappelle to make a guest appearance at his New Year’s Eve show then posted a backstage photo of the pair to Instagram. As one would expect, given their disparate levels of achievement, Oswalt also praised the five-time Emmy winner for his comedic genius.

This act resulted in nothing more mundane than a buzzing hive of anonymous commentators accusing Oswalt of minimizing transphobia. (For those who’ve been living under a rock, by “transphobia” they meant Chappelle’s assertion in his latest special that “gender is a fact” and that wearing women’s clothes does not make one a woman any more than wearing blackface makes one ethnically African). Not 24 hours passed before the gnashing teeth of these nameless social media Pharisees brought Oswalt to his knees in repentance.

After assuring the world that he and Chappelle “100% disagree about transgender rights & representation” and that he’s an “LGBT ally” in good standing who “[supports] trans peoples’ rights … to live safely in the world as their fullest selves,” the 53-year-old groveled for forgiveness. “I’m sorry, truly sorry, that I didn’t consider the hurt this would cause. Or the DEPTH of that hurt.” O my gods, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because of thy just punishments…

Finally, to add insult to injury, Oswalt patronized Chappelle’s supposed heresy with an obsequiousness that would put Dickens’ ‘umble Uriah Heep to shame.

“I also don’t believe a seeker like [Chappelle] is done evolving, learning,” he said in regret over his colleague’s failure to reach his own level of enlightenment. “You know someone that long, see the struggles and changes, it’s impossible to cut them off. Impossible not to be hopeful and open and cheer them on.” Oswalt then had the temerity, after lamenting Chappelle’s stunted evolution in front of the entire world (a world that only started paying attention because Chappelle was involved, by the way), to insist that he’s a “loyal friend.”

In a sane era, Oswalt’s post, which featured an embarrassing performance art photo of him supposedly writing this letter of apology on a yellow legal pad, would have friends and family wondering if he was still of sound mind. At the very least, pragmatic considerations should have given him at least a few days’ pause before so visibly throwing a comedy legend under the bus.

Years before a tiny handful of employees walked out of Netflix for airing his latest standup routine, Chappelle had become a household name. He is a man who sells out arenas worldwide by doing nothing more than talking into a microphone. Ask ten people at the grocery store about Dave Chappelle and you may get ten different opinions (or ten bad impressions). But ask them about Patton Oswalt and six will likely confuse him with either General George S. Patton or JFK shooter Lee Harvey Oswald. Perhaps two will be able to identify him for the most-famous role he has ever played — the voice of the rodent in Pixar’s “Ratatouille” (a bit of casting that, as National Review’s Kyle Smith pointed out, has suddenly come to seem prescient).

Certainly, there’s no question that an association with Dave Chappelle has a lot more to offer someone like Oswalt than appeasing @transgrindr92. Even Hollywood wouldn’t have faulted him for ignoring the activists mewling in his comment section — not when A-listers like Brad Pitt and Stevie Wonder still turn out to Chappelle’s shows and headliners like Usher and Justin Bieber are happy to take the stage alongside him.

A pastor friend of mine pointed out on Twitter that Oswalt’s behavior only makes sense if you look at him as the true acolyte of the new leftist religion of wokeness — a cruel and exacting cult that will brook no threats to its total authority over your life and your relationships. It requires you to mouth creeds without question: Trans women are women. Black lives matter. And like a cult, it separates you from the unconverted and unrighteous who might plant seeds of doubt about its dogmas. Any who interrogate the soundness of the foundational doctrines are excommunicated (canceled).

Yet, even while it’s important to acknowledge the blinkered, cowardly insanity of Oswalt’s betrayal, we shouldn’t just sneer at him or the many like him who would throw out relationships built over decades over the merest whiff of identity politics apostasy. We should also pity them. Because the greatest tragedy of cults is and always has been how they fracture real community in exchange for counterfeits.

The heresy hunters who showed up in Oswalt’s mentions with their verbal pitchforks don’t value him and have no hope of providing him authentic human connection. Comedy, like any community based on shared loves rather than shared hates, actually did. And as Oswalt himself said, for more than thirty years, he enjoyed both the personal and professional benefit of a real relationship he built in that community. And for what prize did he hand over this treasure? One more day of justification in the eyes of the woke gods, to whom he’ll have to make another sacrifice tomorrow.

Oswalt traded a pearl of great value for rubbish worth less than fool’s gold.

Like all pagan gods throughout history, the woke deities of the 21st century take everything and offer nothing.

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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