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We’ve seen the weaponization of the word ‘woke’

A supporter of President Donald Trump before a campaign rally at Lancaster Airport on Oct. 26, 2020, in Lititz, Pa.Jacqueline Larma/Associated Press

In her letter “Clamping down on certain language ignites both the left and the right” (Jan. 19), Wendy Kaminer uses the word “woke” as an adjective with deeply negative connotation three times in praise of Joan Vennochi’s Jan. 17 column about the “language police.” As evidence of the danger of “woke culture,” Kaminer cites Donald Trump’s exploitation of the term “political correctness” in 2016 to tap into “resentment of de facto censorship” as a means to gain the presidency.

Well, look where we are. Hate speech has exploded in the last five years and fueled the political and racial violence that has followed. Relatively few had heard of the term “woke” five years ago. It’s clear now that the term has been weaponized in pursuit of power without concern for the consequences.


Using care with our language is one step toward a return to civility. Kaminer should do her part and use care with the term “woke.”

Joshua Frank

West Roxbury