The Church of the Woke

By Shaun Tan

By Shaun Tan

Founder, Editor-in-Chief, and Staff Writer

31/5/2021

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Picture Credit: Dimitri Rodriguez)

2026

And so it was that on the twenty-fifth day of the fifth month, Speaker of the House Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced her candidacy for President of the United States.

 

From George Floyd Square she spake unto the multitude: “Cast thine lot for me, and I shall deliver thee from evil, and cast down this racist system which thou hateth.”

 

And she spake of grand plans: of social justice, of revolution, of the breaking of the world, for in order for the last to be first, the first must be last.

 

To the white people in the multitude, she said: “Ye shall now be last. For didst thou not know ye bearest the original sin of white supremacy, inherited from thine fathers, and their fathers before them? In the eyes of black folk, thou art like the most loathsome spiders, nay, the most worthless worms that creepeth upon the earth!”

 

And the white people said: “Yea, ‘tis true. As worthless worms are we.”

 

To the black people in the multitude, she said: “Ye shall now be first. For thou art the salt of the earth. Ye beareth the marks of white people’s sins, and thy skin, though unmarked, yet bears the marks of their lash. Ye shall receiveth reparations, and handouts, and preferential treatment, and all else shall line up behind thee according to their skin tone.”

 

And the black people said: “Uh, thanks, I guess.”

 

And AOC spoke of many wonders: of open borders, of defunding the police, of free college and free housing and free Wi-Fi from a public purse that never went empty, like in the miracle of loaves and fishes. “And each shall give according to their ability,” she said, “and each shall receive according to their need.” And she sent forth her Squad into every corner of the land to campaign for her.

 

Yet there were some who doubted. “Canst she really lead the Democrats to victory?” they wondered. “For her sums do not add up, and her popularity extendeth not beyond Williamsburg.”

 

And the oracles from the houses of polling consulted their omens, and they predicted a Republican landslide. “For the swing voters like her not,” they said. “The fear of Communism lies heavy on their hearts, and her nomination shall be as the stroke of doom upon her party.”

 

But others said: “Why should we heed thee, false prophets? Wrong hath been thine predictions in the last few elections. Now thine credibility is shot, thine surveys are as empty air, and thine chief prophet, Nate Silver, lies broken in the dust.”

 

And they said: “Hath not AOC claimed the blessing of Saint George Floyd? Hath she not received the sacrament of High Priest Ibram X. Kendi? Hath she not crucified Kamala Harris with her own prosecutorial record? Hath she not cast Nancy Pelosi from the high seat in the People’s House and taken the speakership for herself? Verily, her strength waxeth like the gibbous moon, and none can stand against her.”

 

Yet even from her own city did someone rise in challenge. His name was Andrew Yang and he wore jackets without ties and the word “MATH” was writ upon his cap.

 

And he said: “Attend me, for I wield the power of Numbers, and they say AOC’s national support is thin and her plans are unworkable. Her campaign will fail and her policies would bankrupt the country, yea, as a plague of locusts across the land. Wherefore I beg thee turn aside from thy folly and join your strength to mine.”

 

And he spoke of wondrous things: of jobs aplenty and Universal Basic Income. And many flocked to his banner, for his manner was affable, and his tent was big.

 

Then AOC cried: “Yang doth mansplaineth to me! Forsooth, even as The Patriarchy condescends to women, so too doth he dispute my figures. Hark, he wields his numbers like a weapon to cut at my breast! And, also, since blacks tend to do worse at math, math is racist.”

 

And she said: “Shut thine ears to Yang, my brothers and sisters, for he is false of heart. He poseth as a minority, but Asians are white-adjacent, and the distance between them and whites is but the breadth of a hair. And so I say unto him: ‘Check thine privilege.’”

 

And all her followers took up her cry, “Check thine privilege! Check thine privilege!” and Yang’s followers had no answer and they grew ashamed and hid their faces and his big tent was torn down, and AOC exulted, for joy was in her heart, and her path to the nomination was clear.

 

And she said: “Behold, I hath vanquished my rival. The heretic Yang hath been excommunicated from the party and he crieth alone like a sheep in the wilderness! Rally to me, and armor me with thine support, for I must soon do battle against the Orange Horror. And with thy voice shall I speak, and with thy mandate shall I smite him!”

 

But then a figure came out of the crowd, and people looked upon her in wonder, for lo! her skin was as black as coal, and though she had been born as a man, she had the bearing of a woman, and she did not walk on two feet but rodeth upon a wheelchair. No one knew her name – she was known only as The Victim, for she wielded all the categories of intersectional victimhood in one person. And people flocked to The Victim and asked: “Who is like her? Who can make war upon her?” Because, seriously, who could make war upon a black, female, transgender, paraplegic?

 

And The Victim also declared her candidacy for president. And she told the people tales, and her tales were full of woe. She told them of how she had experienced mistreatment and assault, discrimination and sexual abuse. She told of how she had lost her parents to the Ku Klux Klan, her wife to neo-Nazis, and the use of her legs to police brutality. And she said unto them: “Support me if ye be not racist, sexist, ableist, homophobic, and transphobic,” and Democrats felt guilty and did as she bade.

 

And AOC felt the support bleed from her, and she cried: “No one knoweth her name, nor from whence she came! How knoweth we that her tales be true?”

 

And those people said: “Art thou blaming The Victim? How canst thou gainsay her lived-experiences?”

 

And The Victim promised them many wonders: open borders, defunding the police, free college and free housing and free Wi-Fi from a public purse that never went empty.

 

And AOC grew wroth and the bile rose in her throat and she said: “Those are all mine ideas, which The Victim steals like a thief in the night!”

 

And those people said: “Check thine privilege.”