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ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith Reminds Us, Bowing To The Woke Mob Is A Bad Idea: A Growing List Of Examples

A minor firestorm erupted last week over news that while Lululemon, a company best known for their upscale yoga pants, had ultimately opted to display the phrase “Black Lives Matter” on their website following the death of George Floyd last spring, initially there was apprehension. A since-departed executive had instructed employees to prepare for the potential use of the phrase “All Lives Matter” instead. We learned that the executive in question received so much pushback she apologized to over 200 employees, and then left the company shortly thereafter.

The administrator’s departure wasn’t enough, apparently. According to an article examining the situation in Business Insider last week, a piece which was prominently featured on their homepage for several days, “employees felt ‘triggered and traumatized’ by the incident,” with one employee going so far as calling it, “one of the most disgusting moments” of their time with the company. Keep in mind, this uproar resurfaced a full year after the incident occurred. We call this approach ‘beating a fallen horse.’

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Then this past Monday, ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith found himself on the woke’s hotseat. Smith, who is black, had the gall to suggest that Major League Baseball is more marketable to its’ American audience if their top stars speak English as opposed to needing a translator. While Smith was clearly naïve in suggesting that the English language is relatively easy to learn, his overall point that English-speaking stars help make the sport easier to sell is obviously true. The level to which the situation is problematic is certainly debatable, but Smith’s position was unquestionably reasonable. But reasonableness doesn’t matter to the woke.

By Monday afternoon, Smith was getting clobbered. Never mind that most of Smith’s comments regarding the player on which he was opining – Japanese superstar Shohei Otani of the Los Angeles Angels – were highly flattering. Twitter blew up, viciously attacking Smith for being “xenophobic,” and Smith began backpedaling like a blue-chip cornerback.

First, the commentator issued an apology on Twitter which included a video, but Smith’s level of contrition was inadequate for the woke mob who could smell Smith’s blood in the water. The verbal assaults on Twitter didn’t just continue, they worsened. Smith then issued a second apology, this time in written format. A few hours later, the mob set their pitchforks aside, for the time being, but the damage had been done. Smith’s brand was marred, and his image has a black eye. The woke mob is never satisfied, and apologies are fruitless, particularly when one apologizes for something unworthy of apologies.

But it’s not just Stephen A. Smith, and it’s not just Lululemon. The list of those who have opted to prostate themselves at the altar of wokeness for the sin of committing the slightest impropriety – or for no impropriety at all – and then beg for mercy is long and getting longer. A few examples to consider:

  • Drew Brees: A year ago, the NFL quarterback issued a lengthy apology on Instagram for “insensitive comments” he’d made. What were those comments? Brees had stated that anyone who kneels during our National Anthem was, “disrespecting the flag of the United States and our country.” Yup, that’s it. Do you think those militant wokesters who forced you into your apology supported you before your comments, Drew? Or afterwards? They didn’t. Brees should have stood firm, because it was the right thing to do, and he’d have been better off in the long run.
  • Chris Harrison: The ABC series The Bachelor/Bachelorette may be awful television, but it’s definitely popular. A former contestant named Rachel Kirkconnell came under attack earlier this year for resurfaced 2018 photos of her participating in an “Old South” themed party. The woke’s logic extrapolated that “The Old South” equals slavery, and therefore wearing a costume from that time-period is racist. Harrison, the host of the show, attempted to defend Kirkconnell, but he was quickly shouted down. Harrison apologized profusely, but to no avail. By June he was out the door.  
  • Winston Marshall: The former Mumford & Sons guitarist entered the woke’s crosshairs in March when the musician made the outrageous mistake of tweeting his admiration for a book. The book in question was by conservative writer Andy Ngo, and that was too much for the woke mob. Marshall was forced to step away from the band temporarily to take the heat off the other members, and he stated, “Over the past few days I have come to better understand the pain caused by the book I endorsed.” To his credit, Marshall has now permanently left the band so he can “speak freely” on politics, but he should have stood firm in the first place.
  • Kerri K. Greenidge: Unfamiliar with Ms. Greenidge, you say? The author was one of 153 mostly-liberal signatories of “A Letter On Justice and Debate,” which was an open letter published by Harper’s Weekly on July 7, 2020. The letter, ironically, was penned to denounce cancel culture, of which the woke mob is the leading proponent, and to promote free speech. So why does Ms. Greenidge make our list? Greenidge felt strongly enough to sign the letter initially, but the woke mob becomes furious when you point out that they’re a woke mob. They predictably came for those who had the audacity to call them what they are, Greenidge caved, and she ultimately asked for her name to be removed from the letter. Way to stand up for what you believe in, Kerri.
  • Terry Crews:  Last August, Crews’ former America’s Got Talent co-star, Gabrielle Union laced into the show’s leadership and their enabling of a “toxic, racist environment.” Crews, who is black, initially defended the show stating that he saw things much differently than Union. Union was irate and accused Crews of being more concerned about his paychecks. Crews then apologized, and apologized, and apologized some more, “This will be my 3rd public apology to Gabrielle Union. If a 4th is needed, I will continue to apologize.” It is unclear whether Crews is still apologizing.
  • Tyra Banks: The swimsuit model and reality TV star got pummeled last year when folks went back to look at old episodes of her show America’s Next Top Model, and considered objections from former contestants. Banks, who is black, was accused of enabling racism, homophobia, transphobia, and body-shaming, among other things. Banks threw herself on the mercy of the woke mob explaining, “I’m sorry to anybody that watched Top Model and was offended.” Did that approach work for Banks? Did they forgive her and allow her to move on? Of course not. The woke mob went right back at her earlier this year and will undoubtedly continue doing so.
  • Bryan Adams: During the onset of the COVID lockdowns last year, the Canadian rock singer tweeted “Tonight was supposed to be the beginning of a tenancy of gigs at the @royalalberthall, but thanks to some fu—– bat eating, wet market animal selling, virus making greedy bastards, the whole world is now on hold.” Adams’ colorful language aside, was there anything particularly inaccurate with what he said? It didn’t matter, because the woke mob accused Adams’ words as being “horrendously racist.” Instead of standing his ground and perhaps cleaning up his language a bit, Adams chose instead to beg forgiveness. Silly, Bryan.
  • Hannah Brown: Another member of The Bachelor club. Brown made the indefensible error of saying the N-word on Instagram. But actually she didn’t say it, she sang it. Brown was singing along to a rap song that included the word, and evidently she was supposed to not sing that part. If it’s OK for one person to sing it, shouldn’t it be OK for another? Anyway, Brown apologized profusely as we should have expected.
  • Lana Delray: The singer caught flack last spring when she questioned a perceived double-standard regarding the treatment of other female singers, many of whom are black. Heresy! Delray was mercilessly attacked, and when she produced a video in which she apologized, it was called a ‘non-apology.’ With the woke mob, you can’t explain yourself, you see. Admit your wrongdoing and beg for mercy as they toss you to the gutter. That’s the process, no deviation.
  • Jimmy Fallon: The Tonight Show host found himself in hot water last year when 20-year-old footage of him impersonating Chris Rock on SNL was discovered. What’s wrong with impersonating another comedian, particularly one with whom you are good friends? Nothing. Except that Fallon used make-up so that he would look like Rock, the woke mob considers such make-up to be “blackface,” and blackface is really, really bad. Being funny isn’t acceptable if you happen to violate one of the woke mob’s shifting standards. Fallon apologized, and then apologized some more for what seemed like weeks. Chris Rock didn’t have a problem with Fallon’s skit, Fallon himself was funny during it, as usual, and he shouldn’t have apologized. When will they learn?

The list seems endless. We also have artist Karol G who inexcusably used two dogs of opposite colors to state, “black and white together look beautiful,” as well as actress Alia Shawkat who used the N-word during an interview when repeating lyrics. Then there was Anne Hathaway who may have offended those with ‘limb differences’ after she portrayed a character with only three fingers in the movie The Witches, and the character happened to be a villain. And let’s not forget Florence Pugh, the white actress who made the unthinkable offense of wearing corn rows when she was seventeen. Not only were they all relentlessly confronted by the woke mob for absolute silliness, they all conceded to that mob and issued multiple apologies.

Here’s a fact: life is hard, and life can be cruel. We’re all going to get our feeling hurt at some point. But none of us have a right to not be offended. None of us have a right to not be triggered. And none of us have the right to not be uncomfortable. But all of us – every single one of us – has a right to free speech. And it’s about time we reasserted that right.

PF Whalen

P.F. Whalen is a conservative blogger at  His work has appeared in multiple publications, including Human Events, the Western Journal, and American Thinker. Follow him on Parler @PFWhalen.

Photo by gamestooge at Flickr.