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Conservatives Are Now Blaming The Titanic Sub Tragedy On ‘Wokeness’

On Sunday, the submersible Titan went missing far off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, in the North Atlantic ocean. The tourist expedition, led by OceanGate, a company that runs submersible trips for tourism and exploration, was supposed to take five men to view the shipwreck of the Titanic, nearly 13,000 feet below sea level.

A search for the sub, which included OceanGate Expeditions CEO Stockton Rush onboard, is now over after debris from the vessel was located following an apparent “catastrophic implosion,” the U.S. Coast Guard said Thursday.

As the U.S. and Canadian governments shelled out funds in the rescue and recovery effort, the media reported on a series of safety concerns that most likely led to the sub going missing.

But conservatives had another theory. Could the sub have disappeared because OceanGate’s CEO went “woke”?

Wokeness has become a new boogeyman for the right, and no one is safe —even in a case like this, with five people believed to have lost their lives in the deep sea.

Being woke once meant being aware of social injustices, but conservatives have appropriated it to refer to anything that they disagree with or that has a hint of liberalism. It’s often used as a not-very-subtle replacement for racial slurs.

On Wednesday afternoon, Fox News’ Jesse Watters suggested on the network’s show “The Five” that the men may have perished in the sub because Rush was too woke.

“There’s been lawsuits, there’s been accusations about slashing regulations. He’s quoted as saying he didn’t hire a bunch of 50-year-old white guys with military experience because he didn’t want his vessels to be not inspirational for a younger generation,” Watters said, referring to the OceanGate CEO previously stating that he didn’t want to hire older white men.

“I don’t care who is in these vessels, I just want them to be experienced and safe. And if you’re gonna be woke, you might have to —” Watters said before cutting himself off. (A popular slogan on the right is “Go woke, go broke.”)

OceanGate had been sued by a former employee who warned about safety issues, and it seemingly ignored experts who said the vessel’s trips could be catastrophic. But right-wingers, increasingly obsessed with labeling anyone and anything as woke, decided to focus on Rush supposedly not employing enough white men.

This week, the New York Post ran a story about Rush’s comments on not wanting to hire “white guys,” hinting that perhaps the expedition would have gone differently if he had.

On Twitter, some were more explicit in their claims.

“Wokeness killed the people on that submarine,” one user tweeted. “Let that sink in. They died because the woke CEO said he wouldn’t hire 50 year-old white men who knew how to command submarines and would rather train others.”

The tweet concluded: “The CEO died too. That’s the next level of ‘go woke, go broke.’”

OceanGate joins a long list of the accused. Earlier this year, Republicans blamed wokeness when Silicon Valley Bank collapsed — because it had a Black person and two members of the LGBTQ+ community on its board.

Bud Light has been accused of going woke because of a one-off partnership with transgender TikTok influencer Dylan Mulvaney. Target has been vilified for displaying Pride merchandise. Chick-fil-A and Cracker Barrel have suffered the same fate for having staffers tasked with diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at work.

But by the GOP’s own definition, it would be a stretch to blame wokeness for the Titan tragedy.

If anything, a CEO allegedly ignoring experts and choosing to hire inexperienced workers in lieu of higher-paid ones, while also donating to GOP candidates, is the opposite of wokeness. That all seems in line with standard operating procedures for the wealthy.

But wokeness has become such a pervasive party of right-wing ideology that it’s not just progressive ideals getting slapped with the label anymore — CEOs who plan ill-advised trips to the bottom of the ocean now qualify, too.