News, On Campus

Angelo Discusses His Fight Against “Woke Culture” With New Tolerance Campaign

The woke movement in the United States began when businesses publicized their opinions on LGBT issues, according to Gregory Angelo.

“I truly believe that when we look at the so-called ‘woke’ movement in the United States, at least insofar as major corporations have involved themselves in it, the main catalyst for all of that—the inflection point when all of this suddenly became okay—was when corporations started weighing in on LGBT issues,” Angelo said.

Angelo, BC ’00, spoke at a Boston College Republicans event on Wednesday. He discussed his time as president of Log Cabin Republicans—a U.S. organization that represents gay Republicans and their allies—and his current role as president of the New Tolerance Campaign, which pushes against institutions that betray their own stated values, according to Angelo.

During his time at Log Cabin Republicans, Angelo said he worked as a lobbyist to garner support from major corporations for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which makes it illegal to fire someone from their job solely based upon their sexual orientation. The bill for this act passed in 2013. 

Angelo said his colleagues jokingly refer to him as the “godfather of woke” for his work as a lobbyist, but he maintains that he did not create a woke culture.

“It wasn’t even my intention to create any of this when I was lobbying those corporations,” Angelo said. “It was a strategy that worked and it was something that we were only focused on at the time, was passing this particular piece of legislation in the United States Senate. But looking back, I can’t deny that I did play a role in doing this.”

Angelo said his work as a lobbyist helped prepare him for his current position at the New Tolerance Campaign because he understands how companies can be swayed to take a political stance on certain issues.

“In some ways, I feel that I’m especially well-suited to this position that I’m in now—rallying people to push back against [woke culture] and fighting for corporations to colloquially divest themselves from these contentious social issues, and move back to a place of neutrality just focusing on their bottom line,” Angelo said.

According to Angelo, the New Tolerance Campaign aims to fight corporate activism and advocate for free speech on college campuses by taking a direct approach, such as emailing companies’ CEOs and boards of directors. 

“We have taken the ‘call your Senator, email your congressman’ model, and we’ve repurposed it and turned the turrets onto the institutions,” Angelo said.

Academia began to experience a leftward drift in the 1960s as political uprisings took place on college campuses, Angelo said. He said the country paid a price for this shift because these former leftist students are now leaders of corporations and universities.

“Today, we are seeing those same individuals who were leftist students on college campuses in the 1960s and 70s, have become the heads of these institutions today,” Angelo said. 

During his three years at the New Tolerance Campaign, Angelo said he has seen more conservatives begin to push back against woke culture and “cancel culture.”

“We have seen conservatives finally waking up to the fact that the left has been using things like lawfare and the courts to try to push their ideologies onto the American public,” Angelo said. 

According to Angelo, the country will be able to return to civil discourse when corporations return to a place of political neutrality.

“I think if we bring these institutions back to a place of neutrality with things like lawfare, political action, stockholder activity, and grassroots action, we will be in a much more healthy place in our country where things like civil discourse will return,” Angelo said.

Angelo briefly spoke about his time as a press secretary in the Executive Office of the President in the former President Donald Trump’s administration. Angelo said although the number of overdose deaths decreased during the Trump administration, the media continued to criticize the administration for its work combatting the overdose crisis.

“It was really eye-opening to me that maybe even like the one component of the White House where you think, ‘Okay, like this is something that both sides can agree on, you know, people should not be dying of illicit substance use,’ that was not the case,” Angelo said. “So, it was a fight every day.”

Angelo said even though conservatives are currently losing the “woke culture war,” he still believes the work he is doing is important.

“I wouldn’t agree that we’ve lost the culture war,” Angelo said. “You know, I wouldn’t be doing the work that I’m doing right now if I thought it was a lost cause. I will agree that we’re losing big time. And like we’re on the hill right now, and if we lose this hill, it’s over.”

October 29, 2023