What the ‘woke student’ and the ‘welfare queen’ have in common

(CNN)Every age seems to need a bogeyman, some negative image against which good people measure themselves. When I entered college in the mid-1970s, the term “welfare queen” was being popularized by Ronald Reagan as he campaigned for president and was starting to be taken up by the mass media. It would soon go on to upstage the outworn “commie” and well-worn “dirty hippie” as objects of vitriol in the American political imagination. Self-described regular, decent Americans had in “welfare queen” a new image against which to define themselves. There had long been accounts of people scamming the government in one way or another — contractors overcharging, politicians on the take, crooked cops. But the trope of the “welfare queen” was …