We Believe Signs: Snooty Virtue-Signaling, Freedom of Speech, or Both?

(Lorie Shaull from Washington, United States / CC BY-SA)

This I can tell you. In the agitator-besieged city of Portland, Ore., what we’ll call the “We Believe” yard signs are everywhere. Some neighborhoods more than others, but no neighborhood is without them. From the working-class flats, to the West Hills that Everclear frontman Art Alexakis sang about in “I Will Buy You a New Life,” you will find them prominently displayed.

Some might call such displays a kind of snobbish virtue-signaling by signage. Since I live in one of those neighborhoods, it behooves me to give the displayers the benefit of the doubt, and ascribe reasonable intentions to their motives. They want each passerby to understand that they are not bigoted, not misogynistic, not homophobic, not unscientific, etc. To know that in this house dwells good people, and bigots, misogynists, homophobes, and climate-change deniers should be on notice.

It is enough to make the socio-politically naïve amongst us wonder about any dwelling that does not have the sign. What kind of people live there? That said, a conservative-minded reality check is in order. What is the real meaning, the sub-contexts of the sign’s message? There are several iterations, so we’ll focus on the pronouncements/sentiments that appear on the most well-known sign.

The first expression is Black Lives Matter. Always a controversial statement (well-meaning professionals have been fired for saying “all lives matter”), this summer that simple idea has taken on a frightful amount of negative baggage. In the name of BLM, many Democrat cites are in turmoil, and each day we are treated to new and alarming examples of incidences under that banner that have flipped the world on its head. Some say that BLM and the accomplice Democratic Socialists have set race relations back 50 years. On the brighter side, there is real evidence that patriotic, fair-minded African-Americans are ditching the America-as-systematically-racist narrative and giving genuine consideration to the prospect of leaving the “progressive” plantation.

The next pronouncement on most of the signs is No Human is Illegal. In a broad philosophical or theological sense, that can be construed as true. The phrase suggests that it’s wrong to ascribe the condition of illegality to another person’s existence. But governments and countries are formed and held together by legal precepts as well as ideological and philosophical values and ideas. Han von Spakovsky spells it out in the Heritage Foundation piece, “’Undocumented Immigrant’ Is a Made-Up Term That Ignores The Law.”

Under federal law, any individual in this country who is not a citizen is an alien. And any alien who is here without permission is here illegally. End of story.

But of course, the propaganda war in the public arena cares little for facts and actual statutory language.

Pro-illegal alien groups, politicians who push “sanctuary” policies and open borders, and protesters who want to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, want to persuade the American public that those here illegally are no different than those who followed the rules to come here lawfully.

So, contrary to the “We Believe” sign’s message, some people, though they may still be human, are illegal in the context of American law.

The Love is Love statement clearly speaks to and against anti-LGBTQ bigotry. On its face, the sentiment seems adolescently on-the-nose, but the deeper admonition certifies that the folks living in the home don’t discriminate on the basis of sexual preferences, orientations, or identifications, while some other people do. Dig deeper and the vapidity of the message as stated renders it virtually meaningless. Lots of people “love” other people. We know only too well the gamut of how low the love bar can be set by mental illness and human degeneracy.

America has moved toward tolerance and nonjudgment of the bonds created by responsible consenting adults. But there is wisdom in remembering that the concept of love, like beauty, can be dangerously in the eye of the beholder.

The sign’s preposition that Women’s Rights are Human Rights argues plainly for abortion rights, the right to choose. It is also the most jarring and easily-challenged of all the “We Believe” tenets. It is impossible to take seriously a plea for rights to be respected when the people asking for respect have zero qualms about ignoring the rights of the unborn, and subjecting them to mass extermination. Aren’t they human too?

When “We Believe” signs started appearing on lawns across the nation, (one wonders, from the Left Coast, are these signs displayed in Red cities like, say, Oklahoma City?) the Science is Real part of the message spoke to a belief in anthropogenic climate change. If you don’t believe that climate is related to human activity, you are a “climate denier” and thus deny science.

Whatever the sign’s initial import, the COVID pandemic has utterly destroyed the left’s possession of the scientific high ground. No one is saying COVID isn’t a nasty, ugly disease. But here are the CDC’s latest numbers for infection fatality ratios: (for a full range of scenarios, see linked report):

0-19 years: 0.00003
20-49 years: 0.0002
50-69 years: 0.005
70+ years: 0.054

For this, and in a desperate and cynical effort to destabilize a nation in the quest of electoral power, the Democrats have attempted to ruin President Trump’s historically great economy, consigned thousands of senior citizens and others to isolation and lonely deaths, and contributed to a shut-down atmosphere wherein a brutish school resource officer without a mask can manhandle and tase a woman for not wearing a mask at an outdoor ballgame.

While the “virtue” signals above can be characterized as the big five, there are other lawn sign maxims found while perusing a Google Image search:

Flirting Is Not Consent: Be forewarned if there are any remaining educated and aware men who may be inclined to respond to flirting with an inappropriate sexual advance. Until every box on the way to intimacy is checked, you know where to keep it.

Diversity Makes Us Stronger: Before Trump got elected you might have been able make the argument. Since then, Democrat-promulgated racial division has and continues to irreparably weaken the body politic.

Kindness is Everything/Be Kind to Everyone/Kindness is Never Wasted: Subliminal message alert, You rascally, evil, and unkind Republicans.

Water is Life: No more fracking, drilling, or energy independence. Playbook to include bird-killing windmills, unreliable solar, and reliance upon our friends in the Middle East.

Enough already. Though the “We Believe” lawn signs predated our current administration, for the contemporary meaning behind this ubiquitous cardboard signaling we paraphrase former Senator Al Franken’s enduring character, Stuart Smalley: “I’m liberal enough, progressive enough, and doggone it, I sure didn’t vote for President Trump!”

Mark Ellis is the author of A Death on the Horizon, a finalist in the 14th annual National Indie Excellence Awards in the category of General Fiction. Follow Mark on Twitter.
















We see innocent moms manhandled for not wearing an outdoor mask, places of worship shuttered,