For the left, “Virtue signalling consists of saying you hate things,” as spotted by David Thompson:
James Bartholomew on signalling one’s virtue:
It’s noticeable how often virtue signalling consists of saying you hate things. It is camouflage. The emphasis on hate distracts from the fact you are really saying how good you are. If you were frank and said, ‘I care about the environment more than most people do’ or ‘I care about the poor more than others,’ your vanity and self-aggrandisement would be obvious. Anger and outrage disguise your boastfulness.
Which may help explain why some signallers of piety make a point of telling us how they “long for the pure, uncomplicated political anger” felt by their younger selves. An odd thing to long for, given the possibilities. Our old friend Laurie Penny is forever romanticising anger and saying, with a hint of pride, that she’s written something that’s “angry,” as if anger were the important thing, the marker of status, as opposed to, say, being coherent or truthful. “It’s getting harder to stay angry,” wrote Laurie, in one of many posts about her fascinating self. “That terrifies me more than anything.” One of Ms Penny’s fans subsequently asked, “Why do you feel it important to be angry all the time?” Sadly, no answer was forthcoming. But it’s interesting to reverse the sequence of ideas. After all, pretending to be angry makes some people feel important all the time. And if anger is hard to muster, there’s always everyday obnoxiousness. That can be a credential too.
It isn’t all that surprising that “Virtue signalling consists of saying you hate things,” for the left, actually. As talk radio host Michael Graham told NRO’s Kathryn Jean Lopez in 2002 when he was discussing his then-new book, Redneck Nation, “To be a Republican, you have to believe something” — God, tradition, the country and its defense, and/or the family, etc. In contrast, as Roger L. Simon noted yesterday, to be a Democrat, you simply have to hate something:
None of my liberal friends like to talk politics anymore. They have nothing to say and it’s obvious why. Liberalism… or progressivism — people who wish to make the distinction can go ahead, but I find it trivial — they’re just different degrees of a self-serving lie…. liberalism, in the immortal words of Preston Sturges, “is not only dead, it’s decomposed.” (Sturges was referring to chivalry.) Not only is there no there there (as Gertrude Stein said of Oakland), there’s no there there there there to the tenth power. I asked a liberal the other day what liberalism was, what exactly it was he supported, and he was stunned that I asked, and then he was just stunned. He didn’t know how to answer because he didn’t have one. It was just a habit. (Oh, I forgot. He said he didn’t like Republicans, which of course is no defense of liberalism, just contempt… with a soupçon of habit.)
Regarding anger, Thompson writes that it’s “the important thing, the marker of status, as opposed to, say, being coherent or truthful.” Coherent? That’s for squares who don’t understand nuance (and don’t need “trigger warnings” when confronted by a contrary thought.) Truthful? How bourgeois and reactionary!
Right Jonathan Gruber? “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage,” says the MIT economist who helped write Obamacare. “And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical for the thing to pass.”