The capacity of human beings to be busybodies never ceases to amaze me. Aristotle wrote that “man is by nature a social animal,” and he is a political animal as well. As such, virtue-signalling and puritanical social policing are probably here to stay, whether we like it or not.
Still, I’m always struck by how willing people are to butt into others lives—not just the curiosity of gossip, but the desire to control other people’s behavior, and even thoughts. I’m all about enforcing social norms through the soft power of culture, and even I don’t want to hassle people. I think hard drugs and prostitution should be illegal, sure, but only because those do demonstrable harm, physically, mentally, and spiritually, beyond the individual partaking in them. Otherwise, I’m more than willing to let people make their own mistakes, and to believe whatever kooky nonsense they’d like, so long as I’m afforded the same courtesy.
Maybe I’m not the best spokesman for a laissez-faire social life, but a broadly Jeffersonian-Jacksonian, rural outlander mentality should apply to our daily lives: you chase your squirrels, and I’ll chase mine. Often the very last thing I want to do is to give someone else a hard time about their lifestyle, beliefs, or the like, so long as they’re not forcing their insanity on me.
The modern Left, of course, is totalitarian in nature—it is constitutionally and structurally incapable of leaving anyone alone. It must be exhausting being a Leftist: triggered by everything, constantly attacking others for wrongthink, but always worrying about when the winds of fashion will change, and then YOU will be on the chopping block of revolution.
It’s even more annoying on the Right, where we’re often overly eager to call out our own people. That seems like a luxury we can ill-afford with a cultural civil war raging.
With these thoughts percolating in my head, it seemed like an opportune time to look back to fallout from the Covington Catholic “controversy” from earlier this year. That saw National Review publish a grotesque, melodramatic hit piece on these young men—young men who did nothing but stand still.
Here is February 2019’s “Self-Righteous Virtue-Signalling Lives On“:
The Right prides itself on its ability and willingness to police its own, and that impulse is usually healthy. It would be inconceivable, for example, for congressional Democrats to overwhelmingly support investigation and even impeachment of a Democratic president the way congressional Republicans did with President Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal (for what it’s worth, I think Nixon was railroaded—more on that another time).
That impulse, though, can easily morph into SJW-esque virtue-signalling, which is exactly what happened in response to the Covington Catholic non-troversy over the weekend.
Remember, every time there is some accusation in the news of conservatives or Trumpists behaving badly—especially if the allegations involve some form of bigotry against protected classes of the rainbow coalition—wait 24-48 hours, and it will invariably be revealed to be either a hoax or a willful misrepresentation of the facts.
There is some truly lurid stuff circulating about the high school students who were attending a pro-life march. The iconic image is of a young man smirking as an elderly Native American war vet bangs a drum in his face. Somehow, that smirk is a form of aggression, while an aging hippie provocatively banging a drum inches from your face is peaceful protest.
I expect swift denunciations and lengthy, navel-gazing think-pieces from Leftists about the “male gaze” and “white privilege.” I don’t expect them from National Review (except for famed hand-wringer David French).
Of course, I should have learned by now, just as noodle-wristed neocons should have learned to wait for all the facts to come out before rendering judgment: a substantial portion of the Right, sadly, simply seems to be “loyal opposition” to the Left. That is, they accept the paradigm the progressive Left has foisted upon us, and instead of trying to chuck that paradigm, merely attempt to exist in a tiny corner of (barely) permitted dissent within it.
Nicholas Frankovich, a deputy managing editor at NR, wrote a piece comparing the elderly Native American man to Jesus Christ, and the pro-life Catholic students who almost literally turned the other cheek to the wicked Roman soldiers that crucified our Lord. Never have I seen a more egregious example of virtue-signalling: Frankovich, from the first sentence, is saying, “I’m holier than you because I take the Gospel account of the Crucifixion so seriously that I see it everywhere; the rest of you have just forgotten it.” That pithy paraphrasing is not far from what he actually writes (from the second paragraph):
For some of us, the gospel stories of Jesus’s passion and death are so familiar we no longer hear them. The evangelists are terse in their descriptions of the humiliations heaped on Jesus in the final hours before his crucifixion, the consummate humiliation. Read the accounts again or, if you’d rather not, watch the video. The human capacity for sadism is too great.
John Nolte of Breitbart gives a humorous but accurate analysis of Frankovich’s melodramatic piece, which you can read here: https://www.breitbart.com/the-media/2019/01/21/fake-news-never-sleeps-national-review-falls-for-more-anti-trump-media-hoaxes/
Of course, if you listened to conservative talk radio at all yesterday, all of the hosts relayed the full story (I heard, throughout the course of the day, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Mark “The Great One” Levin cover the events). Here is my quick recap:
Essentially, this group of teenagers was waiting for their bus, when an extreme black nationalist fringe group, the Black Hebrew Israelites, began pelting them with obscenities. That apparently went on for some time, before Nathan Phillips, the Native American activist and war veteran, came between the young men and the BHIs. The boys were unsure whose “side” Phillips was on, but when he began some kind of war chant, they began to sing school songs (the source of the media’s claim that the young men were “mocking” Phillips and his Native American heritage). Then someone snapped the picture of the young man “smirking”—and, out of context, it does look like a sh*t-eating grin—at the Native American, and the rest is revisionist history.
The truth about these events came out very quickly, to the shame of National Review and notorious Never Trumper Bill Kristol. A member of the Polish Parliament has invited the boys to speak there in a sign of solidarity and to help get out the truth.
Sadly, rush-to-judgment virtue-signalling continues to live on. Why play the Left’s game? Are you that desperate to get a spot on morning talk shows? Conservatives shouldn’t fall for it. Ethically, we should at the very least wait for the full facts to come out about any negative story, whether it involves a conservative or a progressive.
Frankovich, Kristol, and their ilk might gain some temporary encomiums from the Left, but—as I’ve written before—their accolades will be short-lived. The hot knife of progressive perfidy will find its way into their bent backs as soon as their political usefulness is dried up.