Wednesday, August 16, 2017

White punks in black and "virtue signaling"


As San Francisco braces for an invasion of unknown size of alt-right and white nationalist factions a week from Saturday, one vital thing still does not seem to have gotten through to those on the left and those who believe that fascism must be met with loud, angry anti-fascist resistance: You are giving them what they want by showing up.

It may seem insane, and antithetical to all that the Bay Area represents to many of us, to allow and implicitly condone the presence of groups who spout racial hatred like those who showed up to rally in Charlottesville last weekend. But they are coming, they have a legal right to gather, and while protest of various creative kinds should take place, battles with sticks, shields, and pepper spray should not. The sooner the passionate foes of racism and fascism understand this, the better off this country will be. 

Perhaps the liberal youth of 2017 needs to be reminded that the most powerful images of the civil rights era came out of acts of passive resistance that were met with violence and rage...

Rob's comment:
An article on "virtue signaling" in last Sunday's NY Times is, well, timely:

We all want to be good. But often, what we want more is for others to know just how good we are...Do these people really care deeply about the issue du jour? They probably aren’t, after all, out volunteering to solve the problem. What if they’re motivated, above all else, by simply looking like people who care?

...This sort of ostentatious concern is, according to some diagnoses, endemic to the political left. A writer for the conservative website The Daily Caller wrote this summer that virtue signaling ‘‘has been universalized into a sort of cultural tic’’ on the left, ‘‘as compulsive and unavoidable as Tourette’s syndrome.’’ 

There are plenty on the left who might agree. It’s not difficult to find, in conversations among progressives, widespread eye-rolling over a certain type of person: the one who will take a heroic stance on almost any issue — furious indignation over the casting of a live-action ‘‘Aladdin’’ film, vehement defense of Hillary Clinton’s fashion choices, extravagant emotional investment in the plight of a group to which the speaker does not belong — in what feels like a transparent bid for the praise, likes and aura of righteousness that follows...(emphasis added)

That doesn't mean not going to public demonstrations on this or any other issue. What many of us object to is the notion that opposing the alt-right means taking clubs and pepper spray and fists to wage literal battle in the streets with the neo-fascists. That will only lead down the violent, dead-end path taken by the Weather Underground in the 1970s.

I've written about this ultra-left political tendency before: Black bloc: White punks in black and Risk-free rebellion by BART protesters and If you have to wear a mask... 

See also Otis Taylor in the Chronicle this morning: Don't give the haters any bragging rights.

Members of the anti-car bike movement are the most conspicuous virtue signalers in San Francisco: BikeThink: The ideology of bicycles.

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