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High cost of virtue signaling

Christopher Bedford of the Federalist highlights a disturbing development in our social interactions.

The cost of virtue signaling over the past five years has grown exponentially, from the painless task of planting anti-Trump signs in your yard all the way to turning your family members over to authorities, masking little kids playing outdoors, subjecting the young to racist re-education, and even injecting teenagers with a novel vaccine of which the long-term effects are completely unknown.

While the pressure to conform is older even than mankind, and often comes with good reason, its most recent and illiberal iterations harken back to dark times in our history and in world history. The cost of signaling virtue is once again getting higher and higher — and more and more targeted at you and me. Worse yet, ominous signs point toward to digitalization and eventual enforcement of this new value system.

The goals of the main drivers of this new morality have been in open sight from the start; many (but not all) of us simply weren’t looking hard enough. “Find the racist!” they yelled, and a lot of right-thinking people agreed. “Find the insurrectionist!” they screamed and a few more eyebrows went up, but the logic behind arresting rioters seems sound enough on its face. After all, you’re not a violent insurrectionist, are you?

But just like how those yard signs proclaiming “all welcome” really meant “conservatives not welcome,” the hunt for racists and insurrectionists isn’t just a hunt for those who are explicitly named on the wanted posters. We’re going well beyond that. And all of us are expected to take part in this hunt or we are on the wrong side of history (a very bad place to be indeed).

Years ago, it seemed funny to a lot of us: the sort of ignorance required to shriek about the murderous white hood or swastika while wearing the murderous hammer and sickle. But while many of us mocked how foolish and ignorant this unintentional irony seemed, a lot of those folks in the red T-shirts meant exactly what they said.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...