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Category Archives: Political Correctness
Posted: November 18, 2019 at 6:41 pm
Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBiden says he won't legalize marijuana because it may be a 'gateway drug' Democrats seize on report of FedEx's Elizabeth Warren tax bill to slam Trump's tax plan Warren 'fully committed' to 'Medicare for All' MORE (D-Mass.) says the most amazingly incoherent things.
Or should we just say she speaks in Harvard talk?
She builds her themes around political correctness on steroids, spiced up with limitless arrogance while stirring in a touch of ideological claptrap.
Consider her views on corporations.
Corporations, according to her, are the epitome of evil.
Giant multinational corporationshave no loyalty to America. They have no loyalty to American workers. They have no loyalty to American consumers. They have no loyalty to American communities. They are loyal only to their own bottom line, she said at Octobers Democratic debate in Ohio, captivated by the righteousness of her own pronouncement.
There are approximately 140 million people who have jobs in America.
This number is up by a few million from the number of people who had jobs at the end of the Obama administration.
It is the most people ever employed in our history, with the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years or so.
The vast majority of the people who work in the private sector work for corporations.
Some of these corporations are large. Amazon employs 647,000 people, almost all in America. Walmart employs more than 2 million people again, mostly in America.
Of course, most Americans work for smaller corporations.
Almost half of all private sector employees work for businesses with fewer than 500 staff.
Most of these people have families or others who depend on them and their jobs.
This may come as a surprise to Warren and her college-age followers, but not only do all these Americans have jobs that pay them. Those jobs also often include benefits like healthcare, educational assistance and childcare.
Corporations are, simply put, a lot of people working together.
Of course, there are always government jobs.
Today, there are approximately 22 million people who work either for the federal, state or local government not counting the military.
Warren has no problem with government employment of people. In fact, she wishes to expand that segment of America radically.
This is a touch ironic since the income of government employees depends on the taxes paid by people in America who work for corporations.
Clearly they need to pay more in taxes to support her plans.
As corporations spend more on taxes, they have less to spend on employing Americans, and supporting their benefits and wages.
An equally significant oversight in Warrens diatribes is that, for the most part, American workers actually own the corporations she is attacking.
Who owns most of the stock in American corporations? American workers.
The bulk of stock in American corporations is owned by pension funds and private pension plans like 401ks and IRAs.
Blackrock, the single biggest manager of pension money in the country, looks after more than $6 trillion in all. A very large percentage of this money comes from some form of pension investment.
These Americans, too, constitute corporate America.
They reflect the fact that stock ownership in American corporations is the backbone of almost all American pension plans.
Even public employees who are not subjected to Warrens wrath are heavily invested in corporate America.
The California public employees pension fund, for example the nations largest, with more than $350 billion in investments is primarily invested in the ownership of American corporations.
It is an easy use of language to make corporations out to be the cause of all things evil, as Warren does.
But, as with so much of the pablum that she is promoting, her lines are not meant to be considered in any depth.
She assumes her audiences are so angry or so naive or so poorly informed they will not look beyond her words.
If they were to pull back the curtain and ask obvious questions, they would have to conclude that she is a demagogues demagogue.
In making corporations a political punching bag, she is assuming people will ignore what corporations are a collection of Americans pulling together to accomplish many things, including a better life for themselves.
Her attacks can only be taken in two ways.
The first is that she does not trust or like Americans who get their jobs and benefits from corporations, or who invest in those corporations.
The second is that she believes she can sell her listeners a large container of snake oil wrapped in a paper bag of political fraud that depends for its viability on the gullibility of her followers.
Judd Gregg (R) is a former governor and three-term senator from New Hampshire who served as chairman and ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, and as ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Foreign Operations subcommittee.
Posted: at 6:41 pm
Courtney Pong made the executive decision to end a show early at the Rozzie Square Theater.
The Rozzie Square Theater. Photo courtesy Courtney Pong
The world of comedy, which prides itself on rule-breaking and brutal honesty, is more than a little obsessed with maintaining the status quo. Its notoriously difficult for women and people of color to break into the industry. Audiences have quickly forgiven famous funny men in the wake of their #MeToo moments. And this weekend, when a local theater owner took a stand against the misogynistic jokes fundamental to a certain type of male stand-up, she was met with swift, unrelenting backlash.
Saturday evening, Rozzie Square Theater owner Courtney Pong shut down a series of stand-up sets after the line-up of comedians made persistent racist and sexist jokes. According to Pong, the emcee (who, along with the featured comics, was hired by a separate company that contracts with the theater) kicked off the night by making a joke about how segregated the audience was, attempting to make two black and two white audience members change seats and sit next to each other. After that, Pong says, a string of comics embarked on a stale lineup of jokes, touching on sexual conquest and domestic violence, and often referring to women as bitches. The audience was so quiet throughout the set that Pong had to go over to the sound booth to play background music in an attempt to cut the awkwardness.
What finally sent Pong over the edge? When one of the comics joked that he lost his job as an Uber driver because he made all his female passengers ride in the car trunk. Shortly after, Pong stood up, rang a bell to silence the comedian, walked to the front of the room, and announced she was cutting off the show.
This isnt content that we want in our theater, Pong says she told the crowd, And its not what we want as a community. All paying customers were offered refunds.
The Rozzie Square Theater, Pong says, is meant to be a place for people, especially those who dont feel welcomed in the comedy community, to laugh and feel safe. Comedy can be a dangerous world for women and people of color, who more often find themselves the butt of jokes then onstage telling them. For Pong, this was a moment in which she could affirm to her audience that there is indeed a comedy venue where sexism and racism are not welcome. It wasnt about making a judgment call about whether or not jokes about race and rape are funny, Pong says. Rather, she turned the lights on and sent everyone home because no woman in the world would have felt safe in that room, and that conflicts with the theaters foundational beliefs.
Im creating a space for customers to enjoy a show, Pong says. It was a business decision in the moment. We didnt tell them they couldnt do it ever. This just isnt the space.
The Rozzie Square Theater opened just a year ago. It has a capacity of 49, and fewer than 20 people were in attendance at the show Saturday. But hundreds have now caught wind of the incident and are using it as yet another opportunity to lament the death of humor at the hands of political correctness. In the past two days, Pong has faced a deluge of tweets accusing her of not getting the joke, overreacting, power tripping, virtue signaling, and censoring comics. Kirk Minihane latched onto the controversy and cited it in his latest podcast episode as an example of how woke culture is ruining entertainment. Some have even taken to the Rozzie Square Theaters Facebook page to leave obviously phony 1-star reviews in an attempt to tank the theaters rating.
Its frustrating, Pong says. We spend more time arguing for the right to say sexist things than fighting for the rights of people.
After the Saturday show, Pong and the box office attendantthe only other woman in the room Saturday nightcleaned up and closed up. Pong headed across the street to Napper Tandys bar, where almost everyone from the venue had gone after she shut down the show. The comics were there, but did not acknowledge her. Two of the white male audience members did, however, approach Pong, curious to hear why she did what she did. She explained: That someone needed to show that Its not okay to punch down at women. That any woman watching that set would have felt threatened. That there isnt enough progress being made when it comes to including marginalized people in comedy, onstage or in the audience.
They seemed to understand, Pong says, which was what she set out to accomplish in closing down the show in the first place. A dialogue was always the goal. And, even as she stares down an army of trolls, Pongs belief that everyone deserves a comedy venue where they feel safe is unwavering.
In order to create a more diverse and inclusive environment, Pong says, We need to try harder.
See the article here:
Posted: at 6:41 pm
15 years after the hit show The Office aired, two of the shows characters kickstarted a podcast called Office Ladies. The podcast stars Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey, who played Pam Beasley and Angela Martin respectively, as they dish behind-the-scenes tidbits while breaking down each episode of The Office.
The podcasts delivers fun-facts and points out the odd manner in which The Office was created, comparative to a typical television show. It answers fan questions and allows listeners to delve into the real life friendship between Fischer and Kinsey, which is not seen between their characters in the show.
Watching The Office back 15 years later, its now obvious how the show defies the political correctness that dominates television in 2019. In the first season alone, which constitutes all of six episodes, there is consistent racially-insensitive banter and stereotyping, by todays standards. Not meant to harm anyone, simply created in an era where humor was taken as it was humorous.
While Office Ladies isnt the comic relief many were hoping for, we can appreciate how the hosts only point out the humor and avoid political correctness as they re-watch a show that would be considered deeply problematic if pitched in 2019.
The podcast, thus far, has featured the first five episodes of the show. One episode, Diversity Day, deals with racial insensitivity in an office setting. Michael Scott (Steve Carell) had used the n-word while mocking a Chris Rock routine and sentenced the office to mandatory diversity training, which the employees viewed as a drag. In the same episode, Dwight (Rainn Wilson) makes a pass at women for their bad driving. In another episode, Basketball, Michael calls the only African-American employee his secret weapon for his upcoming basketball game.
These jokes would never be accepted by the 2019 woke-scolds, and its surprising The Office has escaped the pitfalls of cancel culture thus far. Where are the diversity training officers to remind us what a joy diversity training is? Where is the feminist left to remind us all, women arent bad drivers?
Nowhere, thanks to the commentary by Fischer and Kinsey, which focuses listeners attention on the purpose of the show. These episodes are about ridiculous office scenarios and humor, not divisive political issues in 2019.
Despite the political posture of todays society, Office Ladies delivers the fun-facts and recaps an episode without delivering a leftist-fueled scolding of the politically incorrect comedy. The podcast truly reminds us of the good ole days when political incorrectness was king.
Read more from the original source:
Scott D. Pierce: Disney+ shouldn’t stream racist ‘Song of the South.’ And it needs stronger warnings on other films. – Salt Lake Tribune
Posted: at 6:41 pm
Disney is being criticized for failing to include its racist 1946 movie Song of the South on its new streaming service. Its also being criticized for deciding to include other animated films that have racist content, with a warning that is certainly insufficient.
And you thought connection errors were the biggest problem with Disney+.
Song of the South has no place on a streaming service that is aimed squarely at families, that children are accessing, that parents trust as a safe haven. (Id argue theres no such thing and parents should monitor everything their children watch, but thats a different column.)
Song of the South, a mix of live-action and animation, has given Disney heartburn for decades because lets be clear its racist. It depicts happy slaves and presents an idyllic view of the Southern plantation system. (Disney claims its set after emancipation, but thats vague in the movie.) Characters speak in racist dialects. One of the animated sequences features a tar baby. Really.
Putting it back in general circulation would normalize racism. I foolishly got into a discussion about this on social media and could hardly restrain myself when one person reeking of white privilege said, Im not sure I see the issue with it.
And objections to Song of the South did not arise out of present-day political correctness. There were protests when the film was released, and the NAACP voiced strong objections.
You could make the argument that Song of the South is no more racist than Gone with the Wind, but there is one major difference Gone With the Wind isnt animated. Children like cartoons. They watch them, even when theyre not appropriate. Like South Park and Family Guy. Theyd watch Song of the South, and, no, its not appropriate.
Some are suggesting that Song of the South could stream with a strong warning at the beginning, but thats naive. We all know warnings like that are routinely ignored.
But its historically significant, some argue. OK, fine. No one is suggesting that all copies of Song of the South should be burned. Put it in museums, next to the Confederate statues.
There are a lots of reasons to criticize Disney, but keeping a racist movie from poisoning the minds of children is not one of them.
But Disney isnt scrubbing all the racism from Disney+. You can stream Dumbo, which includes a scene with crows one named Jim that are clearly offensive stereotypes. Lady and the Tramp and The Aristocats both contain racist Asian stereotypes. Peter Pan includes racist Native American stereotypes and the song What Made the Red Man Red.
(Full disclosure: I let my children who are now 28, 28 and 32 watch all those movies when they were young. Looking back, I wish Id been more aware. I wouldnt have forbidden them from watching, but I would have talked to them about what they were seeing. The same way we talked about the use of the term colored after we saw Remember the Titans a Disney-produced movie set in 1971 Virginia when they were kids.)
On Disney+, Dumbo and those other movies are preceded by this warning: This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions. Again, while I question whether warnings have much effect, its hard to imagine that mild warning is going to make viewers pause at all.
I dont have all the answers. In a perfect world, all parents would talk to their children about racism. Clearly, we dont live in anything approaching a perfect world.
But if Disney is going to stream these movies and provide a warning, it ought to do something more in line with what Warner Bros. added to some of its cartoons when they were released on DVD. A warning that they are products of their time and may depict some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that were commonplace in American society.
Id take out the word may. They were undeniably racist. These depictions were wrong then and theyre wrong today, WBs warning continued.
Exactly. And Disneys warning ought to be that strong, if not stronger.
Read the original:
Posted: at 6:41 pm
American voters are motivated by a fever pitch.
That's the message from last week's elections.
The headlines were the Democratic sweep of the state legislature in Virginia that put the entire state government under Democratic control for the first time in 25 years and the defeat of incumbent Republican Gov. Matt Bevin in Kentucky.
An important part of the story is that voter turnout was off the charts.
In Kentucky, an estimated 43% of eligible voters turned out compared with 31% for the last gubernatorial election, in 2015.
Voter turnout in Virginia was the highest it has been for a state legislature-only election in at least the last 40-some years.
There's a lot of noise in the political and cultural arenas in America today, and it's exactly what I talk about in my new book, released this week, "Necessary Noise: How Donald Trump Inflames the Cultural War and Why This is Good News for America."
A new Gallup poll measuring voter enthusiasm reports that 64% are "more enthusiastic" compared with previous elections, a percentage "among the highest Gallup has measured across presidential election years."
It's actually the highest ever measured because previous levels in this range were reported one to five months before upcoming election. Voter enthusiasm at this accelerated level one year before an election is unprecedented.
Also unprecedented is that high voter enthusiasm is bipartisan.
As Gallup reports, usually enthusiasm is notably higher among the opposition party.
But this time, it's not the case.
Reported enthusiasm is 66% among Republicans and 65% among Democrats.
It's not a surprise to me. It's why I wrote "Necessary Noise."
The noise that is ramping up voter heartbeats is the sound of American democracy at work. It's a consciousness-raising noise that is waking up Americans to the fact that muddling through the mediocre middle is no longer an option. And the man responsible for generating this noise is President Donald Trump.
Donald Trump is the great disruptor.
Political candidates always run on an agenda of change.
But Donald Trump understood that given what is happening in America today, the agenda must be disruption, not change.
Change does not take place at the roots. The change conventional politicians offer up amounts to rearranging deck chairs. Disruption reaches down deep and severs at the root the status quo kept in place by special interests and habit of thought.
America needs this kind of disruption today because we have drifted too far from our founding, too far from what the nation is supposed to be about.
An America that grew and thrived because it was "biblical and free" is transforming into a nation that is "secular and statist."
There is no better way to know what Americans are thinking and feeling than to travel and talk to people.
This is what I have been doing for 25 years. It's why I know that the people who voted in 2016 for the disruptor Trump are those who have had enough with where we've been going. They are the people of America's heartland, and I have been listening to them.
Now, as result of disruption, the pretensions of the mediocre middle are gone. Because of Trump the disruptor, Americans will have a clear choice to make.
Move to the right, or move to the left.
Part of the drama of the effectiveness of Donald Trump is that his own background and personal history provide an unlikely resume for the role he now plays. It's why so many still have a hard time with him.
As I point out in "Necessary Noise," the process of disruption produces the noise we need, whether it's draining the swamp of interests in Washington; taking on the politics of political correctness, gender and race; or restoring a society of ownership and property.
The only thing I can predict for sure is that come November 2020, Americans will have a clear choice, and for this we should thank Donald Trump.
Star Parker is president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education and author of the new book, Necessary Noise: How Donald Trump Inflames the Culture War and Why This is Good News for America, available now at starparker.com.
See more here:
Posted: at 6:41 pm
In Harriet, directed and co-written by Kasi Lemmons, Cynthia Erivo plays Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery, joined the Underground Railroad and then freed more than 70 people from slavery. (Spoilers about the movie ahead.) Though Tubman died in 1913 at age 91, the movie ends during the Civil War, with Tubman leading a troop of black soldiers for the Union Army.
A chyron then appears that reads:
Harriet Tubman was the most famous conductor on the Underground Railroad, leading over 70 slaves to freedom.
During the Civil War, Harriet became a spy for the Union Army.
She led 150 black soldiers in the Combahee River Raid, freeing over 750 slaves.
Harriet remains one of the few women in U.S. history to lead an armed expedition.
The Morning Rundown
Get a head start on the morning's top stories.
She later remarried and dedicated her life to helping freed slaves, the elderly and Womens Suffrage.
She died surrounded by loved ones on March 10, 1913, at approximately 91 years of age.
Her last words were, I go to prepare a place for you.
Tubmans accomplishments are, of course, hard to summarize. But audience members might well wonder why Lemmons didnt end Harriet by mentioning that someday though not in 2020 as originally scheduled Tubman will replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.
Lemmons told Variety that in one draft of Harriet, Tubman-on-the-$20 was indeed the films kicker. But she chose to end with her famous final words instead.
We chose the words carefully, and there was a message there. And it was a message of leadership and deep spirituality, and beauty and grace that went with her to the very last words of her life, Lemmons says. I mean, I think thats just incredibly beautiful. And a beautiful way to to sum up her life, you know?
During the Obama administration, Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew decided that Tubmans image would replace Jacksons on the $20 in 2020. It would mark the centennial of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.
But earlier this year, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that the bills need new security features, and wont be ready until 2026 at the earliest. Jackson, who owned slaves, happens to be Donald Trumps favorite president, and during Trumps campaign, he called the switch to Tubmans image pure political correctness.
Harriet faced a difficult journey to the screen, but producers Debra Martin Chase and Daniela Taplin Lundberg always believed that the film would succeed with audiences. Focus Features, which eventually signed on to make the movie, told Variety before its release that the company was bullish on its prospects, citing extremely strong testing.
That confidence has borne out. Through two weekends of release, Harriet has been a box office success, collecting more than $23 million across 2,186 screens.
In that same spirit, Lemmons isnt worried that the delay of Tubman on the $20 is permanent.
I think its inevitable, she says with a confident laugh. I think its been postponed for various reasons. But I think its happening.
Read the original:
Popular right-wing radio host says he was fired for refusing to toe strict Trump party line – AlterNet
Posted: at 6:41 pm
Liberals and progressives arent the only ones right-wing media can be unfair to: they can also be horribly unfair to conservatives. And one of them appears to be radio host Craig Silverman, who says he was fired by Denvers KNUS 710 AM on Saturday for criticizing President Donald Trump on the air.
As much as right-wing outlets complain about political correctness and hypersensitive liberal snowflakes who are intolerant of other points of view, those same outlets often expect their employees to be in total lockstep politically which, in 2019, often means not saying a word against Trump. According to Silverman, he was doing a segment on the late right-wing attorney Roy Cohn (who represented Trump in the 1970s) when KNUS program director entered the studio and told him, Youre done.
On Sunday, Silverman told CNN that executives at KNUS (which is owned by Salem Media Group) expected him to toe strict Trump party line. The conservative media figure asserted, I was frustrated that we couldnt talk about the facts of the impeachment case, and it all came to a head as I was excoriating Donald Trump on my show yesterday.
But Brian Taylor, general manager for KNUS, denies that Silverman was fired for criticizing Trump. Taylor told the Denver Post that Silverman was taken off the air on Saturday for discussing a planned appearance on a rival outlet asserting, The notion that he was relieved from his program because he criticized President Trump is absolutely untrue. Weve never told Mr. Silverman the position to take on (Trumps) impeachment.
Although Silverman is an independent contractor, Taylor said that he didnt want him promoting a rival outlet during his show. Taylor told the Denver Post that KNUS interrupted the Saturday broadcast but didnt cancel Silvermans show altogether.
Silvermans alleged firing comes not long after the departure of Shepard Smith from Fox News. Although Fox News is quite favorable to Trump most of the time, Smith along with Judge Andrew Napolitano and Chris Wallace was among the Fox employees who wasnt shy about criticizing Trump at times.
On Saturday, Silverman tweeted, I cannot and will not toe strict Trump party line. I call things as I see them.
Silverman discussed the impeachment inquiry against Trump with CNN, praising the diplomats who testified publicly last week: William Taylor, George Kent and Marie Yovanovitch. The radio host told CNN, I thought Taylor and Kent were great. They laid a base. Im a trial attorney, Im a former prosecutor; I know how to put on a case. And then, Marie Yovanovitch she inspired me. She was an outstanding witness. But if nobody on radio talks about it, how are the American people going to understand?
KNUS lineup includes the nationally syndicated programs of Hugh Hewitt, Dennis Prager, Mark Levin and others.
then let us make a small request. AlterNet is increasing its original reporting, edited by The Nations Joshua Holland, with a focus on 2020 election coverage. Weve also launched a weekly podcast, Weve Got Issues, focusing on the issues, not Donald Trumps tweets. Unlike other news outlets, weve decided to make our AlterNet 2020 coverage free to all. But we need your ongoing support to continue what we do.
AlterNet is independent. You wont find mainstream media bias here. From unflinching coverage of white nationalism, to spotlighting the overlooked struggles of the working poor, AlterNet continues to speak truth to power. As newspapers close, America needs voices like AlterNets to be sure no one is forgotten.
We need your support to keep producing quality journalism. As Silicon Valley absorbs more and more advertising dollars, ads dont pay what they used to. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.
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Palo Altans and their Virtue Signaling | A New Shade of Green | Sherry Listgarten – Palo Alto Online
Posted: at 6:41 pm
By Sherry Listgarten
E-mail Sherry Listgarten
View all posts from Sherry Listgarten
I was thinking about this when I wrote last weeks post on Zero Waste Party Packs. I was pretty sure the virtue signaling accusation would be trotted out, so I aimed to cover it this week. Though I deflected it by focusing more on kids parties (can you virtue signal to kids?), the tenth or so comment was pretty much on target.
The thing is, I get it. Who likes to be preached at? Who likes to be judged? One of the reasons I titled this blog A New Shade of Green is because it is so important for us to develop inclusive and positive attitudes to being environmentally-friendly, and to collectively welcome changes that reduce emissions and help us to adapt to the changing climate. We shouldnt need to worry about evading or embracing claims of moral superiority.
So I thought Id hold up this phrase virtue signaling to the light so we can examine it. What does it mean, who uses it and why, and what is its impact?
The Brit who popularized the phrase, a writer named James Bartholomew, says that it describes the way in which many people say or write things to indicate that they are virtuous. One of the crucial aspects of virtue signalling is that it does not require actually doing anything virtuous. (1) Two psychologists writing in the New York Times say it is feigned righteousness intended to make the speaker appear superior by condemning others. (2) Wikipedia succinctly defines it as the conspicuous expression of moral values. (3)
It might be used, for example, to describe a smug Los Altos Hills resident (who parks) her Escalade at the Trader Joe's parking lot and pulls out the tote bags ... in smug reassurance that she's fighting the good war against the evil scourge of plastic. (This and all following quotations in this post are taken from comments in the online forums of this paper, unless otherwise noted.) There is an element of hypocrisy implied, as well as a degree of pretentiousness and possibly even judgment. It is a pejorative and dismissive term.
I want to go through a number of examples showing how this term has been used in the comments of this online paper, so we can think about how it is used and why.
Applied to Palo Altos City Council, for various climate-related actions:- Virtue signaling seems to be about all this council is capable of.- The problem with Palo Alto politics is the political establishment virtue signaling civility to misdirect the public from their corruption, hidden agendas, and passive aggression.- Go Palo Alto! You're leading the Bay Area in virtue signaling!- The problem is that they are blaming other people and legislating, always virtue signaling and spewing drivel about greenhouse gases and whatnot. This method can't possibly help the environment. No matter how many laws they come up with, it won't stop climate change.
Applied to the Cool Block initiative:That being said, as an exercise in yodeling our moral superiority without actually doing anything beneficial, while wasting taxpayer money and creating much-needed opportunities for graft, it sounds like a winner. And when it comes to pointless virtue-signalling, the comrades of Palo Alto yield to no one.
Applied to Caltrain riders:For the younger set, wanting to virtue-signal green, Caltrain is just a fashion accessory.
Applied to cyclists:You sound like a very affluent Palo Altan that likes to virtue signal by bicycling and condemning the avarice of your somewhat less affluent neighbors who need a car and still have to work for a living.
Applied to Tesla drivers:I agree that Climate Change as a priority is both a distraction and a feel good item for those impressed by virtue signaling. Why not buy everybody a Tesla and support a home town business? Virtue signaling is the top priority for most Palo Altans. The town is becoming overrun by Teslas.
Applied to recyclers:I wonder what it is that drives Palo Altans to engage in such constant and extreme virtue signaling. "Zero waste" is a myth. As long as we live abundant lives we will always generate more waste.
Applied to Palo Altans in general:There seems to be a denial of reality here, where people with an extremely high income and high quality of life engage in forms of virtue signaling to distract from their own abundance.
The term is used to disparage more than environmental actions. A cursory look found it applied to people saving Buena Vista, renaming schools, complaining about police behavior, and advocating for the homeless, gun control, or minimum wage. It was even used against Stanford, with the claim that the GUP campaign essentially amounts to virtue signaling aimed at convincing the outside world how good the university is.
So, what do we make of all this? Is it true that unless you are driving a gas-powered car to get around town, you must be virtue signaling? Is it virtue signaling to buy a veggie burger, use a party pack, or do any pro-environmental action that others can see? We can all agree that people sometimes or even often think about how their actions look to others. But does that mean they are being hypocritical? Judging others? Feeling superior?
IMO there is an element of nastiness and judgment in the accusation of virtue signaling. When Alice accuses Bob of virtue signaling, she is expressing not only mistrust but scorn, interpreting his motivations as manipulative and disingenuous. But is it Alice or Bob who is being more judgmental? (4) Of course you cant reverse climate change by washing your laundry in cold water, or get to zero waste just by using reusable dishware at a picnic. But is it wrong or hypocritical to do so? Moving towards a sustainable planet will take both big and small actions, and small does not preclude big. (5)
What makes this shaming particularly problematic is that social norms have a big influence on people. When people see and hear their neighbors, friends, or co-workers taking action for the environment, they are more likely to take similar actions. But accusations of eco-posturing can negate this. As someone commented in a post here: All the virtuous people doing the right thing simply creates a backlash against "political correctness" and allows the clueless to continue their profligate ways. Fear of appearing judgmental can be a powerful disincentive. As another commenter noted: I typically don't mention it (the efficiency work Ive done on my house) because the global impact is minimal and I don't want to engage in virtue signaling. Argh. You should not feel embarrassed to share that you drive an EV, enjoy eating veggie burgers, turn down your thermostat in the winter, or bike to work!
Geoffrey Miller, an environmental psychology professor at the University of Mexico, has written a book on virtue signaling. (6) He distinguishes two kinds, one being cheap talk (as weve been discussing) and the other being a genuine reflection of underlying values. He writes: What distinguishes good virtue signaling from bad virtue signaling isnt just the reliability of the signal. Its the actual real-world effects on sentient beings, societies and civilizations. When the instincts to virtue signal are combined with curiosity about science, open-mindedness about values and viewpoints, rationality about priorities and policies, and strategic savvy about ways and means, then wonderful things can happen. These more enlightened forms of virtue signaling have sparked the Protestant Reformation, American Revolution, abolitionist movement, anti-vivisection movement, womens suffrage movement, free speech movement, and Effective Altruism movement.
That is a lot to digest, but the point is that many big cultural revolutions are precipitated by early visible (viral?) trends in social norms. And that is what we need to reduce our emissions and blunt the impact of climate change.
Fortunately there are other ways to drive trends in social norms beyond individuals speaking up and sharing. Gregg Sparkman, a post-doc in psychology at Stanford, ran an interesting experiment last year at on-campus eatery The Axe & Palm. (7) He placed a note on the menu, and a card in the restaurant, indicating simply that more customers have been choosing the meatless dishes. Even though The Axe & Palm is a burger-and-shakes place, where people go to eat meat, the signs worked. During the 17-day test period, 1.7% of diners (about 180 people) switched to a vegetarian option, a statistically significant result. I love this idea, which Sparkman refers to as fostering social change through dynamic norms. It bypasses issues with perceived preaching or posturing while having a similar impact. Have you seen it deployed anywhere? (Hint: Did you read the previous blog post?) What about at your workplace? At stores you frequent? Id love to hear.
As to the verbal gunslingers parrying the accusation of virtue signaling, I want to end with this quotation from former Secretary of Defense James Mattis in the current issue of The Atlantic (8): Cynicism is cowardice. Cynicism fosters a distrust of reality. It is nothing less than a form of surrender. It provokes a suspicion that hidden malign forces are at play. It instills a sense of victimhood. It may be psychically gratifying in the moment, but it solves nothing. Consider that people may be aiming, in however small a way, to improve our future. Their actions may not be perfect, but what they are doing is a start. Use your energy instead to take it on yourself and lead by example.
Notes and References1. This 2015 article in the Spectator by James Bartholomew talks about why he adopted the phrase virtue signaling in April 2015. (He claims to have coined it, but it was in use earlier.)
2. This 2019 NY Times article describes some work by two psychologists to better understand when and why people might virtue signal.
3. Do you really need a link to Wikipedia?
4. David Shariatmadari wrote a nice opinion piece on this for The Guardian in 2016, observing that What started off as a clever way to win arguments has become a lazy put down. Its too often used to cast aspersions on opponents as an alternative to rebutting their arguments. In fact, its becoming indistinguishable from the thing it was designed to call out: smug posturing from a position of self-appointed authority.
5. Some people will say that small can in fact preclude big, because people will use the small to excuse the big. For example, someone might rationalize purchasing a new BMW M5 because they switched their home lights to LEDs. Ill have to do a separate post on emissions rationalization.
6. The book, published just a few months ago, is here. You can find an excerpt on Quillette.
7. There is a very interesting article about Sparkmans work by Sophie Yeo in Pacific Standard (August 2018). It is worth a read.
8. James Mattis writes in the December 2019 issue of The Atlantic about his concern that we are not putting in the work needed to maintain our democracy. But his point about cynicism (and some of his other points) applies equally well to the work needed to maintain our planet.
Current Climate Data (September/October 2019)Global impacts, US impacts, CO2 metric, Climate dashboard (updated annually)
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Posted: at 6:41 pm
The barman glanced up at the sky over Ocaas elegant main square before dragging a couple of tables outside. Like much else in Spain, the recent weather could charitably be described as changeable.
On Sunday, the ruling Spanish Socialist Workers party (PSOE) won the countrys fourth general election in as many years, the far-right Vox stormed into third place, and the Citizens party once touted as the future of the Spanish centre ground collapsed into an ignominious heap.
Fewer than 48 hours later, the PSOE and the anti-austerity Podemos announced the preliminary coalition deal that had proved so elusive after the Socialists won the last election in April but failed to secure a majority.
Juan Francisco Cruz, a Vox supporter to his core, described the deal as just a horrible situation as he stopped for a mid-morning drink and a cigarette in the towns damp plaza mayor.
His dismay was lessened by Voxs national showing and by its performance in Ocaa, a town of about 11,000 people an hour south of Madrid, where the party overtook the PSOE to finish first.
The far-right grouping, led by Santiago Abascal, won 34.5% of the vote in the town, the PSOE 28.3%, the conservative Peoples party (PP) 21.6%, Unidas Podemos 7.2%, and Citizens 6.5%.
Three years ago, Vox had attracted 0.62% of the vote in Ocaa. Cruz, 58, had a simple explanation for the surge.
Theyre just right on everything, he said. Id always voted PP before but theyre very weak now and theres been a lot of corruption. Its also about immigration: there are too many illegal immigrants and they get help that Spaniards dont. Its just out of control and somebody needs to get a grip.
Another local Vox voter, 75-year-old Juan Montoya, offered his own, understated take on the main issue driving Voxs rise in towns such as Ocaa.
Catalonia is a big mess, he said. I voted Vox because I want order and I want peace.
Corruption scandals and the political deadlock prompted by the death of traditional two-party politics in Spain have bred disillusionment among millions of Spanish voters.
By seizing on that, weaponising the issue of Catalan independence and calling into question the countrys current system of regional self-government, Vox has succeeded in moving very far, very fast.
Abascal who not so long ago was ridiculed for a video in which he appeared on horseback to announce a reconquest has managed to cut through with a simple proposition: do voters want to be able to retire comfortably, or do they want to carry on footing the bill for the government of Spains 17 autonomous regions?
Or, as he pithily put it: Pensions or regional governments?
Cristina Arranz, a local businesswoman, said people were simply sick of the status quo.
They want someone who can offer them something credible, she said. Its easy to promise things but its difficult to deliver them. People are desperate, and when youre desperate you go to the extremes, whether of left or right.
Arranz, 56, said people were using Vox as a protest vote, just as people had begun to back Podemos in the aftermath of the economic crisis.
She said Citizens whose leader, Albert Rivera, resigned on Monday had found itself on the wrong side of history by refusing to join the Socialists successful attempt to unseat the corruption-mired PP last year, and by trying to compete with Vox by moving further to the right.
Both the PP and Citizens have also helped to legitimise Vox by enlisting its support to take power in Andaluca and Madrid in the past year.
Arranzs friend, Lola Carrero, said people were leaving the PP for Vox now that Abascal had slightly recalibrated his rhetoric.
Its basically the same people voting for the same ideas, she said. Vox have softened their message and its worked. Well see if they go back to it soon.
Pablo Simn, a political scientist at Carlos III University in Madrid, said Voxs results in satellite towns around the Spanish capital and in places such as Ocaa suggested it was widening its socioeconomic base.
Vox is a party whose origins lie in the middle and upper middle-class vote people who used to vote for the PP and Citizens, he said.
But in these elections, it seems theyve done a bit better in relative terms among the rural and working classes. Were starting to see that working-class people who voted PP in the past are now turning towards Vox. As it grows, the party is developing a slightly more heterogenous electorate than it had before the April election.
Simn said Vox looked set to continue its growth, fuelled by media that sustain the partys momentum whether the coverage is positive or negative.
Having capitalised on voter discontent and the question of Spanish unity, he added, the party may now ape other successful European far-right parties by adopting chauvinist strategies over the welfare state.
Vox still hasnt really started doing that, but Im sure they know that its a strategy that would help them grow, said Simn.
If there is a PSOE-Podemos government backed by Catalan pro-independence parties, that will only help Vox keep hammering away when it comes to territorial questions and general political discontent. Add to that a discourse over immigrants taking up resources and youve got three elements that could help Vox grow still more at the next election.
There is much that is familiar and contemporary in Voxs appetite for border walls, in its paradoxical, if not hypocritical, antipathy towards elites, and in its demonisation of immigrants.
And then there is the nostalgia that verges on the atavistic. Juan Montoya hankers after the peace and co-existence of the past and cannot fathom the Socialists decision to exhume Franco from the Valley of the Fallen last month.
What has it achieved? he wondered. Its just revived tensions between people. They should just have left him in his tomb.
Juan Francisco Cruz, meanwhile, mourns the political correctness of the present.
Its a lie to say that Vox are racist. Theyre just the only party that has the balls to come out and tell the truth about things.
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