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. The joke, it turns out, was on the rest of us. The Nazi, the Klansman, and the racist — from the very beginning, you see, they meant you and me.
Take the riot at the Capitol, which resulted in frightened lawmakers, destruction of property, and one woman killed by police, and compare it with the race riots that killed dozens and burned out multiple cities and towns across the country the year before. One was called “an insurrection,” with the full weight of the FBI brought down on every suspected participant as they were tracked, turned in by their dating apps, neighbors and even children, and thrown into solitary confinement. The other? That was called a civil rights movement, and its radical, openly racist cause is now taught to children across the United States.
Parents and teachers from the public schools of the Virginia countryside to the elite private schools of Manhattan who resist the new curriculum are quickly shut down, shamed, and even attacked as racist, insurrectionist, and all the rest. Their yard signs, their donations, their impeccable liberal credentials — these do nothing to defend them.
Subject your child to indoctrination. Make them hate themselves for their skin color. Force them to denounce their parents, their grandparents, the people who gave them this happy life, and the country that let it happen. This is the new price of entry. The cost of signaling virtue is getting higher, more intrusive, more demanding, and whether we like it or not, we are all enrolled in the new social credit system.
“Black out your square” on Instagram? That was last year. “Get your injection” on Instagram? That’s the new thing.
“It’s really important to see all these TV anchors, personalities, showing themselves getting the shot,” Brian Stelter squealed on CNN last month. “We’ve seen a lot of vaccine selfies from lots of folks at lots of different networks, it’s been really inspiring to see… Where are Tucker and Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham? Where’s Ainsley Earhardt and Steve Doocy and Laura Ingraham? Where are the biggest stars on Fox getting vaccinated?”
“I get that it’s a personal choice,” he continued. “I get that’s between, you know, the hosts and their health care provider. But everybody else is doing it.”
Every. Body. Else. Is doing it.
Previously, anonymous internet enforcers performed the role of exiling those with lower social credit, harassing a Colorado baker with crazy orders and lawsuits, calling people’s bosses to get them fired, etc. News reporters got in on the game, too, storming an elderly women for her Facebook group and calling an EMT’s boss to see if they can get him fired over a small donation to a defendant.
But that’s not remotely the end of it, with government and its friends in big business taking it from there. Don’t want your COVID shot? You’re not on the list, and that might mean you need a new job, new restaurants, new grocery stores, and new airlines. Most Republican politicians don’t care: They don’t want to regulate the new marketplace, but the new marketplace sure wants to regulate you.
People don’t feel comfortable being around those who aren’t vaccinated, so you’re going to have to show a pass. Makes sense, right? A lot of people these days also don’t feel comfortable being around Trump supporters, either, or people who haven’t “checked their privilege,” or who go to the wrong church, or are the “wrong” skin color. See where this is going?
We’re not there yet, but nothing in the new social credit virtue signal system gives any sign of slowing down. Why would they? They’re winning, and conservatives are barely lifting a hand to stop them.