Lord, I thank Thee that I am not as other men are

Terms like “PC”, “virtue signalling”, “SJW”, “cancel”, “woke”, and the various forms of “performative”, all originate, as far as I know, within the “left” – very broadly defined for the moment, in the American manner, to include liberals who think of themselves as Lefties. These terms were all either originally positive, or meant as critical commentary on a certain holier-than-thou mentality and practice which us old Lefties have seen among our comrades, or putative comrades, many times.

Now they’ve been adopted by the right wing, and it makes the libs mad as hell to have these brickbats flung at them from that quarter (or from any quarter, really). The reason for this fury is easy to understand; as the old proverb tells us, truth hurts.

The lib outlook has a certain social base – for the moment, let’s wield the broad brush and call it the professional-managerial class (PMC). And it has, consequently, certain values: enlightenment – which means knowing what you can and can’t say at any given moment; education – which means reading the New York Times, and believing what you read therein; virtue – which means an abstemious, priggish life-style. Except for travelling. Travelling is OK.

Apart from voting for Democrats, and urging this upon us all, with frothing lips, as an imperative moral duty, libs really have no practical politics except for the gestural stuff – a close attention to pronouns and capital letters, saying “enslaved person” rather than “slave”, and the low comedy of “Latinx” and its even more ridiculous plural, “Latinxes”.

It’s really Pharisaical; a minute attention to the wiggly (and ever-changing) details of the comportmental Law. Hence the moody painting up top.

So libs hate it when the deplaaarables tell them they’re virtue-signalling, etc., because they are, and on some level they know they are. They need to believe, like the Pharisee in the story, that they’re “not as other men”, but their claim to this status rests on trifling ephemera and minutiae of diction and behaviour.

Recently a young friend of mine – I’ll obfuscate the details – was confronted with a substantive political choice. My friend is a great observer of pronouns and such, but I like him anyway. But a union, in a business he works in, was on strike, and was asking people to boycott the company – let’s call it Moloch Inc. My friend, who thinks of himself as union-friendly and surely is so, in principle, found himself in the awkward position of 1) complying with this request, with possible consequences for others besides himself, or at least a need to explain himself to these others, or 2) crossing a kind of moral, though not physical, picket line.

My friend, to his credit, grasped the moral quandary he was in. And he really meant, means, well. But there was a kind of grim fun in watching him tie himself in knots. Well, if the business doesn’t go to Moloch, it’ll go to places that don’t have unions at all! The union only represents a tiny number of Molochians! And they’re really doing pretty well! Much better than the places (Asmodeus and Mammon, Inc.) that don’t have unions!

This chap is very attentive to pronouns and so on, and he’s truly not a bad guy, but when something substantive was asked of him, he really didn’t know which way to turn. I applaud the positive side of his uncertainty, but I bet he had plenty of white-collar colleagues who spent two seconds thinking about it, crossed the line, and kept tinkering with pronouns.

2 thoughts on “Lord, I thank Thee that I am not as other men are

  1. Being of a certain age and yet not of another, I suspect the formation of my sense-interpretation of such cultural markers has maintained a level of insufficiency constant with the emergence of related terminology. I find myself behind the curve as regards who are the originators and who are the detractors, where the irony begins and when its unintentional. My initial acquaintanceship came with the application of “politically correct” (indeed ironic, as it was already being used in the substantive, as is often “woke” for, say, “wokeness”) and within a short amount of time I managed to contextualize it as niggling on two sides of a discussion with no chance of reconciliation. What’s become clear after a few generations is the spillover has stratified so as to make the entire topic impenetrable. Admittedly, again, it’s a shortcoming of my own that I struggle whenever the discussion drops to figure out who or what exactly is being referred to, which, I hasten to add, is not meant to reference Fadah’s entry here.

    It’s beside the point that people are perfectly capable of self-censorship in the name of potential sensibilities of the audience. This may come by way of my own projection, but I’d bet most regularly ratchet up careful consideration of their utterances in proportion to the number of people in the room, irrespective of the pitfalls of PC culture, the latter point of which is of course impossible to prove.

    My faulty sense withstanding says the lines drawn in the sand of public discourse came not, strictly speaking (hehe), from SJWs, whether self-styled or opprobriously-named, but by way of an increasing count of that public choosing not to arbitrate between petit absolutists and tiny reactionaries disagreeing to disagree until they owned the space. Like the non-voter.

    A recent visit to the old country to see family led to the following joke (adapted here not to self-censure, but because I only subsequently realized it’s better so):
    Individual A: Who’s that actor from the middle of the last century who always went, “Nyah, see, nyah…”
    (Apparently annoyed, Individual B stares back at A in silence.)
    A: Come on, B, you know who I mean. He was huge, even made it into parodies of the genre in cartoons, going, “Nyah, see, nyah…”
    B: I know what you’re trying to do and I’m not gonna give you the satisfaction.
    A: What? Seriously, I just can’t think of his name! Who was it? Nyah, see…
    B: Alright, alright! It was Enword G. Robinson.

  2. i never knew what a force for empowerment and justice and diversity Disney is until I saw Aryan homecoming queen Bree Larson in the DOD’s recruitment video “Captain Marvel”. I thought all the latest Star Wars movies sucked…until I learned “the Force is female” and that Putin and his army of Jedi influencers had mind-tricked me into not embracing the force for good that is their product. so, to empower a future generation of Amanda Gormans, i personally paid for 5 African girls to go see Captain Marvel!

    isn’t all this virtue signaling another means of competition within the capitalist system? my mercifully brief stint as a temp at Lockheed Martin just outside of D.C. in Arlington, VA got me exposed to all their “diversity initiatives”. Who’d a guessed that Lockheed had among the most “progressive” hiring programs for LGBTQXYZ+ and they are (or were) in fact leading the charge, staffing the barricades, for “diversity” in states like Virginia? no doubt it helps to have infinite billions in federal funds for the battle for workplace diversity as LM glitter bombs the enemy with its moral fabulousness.

    since I am trying to embrace all of me, my new favorite cause is “body positivity”. fat people need to stick together. why notice that i don’t even fit into the bathroom mirror anymore or that i only shop for clothes whose names begin with the word “sweat”? why trouble my beautiful mind with such thoughts?

    i can’t measure how greatly the lives of black folks have improved since we gazed in awe upon Wakanda. can you?

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