Jamie Palmer: Flag-Shaming in Response to Terrorism

Last night, a variation on this behavior proliferated across social media in the wake of the latest Islamist terror atrocity on European soil. “Your hashtags and customized tricolor avatars are worthless virtue-signaling,” it went. Like prayer shaming, flag-and-hashtag-shaming comes freighted with righteous disgust and an imputation of bad faith. From the Right, the accusation is that swivel-chair-bound liberal slacktavists are offering empty compassion even as they drape suicidal denial in the usual platitudes about Islam and peace. From the Left, flag-avatars are held to be a sanctimonious denial of the West’s own responsibility for the mayhem it suffers, and evidence of callous indifference to worse atrocities committed elsewhere.

Scrolling through Facebook last night as news of the mass-murder in Nice unfolded, I saw numerous people also pour scorn on national gestures of respect and remembrance, such as the lighting of landmark buildings in the colours of a grieving nation.

From: Flag-Shaming in Response to Terrorism | Quillette

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10 thoughts on “Jamie Palmer: Flag-Shaming in Response to Terrorism

  1. Ahh yes Virtue signaling. A simple and often obvious idea that turns to meaningless blather when used for every use of symbolic expression. Like gee do you think signaling is meant to convey a signal when used by creatures that communicate through use of symbols. Add virtue signaling to socialism, communism, racism, political correctness, etc that are used so much that lose meaning.

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    • I disagree. The amount of empty virtue signalling still far outpaces the instances of people calling out empty virtue signaling. The ratio is falling, but it has a long way to go before the latter equals, much less surpasses the former.

      And the problem isn’t about signalling. Signalling is fine and often useful. The problem is empty virtue signalling masquerading as work.

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      • Oh yeah the virtue signaling critique is a thing for smarty pants intertoobz types. So how do you tell the difference between empty virtue signaling and whatever isn’t VS. My 1st wifes dad died a few days ago and i posted a condolence on facebook. Real condolences or empty virtue signaling? Both?

        I’m not saying virtue signaling isn’t a thing just that it also an easy critique to throw at other people with no distinguishing characteristics. People are social, we exchange symbols as communication for all sorts of reason, often for multiple reasons.

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      • I think that we’ve had this conversation before. I get the reluctance to call this signalling in the Spence/credible and costly conveyence of information usage of the term. So, call it virtue signalling. Call it Hansonian signalling. Call it something that doesn’t use the word “signal” at all. It’s still a thing. It even has a Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtue_signalling

        So how do you tell the difference between empty virtue signaling and whatever isn’t VS.

        The same way that you tell the difference between any two things that contain some similarities and some differences. Observation. Consideration. Judgment.

        I have a hard time believing that condolences for your father-in-law is the example that you would legitimately come up with to use as an example of something that could fall into either side of the line between empty virtue signalling and legitimate expression of feelings or emotion. Seems an awful lot like an attempt at a reduction to absurdity.

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