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.