The Bloody Hands Of Virtue Signallers by Daphna Rowe
There is a reason why history repeats itself and it’s not because we don’t learn from our mistakes. It’s because the desire to be perceived as good, to be accepted, is far more important to us. In the age of social media this couldn’t be more evident. Facts no longer matter. All that matters is the dopamine hit of acceptance through likes and followers.
If you are not familiar with the term virtue signalling, it is defined as ‘the public expression of opinions or sentiments intended to demonstrate one’s good character or social conscience or the moral correctness of one’s position on a particular issue.’
Virtue signalling is rampant in the current Israel-Hamas war. Particularly on the left – a side I once stood with until I sadly realised, they are equally as full of shit as the right.
The left wants to be perceived as being anti-colonialism. They don’t care if Israel, in fact, is not a colonial state, that the term Palestine comes from the Romans when they exiled the Jews from Israel and Judea in 70 A.D. and renamed the land Syria Palaestina.
The left wants to be perceived as fighting apartheid. They don’t care if Israel, in fact, has no law segregating Jews from Arabs, that Arabs hold some of the highest positions in the government and military, that Arabs have full citizenship and enjoy equal rights like the right to vote, or that Arabs and Jews are friends and get married.
The left wants to be perceived as being against genocide. They don’t care if the Palestinian population has increased by 150% since 1948.
They care not one iota about the civilians on the ground – on either side – only how they are perceived by their peers. And they have blood on their hands.
When I was studying for my MSc in International Relations at the University of Bristol, my focus was on political psychology. I wanted to understand conflict resolution, the rise and fall of demagogues, and the psyche behind genocide and ethnic cleansing. What is it about human nature that allows for these atrocities to take place time and time again? My answer came through the book by Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report of the Banality of Evil.
As a Jew I found this book infuriating. As a student I found it liberating. Arendt argues that while observing the trial of Eichmann, one of the highest-ranking officials in the Nazi party, that the face of evil was not a monstrous, demonic sadistic one. But rather, a very boring one.
She wrote, ‘Evil comes from a failure to think. It defies thought for as soon as thought tries to engage itself with evil and examine the premises and principles from which it originates, it is frustrated because it finds nothing there. That is the banality of evil.’
She further argued that ‘Eichmann was not Iago and not Macbeth… Except for an extraordinary diligence in looking out for his personal advancement, he had no motives at all… He merely, to put the matter colloquially, never realized what he was doing… It was sheer thoughtlessness…’
In the current war, we do have sadistic monsters: Hamas. They have paraded dead corpses on the back of trucks through Gaza, burned families alive in their homes, gang raped women next to the dead bodies of their friends, kidnapped children and the elderly, and beheaded babies.
Yet it is their cheerleaders, the virtue signallers that we should fear most. They refuse to believe the atrocities happened because it counters their worldview that paints Israel as the big bad wolf. They demand evidence of these atrocities to appease their echo chamber. Who is more dangerous? The few wielding the knife and guns or the millions applauding them for it?
I am amazed how the left can in one breath make very lucid and powerful arguments about how gender is a binary construct, and yet still live utterly draconian binary lives in every other which way. You’re with us, or against us. If you do not believe A, B, C and D, you are the enemy. There must be strict obedience to these rules, or you will be shunned. This isn’t liberalism. This is authoritarianism.
This is not the open-minded left I once loved.
However, there are still many on the left who remain progressive, carrying the torch in the fight for equality, and look their demons in the mirror to become better citizens. They are the ones who make a point to ask questions, who welcome healthy debate and dialogue, who will sit in discomfort to grow, and who will be the first to throw up their hands and say, ‘I don’t know anything about Israel, Palestine or Hamas, but I want to learn.’
The ones who claim to know it all, but have never stepped foot in the region, whose only understanding of a 3,000-year history is through orchestrated sound bites and 30 second Tik Tok clips, who displace and project their frustrations and lot in life onto a scapegoat [enter the Jew], are giving carte blanche to terrorists.
These are the virtue signallers. Most are the person next door; too many are the privileged wracked with western and/or white guilt. And some are social media influencers and celebrities who have exceptionally more followers than there are Jews on the planet.
They set sanctimonious social media wildfires wreaking havoc on all that cross their path. They have no concern for the aftermath. They care only about their social standing. Make no mistake, being anti-Israel is fashionable – and Jews are exhausted trying to put out flames with cups of water.
Is your fight to help Palestinians? Good. So is mine. Then do the following please:
- Ask where all the billions of aid to Gazans has gone. Why has not one school or hospital been built?
- Ask why Egypt also has a blockade on Gaza.
- Ask why Hamas hides underneath hospitals, schools and homes using their people as human shields.
- Ask why the world has not spoken up when Palestinians were killed by the thousands in Syria or Lebanon.
- Ask how the massacre of innocent civilians will ‘free Palestine’.
And most importantly, start uplifting the voices of those calling for Israeli and Palestinian civilians to sit down together to share their stories, traumas, and aspirations. Stop promoting those spreading a divisive hateful narrative forcing you to choose one side over the other. This is not a war of Israel v. Palestine. This is not a war of Muslims v Jews.
This is a war of moderates standing up against extremism (in this case the terrorists, Hamas). This is also a war of perception, and we must call out Hamas’ virtual army – the virtue signallers.
By the way, don’t think I don’t see the right’s virtue signalling in all this too. The right is either so consumed by their hatred for Muslims that they’ll pretend to side with anyone perceived to be against them, or they are Christian fundamentalists who feel licensed to protect the Holy Land.
Nah, not interested in your help, thanks.
Israel will defeat Hamas. It will happen with or without the world’s support. I know Hamas will fall. But I fear something much more banal.
The insipid, vapid virtue signallers have no backbone, and no intellect, and yet collectively they are amongst the most dangerous people in the world right now.
Daphna Rowe received an MSc in International Relations from the University of Bristol in 2011 and is a member of The International Society of Political Psychology. Daphna was born in Hamburg, Germany, raised in New York City and currently resides in Margate, UK.