I’m old enough to remember the Iranian hostage crisis, during which it became popular to tie yellow ribbons around trees (and place them in other prominent locations) as a public expression of yearning. We wanted the hostages brought home; the ribbons expressed this symbolically. The ribbons themselves, however, did nothing. More importantly, the represented doing nothing other than wanting.
In this, ribbons were the forerunners of today’s slacktivism, the hashtag activism so common in popular culture today. Most people today “fighting” for any cause aren’t actually fighting for anything. They’re simply telling you that they want something, and their wanting is expressed with elaborate histrionics and appropriate symbolism. Placing a rainbow sticker on your car does nothing to fight for gay rights, but it tells other people that you’re onboard with the notion. Wearing a red ribbon for AIDS victims does less than nothing to fight HIV infections, but it lets people know that you’re the sort of noble person who’d prefer people not die from diseases.
Into this realm of meaningless activism have marched a new breed of slactivists. They come equipped with paint rollers and they make “murals.” The term is a misnomer, because a mural implies a panting of some artistic value. What this new species of activists creates are merely giant letters. They paint the slogan “Black Lives Matter” on public streets, with the approval and support of local governments and authorities, without regard for the fact that a public street is public property.
Setting aside for a moment how wildly inappropriate it is for a government — any government — to make a partisan political statement on public, shared property, consider how useless these “murals” really are. Proclaiming in giant caps-lock temper tantrums across ribbons of asphalt that Black Lives Matter is a statement of the obvious. Of course they do — and only a vanishingly small percentage of Americans believes they don’t. Yet painting these massive accusations on public property is presented as if it’s objective fact, as if no one could or should disagree with the implication that the majority of white people are guilty of callous disregard for black lives.
In fact, if you are insulted or annoyed by the constant accusation that you don’t believe Black Lives Matter, if you oppose the Marxists who run the organization itself (on whose website are listed countless demands, to include the destruction of the traditional family in America) you are presumed to be committing a hate crime. Opposition of Black Lives Matter simply isn’t allowed, which is how local governments have justified using public property to make divisive political declarations. They then have the gall to be shocked and surprised when their virtue signaling “murals” are “defaced” by people who disagree.
Several times now, Black Lives Matter lettering has been painted over or altered by individuals who are simply doing what their governments did without their consent. The logic that one side of a political issue may deface public property on behalf of the community, but dissenters may not, is not hypocrisy. It is a partisan double standard, plain and simple. The people in control are Democrats, and Democrats believe Americans are all vile racists with hate in their hearts. Only sufficient virtue signaling, coupled with special treatment for those with a specific skin color, can address this terrible state of affairs. Anyone who disagrees with either the premise or the “solution” is a racist and a bigot who is guilty of hate crimes.
This was the same logic applied to the fact that a rainbow-colored gay rights “mural” painted on a public street was “defaced” when a driver… drove on the street. The Vancouver police department is actually investigating this terrible crime, in which a man driving a Mustang had the unmitigated, hateful audacity to take a corner on a public street designated for the driving of vehicles. How anyone paints a crosswalk with anything and does not expect it eventually to bear tire tracks, I’m not certain. But it’s the same legal issue, really: The government painted something on a public street that not all citizens support. Yet all citizens’ taxes pay for the roads. Why is it okay for the government to take sides for some citizens and against others?
I am reminded, yet again, of New York’s execrable governor, Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo made public statements some years ago now in which he said, explicitly, that there was no place in New York for conservatives who disagreed with his opinions. Had a Republican essentially told Democrats in his state to get the hell out, he’d have been pilloried in the press. When a Democrat does it, it isn’t news. It’s met with barely a yawn if it’s noticed at all.
Democrats love symbolism. They’re constantly engaged in the equivalent of tying ribbons around trees — making public statements that accomplish nothing, but let those around them know that they have the “correct” opinions. What’s important about this ardent and vigorous virtue signaling is that it excludes anyone who happens not to agree. This then gives Democrats and progressives license to treat the dissenters poorly because, after all, you wouldn’t be disagreeing if you weren’t bad. Your incorrect opinions necessarily mean you are outside the mainstream of public discourse, and thus you must be shunned, hectored, and driven from the public sphere.
This is why a California couple who “vandalized” a Black Lives Matter “mural” over July 4th Weekend has been charged with a hate crime. Their local government vandalized a public street with a partisan political message. The couple dissented. They did precisely what the authorities did: they inflicted their opinion on the public, using property jointly shared by all citizens. Only one opinion is allowed, however. All others are “hate” and will be prosecuted accordingly.
This is the danger of virtue signaling. This is the liability of ribbons and symbolism. When those in power enforce one set of opinions and punish all dissent, we no longer live in a free society. That’s exactly what Democrats and progressives want. We are now getting just a taste of the dystopian, totalitarian world we’ll live in when Joe Biden is elected. Brace yourself for the injustice coming. What we’re seeing now is a single ribbon on a single branch of what will become a truly massive tree of woe.