By Dr. Harold A. Black

Virtue signaling is “the act or practice of conspicuously displaying one’s awareness of and attentiveness to political issues and matters of social and racial justice, especially instead of taking effective action.” An obvious example is the proliferation of Teslas in West Knoxville. Their owners most likely want to signal their commitment to saving the planet even though they know that their impact is negligible. However, Tesla ownership makes them feel virtuous. Despite the fact that EVs are not ready for prime time and whose components are made under conditions akin to slavery and are destructive to the environment, all of that is ignored. Solar farms and windmills harm the planet. If energy from fossil fuels were produced under similar conditions the hue and cry from the Greenie Weenies would be deafening. Windmills kill over 1 million birds annually and that number is growing. There is speculation that offshore wind turbines are killing whales. It’s like “we are killing the planet in order to save it.” But of course, this is just virtue signaling on a massive scale. No country ever emerged from poverty without cheap energy. That fact alone relegates climate change to a multi-trillion-dollar Western Ponzi scheme driven more by massive payoffs than by science. China and India are not condemning their citizens to perpetual poverty by adopting expensive energy. Africa has over 100 million people living in extreme poverty. Those in the West are trying to bribe African leaders to move toward “green” energy hoping that those leaders would be more willing to line their pockets than to advance the well-being of their people. Recently, Gabon was given $150 million to “protect’ its rainforest. Payments are flowing to the leaders of other countries. How much? The UN reports that the cost of going green will be $1.9 trillion for the next 40 years, or $76 trillion. Hey, virtue signaling is not free.

Virtue signaling abounds in the rash of trendy apologies to Native Americans for “stealing” their land. Land “acknowledgments” abound on the websites of woke institutions. For instance, “Colorado State University acknowledges, with respect, that the land we are on today is the traditional and ancestral homelands of the Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Ute Nations and peoples. We recognize the Indigenous peoples as original stewards of this land and all the relatives within it. As these words of acknowledgment are spoken and heard, the ties Nations have to their traditional homelands are renewed and reaffirmed.” Even the University of Tennessee has a land acknowledgment. “A committee was formed in November 2020 to review our history as it relates to the original stewards—Native Americans—of the land we now occupy and to recommend ways to pay homage and respect to them. Next steps include forming a Native and Indigenous Advisory Council.” Again, these are empty platitudes. Why not simply give the land back? This assumes that the Indians cited were the original “owners” of the “stolen” land – which they are likely not.

These acknowledgments show that virtue signaling is expressing platitudes without taking effective action. If the universities were serious then they, and all the rest, would give the Native Americans back the land or at least engage in serious discussions about reparations. Isn’t it curious that the reparations issue has focused almost exclusively on black Americans? I believe that the case for Native American reparations is much stronger than that for blacks. The taking of Indian land continues today. Joe Biden recently designated Camp Hale National Park in Colorado, taking the land from the Ute nation. “Seizing American Indian land for the U.S. government is an unlawful act of genocide,” a spokesperson from the tribe said on the day of Biden’s announcement. “This unlawful action by the president today is a desecration of our ancestors that remain buried on our homelands.” Where was the hue and cry from the virtue signalers on this latest theft of Indian land? Their silence speaks volumes.