There’s a narrative today among the left that if you’re not actively protesting or making grandiose statements and symbolic gestures that condemn racism, you’re in league with the racists. The attitude of “silence is violence” leaves no room for middle ground in the eyes of the left.
This type of all-or-nothing mentality makes it difficult for people who do support black lives but don’t want to grandstand. How do you show your support for your black brothers and sisters without virtue signaling? How do you take a stand without drawing attention to yourself and how wonderful you are – even inadvertently?
With the left and its seemingly increasing number of fellow travelers these days, it’s not enough to support black lives. You have to shout it from the rooftops or it doesn’t count.
Corporate America has chosen to fall in line with the left, with virtue signaling all over the place. Other organizations have done this as well. It’s all admirable, but it serves to draw as much attention to the business or institution as it does to the cause.
One school is taking a stand – by not taking a stand: Hillsdale College. You may know Hillsdale for its reputation for conservative thought, for its stellar journal Imprimis, or for Rush Limbaugh’s longtime endorsement of the school.
Alumni and students are pressuring Hillsdale to make some kind of statement.
Two letters pressuring the Hillsdale administration to release a statement in support of protesters circulated on Facebook and other social media platforms over the weekend and received hundreds of signatures from alumni, students, and other members of the Hillsdale community.
One letter, written by 2013 graduate Shelby Kittleson, called for the school to “Say that Black Lives Matter, and they will be protected by Hillsdale College and its graduates.”
Another letter, the author of which asked not to be named, said the school’s silence on recent events is “deafening.”
But Hillsdale’s leadership is doubling down, claiming that its longstanding policy against racism is sufficient. The administration published a letter in the school newspaper outlining why it has chosen to not make a statement like so many other institutions. The administration writes:
The College is pressed to speak. It is told that saying what it always has said is insufficient. Instead, it must decry racism and the mistreatment of Black Americans in particular. This, however, is precisely what the College has always said.
The letter goes even further:
It is told that failure to issue statements is an erasure, a complicity, an abandonment of principle. The silence of the College is deafening.
The College founding is a statement — as is each reiteration and reminder of its meaning and necessity.
At the close of the letter, Hillsdale’s administration masterfully points out both the virtue signaling and the grifting that the left traffics in these days, and they reveal the true remedy for the problems of racism: the forgiveness and life change that come through Jesus Christ:
There is a kind of virtue that is cheap. It consists of jumping on cost-free bandwagons of public feeling — perhaps even deeply justified public feeling — and winning approval by espousing the right opinion. No one who wishes the College to issue statements is assumed to be a party to such behavior. But the fact that very real racial problems are now being cynically exploited for profit, gain, and public favor by some organizations and people is impossible to overlook. It is a scandal and a shame that compounds our ills and impedes their correction. Hillsdale College, though far from perfect, will continue to do the work of education in the great principles that are, second only to divine grace, the solution to the grave ills that beset our times.
It’s a thing of beauty to watch Hillsdale refuse to follow along blindly with the same vapid declarations that the left wants all of us to engage in. Good for them.
In the meantime, how can you uphold black lives without virtue signaling and looking like everybody else out there? Affirm your black family, friends, and loved ones, and let them know how much they mean to you and that you’ll never let them feel alone. Encourage your church to partner with a church that has a different ethnic makeup for events and community outreach. Use your wallet to support local black-owned businesses.
Together, we can side with our black brothers and sisters in our community, and we don’t have to rely on virtue signaling and vapid platitudes. It’s so much more effective to make a statement with the way you live.