Virtual Virtue

Virtual Virtue, by Victor Davis Hanson.

It is not healthy for a society to live two lives that are antithetical, as America has been doing in recent decades.

Disillusionment with government and popular culture arises at anger over two entirely different realities. One truth is politically correct and voiced on the news and by the government. It is often abstract and theoretical. And the other truth is empirical, hushed and accepted informally by ordinary people from what they see and hear on the ground.

Public orthodoxy signals virtue, private heterodoxy ensures ostracism. So Americans increasingly make the necessary adjustments, modeling their lives in some part as those once did in totalitarian societies of the 20th century. The reality they live is the stuff of the shadows; the falsity they are told and repeat is public and amplified.

Cynicism and eventual anger at the schizophrenia are always the harvests of such bipolarity. …

One of many examples of PC versus reality in the article:

The same virtual virtue disconnect involves aspects of 21st-century feminism. According to the previous Obama administration’s directives and the new codes of most universities, there is understood to be an epidemic of rape and violence against women on campus. One of four women allegedly will be sexually assaulted (through the use of force or during incapacitation) during their undergraduate tenure.

If that number were accurate, statistically it would reveal the Stanford dorms to be far more dangerous places than the unlit avenues of nearby violent East Palo Alto (with its annual rape incidence of .67 per 1,000 residents). … Unaccountably, arriving co-eds are not moving to apartments in East Palo Alto to find sanctuary from the predation of elite males at Stanford. …

What is going on:

A wealthy and privileged establishment class often finds gratification in blaming problems on distant and unseen illiberal whites’ “privilege,” which the latter do not have. …

Electoral politics is also the culprit for our two worlds of official and unofficial truths. The age of Obama convinced progressives that identity politics could fuel 51 percent national election victories — but only if voters were convinced that their appearances trumped the content of their characters. Few pushed back at the increasing polarization because they calculated that such turmoil and angst would, as it supposedly had in 2008 and 2012, continue to offer political dividends. Political correctness spread because it seemed to bring electoral dividends and demonstrate that the future “new demographics” were destiny.

Noble lying helps to explain virtual virtue: repeating something publicly that is not true but is considered something that should be true, is seen as helping to make it eventually true. …

In sum, the more prominent persons voice virtual virtue at no cost, the quieter ones know better and make the necessary adjustments that fit what they see and hear and conclude. The result of our two worlds is that the virtual virtue signalers grow ever louder only to reach deaf ears; while the quieter become even more cynical and detached in having to live what increasingly seems a charade.