The Merchandising of Virtue
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
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One of the most garish and disgusting embodiments of hypocritical virtue-signalling was the self-serving faux-militant “war protesters” who avoided military service during the Vietnam era by conflating draft-dodging with a higher moral plain of conduct — foregoing an idyllic sojourn in the tropics in order to sacrifice themselves to the rigors of civilian fornication, nest-feathering and demagoguery.

A “stand on principle” ineluctably implies the choice of a harder path against self-interest when an easier path with benefits is available. The only “reward” for those choosing the harder path is a feeling of personal integrity and the avoidance of a life based on hypocrisy.

The student deferment available to men who stayed in academe until their 26th birthday excluded them from a 1-A draft classification, so post-graduate educational institutions were deluged with “humanities” majors who decried the immorality of our Southeast Asian military activities while gaining a head start in the race for tenure. Once tenured these humanists tried to retroactively justify their ignoble behavior by denying faculty appointments and advancement to men tainted by the immorality of their military service.

But as is often the case a telltale heart signaled that pacts with the prince of of darkness exact a stiff price derived, in this case, from Greatest-Generation parents who’d inculcated traditional values that conflicted with their children’s adolescent posturing. This conflict engendered psychological discomfort that drove many perpetual adolescents to buttress their shaky self-esteem with ever more radical ideologies that turned traditional values upside down so that the good values became the bad ones and the bad ones became the good.

Alas, all of higher education’s legitimacy is now stained by the legacy of craven shirkers who pedaled a fraudulent higher morality that took precedence over freedom of speech and inquiry. The only consolation for those of us who treasure such freedoms is that these moral gymnasts are dying off, but fumigating the rot they’ve inflicted on the groves of academe will take decades if not generations if not four score and seven years!