Belfast Telegraph

Ruth Dudley Edwards: Virtue signallers like Clinton and Weinstein have always treated 'little people' with contempt

Sex scandal involving the Democrat-backing movie mogul highlights hypocrisy of liberal elite

By Ruth Dudley Edwards

I was at a dinner in London last week where the conversation turned to Brexit, and because it seemed to assume everyone present was a Remainer, I said I was a Brexiteer. A woman I know slightly looked at me incredulously and asked: "And are you a supporter of Donald Trump?"

"I'm not, but I've no difficulty in understanding why so many people just couldn't stomach voting for Hillary Clinton," I said.

In response to bewildered questioning about why I was on the stupid side, I said a little of why I think the EU is an imperialist and anti-democratic mess incapable of reform and why Clinton showed herself unfit to be President because of her contempt for poor white people.

The sentences that helped lose her the election were spoken at an LGBT fundraising event: "You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. They're racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic - you name it."

Mrs Clinton was "virtue signalling" - a great phrase invented in 2015 by the commentator James Bartholomew to describe smug people who say things intended to show that they're kind, decent, virtuous and, of course, "progressive".

Oddly enough, they frequently demonstrate this by expressing loathing of groups or institutions they find, well, deplorable, like the Daily Mail or Ukip.

During the hysteria over the British Government's deal with the DUP, it was seen as a sign of one's inherent goodness to insult Arlene Foster and her party by calling them anything from "revolting" (actor Stephen Rea) to "dinosaurs" (Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas).

In a TV debate I had with an impeccably right-on Guardian journalist on Sky TV, she referred to the DUP as "backward" - a word she would never dream of applying to any group other than one that was white, Christian and socially conservative.

You wouldn't catch her being critical of Sinn Fein leaders, for in addition to parading their preposterous claim to victim status, they now march under a progressive banner that is causing some consternation at grassroots level, where putting food on the table seems more important than gay marriage.

It took me back to the 1990s when the strategy of the republican movement was deliberately to incite confrontation and violence over parades, yet members of the metropolitan elite thought it fine to refer to Orangemen as if they were sub-human.

The brilliant Harvey Weinstein, now publicly revealed to be an appalling sexual predator, was a skilled virtue signaller.

"Hollywood has the best moral compass, because it has compassion," he told an interviewer a few years ago.

The Canadian writer Mark Steyn had remarked at the time that "Hollywood bigshots have 'compassion' for people in general, for people far away in a big crowd scene on the distant horizon, for people in a we-are-the-world-we-are-the-children sense".

However, he added: "They treat people in particular, little people, individuals, like garbage."

So that's why people like Mr Weinstein, who like most of Hollywood was a committed Democrat who enthusiastically supported and donated to Clinton, thought it fine to continue the time-honoured tradition of subjecting young women to the casting couch.

For, as Mr Bartholomew explained, the beauty of virtue signalling is that it does not require actually doing anything virtuous, like helping your sick neighbour. Mrs Clinton has always talked the talk about female empowerment, while conspiring with her husband Bill to cover up his atrocious treatment of vulnerable women.

Nor did the liberal media have any problem in going easy on the Clintons while savaging Trump over what was called 'Pussygate', his gross 2005 comments on grabbing any woman he fancied.

Last week, joining the chorus of condemnation of Mr Weinstein, Mrs Clinton had the brass neck to say on the BBC that "we have someone admitting to be a sexual assaulter in the Oval Office". When the interviewer raised the issue of her husband's sexual misconduct as President, she said: "That had all been litigated" - whatever that meant.

Inevitably, she was anti-Brexit, which had been brought about by "false information" from the Leave campaign.

She brushed aside the interviewer's remark that "both sides" had been guilty of this.

Of course she did.

To virtue signallers, all that matters is the rhetoric.

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