The Hollowness of Virtue Signaling

There’s an interesting line in Tim Alberta’s Politico story linked in our “Picks” section today about the attitudes of black voters: “Biden choosing a woman of color might actually irritate, not appease, Black voters.”

I’ve been wondering if this kind of sentiment might be much deeper and more widespread than this comment indicates. Talk is cheap. Action is another matter.

It is not news that virtually every institution of higher education has turned up their rhetorical anti-racist bona fides to 11 in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death. The University of California is no exception. But the labor union that represents many UC employees issued this notice yesterday:

Oakland, CA —  University of California employees will mount pickets in front of UC Hospitals across the state Wednesday in response to recent notifications that at least two hundred of the institution’s lowest paid workers—almost entirely workers of color— will be laid off for at least 10 weeks into the fall.

In recent weeks, University Administrators have notified workers that despite strong hospital revenues, receipt of hundreds of millions of dollars in Federal Coronavirus Relief funds, and more than $10 billion in unrestricted cash reserves, it would begin laying off employees.  The first notices went out to approximately 200 primarily food service workers at UC San Diego and UC Riverside over the past week.  The workers make annual salary of $41,000/per year, and the layoffs are expected to save the $40 billion UC system a total of $1.5 million—or four thousandths of one percent. . .

UC’s latest round of layoffs against AFSCME 3299 represented workers follows similar action by the UC Hastings College of the Law in late May.  Despite $83 million in cash reserves and a $6 million surge in private donations over the past year, Hastings Administrators announced a first round of layoffs impacting 8 AFSCME 3299 represented employees– who had each worked at the school an average of 12 years and were all people of color—in late May.

Gee, you’d think that the University of California could think of some way to put their money where their big mouth is to save the paychecks of people of color, maybe by furloughing or laying off a multiple-six figure white administrator or something, or cutting professor salaries by 5 percent.

Then there’s the enthusiasm for issuing a Land Declaration about the injustice of owning land that once belonged to native Americans. The one I’ve seen runs as follows:

LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: We recognize that Berkeley sits on the territory of Huichin, the ancestral and unceded land of the Chochenyo Ohlone, the successors of the historic and sovereign Verona Band of Alameda County. This land was and continues to be of great importance to the Ohlone people. We recognize that every member of the Berkeley community has benefitted from, and continues to benefit from, the use and occupation of this land since the institution’s founding in 1868. Consistent with our values of community and diversity, we have a responsibility to acknowledge and make visible the university’s relationship to Native peoples. By offering this Land Acknowledgement, we affirm Indigenous sovereignty and will work to hold the University of California, Berkeley more accountable to the needs of American Indian and Indigenous peoples.

Here’s one idea for making “Berkeley more accountable” for occupying “unceded land” of native Americans: Give it back. Or at the very least pay fair compensation. Funny how no one ever suggests either of these steps. All native Americans are offered is an “acknowledgement.” That and 25 cents won’t even get you a thimble of coffee.

The insincerity of leftist statements on these matters is obvious to everyone except the people making them.

By the way, did you know that Bishop George Berkeley, for whom both the City of Berkeley and the University were named, owned slaves? (You could see that coming a mile off, couldn’t you?) Berkeley not only owned slaves, but donated them and his plantation to . . . wait for it . . . Yale University!

I guess Berkeley will need to change its name too. #CancelYale  #CancelBerkeley

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