It’s been nearly two years since the passing of Rush Limbaugh.
It’s a big void he left after cancer claimed him following 32 years on the radio and a few years on television.
Many miss his wit, wisdom and, unlike anyone else, his uncanny ability to connect the dots and explain exactly what is going on — as with the phenomenon of virtue signaling
Demonstrating absurdity, as Rush was skillfully able to do, he appeared on his television show in 1993 decked out in a half-dozen multi-colored ribbons.
“I — because I’m wearing these ribbons — I care more than any of you about anything,” he declared in his sometimes over-the-top bloviating style of satire.
“And these ribbons say so,” he intoned. “I want you people sitting at home and you people in the audience — look down at your lapel right now…When you look down, what do you see?
“You don’t see anything because you’re not wearing any ribbons!
“It means you’re a bigot. It means you’re a racist. It means you’re a sexist. It means you’re a homophobe.
“It probably means you’re a white guy. It probably means you are a European and you and you alone are responsible for all the ills of America!
“But I’m not, because I’m wearing this ribbon! I care more than you,” Limbaugh said to audience laughter and applause.
Limbaugh’s point seemed to be made in a Seinfeld episode a few years later, in which Kramer signed in for a walk for AIDS but refused to wear a ribbon for it.
Registrar: “Here’s your AIDS ribbon.”
Kramer: “Ahh, no thank you.”
Registrar: “You don’t wanna wear an AIDS ribbon?”
Kramer: “No, no.”
Registrar: “But you HAVE to wear an AIDS ribbon!”
Kramer: “I have to?”
Kramer: “See, that’s why I don’t want to.”
Registrar: “But EVERYONE wears the ribbon! You MUST WEAR THE RIBBON!”
Kramer: “You know what you are? You’re a ribbon bully!” [walking away]
Registrar: “HEY YOU! COME BACK HERE! COME BACK AND PUT THIS ON!”
As Kramer walks with others, he’s repeatedly questioned about his lack of a ribbon.
Man: “You don’t wear the ribbon? Aren’t you against AIDS?”
Kramer: “Yeah, I’m against AIDS. I’m walking aren’t I? I don’t wear the ribbon.”
Eventually, Kramer is surrounded by young toughs prepared to force him to wear the ribbon, despite his plea: “This is America! I don’t have to wear anything I don’t want to wear!”
Did you ever listen to Rush Limbaugh’s show on the radio?
The scene ends as the group prepares to beat him.
There is a lot of wisdom in Limbaugh’s analysis of virtue signaling and a dark truth in the Seinfield episode.
We’ve seen that signaling vaccine status, posting a Black Lives Matter sign or flying the Ukrainian flag often takes on a life of its own, carrying more impact than careful analysis of the underlying issue.
Again, Limbaugh, “Liberals love and embrace symbolism over substance. No ribbon ever cured a disease or reduced the national debt or promoted gay tolerance or accomplished any of the other causes these ribbons professed.
“All they did was make those wearing them feel like they did their part – when what had they really done? They’d simply accessorized and showed their good intentions.”
And Kramer: “Yeah, I’m against AIDS. I’m walking aren’t I? I don’t wear the ribbon.”
Submit a Correction →
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.