The escutcheon of Harvard Law School derives from a design produced by a man whose father owned slave plantations three hundred years ago. Obviously, this is an intolerable situation that requires the complete eradication of such a symbol, and naturally a few Harvard students are on the case. At the Library of Law and Liberty, Dalrymple examines the psychology behind such so-called activism, which requires conveniently little action. Take this kid for instance.
He was not intent upon conveying information, much less an argument. He intended to communicate the militant purity of his heart and soul. The world is rotten, he was saying—but I am not. I am pure. If the rottenness continues, it won’t be because of me.
Awareness of his own virtue shone from the student’s face. He positively glowed with it, virtue for him consisting of the public expression of the correct sentiments. Virtue required no discipline, no sacrifice other than of a little time and energy, instantly rewarded by the exhibition of his own goodness.
The painlessness of virtue as the expression of correct sentiment is, of course, its chief attraction. Who would not wish to achieve goodness merely by means of a few gestures, verbal or otherwise? In that way, you can avoid genuine self-examination altogether. After all, of what importance is your conduct in the little circle around you compared with such enormous wrongs as structural racism?