Video: Rush Limbaugh Obliterated Woke Virtue-Signaling In 1993

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In a classic Rush Limbaugh video clip from decades ago, the legendary American political commentator and nationally syndicated radio host obliterated woke virtue-signaling in just 45 seconds. Although the clip is from 1993, it’s less than a minute of footage that everyone today needs to see.

Rush Limbaugh
Rush Limbaugh (Photo Credit: Screenshot)

Rush Limbaugh, America’s Anchorman and Doctor of Democracy, was known as the pioneer of AM radio. Prior to his passing, Limbaugh revolutionized the media and political landscape with The Rush Limbaugh Show, which first aired in 1984 and was nationally syndicated on AM and FM radio stations from 1988 until his death in 2021. In other words, the man was legendary, and much of what he had to say still holds relevance today.

While “woke culture” and “virtue-signaling” might seem like newer phenomenons, Rush Limbaugh addressed woke virtue-signaling in a video clip from 1993, although he didn’t use those terms specifically. Even so, it was clear he was talking about woke virtue-signaling, which he effectively obliterated — and it only took him 45 seconds to do so. But, first, what exactly is “virtue-signaling”?

Virtue-signaling as defined by Merriam-Webster. (Photo Credit: Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “virtue-signaling” is defined as “the act or practice of conspicuously displaying one’s awareness of and attentiveness to political issues, matters of social and racial justice, etc., especially instead of taking effective action.” The term first surfaced on online message boards in 2004, according to an article in the Boston Globe. However, it didn’t seem to catch on until much later.

Even after The Spectator published an article titled “The awful rise of virtue signaling” in 2015, it wasn’t until the summer of 2017 that the term “virtue signaling” really started being used, according to Google Trends. Then, in June 2020, the phrase exploded in popularity, The Blaze reported and Google Trends shows:

In the summer of 2017, the term “virtue signaling” really started being used, but it wasn’t until June 2020 that the phrase exploded in popularity. (Photo Credit: Google Trends)

Even though the term hadn’t emerged yet, Rush Limbaugh obviously “categorically understood the concept” of “woke virtue-signaling” way back in 1993 as indicated by his classic clip. “He not only grasped the dangerous flaws of virtue-signaling, but he could effectively lampoon the concept before anyone had a name for it,” The Blaze reported.

Although there wasn’t Facebook with frames for your profile photo to show support for your “cause” or Twitter, where you could show support for the “current thing” in your bio, people still found a way to “flaunt their moral high ground on a myriad of different causes” in the 1990s, the outlet explained. This was done by wearing colored ribbons, and this was the practice Rush Limbaugh took to task during an episode of his syndicated television show “America’s Anchorman.”

Rush Limbaugh
Rush Limbaugh appeared on an episode of his show, wearing various “Awareness ribbons.” (Photo Credit: Screenshot)

Many are familiar with “Awareness Ribbons,” where each color represents a different cause. In the 1990s, red ribbons were worn to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS, and they were prominent during the 65th Academy Awards in 1993 when we were near the height of the AIDS epidemic. With Hollywood actors wanting to show just how much they cared, the New York Times described the audience as a “sea of red AIDS ribbons” while other outlets discussed the “controversy” of showing up to the awards ribbonless.

“When Billy Crystal emceed the Academy Awards on Monday night, we were surprised to see that he wasn’t wearing the red ribbon that symbolizes AIDS awareness,” the Los Angeles Times wrote. “The next morning we heard several radio shows abuzz with the to-wear or not to-wear (an AIDS ribbon) controversy,” the outlet continued, adding, “Radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, for one, called Crystal ‘the bravest man in Hollywood’ for not feeling like he had to follow the herd.”

With six different colored ribbons pinned to the lapel of his suit, Rush Limbaugh set out to expose how feckless and shallow this practice — that we’d label as woke virtue-signaling today — really is, and it sounds like something we’d hear today. So, it’s no wonder the clip not only resurfaced on social media but also went viral with hundreds of thousands of views in less than two days.

“Because I’m wearing these ribbons, I care more than any of you about anything. And these ribbons say so,” Rush sarcastically boasted to his audience before instructing everyone to look at their own lapels. “When you look down, what do you see?” the iconic radio host asked sarcastically.

“You don’t see anything, because you’re not wearing any ribbons,” Rush declared, answering his own question before explaining that the lack of ribbons must mean his audience was not as virtuous as him. “It means you’re a bigot, it means you’re a racist, it means you’re a sexist, it means you’re a homophobe,” Limbaugh rattled off. “It probably means you’re a white guy, it probably means you’re a European, and you and you alone are responsible for all the ills of America,” he continued.

“But I’m not, because I’m wearing these ribbons. I care more than you,” he triumphantly proclaimed as the audience erupted into laughter over the absurdity of his assertion.

While Rush Limbaugh’s take on the situation was amusing, Real Clear Energy explained, “There are a number of reasons why virtue signaling is dangerous, not least because it encourages a climate of reduced empathy and understanding of others, the motives behind acts become warped, and it creates a world in which the bare minimum becomes the accepted standard.” Simply put, woke virtue-signaling places more importance on the appearance of moral correctness than the correctness itself.