On the False Flag of Compassion
I heard the following new political expression the other day: “false flag of compassion.” It is an extension of the traditional term “false flag,” which means “a covert operation designed to deceive; the deception creates the appearance of a particular party, group, or nation being responsible for some activity, disguising the actual source of responsibility.”
The new term incorporates the politicization of compassion, i.e., the appearance-only of genuine caring and empathy that is presented to similarly obscure the real motive or intent of some person, operation, or political agenda.
For example, it is a false flag of compassion to claim that all illegal aliens are victims of persecution in their own countries and few, if any at all, traffic in drugs, arms, human beings, or are an invading fifth column.
For another not-so-new example is the way abortion on demand, that now includes infanticide, is advertised as only compassion for women’s rights. It has even been renamed “pro-choice.” Thus, the focus is shifted to the mother’s right to decide whether or not to allow her baby to live, while there is no compassion extended to the baby to be aborted (and in some pretty brutal ways, particularly in the second and third trimesters, and now during and after birth as well*)…
A false flag of compassion is in reality a logical fallacy called “appeal to pity” and is designed to shift the focus away from real motives and realities which may be far different than anybody with genuine empathy would want.
The compassion part of the new term is very effective, though, in part because of another relatively new term, “virtue signaling,” whereby a person will present “public, empty gestures intended to convey socially approved attitude(s) without any associated risk or sacrifice”. He or she becomes, as it were, a “champagne socialist” (like an “armchair quarterback”).
Virtue signaling is a diversionary tactic that works on both the signaler and those who believe this feigned morality. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, those knowingly employing the appeal to pity take full advantage of both the signalers and the genuinely concerned in order to accomplish covert political goals.
This (false) compassion combo of virtue signaling and all-talk-but-little-action also works to shame the opposition (those who comprehend what is really going on) into silence.
But it’s a good con game because, well, who wants to be thought of as morally inferior? Insensitive? Non compassionate?
Who wants to be publicly or even privately shamed?
Plus, what with the thought- and speech-stopping, Political Correctness movement, these days, who wants to suffer the rage of the political con artists who often employ tactics of personal destruction to shut down the voice of opposition, tactics that are getting more dangerous as time goes on?
But a psychological operation can only go on for so long until the real operation becomes blatantly apparent–at least apparent to those who get their news from more than one (conglomerate or single) source and who do the research. And truth spreads fast.
But even as there is a powerful “real” for every counterfeit, there are also real flags of compassion where actions match words, problems get solved, and/or dangers are avoided.
In spiritual history, there is an excellent illustration of this in the biblical story of Abraham that not only shows one man’s genuine concern for the inhabitants of his city, though few inhabitants there were deemed righteous, but also God’s compassion, His patience in responding even though there was compelling cause for justice now. As 2 Peter 3:9 reads: “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (NASB).
The story, detailed in Genesis chapters 18 and 19, reads as follows.
On the Real Flag of Compassion…
From Chapter 18:
16 When the men** got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way.
17 Then the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?
18 Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.
19 For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”
20 Then the LORD said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous
21 that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”
22 The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the LORD.
23 Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?
24 What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it?
25 Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
26 The LORD said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”
27 Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes,
28 what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?” “If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.”
29 Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?” He said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.”
30 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?” He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”
31 Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?” He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.”
32 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?” He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”
33 When the LORD had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home.
Chapter 19 details the eventual destruction of the city, Abraham’s nephew Lot and his family the only ones saved.
..and Three Very Important Differences Between False and Real Flags of Compassion
The big differences between false and real flags of compassion are as follows.
- False compassion is manipulative and passive and, at worst, is used to get away with murder, figuratively and literally. Real compassion, on the other hand, is genuine as well as active and kind. Here are several biblical examples. Contemporary examples abound as well.
- False compassion can be ill-advised and go on for too long–or stop too short. It can be signaled, but it is not sincere. Real compassion recognizes “enough is enough.” There is a time, after having extended one’s peace but it is not received, to “shake the dust off one’s feet” and leave.
- False compassion stops when its ulterior motives and objectives are achieved, when the ruse is complete. Real compassion is patient, as illustrated in the ancient story of Abraham’s intercession for Sodom and its twin city and God’s response, and in the other biblical examples cited above. Real compassion is also illustrated today when, say, a mother now mourns the loss of that little one, a “choice” she made during a time of fear or ignorance or perhaps pressured by outside political or social forces. And she sees the hope, perhaps for the first time, in that real compassion offered by God for those who choose to yield to His love.
For every real there is a counterfeit; for every choice, a consequence.
For every damaged mind, heart, and/or body, there is hope for salvation, healing, and restoration by putting faith and trust in Jesus Christ, Who did not hold back in the most compassionate act of all.
On the cross.
That day and for all time.
For you and for me.
May I encourage you, today, to choose the real.
Hobbs, Julia (17 February 2017). “What Is Virtue Signalling? And Should We Feel Bad About Doing It?”. Vogue (UK edition). Retrieved 26 February 2019.
*In the law recently passed in New York City regarding “unsuccessful abortions,” meaning the baby survives the (attempted) abortion, it is now okay to withhold medical care after birth and let the baby die from neglect. Other states are lining up to follow suit.
Another at-birth method of killing a baby, deemed “partial birth abortion,” involves active extermination by “delivering a healthy baby alive then killing it by crushing its skull and suctioning out the brain as it emerges from the womb.”
**Bible scholars indicate both the angelic nature of the men referenced in the narrative, and that one of them is Yahweh, Himself. See here for a relevant commentary. The story picks up after the visitors have prophesied to Abraham and Sarah, both old, now, and she past child bearing age, that in a year they will have a child.