Flat White

Do you want woke with that?

13 July 2020

11:01 AM

13 July 2020

11:01 AM

Such is the dominance of political correctness and cultural-left ideology that society is now awash with virtue signalling and kowtowing (warning: cultural appropriation) to myriad causes defined as worthy of support.  The BLM is simply the most recent example where around the world thousands are taking the knee, demonstrating and pulling down statues in order to erase history. 

Banks, financial institutions and increasing numbers of businesses and corporations are not immune.  Even my local Melbourne based bank, originally called EdCredit but now known as Bank Australia, is not immune.    

When I first joined EdCredit over 35 years ago as a Victorian secondary school teacher the core business of financial institutions was to provide loans at competitive rates and to allow members to invest and earn interest on their savings. 

Fast forward to 2020 and such is no longer the case.  Under the heading ‘Responsible Banking’ the claim is made “We are a profitable bank, but that’s not why we exist. Bank Australia exists to create mutual prosperity in the form of positive economic, social, environmental and cultural impact. We’re here to benefit our customers, their communities and the planet. 

In this brave new world, banks are no longer focused on finance and profit-making; instead they are society’s moral guardians intent on dealing with social, environmental and cultural issues. 

Whereas civil society once relied on family and local communities, the church, governments, philanthropic, charities and a range of other intermediary organisations to support citizens Bank Australia pontificates “We believe that a truly responsible bank can make society better”. 

Not unexpectedly, after the bank boasts “our money is clean because it is never loaned to industries that do harm” the usual offenders are listed as no go areas, including fossil fuels, live animal export, gambling, arms industry and tobacco”. 

Additional evidence of its moral virtue and politically correct credentials Bank Australia each year gives away members’ profits to what it defines as “projects that do good for people and the planet”.   

Eligible categories include climate change, environmental conservation, refugees and people seeking asylum, promoting diversity and inclusion of people and communities (including people who are LGBTQI+, live with disability, or are experiencing financial or educational exclusion), family and gendered violence, homelessness, reconciliation and animal welfare. 

Given the harassment and vitriol experienced by old, white, men one wonders why they are not eligible.  The same could be said for those who are cis-gendered, heteronormative and married to someone of the opposite sex as they are continually condemned for transphobia, homophobia and endorsing a binary definition of gender and sexuality. 

There’s no doubt that supporters of Western civilisation are also an oppressed minority deserving financial support as are those guilty of advocating the significance and benefits of Judeo-Christianity to Australian society and way of life. 

Global resource companies like BHP and Rio Tinto are also committed to virtue signalling and embracing politically correct ideology.  One example involves the former head of BHP Andrew Mackenzie arguing that fossil fuels represent an “existential risk” to the planet while his company continues to make millions in profit each year involving coal and petroleum. 

Notwithstanding the banking royal commission’s findings proving the dishonesty and maleficence of the banking and financial sectors banks like the NAB also publicise the virtues of being politically correct. 

The NAB invests $billions into clean energy and environmental projects and is committed to gender equity targets including having females as 40 to 60 per cent of its workforce by 2020.  As a sponsor of the LGBTI+ Midsumma Festival the NAB extols its workplace environment as one that “fully accepts, values and embraces individuality” on the basis “it’s never been a better time to be yourself”. 

The Urban Dictionary describes virtue signalling as taking “a conspicuous but essentially useless action ostensibly to support a good cause but actually to show off how much more moral you are than everyone else”.  And there’s no doubt the definition aptly describes the current situation. 

BLM demonstrators and activists taking the knee, marching, chanting and destroying statues might appear virtuous but it does nothing to improve the living conditions and life chances of those most disadvantaged. 

As argued by the Australian Catholic University’s Anthony Dillon if such activists were truly committed to helping and supporting Aboriginal communities they would concentrate on areas such as health, education, domestic violence and alcohol and drug abuse. 

Mining and resource businesses cloaking their core function by embracing green energy and the rhetoric of climate change cannot alter the fact they mine minerals, coal and petroleum (known as greenwashing). 

The same with banks and financial institutions that seek to prove how ethical they are by supporting gender and LGBTI+ rights while being involved in immoral and improper practices calculated to increase profits to the detriment of customers. 

Dr Kevin Donnelly is a Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Catholic University and author of A Politically Correct Dictionary and Guide (available at kevindonnelly.com.au) 

Illustration: Bank Australia.

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