Category Archives: Around the World

“When The Ethics Alarms Don’t Sound” Files: Auschwitz

auschwitz-showers

From The Jerusalem Post:

Israeli tourists who arrived at the Auschwitz death camp in Poland on Sunday expressed shock and outrage over what appeared to be the placement of showers near the entrance to the site. Asked about the outcry, a spokesman for the Auschwitz memorial told The Jerusalem Post that “no showers were placed at the parking lot of the museum.” “Because of the heat wave in Poland, sprinklers which cool the air were placed near the entrance to the museum. They are located near the area where – in the open sun and without any possibility of hiding in the shade – a queue of people who collect the entry cards to the memorial site is formed. “Among visitors there are many people who come from countries where such high temperatures as we have this summer in Poland do not occur. We have noticed cases of fainting among people. Therefore we must do everything possible to minimize the risks connected with the heat and high temperatures and take care of the safety of health of our visitors. The sprinklers are installed on the days of highest temperatures and removed with the temperature drops.”

“As a Jew who has lost so many relatives in the Holocaust, they looked like the showers that the Jews were forced to take before entering the gas chambers,” Meir Bulka, 48, told the Post . According to Bulka, he was not the only one deeply disturbed by this unusual scene. “All the Israelis felt this was very distasteful,” he said. “Someone called it a ‘Holocaust gimmick.’” Bulka decided to do something proactive about the situation rather than let it go. He went to the main office and asked the management for an explanation to the strange scene.

“The management decided that it was a good way to cool people off on a very hot day,” Bulka said.

There is something very wrong when those in charge of the Auschwitz historical site decide to erect nozzles misting water downwards at visitors outside the notorious death camp and nobody in involved in the decision detects the obvious problem. Whether the problem is with the administrators, the post-WWII generations, non-Jews, or something else, like Europe and the world, I am not sure. I do know that ethics alarms should have been ringing loudly. Did they malfunction? Or are they not installed?

Clues to what is wrong are suggested by the comments made by Ann Althouse’s readers to this story. I’m still trying to figure them out. Her audience is, I presume, ideologically-mixed, tilting to the left, and on the young side, since she is a law professor and many students read her posts. Is the utter insensitivity bordering on hostility to Jewish sensitivity on the little, insignificant matter of the Holocaust displayed here  attributable to ignorance (an excuse the Polish curators of the museum cannot claim), callousness, distance from the events memorialized, antipathy to Israel or anti-Semitism?

Here are 17 out of the 20 comments so far: Continue reading

19 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Environment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, History

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Dunces: Not Only Anybody Who Actually Thinks Donald Trump Would Be Anything But An Existential Disaster As President, But Anyone Who Isn’t Disgusted By His Existence”

Circus

I was looking for an enthusiastic Trump defending comment to post as a comment of the day, and my former math partner from Mrs. Penwarden’s 6th grade class at Crosby School in Arlington, Massachusetts, Peter Canaday, was kind enough to supply a doozy all the way from New Zealand, to which, as a physician of note and significant success, he retired with his latest bride a while ago. Peter’s a smart guy; he also questions Obama’s birth certificate and is a fan of both Pauls, so he is also…complex.

His opening volley is a bit obscure: that college he’s referring to is Peter’s alma mater, Amherst, where I was wait-listed. Actually, it’s a funny story: the letter, which arrived after I had accepted early admission to another school, began. “This is a difficult letter for us to write, for we must inform you that you have been placed on the waiting list and you don’t deserve to be there…” I was shocked—it was bad enough that I wasn’t deemed worthy of admission, and here they were rubbing it in by saying that I didn’t even deserve to be on the waiting list?  Bolstered by the fact that I had an admission in hand, I wrote Amherst a tongue-in-cheek wounded letter of complaint, bemoaning their callousness, lack of professionalism and mockery. I got an immediate letter of apology swearing that they didn’t mean that I didn’t deserve the wait list, only that I deserved better. “It’s too late to retract the insult now,” I wrote back. “My heart was set on your college, but my faith in the institution has been shattered. Please remove my name from your list. I don’t care to attend a school this insensitive and cruel. I’m not sure I want to go to cllege at all any more. I think I will join the Merchant Marines.”

Amherst didn’t get me. It did admit my nephew Ross, however, and he graduated with honors.

I’ll have a rather lengthy response to my friend Peter at the end. Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Dunces: Not Only Anybody Who Actually Thinks Donald Trump Would Be Anything But An Existential Disaster As President, But Anyone Who Isn’t Disgusted By His Existence: Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Leadership

The Washington Post—Finally—Admits The Truth About President Obama

fingers-pointing

I will reprint The Washington Post’s lead editorial here nearly in full. I will have comments after, though I will make this one now: every character trait and leadership deficit the Post points to  was evident to objective observers—like me—from the beginning of Obama’s administration. That one of the most consistent and prominent Democratic Party and liberal policy boosters in the national news media finally mounts the integrity, honesty and integrity to admit it now is not all that satisfying.

Here is, with a few omissions so you will link to the site and read the whole thing (it’s only fair), is the damning and undeniable editorial:

Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) decided he would vote against President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, he explained his reasoning in a 1,700-word essay. On balance, he concluded, “the very real risk that Iran will not moderate and will, instead, use the agreement to pursue its nefarious goals is too great.” We disagree with that conclusion, but not with serene confidence; we share the senator’s concern that Iran will use the lifting of sanctions to intensify its toxic behavior in the region. We understand and respect Mr. Schumer’s decision; also, it’s generally better to treat policy disagreements in good faith.

That has not been the spirit in which Mr. Obama and his team have met his Iran-deal critics. The president has countered them with certitude and ad hominem attacks, the combined import of which is that there are no alternatives to his policy, that support for the deal is an obvious call and that nearly anyone who suggests otherwise is motivated by politics or ideology. Mr. Obama’s rhetoric reached its low point when he observed that the deal’s opponents value war over diplomacy and that Iranian extremists were “making common cause with the Republican caucus.”

Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Leadership, War and the Military

Hiroshima Ethics And The Washington Post’s Misleading “Five Myths” Feature

Atom bomb cloud

The Washington Post’s Sunday “Five Myths About…” feature is a weekly irritation, as it begins with a misleading definition, and proceeds to a series of dubious and sometimes dishonest conclusions. In spirit it is like the fact-checking columns,  (though, ironically, the Post’s less than most) in that it claims to “disprove” opinions. This week’s installment, however, was too much.

Gregg Herken was this week’s guest bloviator, and the Post gave the emeritus professor of U.S. diplomatic history at the University of California a chance to plug his books on the atomic bomb, so I don’t blame him for taking it. I do blame him for allowing the column’s format and the editors to turn what could have been informative and edifying into lazy scholarship, sophistry, and nit-picking. Now I don’t want to read his books.

His entry was called “Five myths about the atomic bomb.” As is typically the case, no myths were debunked. Myths, in the parlance the Post is evoking, are a “traditional stories of ostensibly historical events that serve to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon.” They are, by definition, false. Herken, however, neither identifies nor disproves any true myths. What he does is offer contrary opinions to those of others that are as provable as true as the opinions he claims to be debunking, which is to say, not provable at all. That means that the headline/title states an unprovable assertion as fact: “These statements are untrue.” Herken cannot ethically say that, but he does anyway.

Bad historian. Bad.

Herken starts off well:

“On Aug. 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Another bomb fell Aug. 9 on Nagasaki. Decades later, controversy and misinformation still surround the decision to use nuclear weapons during World War II. The 70th anniversary of the event presents an opportunity to set the record straight on five widely held myths about the bomb.”

His first myth is that “The (Hiroshima) bomb ended the war.” Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Professions, Research and Scholarship, War and the Military

Sabrina Corgatelli, Fick

Sabrina_Corgatelli

Sabrina Corgatelli, a university accountant from McCammon, Idaho, is engaging in such blatantly fickish conduct that I am tempted to change the term “fick” to “corgatelli.” I won’t, because the conduct by the felicitously named Leroy Fick (in proudly declaring to the media in 2011 that he would continue to accept public assistance from Michigan despite winning the state lottery) had no defenders at all, while Corgatelli has thousands of fans who are evidently just as warped as she is. Thus Corgatelli is a fick—an individual who not only engages in unethical conduct but who publicly brags about it—and Leroy Fick avoids the fate of being labelled a corgatelli.

I just wanted to get that bit of terminology housekeeping out of the way at the outset. I must say, however, that at least fick Fick’s motives for his fickism are traditional and comprehensible: selfishness and greed. Corgatelli pays large sums of money to travel large distances in order to kill endangered species. If forced with a crossbow to my head to play Sophie’s Choice with one fick or the other, I’ll keep Leroy.

Corgatelli has set out to taunt critics of Cecil the Lion Killer Walter Palmer by posting  serial images of herself on  social media, posing triumphantly with her big game victims, sporting captions like this one, attached to the photo above: Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Around the World, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Facebook

Ethics Dunce: Cecil The Lion Killer Walter Palmer…Or Any Big Game Hunter, Really

Walter James Palmer, a  Minnesota dentist,shot and killed the famous Cecil the lion with a bow and arrow. The death of the 13-year-old animal has caused an international uproar among conservationists because Cecil was well-known to visitors at the Zimbabwe nature reserve and enjoyed human contact. The lion was lured out of the national park and shot.

In a statement, Palmer said that the authorities had yet to contact him and added that he did not know the lion he had killed was a “local favorite.” “To my knowledge, everything about this trip was legal and properly handled and conducted,” he said. “I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite. I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt.”

Oh, so what? Why is it worse to kill a “local favorite” than to kill any wild animal just for—yechhh–the fun of it? Killing for sport is ethically indefensible, and killing these large, beautiful, and even endangered creatures is ugly, cruel and irresponsible.

After Cecil, the photos show Palmer with some of his other “trophies.” He must be so proud… Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Around the World, Environment

A Brief, Depressing Follow-Up On The Iran Deal

mushroom-cloud

I have been reading a lot about the Iran deal, hoping against hope that I just don’t understand it, and that it might be more responsible than it seems, because it seems to be astoundingly irresponsible.

Comes the Washington Post editorial board, reliably supportive of the President—any Democratic President, really–and a good bet to find the silver lining in any cloud. Surely, if this agreement isn’t the crowning, most dangerous incompetence on the mountain of incompetence that is the Obama Presidency, the Washington Post will move that mountain aside to show why.

Here are some direct quotes from this pro Obama, pro-Iran deal editorial by a liberal media standard bearer:

If the transformation of Iranian behavior the president hopes for does not occur, the deal on its nuclear program may ultimately prove to be a poor one — a temporary curb that, when it lapses, will enable a dangerous threshold nuclear state that poses a major threat to the United States and its allies.

In other words, the deal does not ensure this “transformation” will occur, the U.S. has no control overwhwether the “transformation” does occur, and the treaty doesn’t have anything in it that will compel such a transformation. Keep your fingers crossed.

 Its most immediate effect will be to provide Tehran with up to $150 billion in fresh assets from sanctions relief over the next year, funds that its leaders will probably use to revive the domestic economy but also to finance wars and terrorist groups in Iraq, Syria, the Gaza Strip, Yemen and elsewhere.

Gee, what a great deal.

Though Mr. Obama has promised to mitigate that outcome with new support for Israel and U.S. Arab allies, one effect of the deal may be an increase in the sectarian bloodshed wracking the region, as well as the conventional threat to Israel. When embargoes on arms and missile sales to Iran expire in five and eight years, that threat could further escalate, and Tehran could seek missiles capable of striking U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf or reaching the U.S. homeland.

That’s what the treaty allows, mind you.

These strictures, according to the administration’s experts, will keep Iran a year away from producing a weapon during that time — provided that it does not cheat by secretly conducting nuclear work elsewhere.Because Iran twice has been caught in such clandestine work, that is a critical concern — and the provisions for deterring and detecting violations are the areas in which Tehran fought for, and won, some troubling compromises. International inspectors seeking access to a suspected Iranian site could be delayed by a 24-day, multi-step process ultimately requiring five votes on an eight-member committee; at a minimum, the United States and four European representatives would have to concur. While a U.S. president could, in theory, unilaterally determine that Iran was cheating and force the reimposition of U.N. sanctions, it could take 65 days and might prove politically unworkable.

Wow! I see another Peace Prize!

 Mr. Obama settled for terms far short of those he originally aimed for.

This is what happens when you want a deal of any kind, and don’t have the guts to walk away.

Whether he is right in claiming that his successor in 10 or 15 years “will be in a far stronger position” with Iran will depend on whether his hopeful theory about its political future proves correct.

No, we can only judge the competence and reasonableness of an agreement at the time it is made. “We might get lucky” is no defense.

I’m convinced, and by The Washington Post: this was a craven, inept, dangerous agreement made by a foolish, desperate, deluded man and an tragically incompetent leader. The American people have an obligation to the entire world, and their children and grandchildren, to insist that Democrats join Republicans in killing it.

Later they can explain why they would again hand the nation over to a party that placed the fate of civilization in the unqualified hands of a President like this.

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, War and the Military