Category Archives: History

Comment of the Day (1): “Ethics Observations On Beyonce’s Super Bowl 50 Halftime Performance”

Civil-Rts-March-womwn

Late last night produced not one but two clear-cut Comments of the Day. This is the first; another will be along any minute now.

Responding to the post about Beyonce’s use of the Super Bowl halftime show to glamorize black liberation politics, Isaac argued that while the violent and loud radicals and revolutionaries get all the headlines, it is the quiet, law abiding, dedicated “squares”—haven’t heard that word for a long time!—that get the job done. This is essentially the opposite of Clarence Darrow’s conviction that it is the law-breaking revolutionaries who cut through the Gordian Knot of the unacceptable status quo. The man he extolled in a speech making that case was murderer and terrorist John Brown—who would have loved the Black Panthers. [I was just now trying to give you a link to Darrow’s amazing speech about Brown, and can’t find one. Shame on you, Internet! It’s in my book, though…you can get a used one for less than 3 bucks…]

Here is Isaac’s Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Observations On Beyonce’s Super Bowl 50 Halftime Performance:

The bogus assumption often made is that the hippy/counterculture movement somehow brought about civil rights, since those two things happened at roughly the same time. This is wrong and those people should feel bad. It was decades of hard work by a whole lot of “squares” and a lot of stoically religious people, and the type of nonviolent and extremely effective form of resistance and racial healing preached by Dr. King that got the job done, at great personal cost. The stoner crowd and the violent, revolutionary factions like the Black Panthers were almost entirely counterproductive, but a lot sexier. So they are the ones romanticized today. Beyonce isn’t going to do a nostalgic dance number with Black women dressed as Baptists in flowery hats.

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Filed under Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, History, Leadership, Race

Unethical Quote Of The Week (Or “Just Because He’s A Civil Rights Icon Doesn’t Mean He Won’t Lie His Head Off”): Rep. John Lewis (D-GA)

"When John Didn't Meet Bernie"

“When John Didn’t Meet Bernie”

“I never saw him. I never met him. I was involved in the Freedom Rides, the March on Washington, the march from Selma to Montgomery and directed the Voter Education Project for six years. But I met Hillary Clinton. I met President Clinton.”

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga), 76, civil rights icon, Martin Luther King ally, and Hillary Clinton supporter, challenging Bernie Sanders’ civil rights bona fides during the press conference by the Congressional Black Caucus  endorsing Clinton.

Really? He saw Hillary and Bill at those events? Now, Lewis could have seen Sanders, since Bernie was an organizer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee at the University of Chicago when Martin Luther King  and Lewis spoke there in 1963.  Hillary’s mother had young Hillary with her when she met  King  in Chicago in 1962. Hillary was 15. Maybe Lewis remembers meeting her then, but that was hardly substantive evidence of civil rights commitment. As for Bill,  we have this testimony from Lewis in Janis F. Kearney’s  Conversations: William Jefferson Clinton : from Hope to Harlem:

The first time I heard of Bill Clinton was in the early ’70s. I was living in Georgia, working for the Southern Poverty Law organization, when someone told me about this young, emerging leader in Arkansas who served as attorney general, then later became governor….I think I paid more attention to him at the 1988 Democratic Convention, when he was asked to introduce the presidential candidate and took up far more time than was allotted to him. After he became involved with the Democratic Leadership Council, I would run into him from time to time. But it was one of his aides, Rodney Slater, who actually introduced us in 1991 and asked me if I would support his presidency.

Hillary isn’t mentioned at all. I haven’t seen any evidence that she was at Selma or the March on Washington: was she? Would Lewis remember that he “saw” the then Republican teen and “Goldwater Girl” if he “saw” her?

He’s denigrating Sanders’ record and lying to do it.

We should expect better conduct from “icons.”

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Filed under Character, Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, History, Literature, Race

Ethics Quiz: Japan’s Official Apology To The Korean “Comfort Women”

comfort-women

Before and during World War II, the Imperial Japanese Army forced an estimated 400,000 women and girls from occupied territories, primarily Korea, China, and the Philippines, into sexual slavery for the convenience and “comfort” of Japanese soldiers. That the women were kidnapped, raped, and in many cases murdered is not in dispute, but for cultural and political reasons the Japanese government has never accepted full responsibility for the nation’s mass crime, or acknowledged its true nature. To the contrary, Japan has protested memorials to the Comfort women in various locales, including the United States. Japan officially maintains that the women were ordinary prostitutes, and that no crimes were committed toward them. This is a long, bitter controversy between South Korea and Japan particularly.

Pressure from the United States on both Japan and South Korea to resolve the issue had been building, and on December 29, 2015, the two nations reached an agreement by which the Comfort Women issue was considered “finally and irreversibly” resolved. Under the agreement, the Japanese government issued this negotiated statement:

The issue of comfort women, with an involvement of the Japanese military authorities at that time, was a grave affront to the honor and dignity of large numbers of women, and the Government of Japan is painfully aware of responsibilities from this perspective. 

As Prime Minister of Japan, Prime Minister Abe expresses anew his most sincere apologies and remorse to all the women who underwent immeasurable and painful experiences and suffered incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women.

As part of the resolution, the Japanese government pledged to contribute one billion yen (about $8.3 million), out of the Japanese government’s budget to a foundation established by the Korean government dedicated to assisting the surviving Korean Comfort Women. Forty six survive. They had no part in the agreement discussions.

The deal is unpopular in South Korea. Critics immediately complained that the agreement is inadequate. Of course it is. $8.3 million would be moderate damages in the U.S. for a single woman who was kidnapped and forced into sexual slavery. Japan is not going to accept full responsibility for the war crimes, and that should be obvious after so many decades and such stubborn denial.

The ethics question that is a bit more challenging is whether the apology is worth the paper it is printed on, or even a true apology. After the agreement, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe  stated: “there will be no future reference at all to this issue [the Comfort Women issue]. We will not raise it in the next Japan-Korea summit meeting. This is the end. There will be no more apology.” Many Koreans feel that an official apology followed immediately by a statement that says, in essence, “There, that should shut them up!” is cynical and worthless. As a Korean issues website put it, “If an apology is not followed by contrition and self-reflection, but instead by gloating—-does that apology mean anything?”

Good question! Let me rephrase that as the Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:

Is the official Japanese apology for the crimes against the Korean Comfort Women ethical?

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Filed under Around the World, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, History, Law & Law Enforcement

Unethical High School Assembly Video Of…What? The Month? The Year? Eternity?

This video, purportedly a defense of affirmative action, was mandatory viewing for students at Glen Allen High School in Henrico, Virginia:

This isn’t education. This is anti-American, race-baiting indoctrination, political in intent and orientation, and absolutely irresponsible for use in a high school. This school, of course, has students of both races, so the video also encourages racial distrust, divisions, and hate.

Naturally, many parents object, though I doubt any are objecting more than I would.

The school was unapologetic:

“The students participated in a presentation that involved American history and racial discourse. A segment of the video was one component of a thoughtful discussion in which all viewpoints were encouraged. As always, we are welcoming of feedback from students and their families, and we address concerns directly as they come forward.”

A classic of  double-speak spin from incompetent, power-abusing educators. You don’t teach children about complex issues by reducing them to simple-minded cartoon agitprop, but then, education, however, is not the objective. The clear motives are racial spoils, white guilt, black entitlement, and partisan advantage.

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Filed under Childhood and children, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, History, Race, U.S. Society

Ethics Alarms’ All-Time Greatest Hits

AllTimeGreatestHits

I am listing these because one of the past posts that keep drawing readers is going nuts today: the 2013 essay about the horrible Wanetta Gibson, who sent Brian Banks, a young man with a bright future to prison by falsely accusing him of rape when she was 15. If anyone has any idea why this would be, let me know; as far as I can find out, there are no new developments in the case.

It is gratifying that so many Ethics Alarms posts continue to find new readers. Here are the top ten that have “legs,” and my assessment of why.

1. The Rationalizations List. That’s no surprise, since I link to it so frequently, and it is also frequently updated.

2. Wanetta Gibson Is Even Worse Than We Thought

3.The Amazing Mouthwash Deception: Helping Alcoholics Relapse For Profit. I am proud of this one. The use of mouthwash by alcoholics is epidemic, yet now, as in 2010 when I wrote this, almost nobody who isn’t a drunk is likely to know it. This makes it easy for closeted alcoholics to hide their illness, and continue to harm themselves by gulping 54 proof liquor out of various convenient containers or their caps, which are coincidentally shaped like shot glasses. Incredibly, the Ethics Alarms post is still one of the few references on this problem on the web. As you will read, I think the makers of mouthwash intentionally keep it this way, because the alcoholic market is huge.

I regularly receive thanks from family members of alcoholics, who tell me that reading this post led to their discovering that a loved oned had relapsed. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Education, Family, Gender and Sex, Health and Medicine, History, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Workplace

February 3, 1959.

Buddy-Holly-Plane

Buddy Holly, a rising pop music genius not yet 23 years old, died in a plane crash today, 57 years ago.

We can do all we can, and do everything right, but so much in our culture and lives is determined by pure luck, good, bad, and as in this case, terrible.

I think about this every February third.

Here’s Buddy, with one of my favorites:

And here is Don McLean:

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, History, Popular Culture

A Law Student Creates A Dishonest List Called “100 Times A White Actor Played Someone Who Wasn’t White” And Begins Another List Called “Times The Washington Post Published A Race-Baiting Piece Of Lazy Research And Sloppy Reasoning By Someone Who Looks Like She Will Be A Terrible Lawyer”

I didn’t set out to make the news media’s tolerating unethical race arguments the theme today, I really didn’t. While I was researching ESPN’s decision not to hire whites on its new website, to which the Wall Street Journal shrugged and said, by not saying, “Wait….WHAT?” in effect, “Sure, go ahead, discriminate!”, I came upon this piece of journalistic offal called “100 Times A White Actor Played Someone Who Wasn’t White” on the Washington Post website. It was authored by Meredith Simons, a law student and freelance writer. Well, Meredith, free-lance writers get away with these miserably researched and unfairly gathered articles a lot, but if you try to sneak this kind of crap past a judge or a senior partner, you’re going to have a rude awakening.

The fact that her article is incompetent and unfair in myriad ways doesn’t mean that Hollywood has been an equal opportunity employer throughout decades past. It hasn’t, but it has reflected the society and tastes in which it operates, and often has been a leader in race attitudes, as in the film “Imitation of Life.” There is work to be done, but careless articles like Simons’ just causes ignorance and confusion.

The immediate impetus for her hit piece on Hollywood casting was apparently the controversy over the casting of white actor Joseph Fiennes as Michael Jackson in a planned biopic. Simons calls him “African American icon Michael Jackson,” which is the lawyer’s trick of framing an issue to rig the debate—good one, Meredith—but skin-bleaching, child-molesting, whitebread pop star Jackson is hardly an “African American” icon: he’s a national pop icon who went out of his way to reject race and racial labels. That is what the song “Black and White” was about, right? Sure, the casting was a gimmick, but it’s a clever and legitimate gimmick that I would guess Jackson would have approved of enthusiastically. When they make “The Rachel Dolezal Story,” will Simons complain if a black actress gets the part?

So based on a phony race controversy—two, in fact, with the Oscar nomination spat included—Simons comes up with an even more phony list. “Despite decades of protests over racially inappropriate casting and the recent protests over the lack of diversity among Oscar nominees, filmmakers continue to cast white actors as minority characters on a depressingly regular basis,” she writes.

(A tip  for Social Justice Warriors: don’t write about the performing arts and casting if you don’t know a damn thing about either. The purpose of the performing arts is 1) to make a good product and 2) to make money. Anything that in any way interferes with either is irrelevant. There is no such thing as “racially inappropriate casting” if it furthers either of these objectives, or ideally both. It is not Hollywood’s job to eradicate racial inequality in the U.S. If it helps, that’s responsible and ethical of the movie-makers. This is, however, neither its art nor its business.)

Simons’ list is the epitome of the Texas Sharpshooter fallacy done badly. The fallacy consists of cherry-picking facts that support a predetermined argument and “drawing a circle around them” as if they are the sole relevant facts, while intentionally or mistakenly omitting equally relevant facts that would tend to disprove it. Bad lawyer that she is, she draws a metaphorical circle around “facts” that don’t even support her argument. I’m not going to go through the entire hundred  (say “thank-you, Jack!”) but I’ll point out some of her most egregious botches.

To begin with, either she didn’t see the movies on the list, or intentionally misrepresents them. My favorite, and typical of her terrible research: Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, History, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture, Professions, Race, Research and Scholarship