Category Archives: Race

Ten Questions For Supporters Of “The Movement For Black Lives” And Anyone Else With The Guts To Consider Them

Movement For Black Lives

At a “Movement for Black Lives” rally at Cleveland State University, a public institution, an announcement was made to the crowd that “this is a peoples of African descent space. If you are not of African descent please go to the outside of the circle immediately.” White reporter Brandon Blackwell retreated  to the back of the crowd while being jeered by participants, as he was told by members of the crowd to stop filming, accused of being a white supremacist,  and hands were held up in front of his camera. At one point as Blackwell demanded that those blocking his view not touch his camera, a participant in the rally confronted him by saying, “I got 800 black people behind me, what the fuck you going to do?” [The video is available here .]

I have ten questions for African American activists, progressives, Democrats, BlackLivesMatter supporters, Democratic presidential candidates, liberal pundits, Cleveland State University officials and anybody else who dares to consider them: Continue reading

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Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Race, Rights, U.S. Society

Of Course Sandra Bland Shared Responsibility For What Happened To Her, And Other Observations On The Bland Tragedy

Let us stipulate that trooper Brian Encina behaved unprofessionally and atrociously by any standard in his handling of the vehicle stop of Sandra Bland in Prairie View, Texas, on July 10, setting into motion a series of events that led to Bland’s death by apparent suicide in a jail cell three days later. The police work shown by the dashcam video is unforgivable, and could be used in officer trainings on how not to handle a traffic stop.

That does not make him responsible for Bland’s death, however. He was not responsible for an incompetent bail system that had this woman in jail for three days, apparently because it was a weekend, and if she did take her own life (agreed: since her family has no reason to trust authorities at this point, nothing is likely to convince them of that no matter what the evidence, and also agreed, the suicide verdict looks mighty shaky at this point), that is, by law and logic, an intervening cause that exonerate the officer in Bland’s death. Activists will make the obvious Freddie Gray comparisons, but in this case there is no reason to believe that the officer, no matter how wrongful his conduct, either intended or contributed to her death. At worst, Encina is guilty of bad policing and using excessive force. This is not the Freddie Gray case, unless there was a dark conspiracy of frightening proportions.

Once again, however, a black citizen is dead after a confrontation with a white cop. For many pundits, civil rights advocates and black racists as well as irresponsible elected officials, that’s evidence enough that this was a racial incident. It isn’t evidence enough, however. The racial identities of the participants do not mean race was a factor, and absent some other facts that we have not learned about yet, any effort to suggest otherwise is nothing but the Zimmerman con, assuming racism unjustly to advance a political agenda. Let’s see if the Justice Department launches a civil rights investigation this time….again, assuming nothing more suspicious turns up.  That would be the smoking gun evidence of this DOJ’s bias. I wouldn’t bet against it happening. Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Public Service, Race, Rights, U.S. Society

Incompetent Political Correctness vs. Amy Schumer

That Mel Brooks...what a racist!

That Mel Brooks…what a racist!

If you want a template for the argument that comedy and jokes should not tread outside the thick, forbidding red lines of political correctness, you cannot do better than the Washington Post op-ed titled “Don’t believe her defenders. Amy Schumer’s jokes are racist.” Two professors, Stacey Patton and David J. Leonard, made the argument that Schumer’s humor is racist, and did so in as forceful terms possible. For example, they write:

 Racial jokes allow white America to claim that race no longer matters, even as there’s talk whizzing in every direction about how blacks and Latinos are outbreeding whites, are criminals and welfare queens, are “stealing jobs” and victimizing whites through affirmative action policies and denying them the right to use the n-word. Comedy allows these comforting ideas to be shared with a built-in defense mechanism that protects white innocence. 

America’s soil of racism is fed by jokes and incendiary speeches, by stereotypical images and symbols like the Confederate flag. Just as Rush Limbaugh,  Donald Trump and other members of the Republican Party regularly disparage people of color and claim they are simply telling the truth, Schumer can use comedy as a protective shroud to deny the harm and hurt caused by her jokes. A joke is considered benign especially when told by a supposed white liberal feminist. We can distance ourselves from the anger, from the harm, from the ideology, and from the hatred of the “extreme,” but also find comfort in the same anger, ideology  and hatred that is “just a joke.”

The abuse heaped on Schumer, a young, clever, rising comedian that I only recently became aware of because of her hilarious—filthy, but hilarious—parody of “Twelve Angry Men,” is breathtaking. She is called the equivalent of Donald Trump (who himself is misrepresented as a racist who believes all Mexicans—he said some illegal Mexican migrants—were criminals and rapists); she is declared complicit in the Charleston shootings and the creation of Dylann Roof, encouraging gun purchases generally, and “a worldview that justifies a broken immigration system, mass incarceration, divestment from inner city communities, that rationalizes inequality and buttresses persistent segregation and violence.”

This is why Mel Brooks says that “Blazing Saddles” couldn’t be made today.  His brilliant seventies Western spoof, which many, including Brooks, believe is the funniest film ever made (I’d pick “Animal House,” but he’s not far from wrong) was immediately recognized as a devastating attack on racism, despite its frequent use of the word “nigger” and its employment of almost every black stereotype for maximum comedy effect. Schumer is no Mel Brooks, but her audiences aren’t stupid either. They understand that she, like Brooks, is spoofing both the stereotypes and the people who believe them, as well as properly zinging the individuals who craete the stereotypes by their own conduct. There is nothing racist about that at all, unless one has embraced the current, floating, broad and infinitely flexible definition of “racist,” which is whatever a progressive or African American critic thinks will be most harmful to his or her target at the time.

The reason “Blazing Saddles” was understood to be satiric and beneficial to the cause of racial understanding forty years ago, and Schumer’s far less harsh humor is being attacked now is simple: race relations are worse today, thanks to people like Drs. Patton and Leonard, who I would have banned at the box office if they ever tried to buy a ticket to a comedy I was directing, and civil rights establishment that has decided that hyping eternal victimhood is the way to power and wealth.  People like this are incapable of humor, because they have to analyze whether they should laugh before they do laugh. To them, Popeye and the Road Runner encourage violence, Eddie Murphy’s Gumby impression furthers racial stereotypes, and Woody Allen’s movies are anti-Semitic. I’m sure they find Mel’s “Hitler on Ice” completely bewildering.

The Post apparently invited the two clueless political-correctness obsessed academics to write this drivel. Asking them to write about comedy is like inviting  Mike Huckabee to analyze the rhetoric of Dan Savage (and vice-versa). In other words, it was a set-up.

Debra Kessler explored the origins of this strange essay on the comedy website The Interobang.

I spoke with The Washington Post‘s Outlook Deputy Editor Mike Madden …. “This is not the opinion of The Washington Post,” Madden told me, “this is the opinion of a couple of contributors to The Washington Post.”  Of course both articles are editorials and newspapers print conflicting editorials all the time.  But even op-ed pieces are edited and selected and subject to internal guidelines and even op-ed pieces enjoy the weight of The Washington Post banner– one which has a history of protecting journalistic expression feverishly.

Kessler also talked to Stacey Patton, who told her that the Post solicited the piece, and had to persuade her to write it. Apparently they couldn’t persuade her to write it fairly, responsibly, or competently, however:

Dr. Patton said a few things that surprised me. For starters, she said she’s not a specialist on comedy or humor. While she does enjoy comedy (she likes George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Martin Lawrence, the Queens of Comedy, and Bill Maher among others), she told me that watching comedy isn’t something she gets to do often. In fact, before the ‘Schumer issue’ came up, she had never seen Amy Schumer perform stand up, and she had never seen Schumer’s Comedy Central television show. Even more surprising, she said she didn’t watch any of Amy’s performances or shows while writing the article, not even as background for the piece. Her judgement was based on what she read, presumably in The Guardian, which had just published an article accusing Schumer of “having a blind spot for race.”

The Interrobang: Have you ever watched Amy’s television show… in preparation for the article?
Stacey Patton: Nope. Not at all.
The Interrobang: Her stand up set[s]? have you ever watched any of them?
Stacey Patton: Nope. None of them.

Wow. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture, Race, Research and Scholarship

Unethical Quote Of The Week: The Huffington Post, Which Is Having A Really Unethical Week

KKK assestance

“The photo has gone viral this weekend as netizens praise the officer’s extraordinary show of professionalism and grace under such trying circumstances.”

The Huffington Post, commenting on the photo above, showing black police officer Leroy Smith giving a feeble white supremacist assistance during the Ku Klux Klan rally held at the South Carolina Statehouse over the weekend.

Does the Huffington Post have any idea what professionalism is? Ethical conduct? Increasingly, I have my doubts, and this is just the latest example.

We already know the average “netizen” doesn’t know ethics from shinola, but the Huffington Post is a news and culture commentary site. One would think a basic comprehension of such concepts as duty, fairness, justice, responsibility and ethics would be essential. Well, let me rephrase that: they are obviously essential. One would think the Huffington Post would know that without them, its analysis of pretty much anything is worthless.

Look, you ethics dolts: Smith was doing his job, that’s all. The fact that he personally may have objected to the beliefs and words of the protesters is completely irrelevant to his professional obligations. He must treat all professionals the same. To do otherwise would un-professional, un-ethical, and wrong. Dominique Mosbergen is  apparently  of the opinion that the normal, professional thing to do is to refuse to help people whom you don’t like, agree with, or whose views offend you. Wait—isn’t this what the jerks who refuse to sell cakes to gay couples do? Somehow I don’t think Dominique agrees with those anti-gay marriage zealots or that she feels to just treat such customers as human beings would constitute an “extraordinary show of professionalism and grace.” Why does she think a black cop helping a distressed racist like he would a similarly needy  NAACP member because they are both citizens and as a public servant he is duty-bound to treat them both exactly the same is an “extraordinary show of professionalism and grace,” then?

It is because she is incompetent and ignorant. It is because she doesn’t comprehend what professionalism is. It is because to her, “White Racist Lives Don’t Matter,” so she is just bowled over when an African American acts without employing her biases.

Leroy Smith behaved like any professional would, and should. Nothing more, nothing less. Most cops do their jobs, and do them professionally. There is nothing newsworthy or extraordinary  about the photo, except to people who believe that the primary motivating factor for most people is hate.

_____________________

Pointer: Fred

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“Black Lives Matter” Is Unethical, And So Are Politicians Who Pander To It

black-lives-matterThat’s the tipping point for Ethics Alarms. “Black Lives Matter” is unethical, and those who use it are unethical. And politicians who grovel to those who criticize them for not embracing it are contemptible.

The Martin O’Malley embarrassment over the weekend clinched it for me. Demonstrators interrupted the former Maryland governor, mounting a pathetic campaign against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, as he was speaking at the Netroots Nation conference. When they shouted, “Black lives matter!” a rallying cry of protests that has superseded “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!” because that one was eventually exposed as a lie,  O’Malley—the naive, racist fool!!!!— responded: “Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter.”

The activists  responded by jeering him and refusing to let him speak. .Later in the day, O’Malley, “showing the firm commitment to leadership in the face of adversity that we expect in a presidential candidate,” as one wag put it on Jonathan Turley’s blog—apologized, saying…

“I meant no disrespect. That was a mistake on my part and I meant no disrespect. I did not mean to be insensitive in any way or communicate that I did not understand the tremendous passion, commitment and feeling and depth of feeling that all of us should be attaching to this issue.”

I bent over backwards to defend Smith College President Kathleen McCartney when she apologized for using the phrase “all lives matter” in December of 2014. I wrote:

If an activist says to me, “too many children go to bed hungry!” and my retort is, “Too many people go to bed hungry!”, the unspoken argument is “So stop acting like children are a special problem!” If I say, “We need peace in Syria,” and a friend’s response is “We need to end war, period!”, I view that as an effort to minimize my concerns by launching it from the realm of a specific issue into vague, generic territory.  “Black Lives Matter!” in the context of recent police episodes where African Americans died under circumstances that many believe show police callousness and excessive force against blacks is a distinct assertion that suggests that the law enforcement and justice systems do not currently function as if black lives matter as much as white lives. It is true that “All Lives Matter” includes the larger subset “black lives matter”; it is also true that it blurs the issue at hand, and dilutes the protesters’ point. It is not inappropriate for  President McCartney to apologize in this context…unless, of course, she intended a rebuttal, in which case she is indeed spineless.

I still believe that made sense in December, but “Black Lives Matter” means something very different now, after six police officers were charged with murder to quell a Baltimore mob after Freddie Gray’s death, and after President Obama decided that the merciless shooting of a  young white woman in San Francisco by an illegal immigrant wasn’t worthy of the same attention he has given other deaths when it was a black life that had been lost. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Race, U.S. Society

Cognitive Dissonance Chronicles: Now “The Cosby Show” Is Suddenly Racist And Part Of A Conservative Plot

THE COSBY SHOW -- Season 3 -- Pictured: (front row l-r) Keshia Knight Pulliam as Rudy Huxtable, Bill Cosby as Dr. Heathcliff 'Cliff' Huxtable, Tempestt Bledsoe as Vanessa Huxtable (back row l-r) Lisa Bonet as Denise Huxtable Kendall, Malcolm-Jamal Warner as Theodore 'Theo' Huxtable, Phylicia Rashad as Clair Hanks Huxtable, Sabrina Le Beauf as Sondra Huxtable Tibideaux  (Photo by Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

When “The Cosby Show” was on the air on CBS from 1984 to 1992, it was unanimously praised—except by a few grumps and crackpots, for there are always grumps and crackpots—for being an unequivocally positive influence on racial understanding and the culture. Finally African American characters were on television every week who were not inner city criminals, hucksters, drug dealers or pimps. Finally, after dozens of white “Father Knows Best” style sitcoms, there was a comedy about black professionals heading a family with kids that used good grammar, didn’t skip school and were never in trouble with the law. “The Cosby Show” won awards and plaudits from educators and civil rights groups. It provided a positive model for an attainable future for black children, and an image of black Americans that combated racism by making it seem as illogical as it is. These were good people, good parents, good citizens, with the same values, hopes and dreams as everyone else.

The insidious power of cognitive dissonance is that it allows strong feelings about anyone or anything to unfairly and irrationally carry over to anything or anyone else that the object of those feelings touches. Today, as the fact that the creative force leading “The Cosby Show” had a hypocritical and despicable secret life as a sexual predator becomes undeniable, this process is triggering dangerous and ugly shifts in attitudes and advocacy. A confluence of events has resulted in Bill Cosby being teamed with the Confederate flag (remarkably, it murdered nine African American church members in Charleston! ) to trigger a troubling wave of attempted cultural and historical purges—and where it stops, nobody knows. Some progressives want to wipe all memory of Bill Cosby’s achievements from the nation’s consciousness, just as they want to  tear down every statue of a Confederate military hero and wipe the name of Robert E. Lee off hundreds of schools, streets and parks.

[Aside: Stations are now pulling The Cosby Show, once one of the most syndicated and ubiquitous of all sitcoms, from their schedules. This is just a reasonable business decision. The stations reasonably assume that the show will not be as entertaining or popular once it is impossible to watch Bill Cosby as Dr. Cliff without thinking about Dr. Cliff secretly drugging and raping his female patients. That’s not cognitive dissonance. That’s just reality. Actor Gig Young made some of the best romantic comedies of the Sixties with Doris Day and others. He was a skilled comic actor, but he murdered his wife and killed himself in a drunken rage, and it’s hard to laugh at Gig any more. Those movies are virtually never broadcast, and it is hard to find them on DVD. Among Bill’s victims are the member so of his cast, including the kids he professed to love like a father, who will lose millions in residuals because he couldn’t control his demons.]

A time machine is helpful in these matters, so Salon, the left-wing blog that is so predictable it sometimes catches me by surprise, since it is hard to believe that any publication will willfully rush into self parody, has suddenly decided that “The Cosby Show” was “based on a distorted and inaccurate presentation of the black community, one that has enabled a pernicious type of right-wing “colorblind” racism to flourish.”

Ah. Cosby is bad, so everything he did before we found out that he was bad was bad too. We weren’t just duped about him. We were duped about the values he stood for!

The author of the article is Chauncey De Vega, an African American journalist who doesn’t even try to hide one of his motives: he’s still steamed that Cosby dared to urge African American families to be responsible, and pointed out that wearing one’s pants like they do in prison wasn’t the way to get respect from employers and potential associates not recently out of prison.  Mostly, however, he is determined to re-cast “The Cosby Show” as complicit in embedding racism in U.S. society. He writes in part: Continue reading

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Unethical Quote Of The Month: Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee

Rhodes-College

“As a leading scholar and author in the areas of race, class, gender, culture, and the South, Dr. Zandria Robinson’s comments are sometimes provocative, controversial, and debatable. Dr. Robinson was hired for a faculty position in the Rhodes Anthropology & Sociology Department that calls for expertise in particular areas, specifically gender studies and social movements. Her expertise in these areas, her extensive understanding of the complex problems of race in American society, her deep roots in the Memphis area, and many years of successful teaching experience, made her an attractive candidate for the position.”

Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, announcing that it has hired racist Zandria Robinson as a member of the faculty. Robinson had been kicked off the faculty of neighboring University of Memphis after repeatedly condemning whites, writing that “whiteness is most certainly and inevitably terror, ”  and tweeting that she did not want her daughter to attend a university with “snotty privileged white'”students.”

Yes, racists are attractive candidates to mold young minds, aren’t they?

Two simple words suffice to describe the ethical, indeed mandatory response to this: WALK OUT. No white student should debase herself or himself by paying a cent of tuition to an institution with this total absence of respect and regard for them as human beings. No black student whose conscience and sense of decency hasn’t been thoroughly rotted through by being taught and indoctrinated by mentors and teachers like Robinson should remain either. This isn’t diversity, and it isn’t academic freedom. It is an endorsement of racism.

Yes, the college is literally saying that racist sentiments demonstrate extensive understanding of the complex problems of race in American society. No, they don’t. They demonstrate bigotry, hate and ignorance. Robinson is as much a component of America’s race relations dysfunction as Al Sharpton and Dylan Roof. Her brand of anti-white brainwashing is the cultural poison that persuades weak-willed, insecure dupes like Rachel Dolezal decide that she is ashamed of her family, her heritage, and her physical body. No responsible school of any size or mission should allow someone like Robinson to come in contact with students, much less teach them, except perhaps in an interactive exhibit called “This is Black Racism. Ugly, Isn’t It?”

Rhodes isn’t a responsible school, though, or a competent one. It is deluded. Here is the rest of its jaw dropping announcement of its new, white-hating scholar:

When Dr. Robinson was previously at Rhodes during the 2008-2009 academic year, she was well received by students who appreciated her ability to challenge them to think about society with fresh eyes.
There’s nothing fresh about bigotry. What’s fresh, I guess, is arrogant and pampered African American scholars who think that they can express exactly the kind of generalized, stereotyped hatred of a race that white racists spewed for centuries, and be rewarded for it.

Continue reading

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