Tag Archives: Fear-mongering

Obama’s Remarks On The Charleston Shooting Were Unethical, And Here’s Why:

Because every tragedy is a chance to sell policies on emotion alone...

Because every tragedy is a chance to sell policies on emotion alone…

President Obama’s comments this morning again emphasized his tendency to stoop to reckless, careless and divisive rhetoric when far better is called for.

He said in part:

We don’t have all the facts, but we do know that once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun.

Now is the time for mourning and for healing. But let’s be clear. At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency.

And it is in our power to do something about it. I say that recognizing the politics in this town foreclose a lot of those avenues right now. But it’d be wrong for us not to acknowledge it, and at some point, it’s going to important for the American to come to grips with it and for us to be able to shift how we think about the issue of gun violence collectively.

The fact that this took place in a black church obviously also raises questions about a dark part of our history. This is not the first time that black churches have been attacked, and we know the hatred across races and faiths pose a particular threat to our democracy and our ideals….

Observations:

1.  How does Obama know that the shooter had “no trouble getting their hand on a gun”? He doesn’t know that, and it is a misstatement  to say that this assumption of his is a fact. We know that the shooter had a gun when he used it, and that’s all. For all Obama knows, he had a very difficult time getting his hands on a gun. For all Obama knows, it took the killer months, accomplices, money, elaborate maneuvers. Or is he saying that having a gun at all is proof that it was too easy to get one? What does that suggest?

2. Obama waited barely a few hours before politicizing a tragedy, and using it to stump for his gun policies. This was inappropriate, disrespectful, crass and cynical.

3. Reasonable and enforced gun regulations are necessary and rational, but it is intellectually dishonest —and politically inept—to use this kind of an incident (or Newtown) to promote them. Nothing short of outright gun banning will stop people like the Charleston shooter from acquiring guns, and gun banning is not going to happen, ever, nor should it. The anti-gun zealots who would love to see guns banned just respond to the Pavlovian stimulus of this kind of rhetoric, and the pro-gun nuts will see this as an outright effort to repeal the Second Amendment. This kind of statement accomplishes nothing but to gin up “the base,” and, frankly, I think that’s all it’s intended to do. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership

“Negative Polarization,” Bigotry, And…Hillary

destroying America

Today in the Times, last week, and over the weekend, there were numerous essays (like this onethis and this) about a recent study that examined the growing phenomenon I have previously written about here and here. The paper’s authors, Alan Abramowitz and Steven Webster, use the term “negative polarization,” but what they are describing is really a kind of bigotry, citizens making important democratic decisions purely on the basis of conditioned hatred and dislike based on gross generalizations about political parties and their supporters rather than dispassionate analysis and independent consideration.

Their conclusion isn’t original; it’s not even surprising. It closely follows last year’s study out of Stanford reaching the same conclusion. Americans increasingly demonize one party or the other and all their representatives and members, thus automatically rejecting policy initiatives, arguments and positions not because of their content, but based on their origins and the identity of their supporters—pure, blind cognitive dissonance. As a result, they will choose candidates and policies irrespective of any rational analysis, based solely on the assumption that the opposing candidate and policy come from a vile and intolerable source.

These studies indicate that Americans now discriminate more on the basis of party than on race, gender or any of the other great divides— and that discrimination extends beyond politics into personal relationships and non-political associations. Americans increasingly live in neighborhoods with like-minded partisans, date and marry fellow partisans and disapprove of their children partying with members of the other party. They are, the data says, more likely to choose partners based on partisanship than physical beauty or personality.

The Stanford study concludes (the Emory study concludes similarly),

“Unlike race, gender and other social divides where group-related attitudes and behaviors are constrained by social norms, there are no corresponding pressures to temper disapproval of political opponents. If anything, the rhetoric and actions of political leaders demonstrate that hostility directed at the opposition is acceptable, even appropriate. Partisans therefore feel free to express animus and engage in discriminatory behavior toward opposing partisans.”

Naturally, this has set off the usual round of finger-pointing by pundits and the media, which itself shares much of the blame. I know who and what have seeded these dragon’s teeth, and the list is long, beginning with Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levine, Bill Press, the Clintons, Lanny Davis, Matt Lauer, Newt Gingrich, Tom Delay, the idiots who made out Florida’s 2000 ballot, Al Gore, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Paul Begala, Jerry Falwell, Mary Matalin, James Carville, David Axelrod, Chris Matthews, Ted Cruz, the Congressional Black Caucus, Fox News, Donald Trump, Truthers, Birthers, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, MSNBC, Roger Ailes, Rupert Murdoch, Eric Holder, the New York Times editorial board, Charles Blow, the Daily Kos, David Brock and Media Matters, Move-On, Breitbart, Michael Moore, Al Sharpton, Pat Robertson, Harry Reid, Tom DeLay, Nancy Pelosi, the Tea Party, Michael Savage, Salon, Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter, Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, and many others, a majority of whom made a conscious decision to exacerbate the divisions in our nation for their own gains in power, influence and wealth. Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Research and Scholarship, U.S. Society

Once Again, President Obama Displays His Aversion To Accountability

It's far from the only missing piece in the Obama leadership puzzle, but it's a big one...

It’s far from the only missing piece in the Obama leadership puzzle, but it’s a big one…

The so-called liberal news media (also called “the news media”) has largely ignored the implication of the President’s recent comments on the link between child health and climate change, but not every source. In a couple of recent interviews, Obama has attributed his determination to control global warming to a personal interest in childhood asthma.

A White House “fact sheet” on climate change notes that the percentage of Americans with asthma has “more than doubled’ in the last three decades [ I haven’t checked these statistics; as you know, the President fudges numbers frequently], and says that “climate change is putting these individuals and many other vulnerable populations at greater risk of landing in the hospital,” with those at greatest peril including children, the elderly, the poor, those who are ill and minority communities. “Rising temperatures can lead to more smog, longer allergy seasons, and an increased incidence of extreme-weather-related injuries,” the document informs us.

Speaking on ABC with chief health correspondent Dr. Richard Besser, the President connected climate change to a frightening Obama family episode. “Well you know, Malia had asthma when she was four, and because we had good health insurance, we were able to knock it out early,” the President said. The children of less successful parents, however, won’t be as lucky, Obama said. “It will be an all-around benefit to society if asthma can be curtailed.”

This is standard issue climate change fear-mongering, along with the convenient and cynical use of children to drive emotional responses from the public rather than allow them to rationally weigh facts, options, and the balancing of costs with benefits and risks. The entire climate change debate has been waged in this unethical manner, on both sides of the issue, and thus has been incompetent, irresponsible, and untrustworthy.

There is something else here, however.

USA Today makes a strong case that there was another more likely cause of Malia’s breathing problems: her father. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Childhood and children, Environment, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Leadership, Science & Technology

KABOOM!* The Most Unethical Anti-Gun PSA Yet

[ If you are new to Ethics Alarms and don’t understand the significance of a Kaboom, go here.]

Should you need any further proof that anti-gun mania turns some people into clinical phobics, melting their ethics alarms and leaving all rationality behind, I give you this, a recent public service video out of San Francisco’s Sleeper 13 Productions:

Could such an ad be more irresponsible? It urges children to

  • Go looking for their parents guns (and why did is the gun in the video where a kid can have access to it?);
  • Pick them  up and handle them (Is the gun loaded?);
  • Steal the guns ( Any gun? Shotguns? Rifles? Semi-automatic weapons?)
  • Take the guns to school, breaking the law in the process;
  • Turn them over to their teachers, who also may have no business handling one.

In the process of this well-intentioned, hysterical brain rot, the PSA also encourages children to be terrified if their parents own a gun, though there is no context at all in the video. Is a parent a cop? An FBA agent? A gun collector? A hunter? A trained marksman? Clint Eastwood? James Bond? Never mind: steal the gun. This attitude is the tell-tale symptom of an anti-gun zealot: it’s the gun itself that is dangerous, and who owns or wields it is irrelevant. Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Kaboom!, Law & Law Enforcement, Marketing and Advertising, Rights

Happy Halloween! Scary Unethical Quote Of The Week: MSNBC Host Alex Wagner

“In Georgia, state Democrats printed a flyer warning that the way to prevent “another Ferguson” is to vote. Arkansas residents meanwhile, received a mailer showing a man in a hands-up, don’t shoot position made infamous in the wake of Michael Brown’s killing. The mailer reads: “If we want to end senseless killings like Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, we need to vote . . . It’s important to say that it shouldn’t have to be the threat of undermining civil rights that gets people to vote, but if it does, so much stronger the party is for it.”

—MSNBC talking head Alex Wagner, acknowledging the desperate, last-ditch effort by the Democratic Party to energize its African-American base by racial fear-mongering, and endorsing it in epic “the ends justify the means” fashion.

Wagner: 'Race-baiting makes us strong.' Wow.

Wagner: ‘Race-baiting makes us strong.’
Wow.

I remember my father announcing during the Nixon re-election campaign that the cynical GOP “Southern strategy” is which it catered to old-line Southern Democratic voters with direct appeals to racist myths and fears that he was changing his registered party affiliation from Republican to Independent, because he refused to belong to a party that would engage in such divisive and despicable tactics just to win elections. It is hard to imagine any conservative-leaning broadcaster, commenting on these scare-tactics at the time, both acknowledging them and pronouncing them regrettable but, all in all, good for the party. Yet this is exactly what Wagner did.

It exposes many things: the ethical deficit at MSNBC, progressive approval of the strategy of exacerbating racial discord and division in America, and the open, seven year-long strategy of Democrats resorting to race-baiting as the solution of last resort whenever the party’s performance and policies are subjected to fair criticism. The statement also exposes partisans like Wagner as ethics corruptors of all who hear them and are gullible enough to believe they speak the truth. Winning by lies and undermining racial comity in America makes nothing and nobody stronger. Even if such a tactic is successful in the short-term, it is devastating to democracy and the culture. No party that stoops to such gutter tactics is worthy of support by anyone who believes in basic ethical values.

The New York Times was finally revolted sufficiently by the conduct of its party of choice that it wrote about the recent spate of race-baiting campaign messages being used in close contests around the nation by the deservedly desperate Democrats: Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Race

The Benefits of Mutual Respect and Civility vs. Hate and “Partyism”

A New York Times feature from October 3 tells the inspiring tale of a friendship between two scholars, one a Christian, the other an atheist. Their friendship does not thrive in spite of the conflict between their core beliefs, but rather because of it.

Prof. David Skeel, the Christian, recently published  a book, “True Paradox: How Christianity Makes Sense of Our Complex World.”  His atheist friend, Patrick Arsenault,  is  acknowledged in the book and quoted as well, and the Times notes that “True Paradox” “might not have existed at all, or certainly would not exist in its present shape and voice, without the secular scientist as its midwife. And that odd reality is testament to a rare brand of mutual civility in the culture wars, with their countervailing trends of religious fundamentalism and dogmatic atheism.” Says Skeel:

“One of the things we talked about was whether it matters if we persuade each other. I long to have Patrick converted to my perspective. So how can we have a friendship? I see it as toleration in the deepest meaning. We don’t just ‘put up’ with each other’s beliefs. We interrogate them.”

Arsenault tells the Times that “in the culture wars, the rhetoric is acerbic on both sides. On the humanist side, there’s this tendency to view people of faith as not rational. And David is clearly rational. He’s just looked at the same evidence as me and come to a different conclusion.”

Contrast this attitude—rational, respectful, practical, fair, constructive and profoundly ethical, with the “partyism” and bigotry being practiced with increasing intensity as the mid-term elections approach. There is Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank in the video clip above, for example,  not merely accusing Republicans of fear-mongering, but suggesting that their criticism of the Secret Service is insincere: Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Religion and Philosophy

A Futile Ethics Request To Anti-Gun Activists: Don’t Exploit Richard Martinez

Richard Martinez

Richard Martinez

I am certain that plans are already in the works to trot out Richard Martinez, the grieving father of one of the victims of killer Elliot Rodger in his murderous rampage at the University of California in Santa Barbara, for service in hearings, at rallies, for fund-raisers, at protests and in anti-gun ads. The emotionally distraught father provided a ready-made media sound chomp in his CNN rant against anyone and anything that have, in his mind, prevented radical restrictions on guns, those who, in his view, contributed to the death of his son.

“What has changed? Have we learned nothing? These things are going to continue until somebody does something, so where the hell is the leadership? Where the hell are these people we elect to Congress that we spend so much money on? These people are getting rich sitting in Congress, what do they do? They don’t take care of our kids.My kid died because nobody responded to what happened at Sandy Hook. Those parents lost little kids. It’s bad enough that I lost my 20-year-old, but I had 20 years with my son, that’s all I’ll have. But those people lost their children at six and seven years old. How do you think they feel? And who’s talking to them now? Who is doing anything for them now? Who is standing up for those kids that died back then in an elementary school? Why wasn’t something done? It’s outrageous!”

I don’t blame Martinez for how he feels, but I will blame those who exploit him, and I know there is no chance that they won’t.

In 2013, we all saw how every Sandy Hook parent who was sufficiently enraged and camera-worthy fueled the shameless drive to use fear-mongering and exaggeration in the push to finally gut the Second Amendment, as anti-gun activists have so long wanted to do. Martinez is perfect, just as Cindy Sheehan, destroyed because her soldier son died in a war, was custom-fit for pacifists and anti-war advocates, just as a brain-damaged Gabby Giffords was ideal to have recite child-like generalities against firearms in Congress. Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Citizenship, Ethics Train Wrecks, Family, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, U.S. Society