Tag Archives: lies

Remembering Another False “Memory”: The Rosenblats, Oprah, and the Holocaust Love Story

Herman and Roma

Herman and Roma

Somehow I missed this story, because if I had noticed it, I know I would have written about it. Maybe you missed it too.

Herman Rosenblat died on Feb. 5, and his death was noted in several publications, not for his life, which included surviving the Holocaust, but because of a charming story he told that turned out to false. He had written in a memoir about a mysterious young girl on the other side of the barbed wire fence who help kept him alive as a starving teenage inmate at Buchenwald. As recounted in another book:

“He saw her pull something from her pocket. An apple? She squinted, gauging the distance between them, swung her arm in a few practice throws, then hurled the apple with a force that surprised him. The fruit flew across most of the distance between them before it dropped to the ground, rolled under the fence and landed just inches beyond the wire on Herman’s side.”

Day after day, the same mysterious “angel,” as he thought of her, risked her life by throwing apples to him over the fence.

Twelve years after the war, he had a blind date in Coney Island. His date told him about her experiences in Europe during the war, and how she wondered what had become of a young boy she remembered throwing apples to in a German death camp.  Stunned, Herman said that he asked, “Did he wear rags on his feet instead of shoes?”  When she answered that he did, Herman exclaimed, ‘That boy was me!” They were married, and it was a loving union that lasted 56 years. Continue reading

31 Comments

Filed under Character, History, Love, Romance and Relationships

Jackie Robinson West Little League Baseball Team Epilogue: Who Says “Cheaters Never Prosper”?

Littel League champs

As described here, Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West Little League Baseball team was stripped of its U.S. title after Little League International found out–later than it should have— that the team’s adult leadership changed the district boundaries without permission to create what was really an all-star team. The championship, to be blunt, was won through cheating.

Since the team’s members were all African-Americans, Jesse Jackson and many of the parents immediately claimed that racism was behind the forfeit. If, however, a white team had been found to have prevailed over a black team by cheating and was allowed to keep its ill-gotten championship, Jackson would also scream racism. (This was a #11. on the Draft Ethics Alarms Race-Baiting Scale: Presumed Racism: Accusations of racism based on no other factors but the races of the individuals involved.) Jackson and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel then pressured the Little League to reverse its decision, essentially allowing cheating to be 100% successful, as it often is in politics. To its credit, the organization refused to bend.

Never mind:  Emanuel is a veteran of the Obama administration, and also has a large black constituency to pander to. Thus he plans on giving the team championship rings at next month’s city council meeting. Emanuel found private donors to fund championship rings shortly after the Little League World Series. Each ring has the player’s name, jersey number and the number 42, in tribute to Jackie Robinson.  On the inside of each ring, the legend, “Who says cheaters never prosper?” is engraved in script.

Just kidding about that last part. Continue reading

14 Comments

Filed under Character, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Leadership, Race, Sports

Three Strikes And You’re Untrustworthy: Why VA Secretary Robert McDonald Must Be Fired

McDonald

I was going to post this story as an Ethics Quiz when I first saw it yesterday at the Huffington Post.  The most recent head of the troubled Veteran’s Affairs Dept., Robert McDonald, falsely claimed in a videotaped comment that he served in the Army’s elite special forces. In fact, his military service of five years was in fact spent almost entirely with the 82nd Airborne Division during the late 1970s. The quiz question was going to be whether this alone required his dismissal.

My conclusion: assuming that he only did something like this only once, and it was not a Sen. Richard Blumenthal or a Brian Williams situation involving repeated self-glorifying falsehoods, I would have been willing to let this pass were he not in the position he is in: Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Veterans are justly sensitive on the topic of stolen valor and imaginary service. The last individual to hold McDonald’s job was asleep on the job and betrayed his constituency: they should not be asked to trust a successor who lies about his military service, even once. I understand that this is a tough verdict, and why others could reasonably argue that one casual remark to cheer a homeless veteran should not be a career catastrophe. In fact, as I write that, I’m thinking that I could be persuaded to adopt that position as well.

However, that is not all there is to this situation. For McDonald had already shown a tendency to play fast and loose with facts, perhaps influenced by his boss, who is similarly inclined, and the Vice -President, of course, when he isn’t harassing women. Continue reading

8 Comments

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

What’s Really Wrong About The President Refusing To Say That Islamic Extremists Are Islamic Extremists

(Other than the fact that it’s ridiculous, of course.)

war_is_peace

Not THAT again…

As far as preventing terrorist organizations from destroying civilization is concerned, the proposition being repeatedly made by Republicans that “you can’t fight something if you can’t accurately describe it” is also ridiculous. Obama can call ISIS Late For Dinner if he wants to, and still take effective steps to contain the group and others. I can’t remember ever experiencing such a long and intense debate over what something should be called, unless you count the Republican insistence that water-boarding isn’t torture after decades of the United States saying otherwise  in legal documents, treaties and places where English is spoken, That, however, was obviously deceitful wordplay to get around the law, lawyering at it’s worst. This is something else…but what is it?

Yesterday, poor Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson did the rounds of the Sunday morning talk shows, and was asked to explain the Administration’s weird rhetorical line in the sand repeatedly. Presumably he was prepared beforehand, yet the best he could do was probably the version he came up with on Fox News, saying on the topic:

” [T]he thing I hear from leaders in the Muslim community in this country is, “ISIL is attempting to hijack my religion. Our religion is about peace and brotherhood and ISIL is attempting to hijack that from us.” And they resent that. Most victims of ISIL are, in fact, Muslims. So it seems to me that to refer to ISIL as occupying any part of the Islamic theology is playing on a — a battlefield that they would like us to be on. I think that to call them — to call them some form of Islam gives the group more dignity than it deserves, frankly.”

Wait..what? That’s it? So this is meant to, like, hurt their feelings? Why not go whole hog, and call them “Smoosh-Face Poopy-Heads,” then, or something similar? We’re officially denying what everyone knows to be true because moderate Muslims don’t like sharing a religion with the radicals, so to be nice, were speaking Fantasy rather than English? Continue reading

177 Comments

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

Pop Ethics Quiz: Welcoming Rev. Talbert Swan, Late Passenger On The Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman Ethics Train Wreck

George Zimmerman memes

Quick:

Name everything ethically and logically wrong with this meme.

While you’re making your list, I’ll explain.

It comes courtesy of Talbert Swan–website here, Facebook page here-– who tweeted it to his many followers, lots of whom then dutifully posted it on Facebook. Swan describes himself as a “public figure.”  He is, we learn, an activist, pastor, author, radio talk show host, NAACP president, National Chaplain, Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. Assistant General Secretary of the Church Of God In Christ. He is also, on the evidence of circulating this meme, a divisive race-baiter who is ignorant of the law, ethics and logic.

Swan sent out this graphic offal with all the typical hashtags: #Trayvon…#MikeBrown…#Ferguson, #Blacklivesmatter and the rest. I would normally just ignore it—I see idiotic memes every day—but this one was posted with approval by a Facebook friend of mine who is objectively brilliant and educated, and justly respected by many, including me. His comment ended with “Case closed!”, and immediately dozens of people “liked” it, many of them undoubtedly then spreading the meme further to make others more ignorant and stupid too. This is affirmatively harmful. Since I know my friend is a good person, the ethics breach is that of responsibility, competence, fairness, and citizenship, the latter because I think promoting racial distrust is being a bad American.

Have you tallied up all the things wrong yet? Here’s my list: Continue reading

59 Comments

Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, The Internet, U.S. Society

Revisiting The Ethics Alarms Web Hoax Scale

Funny! Also deserved. But wrong...

Funny! Also deserved. But wrong…

To quote myself, planting false facts in the information supply may not make people sick like putting poison in the water supply, but it is damaging enough to be recognized as not worth tolerating for the occasional giggle. A year ago, I introduced the Ethics Alarms Web Hoax Scale,inspired by yet another unethical trick by the loathsome Jimmy Kimmel. As it turned out, 2014 was a banner year for web hoaxes, due to the activity of a couple webs sites that only exist to deceive the news media and make every American certain that they shouldn’t trust anything they read, anywhere.

As you know if you’ve read much here, I detest web hoaxes. I’m also not too crazy about those who use them to announce their superiority to the people who were fooled, essentially saying, “It’s harmless, unless you’re not smart enough to get it—like you.” This attitude emboldens and rationalizes for the hoaxers. I’ve fallen for some, usually when a source I trust has preceded me, marring the site with a post based on a lie. I don’t think it’s funny to make others involuntary accessories to deception.

I was reminded of the Web Hoax Scale, which, like the Race-baiting Scale, I want to finalize before making it a permanent part of the Ethics Alarms tool box, when my least favorite Republican Presidential candidate, Rand Paul, launched a fake Hillary Clinton site on Pinterest. It would have been a #1 on the original hoax scale , rated as harmless because no one who had ever heard of Hillary and who could beat my dog at Scrabble would think it was anything but a gag. (Should a hoax that doesn’t and can’t fool anyone qualify as a hoax at all?) I was going to write, however, that in this context, a fake website is inherently unethical whether it is recognized as such or not, and I have reflected that position in the revision of the scale. Continue reading

16 Comments

Filed under Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, The Internet

The Little Blue Jon Stewart Caboose On The Brian Williams Ethics Train Wreck

Blue Caboose

I’ve stopped updating the passenger list on the rapidly slowing Brian Williams Ethics Train Wreck. Essentially it’s all biased and unethical journalists outing themselves and not being honest or sufficiently self-aware to realize it.

Bulletin: Brian Williams being exposed as an untrustworthy journalist isn’t a “tragedy” for anyone but Brian Williams and NBC’s bottom line, and he was no more a “giant” of broadcast journalism than Joe McCarthy was a “giant” of the U.S. Senate. He was a fraud, and his exposure and fall was a good thing, as exposures of frauds always are. His demise (he isn’t coming back, and NBC should stop the speculation and just say so) does serve as a useful trap for similarly unethical and biased journalists, like TIME’s Joe Klein, who made no sense at all while bemoaning the treatment of Williams in an interview on Fox News, first using a straw man argument:

“I think that we’re living in an era where the ferocity of the prosecution is much greater than the severity of most of these crimes.”

No one’s alleging any “crimes,” Joe. Journalists who are paid huge contracts to deliver the news in a professional and trustworthy fashion can’t be allowed to stay on the air. Absent the “ferocity,” Williams would still have his job today, because news organizations value their profit over integrity and ethics. Plenty of people don’t care if journalists are ethical or not, and can’t tell the difference. If critics don’t make their legitimate complaints strongly enough, the majority’s apathy prevails.

Then Joe went for the rationalizations, this time, #19 and #20:

“And all of us make mistakes. All of us do make mistakes.”

Someone explainsignature significanceto Joe Klein, because Williams’ helicopter fable was a perfect example of it, as I surmised from the first report of the episode. Yes, good journalists make mistakes, but ethical and trustworthy journalists don’t make mistakes like that, even once—telling a false story about being in one helicopter under fire when the reporter was really in another. Sure enough, we have since learned that Williams made up lots of stories that upon examination could not have been true (Joe apparently wants to ignore all that), like seeing bodies floating in the French Quarter after Katrina, like claiming that he was imbedded with elite SEAL team that took down bn Laden. They weren’t doubted at the time because we didn’t know Brian Williams was a serial liar then. “Mistakes” are not the issue. Moreover, Williams’ “false memory” defense, complete with “experts” sent out to the media to explain this phenomenon, was also a lie, and a carefully devised one. His other false reports, slowly becoming known like the endless trail of Bill Cosby victims, prove it.

Next for Joe: euphemisms. Continue reading

27 Comments

Filed under Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media