Ethics Dunce: Actor Morgan Freeman

Ah, God...you disappoint me.

As long as shameless, irresponsible race-baiters keep attributing opposition to President Obama’s presidency to bigotry, I’ll keep naming them Ethics Dunces.

The latest in this disgraceful parade is distinguished African-American actor Morgan Freeman, who told CNN’s Piers Morgan in an interview that the Tea Party and the Republican Party antipathy to the President is motivated by racism, saying…

“Their stated policy, publicly stated, is to do whatever it takes to see to it that Obama only serves one term. What’s, what does that, what underlines that? ‘Screw the country. We’re going to whatever we do to get this black man, we can, we’re going to do whatever we can to get this black man outta here’…It is a racist thing…it just shows the weak, dark, underside of America. We’re supposed to be better than that. We really are. That’s, that’s why all those people were in tears when Obama was elected president. “Ah, look at what we are. Look at how, this is America.’ You know? And then it just sort of started turning because these people surfaced like stirring up muddy water.”

Freeman is a marvelous actor, but his roles as the President, God (twice!), and assorted other sage roles gives him a degree of credibility beyond what is appropriate for a high school grad whose non-acting experience in the real world consists of a hitch in the Air Force as a mechanic and serving as a transcript clerk. For Freeman to attach the bogus prestige of his roles to foolish and divisive political theories in national TV appearances is the height of hubris and thoroughly irresponsible, as is Piers Morgan questioning him about politics when his credentials to assess the political scene are no more impressive than those of Kim Kardashian or Manny Ramirez.

It seems  that the Obama Administration will go down in history as the “Fundamental Attribution Error”* Administration, known for declaring all positive results, however few, as due to the President’s brilliance,  all failures as due to the fault of others, and the insistence that the Administration be exactly as accountable for its performance as every other administration as racism.

Not that there is any reason for an actor with Freeman’s limited perspective to know or understand any of this, but:

  • It is the objective of every opposition political party to restrict the adversary party’s President to one term.
  • The opposition of Republicans to President Obama is no more fierce or unreasonable than the opposition of Democrats to President Bush
  • Those who want hold the President to one term sincerely believe, with some justification, that allowing Obama to serve two terms would “screw the country”
  • The President put the policies in place that he asked for while his party had control of both Houses of Congress, and in doing so promised that unemployment would fall to 8%. At 9% plus, any President would be under fire.
  • If anything, the President’s race has insulated him from criticism, as members of the Congressional Black Caucus have stated clearly, noting that “blacks would be marching” against a white Chief Executive who presided over 17% African-American unemployment.

The way presidents get re-elected in America is by demonstrating strong leadership, and working—successfully—to make conditions in the nation unequivocally better after four years of their tenure.  It is clear now that in their desperation to rescue Obama from the fair consequences of his own futility, unscrupulous Democrats, reckless liberals and deluded Hollywood activists will attempt to counter justified opposition with class and race hatred.

I expected better of God, but that was naïve of me. Morgan Freeman is just another actor, a foolish and irresponsible one.

_____________

*“Fundamental Attribution Error,” also known as Self-Serving Bias: When individuals or organizations attribute positive outcomes to internal factors, and negative outcomes to external factors.

24 thoughts on “Ethics Dunce: Actor Morgan Freeman

  1. This is very disappointing to me. Morgan Freeman has always been one of my favorite actors, and I think he’s in about the top ten of actors working today. This is NOT because he is black, nor is it IN SPITE of the fact that he is black. He’s just a superb actor, that’s all.

    The same view should be taken of anyone in the public eye who is scrutinized for their work — acting, running a corporation, and even, yes, being President of the United States. As I’ve said a gazillion times, the 15% or so of the population that is black did NOT elect Obame; whites — the vast majority in this country — did. He is NOT president because he is black; he is president because he convinced the majority of voters that he could be President, and a good one.

    Too bad it hasn’t turned out that way, but for blacks to play the race card — purposefully amnesiac in their inability to recall that every single solitary president whose policies have met with failure have undergone the same scrutiny Obama has. Obama has been a lousy, ineffective, defensive and deceitful president, but perhaps history will view him differently. However, it has nothing at all to do with his race.

    Morgan Freeman should have been offended that he was even asked the question. He’s not a political analyst, is he? Clearly, Piers Morgan wouldn’t have asked the question of Morgan Freeman weren’t black. If he interviewed Tom Selleck, e.g., would he have asked the same question? Don’t think so. No, Piers Morgan just wanted to hear yet another black person play the race card and get some mileage out of it, especially since his program ratings are in the toilet.

    Again, I am disappointed with Freeman’s answer, and the very fact that he answered it at all proves (1) that he has fallen for the “race” issue vis-a-vis Obama, in spite of all the cognitive dissonance it should cause him that he himself is a tremendously successful black man whose acting roles are rarely if ever based on his race; and (2) he is just not bright enough to refuse to be a shill for Piers Morgan in his attempt to boost his ratings. Too bad.

  2. It’s easy to call these comments as they are when you read them, but remember… when this was televised, everyone heard them in Morgan Freeman’s voice. Including Morgan Freeman. So, that’s why Morgan Freeman must have thought he was right. Because Morgan Freeman was saying it.

  3. I am not going to defend Morgan Freeman. I am, however, going to say that the last two presidents have been under extraordinary pressure. I wish I could pinpoint exactly why that is. The wars?The hangover from the cheap credit? Might be the 24 hour news sources. Could be Bush barely won his elections, including the first one that he lost the popular vote. There are tons of reasons why. We could only speculate. One thing I have a major problem with. The public not getting behind the president. At any time we should be serving the country. We are supposed to hold the elected officials to the fire, especially the president’s. At the same time we need to support some of the positions that they have taken. Hindsight is 20/20. We didn’t challenge Bush on the war in Iraq because of the intel from a bad source, “curveball”. Many supported it, yet they were wrong. People say it was worth it. I beg to differ when lives are lost and billions wasted on lies.

    Everyone talks about this transparency promise. I am not going to say that there has been quite a difference either way. In the past the presidents didn’t have media in their face 16+ hours a day, 7 days a week. The public is much more knowledgeable than any other time about what is actually going on in Washington. Because of this, the administration’s 4 year terms seems to be longer. The campaigns are getting to be much longer. The pundits are privy to much more information. The negative rhetoric is through the roof. Technology has been a blessing in some respects but it has also caused the previous divisions to become even larger.

    How are we judging the sitting president? Are we comparing him to past presidents? Keeping score of his promises…kept or broken? The ethics question I have a major problem with. Comparing him to past presidents, I would give him a “c+”. Comparing him to me, he is a total failure. But all the presidents in the past 80+ years would be failures as well
    .
    Anyhow, Morgan Freeman had an opinion. Was he right? I can’t really judge. But I know as a white dude who served in the military at a base that had a large African American population, that it is quite possible there is a race problem in politics in Washington. I heard white guys constantly challenge black guys that were their superiors. Mostly behind their back. And I heard the derogatory name calling all the time. That is a major “no-no” according to the UCMJ. I hate it as well. I never said anything to anyone about what was said. I wish I did. The black guys never ever played the race card, but they most certainly could have on many, many occasions.

    I just doubt that anyone really knows what is said behind closed doors at the capitol or at certain establishments at night. I think there is a lack of transparency on that front. I know you will disagree with me on that one but is there really much of a difference from a ethics stand point? Opinions vary.

    • Opinions vary. C+, in my view, is very, very generous. A racist could still legitimately oppose Obama on substance, and the fact that the critic is racist doesn’t mean that the criticism isn’t valid. Yes, the Presidency is a tough job. Obama ran for it…if he was unprepared (and he was), he’s accountable. Off the top of my head, I can come up with about 15 previous presidents that arrived at as difficult times or worse.

      Freeman is free to have a stupid opinion, but he is irresponsible to deliver such an opinion to people who give his opinion more weight than it deserves And it is an outright insult to me, and others, who are fair, do know something about leadership, were supportive of Obama, and believe that the debt situation and Obama’s governing philosophy is incompetent and potentially ruinous. Calling genuine concerned citizens who know a lot more about these things that Morgan Freeman racists in order to discredit them is disrespectful and dishonest, or, as in Freeman’s case, ignorant. “Opinions differ” is a copout.

  4. Are you saying that a racist doesn’t have a bias and that he won’t play politics as such? I have never seen a party fight so hard to make a president powerless. The way you judge, sounds as if you would know how to handle the economy. That you know the whole truth about Israel and Palestine. That you would have total transparency even when the public doesn’t need to know. Do you really know the other president’s weren’t lucky with some of their policy? Korea? Bay of Pigs? Viet Nam? Watergate? Rescue of the Iran hostages? Iran Contra scandal? Savings and Loan Fiasco? Keaton 5? Whitewater, then zippergate? No weapons of mass destruction? U.S. attorney ordeal? Valerie Plame? Hurricane Katrina? The legislature deciding on Terry Shaivo? How many stimulous programs under Bush? Unconstitutionality and Geneva Convention rules of torture? 9 billion unaccounted for in Iraq? No child left behind (possible too much federal government)? Patriot Act? Department of Homeland Security (when we have a defense department and misuse of the military)? Bush talked about granting citizenship to immigrants that were of question?

    Roosevelt didn’t have a war at the beginning? Economy was turning around for Truman? Ike spent alot of time on the golf course? Kennedy’s economy wasn’t that bad? Same with Johnson? Of course, Nixon? Poor Ford? Carter had mainly a tough economy,( didn’t have to be involved with mideast peace process)? Reagan..No necessary armed conflict? Economy getting better with Bush? And on and on….

    Cop out? Perhaps? Opinion….I have the right and does Morgan Freeman. Even you. I fought for us all to have that right, stupid or not. He isn’t the only one who blind leading the blind. Again, opinions vary.

    Who was you favorite president? Mine?…you have to go back a few. Theodore Roosevelt…not perfect, I still think he represented. Who do you want next time around? Me? The ones I like aren’t running…Tim Penny. Freeman maybe ignorant, but so are the racist

    • 1. No, I’m say that racism is a bias, and like all biases a conscientious person can and will work to make as sure as possible that he makes ethical decisions in spite of the bias. I have little doubt that Abe Lincoln, Justice Hugo Black, and Lyndon Johnson were racists in one way or the other, but did the right thing regarding African-Americans because they knew it was the right thing.
      2. “I have never seen a party fight so hard to make a president powerless..” Then you were asleep during the Bush administration,. The game plan of the Democrats was to legitimize his administration from the start, claiming that he “stole” the election, using the fact that most of the public doesn’t get the Electoral College, and to paint him as a moron and puppet of Monster Dick Cheney, which is quite a bit worse, and quite a bit more absurd, than painting Obama as a socialist. Your statement is a model of Confirmation Bias…..just like Freeman’s.
      3. “The way you judge, sounds as if you would know how to handle the economy.” A disqualifying, intellectually bankrupt comment which would eliminate all critics, ethicists and historians. You judge a leader by success at HIS job, not by whether you could do it better. I can properly decide that my doctor is a quack when he botches my operation—I don’t have to know how to do the operation myself. Accepting the responsibility of leadership means accepting accountability. You seem to really think hard work and good intentions should make a leader worthy of re-election! Nobody worked harder than Herbert Hoover or Jimmy Carter, or had better intentions. No credit. A leader get credit for leading, and being right.
      4. Effective leaders are lucky. Clinton was very lucky. Bush was unlucky. Your job as President is to play the hand you’re dealt, win what you can, and keep the confidence of the public while strengthening the nation. Strike one, Strike two, Strike three.
      5. Citing various controversies and fiascos under previous administrations does not have anything to do with Obama. He’s not running against Bush, (and I’m not sure he would or should win if he was.)
      6. The rest of your comment, I’m afraid, is just emotion and incoherence. When I am on television, I make sure that what I say isn’t misleading or irresponsible. It is not the place for my darkest suspicions or to give vent to my biases. And I know that my influence is far, far, FAR less than Morgan Freeman. The bigger the influence, the greater the responsibility—particularly when one is picking at a scab like racial suspicion.
      7. It’s still a copout. “That’s my opinion” is not a defense of a reckless, inciting, lazy and dumb opinion that an individual should keep off the airwaves.

  5. He (Mr. Freeman) is a person like a corporation supposedly is.(sarcasm) I felt I was more than fair to you. You sound like a child Your brand of ethics is the only way. People make mistakes. We are human. I thought you would be an intelligent and interesting person to debate. I will not lower myself to name calling. The way you write comes across like an “elitist”. You have an amazing background. But my opinion is that ethics is also fair. Not just right or wrong. Gut instincts can be wrong. You are not God. You have no idea who I am or where I have come from. You are very condescending. It wasn’t my intention to troll or be snide in my remarks. I am sorry Jack, but we just do not see eye to eye. You have experiences that are much differnt than mine. I can not waste any more of time with an ego such as yours! I am gone. I know what you are thinking “what a tool, no big loss”. Opinions vary.

    • Cowardly and self-indicting response. When you run out of arguments, it usually means you never had one, not that “opinions vary.” There are two sides (or more)to many issues bu you never found one—“he’s human” is an explanation, not an excuse.

      There was nothing condescending about my response, and I’m sorry you took it that way. Ethics is a discipline, and you fell into a lot of common traps–it’s impossible to point out that someone is wrong without saying so.

      Sorry to see you go—you could learn some things, and raise some provocative points. Defending pro-Obama race-baiting is a tough job for anyone..

      • Honestly, I think a big part of what’s wrong with the country nowadays is that too many people take disagreement as a personal offense.

        • I think people want to assert half-baked theories and careless opinion and are not ready to have to defend them. I think of it as a courtesy, frankly—most bloggers just sit back and never reply to comments at all. You’re right—disagreeing, even disagreeing sharply, is not a personal attack, but one can call a silly statement silly without meaning it as a personal indictment. At some point, of course, defending a silly statement creates the rebuttable presumption that one is silly.

          The statement that “no president has ever been opposed by the adversary party like this one” is spectacularly silly—and ignorant—and I just can’t let it pass.

  6. While I dot agree with Morgan Freeman’s statement I understand it. If I was black and I saw a group of people so strongly opposed to a President who was also black I would be defensive also. But I also find it strange that he made it since he doesn’t like to be identified as a black actor and thinks that black history month is wrong.

    I do take your dismissal of his opinion based on his lack of non acting work and limited education to be elitist. My lack of formal education mirrors his as does my work experience, I was a jet engine mechanic in the Marines and work as a project manager for a plumbing company, and I think I am as capable as anyone of forming an informed opinion.

    You don’t see me holding it against you that you went to Harvard and not a real University like UVA or William and Mary?

    • Bill, the point isn’t that the man had to go to college. The point is that he has no expertise, background, experience or credentials to justfy putting his political views on TV. If he was a political activist, or wrote a book, or a social philosopher, fine. But he is literally an actor who has done nothing but act. (You have a lot more real world experience than Morgan Freeman,) I think asking him about politics is like asking me about astrophysics or Al Gore about hockey. It’s just an invitation for an uninformed opinion that is given more publicity than it deserves.

      Sure, I understand why so many blacks attribute all failures and negative outcomes to racism…because their experience has shown that often that is the case, so it is difficult to avoid the orientation that everything is rigged against them. It’s a crippling attitude, one of the worst hangovers from Jim Crow, because it makes objective self-evaluation impossible..

      • I think then the fault with the person who asked the question. A good interveiwer doesnt aske a person a question they are unqualified to answer. It would be like asking you or me what the best shampoo is.

        • I agree 100%. But if we were on TV, presumably we would have the integrity and modesty to say, “you’ll have to ask somebody else. My opinion isn’t worth anything.” I’ve done this once or twice in interviews. Its like sports reporters who try to goad athletes into making absurd political, sexist, racist or homophobic comments, in hopes of getting a scoop.

  7. Having suspicions about their motives doesn’t jibe with any skin color. Plenty of ‘them’ (anti-Obamaists) have racist leanings in their life and histories, and evidence bears this out. BUT, sometimes they are making legit points in his lack of ‘getting things done’ or ‘leading’ just as you are, Jack. The problem is, we have no proof of what they’re DOING as being racist. WE can’t tell the difference behind their actions, and it’s OPINION that’s getting paraded around as fact. Every criticism isn’t personal, and neither is it racist. But in the current hypercharged yammering culture, reactionary freakouts sell.

    • If a beauty pageant contestant is Jewish, fat and ugly, does it matter if the judges that reject her for her lack of qualifications are also anti-semites? It’s a cop-out, and that’s all it is. Conservatives, Republicans, or just plain critics are presumed to be racist because of the target of their criticism, and because it’s an easy way to delegitimize serious objections. If we were talking about an unequivocally successful president, who led with skill and persuasiveness, met his promises and delivered the results he guaranteed, then a claim of racism, or at least bias, would be plausible. In the current situation, the accusation cuts the other way—an observer who doesn’t find serious problems is suspect of bias. Obama would be criticized far more aggressively, certainly by blacks, definitely by the media, if it were NOT for his race. That makes the Freeman accusation even more objectionable…it’s deceptive, intentionally or not.

      • Clearly I wasn’t clear- I was agreeing with you that even racists can level legit critiques. But these days, if you aren’t rabid, the TV stations aren’t nearly so interested. And if you’re a rabid racist, you’re eminently more ‘watchable’ to them.

  8. Several years ago in Santa Monica I was in a community theatre production of “HMS Pinafore” with Morgan Freeman’s son. The kid, playing romantic male lead Rafe Rackstraw, has a beautiful tenor voice. The fact that a Black actor played opposite “Josephine”, a young White woman, did not seem to cause ANY reaction in the audience. His father came to see the play and apparently enjoyed it thoroughly.

    Morgan Freeman has ALWAYS been one of my favorite actors. Morgan Freeman has NEVER been one of my favorite political pundits.

    • Pinafore is especially problematic, since the plot requires that the captain (Josephine’s father) to have been switched at birth with Ralph, the sailor. I’ve seen it with a black captain and a white Ralph—it actually made the silly Gilbertian ending funnier.

      • Maybe that’s the whole point of the Gilbert & Sullivan repertoire, Jack — they created absolutely wonderful nonsense, still delighting audiences over 100 years later.

        (Except for a few anal retentives who got all bent out of shape by the mocking of their political heroine in a recent “Mikado” production — you addressed that foofaraw some time ago.)

        • A favorite G & S nonsensical ending? The Police (a policeman’s lot is not a happy one) demand that the Pirates of Penzance throw down theiir weapons and surrender, “in Queen Victoria’s name”. They instantly comply, because, whatever else they’ve done, “we love our Queen”. They confess that “we are all noblemen who have gone wrong”. The Major-General pardons them, tells them to resume their former duties, and that they may marry his daughters, “all of whom are beauties”.

          It all happens within 60 seconds — perhaps leaving the audience dizzy, but they love it.

  9. So interesting how you criticize supporters of the president of the fundamental attribution error and then proceed to suggest that the motivations of his party and supporters are based on recklessness, delusion, foolishness, and irresponsibility. i.e. you commit the very error you’re accusing others of making.

    • It might be interesting, if it were true, or even arguable based on what I wrote. Just making a “yeah, well you’re one too” claim without any proof or explanation is worse than useless, just obnoxious. I explained what was wrong with The delusion of Freeman and others, and why their actions and statements, specifically race-baiting, are reckless and foolish, as race-baiting always is. You’ve argued nothing, I suspect because you have nothing. Put up, or shut up.

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