Ethics Observations On The Selma Celebration “Gotcha’s!”

Selma redux

1. The big controversy as of this morning involved the New York Times front page photo, which managed to be cropped exactly at the point where former President Bush could have been seen. Given the Times’ proclivities, conservative blogs and Fox News presumed the snub was intentional. If it had been intentional, that would have indeed been disrespectful and unethical photojournalism. The Times explanation, however, seems reasonable. It tells us something, though, that nobody at the Times saw this coming. I think it’s incompetence born of bias. “Where’s Bush?” “He was too far down the line, so the photo looks lousy if he’s included.” “Damn. Well, put a note in explaining that.” Bias makes us stupid, and the fact that no Times editor had this conversation is, in fact, stupid.

2. If the NAACP was setting the place cards, and I assume they were, then Bush should have been second row center, and not an MSNBC demagogue and race-hustler who owes the U.S. back taxes. Talk about biased and stupid. The NAACP claims it wants to be a unifying force in the country, but it doesn’t. It promotes divisiveness,and intentionally. It’s good for business.

3. A graceful, fair, respectful and competent President of the United States would have insisted that his immediate predecessor be in a position of prominence, as part of the message that this event was an important part of the history of America and all Americans. It would have been the right thing to do. Bush would have done the same for him. But we do not have a graceful, fair, respectful and competent President. We have an arrogant, petty, self-absorbed and divisive one.

4. …who can, on occasion, rise to give an excellent speech, which he did.

5. The absence of Boehner and McConnell was disrespectful and incompetent as well, though I wonder where the NAACP and Obama would have placed them in the march.

6.Justice Clarence Thomas would have sent an interesting message if he attended, but what message? Would he be mocked? Mistreated? Would it be seen as insincere (as I’m sure many would portray the attendance of the Speaker and the Senate Majority Leader, had they come.) If I were John Roberts, I would have made attendance by all nine Justices mandatory.

7. I think the big name conservatives and Republicans believed that they would be unwelcome. I think they were right. Does that mean, seeing this as the NAACP Show, that not attending was both prudent and ethical? If that was their reasoning, I think not attending was cowardly.

8. Even after the march re-creation, I read comments with links to website articles (and a tweet from Maria Shriver) saying that “no Republican leadership” and sometimes “no Republicans” attended. Though he apparently decided late, Majority House leader Rep.Kevin McCarthy was on hand, as well as Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Tim Scott (R-SC), Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS), Rep.Tom Emmer (R-MN), and GOP members of the Alabama congressional delegation, among other Republicans (including Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus), over 20 in all. No, it wasn’t enough, but it was far from a mass snub of the event. This myth was confirmation bias, fed by lazy and perhaps malicious misrepresentation—and the news media allowed the misrepresentation to stick.


9. The Clintons didn’t make it. Fascinating: there was not much criticism sbout it, even though they decided to raise money for the Clinton Foundation instead—you know, priorities. Why is their skipping the event benign, while lack of GOP participation is treated as presumptively racist, and those Republicans who did come are suspected of being insincere, just trying to hide their real feelings? So let me get this straight: if the Clintons snub the event, it’s fine, because everyone knows they care, so they don’t have to show they care. They could spend the day rearranging their sock drawers, presumably (but that wouldn’t be profitable), and Al and the NAACP and Media Matters would pronounce it copacetic.  But if a Republican leader had to attend their father’s funeral, or if he skipped the funeral to come, he’d still be placed in the cheap seats, and would harvest nothing but sneers. Am I missing something?

10. Where were Hispanic leaders? Native American leaders? Were they not invited? If not, why not?

11. If I were either Darren Wilson or George Zimmerman, I would have attended the march to show my support for civil rights and the courageous struggle of black Americans.

I wonder how that would have panned out?

12 thoughts on “Ethics Observations On The Selma Celebration “Gotcha’s!”

  1. Kudos to the GOPers who did attend. Hopefully none of them felt abused.

    I’d like to think that had George Zimmerman taken your advice and attended, it would have been a brilliant career move for him, and that he also would have been greeted with skepticism, but then treated with respect. At least by those present.

  2. Going in order:

    1. I think you give the New York Slimes, aka bin Laden’s intelligence report, too much credit. Of course they left GWB out of the picture, they LOATHE him.

    2. Of course. It’s all about how much $$ they can raise, and I think they loathe GWB maybe slightly less than the Slimes.

    3. Well duh!

    4. Something tells me someone else wrote it.

    5. What would be the point? At best they’d be thought of as insincere and get the stink-eye throughout the event, at worst they’d get pelted with garbage. I am sure they have more important things to do than put up with that.

    6. Given how the SCOTUS has already been made a target in at least one SOTU address, I don’t blame them for taking a pass, doubly so Thomas, who’s been repeatedly slimed and called an Uncle Tom and worse. I would add that their presence might be a little close to judges getting involved in political activity or appearing partial and you always want to err on the side of caution with that.

    7. There’s nothing cowardly about staying away from an event you know you aren’t welcome at, where at best you’d be held up to ridicule, at worst you’d be a magnet for problems.

    8. Sounds like the GOP attendees might as well have not wasted their time.

    9. Clinton’s the first black president, end of discussion.

    10. Because this was all about the BLACKS.

    11. I don’t think either of those men was up for risking his life or sparking a riot.

  3. The race issue is rigged against conservatives and there is very little any Republican can do that will be acceptable to race card players.
    My personal practice (if I were a Republican politician) would be to stay away and be prepared to say why, but I don’t advocate for it either way. It’s just too complicated and there are too many traps.

    • It’s rigged, but playing it stupid makes it worse. The GOP still has to play. It made a lot of the problems itself; now it has work to do. They don’t have the luxury of giving up.

      • It doesn’t have to play by the other sides’ rules, which doing this would be. I’ve said several times that the other side has done nothing but try to silence and marginalize the conservative voice since 2009. They failed. The blacks and libs are no longer in a position to demand a walk to Canossa, and the GOP was smart not to give it to them.

  4. If you were to look at the original photos of the event there were a number of white women religious and clergymen in the front lines of the real march.
    the speeches made had no mention of them or the “white students” that came to assist in the voting registration. Young students who lost their lives.
    there was also no mention of the fact that the beaters were predominantly democrats.

  5. If I were Darren Wilson or George Zimmerman (especially), I wouldn’t have set foot within 500 miles of the event, simply to avoid a day of being yelled at. However pure their motives would have been, most present would have seen it as a slap in the face and would not have any interest in listening to whatever they might have said. Moreover, they more than likely would have been taunted, harassed, and possibly even assaulted.

    Zimmerman especially has nothing to gain by such an appearance, as it only serves to remind everyone of what he looks like and what he did. Stories like this never disappear, but they can yellow a little with age. Thus, their victims gain nothing from drawing more attention to themselves and refreshing everyone’s memory as to why their hated.

    It might be a different story for one of the both of them to have scheduled a private meeting with one or more of the civil rights leaders in attendance, which was then followed by some sort of public statement or press release, but an open speech to that crowd would have been a disaster.


  6. Thanks to Penn, who has been helping with the proofing lately, I just fixed about six typos, all small and annoying, in this post.1) I’m was so sloppy. 2) I have to add “just getting off an airplane” to the times when I should not type, along with “having just watched Carol Costello,” “on an airplane,” “on my laptop,” and “ever.”

  7. I can’t help but think that, if Dr. King had been alive to participate, he’d have a few hard words in private for some of the participants. Of course, had he lived, the civil rights movement would have likely not degenerated into the race baiting extortion ring that it has become… and as this event was intended to celebrate.

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