1. News Item: “More than 130 imams and Muslim religious leaders in the United Kingdom have said they will refuse to perform funeral prayers for the Manchester and London terrorists as a rebuke to the “dastardly cowardice” of the “vile murderers.” Notes Ethics Alarms issue scout Fred, “This time it’s religious institutions refusing [to provide a service based on religious/political beliefs and conduct], and it’s based on the actions of the people they’re refusing to pray for or bury. On the other hand, anyone born in Scotland is entitled to the government’s services even if he’s No True Scotsman. By analogy, is it right for them to deny funerals to Muslims, even the most egregiously sinful?
I’d have to do more research on Islam than I have time for right now to address that question, but it’s an interesting one.
2. As a follow-up to New Orleans’ lamentable decision to remove statues honoring Confederate figures (discussed on Ethics Alarms here), The Atlantic published an exhaustive brief against the “myth” that Robert E. Lee was worthy of his reputation as a noble human being who fought for Virginia out of loyalty to his “country,” but who deplored slavery. I have criticized the hero-worship of Lee as well, but much of what is in Adam Serwer’s article was completely unknown to me. If accurate, it is horrifying. Just one example:
“Lee’s cruelty as a slavemaster was not confined to physical punishment. In Reading the Man, the historian Elizabeth Brown Pryor’s portrait of Lee through his writings, Pryor writes that “Lee ruptured the Washington and Custis tradition of respecting slave families,” by hiring them off to other plantations, and that “by 1860 he had broken up every family but one on the estate, some of whom had been together since Mount Vernon days.” The separation of slave families was one of the most unfathomably devastating aspects of slavery, and Pryor wrote that Lee’s slaves regarded him as “the worst man I ever see.”
3. I’ll discuss the Comey testimony in detail later, but I came close to writing about the unseemly and self-indicting display of gleeful anticipation by much of the news media (and “the resistance,” of course) over what they were just certain would be the smoking gun to get President Trump impeached. CNN had a countdown, second by second, on-screen the whole previous day, like Christmas was coming. Ann Althouse nicely summed up how foolish and ugly this was:
“Incredible! Not just the hype and the too-early drooling for blood, but the disregard for the demands of working life for active, engaged American adults. Everything will be available on the internet this evening. Who are these people going public with their plan to take off from work and drink and watch a congressional hearing? This strikes me as utterly deranged (as well as creepily privileged). How is looking deranged and economically privileged going to draw in the ordinary Americans you’re going to need if you’re going to get this Destroy Trump bandwagon rolling?”
And in the end, they were all so disappointed.
4. The deterioration of U.S. colleges, the subject of a post yesterday, has been highlighted by several alarming stories. I’ve touched on some of them, like the Evergreen professor who refused to be kicked off campus for a day because of his skin color and has been ostracized by students and faculty ever since, and Fair Harvard, which capitulated to de facto segregated graduations. I have not covered this story, from Springfield College, where a professor has been under fire for daring to offer a course called “Men in Literature.”
5. Back to Comey, and “Russiagate,” and the “resistance” for a second: I have some really intelligent friends who actually read this woman’s blog and take her fevered fantasies seriously:
Lesson: Confirmation bias makes you ridiculous as well as stupid.
Secondary Lesson: Having a passing familiarity with the Constitution is essential.
6. Finally, listen to this podcast by author David Grann, whose recently published “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI” reveals another nightmarish episode in American history that most Americans have never heard about. The Osage Nation had been forced off their lands by the U.S. government, but managed to retain the mineral rights in Osage County, Oklahoma, one of the richest oil fields in the world. As soon as the value of the land was discovered outside the tribe in the 1920s , Osage leaders started turning up dead. Investigating the dozens of murders became one of the first assignments for the newly formed Federal Bureau of Investigation. The story also reveals a new Ethics Hero Emeritus for a future post, Mollie Burkhart, the Osage woman who risked her life to find who was responsible for the deaths of her family members.