Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 6/9/17

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.

49 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Around the World, Education, Ethics Heroes, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Religion and Philosophy

49 responses to “Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 6/9/17

  1. “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.” “

    Based on my knowledge of Islam, I going to predict that there will be backlash within the Islamic community at large over this; it’s likely that this backlash won’t be very publicized. An good investigative journalist might want to find a way to track these 130 imams and their immediate families for the next couple of years.

    • But it’s how religious reformation begins.

      And if there is any religion in this planet in desperate need of reformation it is Islam.

      Or maybe the American Left.

      • texagg04 wrote, “But it’s how religious reformation begins.”

        Sure, but in the meantime…

        • In the meantime what?

          Does anyone think reformation of Islam will be a clean process?

          • texagg04 wrote, “In the meantime what?”

            Well, in the meantime a good investigative journalist might want to find a way to track these 130 imams and their immediate families for the next couple of years.

            texagg04 wrote, “Does anyone think reformation of Islam will be a clean process?”

            Reformation of any religion is never really a clean process, it’s the equivalent to an institutional revolution.

            • Meanwhile, I would like to offer my services to bury these poor martyr’s remains. I have a shoe box for the one in little pieces, and will personally purchase each pig that will accompany them into their eternal resting place.

              Meanwhile I use Silver Bullet Gun Oil, which has the bonus of being made from pigs (13% pig oil) to deny terrorists Allah’s paradise.

              • I think we should be careful with that sentiment.

                How we treat the memory of a dead person is essential to communicating values to future generations, and in that case we shut down their memory and condemn them for what they are and how they represent the frivolous abuse of God’s creation.

                How we treat the physical body of the dead is a reflection of ourselves. I’ll have no part in desecrating a body. One, it lowers us to a 3rd world standard of conduct. Two, there is a certain Ick Factor (valid one though, I think) involved in needless destruction of what was another human being (regardless of how nefarious they were in life).

                • Steve-O-in-NJ

                  Hmmm, so no pulling a Pershing (actually an apocryphal story, but it makes the point)? I would be tempted, I must admit, to ensure a slain terrorist burn with the swine of the Devil in the afterlife, BUT, there is a certain villainous factor in desecrating a body, as well as it making you look like a coward for abusing a body that can no longer defend itself. Better to burn the body and either scatter the ashes (as was done with the top Nazis) or bury them in a secret place (like the slain Boston bomber, although the word later got out), so as to prevent the development of a terrorist shrine.

              • valkygrrl

                Gross, the poor pigs. I have a bottle of hanwei sword oil you could use instead.

              • I was taken seriously. Should have used the /snark tag.

                As to the second paragraph, Silver Bullet gun oil is more expensive than Hoppe’s, and I am a cheapskate.

      • Isaac

        I’m not sure how a reformation of Islam would work. The Protestant Reformation happened because Christianity and the Bible had been suppressed by a church/state partnership that benefited from commoners not being able to know their own faith. So there was a return to the scriptures and to the teachings of Jesus. In Scandinavia they were tearing down icons and pagan elements that had crept into Christianity and replacing them with Bibles on pedestals in their churches. The reforms (including the social reforms that are now baked into the fabric of our Western thought) came from a flood of Biblical literacy and renewed interest in the fundamentals of the religion. Basically Christians reformed by doubling down on Christianity.

        What is there about the authentic teachings of Islam or Mohammed that is suppressed in ISIS territory? Is Sharia an obvious perversion of Islam? How could an end to sex-slavery, oppression of women, etc. result from people trying HARDER to be more like Mohammed? These are real questions I have. I don’t know the answers.

        I don’t doubt that reform could happen in Islam, but I don’t see the Protestant Reformation as the template. Maybe they could take their lead form the Mormons, and Islam could conform more to polite society by quietly renouncing aspects of its own origin. An “official” Islam could then emerge with altered scriptures and “new revelations” from God that contradict some of the things Mohammed taught/did, and fundamentalists could be relegated to their own unsanctioned splinter groups, as the polygamists are in Utah. This would be harder for Islam than it was for the LDS church, since Muslims don’t have an official governing organization that holds all the power to make such decisions.

        • Why would an Islamic reformation have to parallel Christendom’s?

        • To be clear, if the Protestant Reformation was a return to early Christianity, then it really is incorrect to label it as a reformation. Whereas Islam dumping pretty much most of of its texts or at least surrender literal interpretation of the clearly violent and open ended commands to proselytize through war.

          It would also go a great deal towards this reformation if the few Wahhabist nations went bankrupt. (Which they would if we’d go energy independent)

          • Isaac

            I don’t mind the expression The Reformation, inasmuch as there was plenty of reform in the culture and in the people, if not actual reform of the ideals or doctrines of Christianity.

            I guess I was just responding to a popular opinion (not yours) that Christianity “reformed” itself and therefore Islam can do the same if given enough time.

            • philk57

              The term “Reformation” in the context of the Christian reformation is really a misnomer in many ways, as what Christianity was doing was returning to the understanding of the completed work of Christ in salvation. This had been abandoned to some degree over time in favor of a “Works and…” approach, which is not Biblical.

              Islam, on the other hand, appears to me to be doing the same thing…going back to the roots of their religion rather than the softer, gentler Islam that had been apparent for a while (though there were always fundamentalist Muslims in the Middle East).

  2. Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI

    That’s interesting; I never knew any of that.

  3. “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’m not sure how that has a “this time it’s” qualifier on it. Haven’t we had post after post on the topic of religious institutions refusing services based on belief?

    I don’t see a problem with it. And before I comment on Scotland’s offering services, I’d need to know the nature of those services- if it is merely a minimum of ensuring a body is buried, then so what, most communities have statutes regarding burial for sanitary reasons alone.

    If it is full blown religious rites, then I can’t necessarily say I have an issue with that either *unless* Scotland compels a particular minister to conduct those rites against their own beliefs.

  4. deery

    1. I don’t think anyone has a right to religious ceremonies, even if they are (nominally) from the religion in question. How would that work? Could Catholics refuse excommunication? Mormons force their way into Temple without permission? Now if coming from the state, that’s a different question, but religious bodies can ethically draw hard boundaries around their practices. If people don’t like it, they can start their own religion.

    2. Robert E. Lee was not a good person, as noted. In addition to not freeing the enslaved people on the plantation as he was supposed to under his father in law’s will, he dispersed them, breaking up families. Keep in mind, due to the Custis’s widely known habit of freely and openly reproducing with the enslaved people on their plantations for generations, most of those enslaved people were his wife’s relatives. Her brothers and sisters, her nieces and nephews, her aunts and uncles, and her cousins.

    After not being freed as promised, several slaves ran away, and were caught. Lee ordered the slaves beaten. This was not done on the Custis plantation (see above as to possible reasons why). After many threats, Lee gave up on getting the overseer to do it, and paid someone off plantation to carry out the beatings. However, even this person balked at beating the one woman recaptured. Lee ended up beating her himself.

    And that’s who people are holding up as a moral guide worthy of admiration. Just to be clear.

    • It’s a “print the legend” (Reference?) situation, though. Lee was an inspiration on the field of battle; a bold strategist, he surrendered and cut off the strong movement to launch a guerilla resistance; he accepted responsibility for the Pickett’s Charge fiasco (“It was all my fault”). His admirers focus on that, and either don’t know or choose to ignore the rest. But if we want heroes, we have to accept that no heroes are devoid of bad moments or flaws.

      Lee’s statues should stand.

      • deery

        But if we want heroes, we have to accept that no heroes are devoid of bad moments or flaws.

        I agree that no heroes are without flaws. But I disagree with the idea that we should be lionizing people because of those self-same “flaws.” Robert E. Lee was a traitor who fought to ensure that several million people remained enslaved. And he gets a statue and things named after him for that? And the descendants of the people who he fought to keep enslaved are supposed to ignore that? U.S. patriots are supposed to ignore that? It was a mistake and an insult to put statues of him up in the first place. The passage of time does not erase the original error.

        • “It was a mistake and an insult to put statues of him up in the first place. The passage of time does not erase the original error.”

          Already posed and answered.

          https://ethicsalarms.com/2017/05/16/new-orleans-historical-air-brushing-orgy/#comment-442696

          • deery

            Not really. I don’t think the Civil War is “down memory hole” in any way, shape, or form. Nor do I see any compelling reasons why mistakes should remain if people don’t want them there. Especially if they were put there for the express purpose of misleading future generations (“print the legend”).

        • deery,

          You (progressives) make up how bad past figures are, the beat everyone over the head with your lies. Typical. I dispute your narrative. It is based on innuendo and biased sources.

          Lee was an honorable man. Your little smear story does not align with his public character, not with how he conducted himself in battle, a true test of what a man is made of.

          Same stupidity is floated by the left about the Foundering fathers. Enough!

          • deery

            You (progressives) make up how bad past figures are, the beat everyone over the head with your lies. Typical. I dispute your narrative. It is based on innuendo and biased sources.

            Lee was an honorable man. Your little smear story does not align with his public character, not with how he conducted himself in battle, a true test of what a man is made of.

            Same stupidity is floated by the left about the Foundering fathers. Enough!

            Only if you think eyewitnesses, including the people who were beaten, count as “biased.” They also have the receipt for the person who was paid to beat the recaptured people. It’s about as documented as you are going to get for that period in history.

            He would not be the first to not have an alignment between his public persona and his private one. Though in this case, I would argue they were perfectly aligned. Man who heads fight to keep people dehumanized and enslaved also treats those enslaved people under his care in a dehumanizing manner. Where’s the misalignment?

          • Lee was a man of his time, and cannot be fairly judged by today’s wisdom, since we had about a century and a half of enlightenment that he did not. He is honored first and foremost as a military leader, just as Jefferson is rightly honored as an influential philosopher and statesman.

            It is not fair to call Lee a traitor, as the South had the Declaration and the Constitution squarely on its side, As was frequently pointed out, not one state would have joined the US if it was understood that they could not withdraw at the people’s will. Lincoln decided that the ends (a United U.S, ending slavery’s expansion) justified the means (changing the rules of the game) and he was right, though just barely, since the means was bloody, risky, and horrible.

            Lee’s not the saint he’s cracked up to be. That’s all. Neither was Lincoln,and if the Union lost, almost everything that is being said about Lee would be matched by equally damning accusations against Lincoln. But the man would be the same,

            • Steve-O-in-NJ

              You’re talking to a man of the left, when the left held up Hugo Chavez as a hero and is going to honor a terrorist with a parade in NYC. You are wasting your time. Different political outlooks make different people tolerant of or willing to look the other way on different things. The left will tear Washington and Columbus and Cortez and other traditional figures apart and brand any defender a reactionary, but defend Che and Chavez and even Castro up and down. Lynne Stewart, longtime radical lawyer who is now thankfully dead, once said “I don’t have any problem with Mao or Stalin or the Vietnamese leaders or certainly Fidel [locking up people they see as dangerous, because so often dissidence has been used by the greater powers to undermine a people’s revolution.” The left are nothing more than totalitarians with stupid-looking hats and beards.

              • Chris

                Has deery upheld any of those figures as heroes? It strikes me as unfair to judge his argument based on what “the left” as a whole has done. Before I read your comment, I was about to ask Jack if the “print the legend” argument should apply to leftist icons like Che Guevara. My answer would be “No, and leftists who idolize Che are idiots.” What’s yours?

                • For the record, I’m not a fan of “print the legend” as a rationalization for burying the truth. I assumed that was obvious. Here was one of the many times I’ve discussed it, this one in relation to the Cuban Missile Crisis:

                  As I have recounted here many times for the film Western-challenged (and shame on you all), John Ford’s “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence” is about a man whose entire, celebrated, momentously successful life—his career, his fame, even his relationship with his wife—was based on the belief that he performed a legendary heroic act that he knows was secretly done by someone else (John Wayne, in fact.) Years later, the man (James Stewart) comes to the scene of his fame to confess all and tell the true story to the local newspaper editor, who refuses to print the story, saying…

                  “This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

                  Ford, late in his career and life, was bemoaning the fact that ideology and mythology dominated the reality of the Old West, interfering with the nation’s acknowledging and confronting its more complex contradictions, transgressions and challenges. Ford was prescient: this tendency is not healthy, and not just regarding the West. The old editor was a lousy and unethical journalist, abusing his duties by deciding that the public was better off believing a lie.

        • JRH

          Interestingly enough, not a single person was actually convicted of “Treason” after the Civil War (at least that I could find – and opposed to during the War) and at the end most Confederates were allowed to take an Oath and return to full “citizenship”; and in fact In December 1868 all former Confederates were “pardoned” by the President. Many of these Confederate “leaders” went on to hold many public offices, including in the Federal Government. I suspect that, since the Constitution actually supported the right of a State to Secede, a Prosecution might have been irrelevant anyway and the “story” is that Jefferson Davis was never charged because they feared, as a pre-eminent Constitutional Scholar, he would have presented a valid defense for “Secession”. Lee was a figurehead, a Soldier revered for his conduct on the battlefield, leadership, compassion for the “enemy” and for the way he cared for and treated his Army and Soldiers. Some of these people were slave holders, as it was indeed the law of the land at the time; and perhaps many of them were brutal in their conduct towards slaves, but whether that was “brutal” in the time they lived, or “brutal” in our current time is a contradiction that I cannot resolve.

  5. On #5

    I eagerly await the schadenfreude due to members of “the resistance” and other juvenile left wingers who are so civically dumb that *IF* Trump were removed from office when they are astonished that Hillary isn’t put in place after him.

    • The schadenfreude of watching the same group’s furious spin and sorrow that Comey didn’t deliver as they were so sure he would, despite any good reasons or evidence. I’m waiting breathlessly for Fatty to re-appear, so I can offer condolences.

      • Steve-O-in-NJ

        Of course there was no catchy nickname like “Fitzmas” for when Fitzpatrick (a good buddy of Comey) was about to announce charges on the Valerie Plame non-affair. Unfortunately the promised Xbox turned out to be an ugly sweater.

  6. I wish I had written this down somewhere, but me and a friend at work listened to the hearing at our desks, I said before it started that I thought the reason that Comey was fired was ultimately because Trump was frustrated that Comey wasn’t giving him the Clinton treatment. That is that Trump was not under investigation and the Times article was complete bollocks, he knew it, Comey knew it, everyone knew it except the American people, and he wanted a Comey conference weeks ago, but Comey wasn’t giving it to him because he’d already worn egg on his face having to correct himself on Wiener’s laptop and was lambasted for ‘influencing the election’.

    Someone should pay me for this, because literally everything I said was right. There was more there… Dems will focus on the “Won’t someone rid me of this meddlesome priest” aspect of “hope”, for instance, but generally…. That was a good day for Trump, I think.

  7. Steve-O-in-NJ

    What, nothing on the UK elections? Or maybe you intend to get to that in due time. Why the UK voters would even CHANCE putting their nations in the hands of Jeremy Corbyn is beyond me.

    • We risked putting our nation into the hands of Hillary or Trump…

    • The main thing about the elections is 1) the Post and the Times are no covering it more prominently than the Comey testimony, which means “Never mind!” and 2) Polling is dead.

      • Steve-O-in-NJ

        Never mind indeed. If Corbyn had won a majority they’d be shouting it from the rooftops and building him up to be a secular saint like the “pink tide” of South American caudillos who lost their luster once Hugo Chavez died. They might even be hailing a rising pink tide in Europe to oppose the orange tide of Trump. The UK election is not much more significant than the recent round of special elections here, in which the Democrats have come in closer than expected, but still fallen short of an outright win, and there is still no silver medal for second place. It DOES show that young voters are still easily bought by the promise of free stuff.

  8. Son of Maimonides

    Mr. Marshall:

    “CNN had a countdown, second by second, on-screen the whole previous day, like Christmas was coming.”

    In fairness to CNN, they do that for almost anything they think can even feign as newsworthy or that will entice people to “stay tuned.” They’ve used countdown clocks for states of the union, congressional testimony, and even primary races. See the except below from February of last year:

    “CNN has hit peak countdown clock.Yesterday, CNN ran a countdown clock to the start of today’s New Hampshire primary. This morning, CNN ran a countdown clock to the start of its coverage of said primary, at 4pm. At 4pm, CNN ran a countdown clock to when the first exit polls would come in, at 5pm. At 5pm, CNN ran a countdown clock to when the first polls would close, at 7pm. At 7pm, it ran a countdown clock to when all polls would close, at 8pm. At 8pm, it will probably start a countdown clock to the South Carolina primary.”

    All the use of a countdown proves is that CNN would be worthless as a source of news even if they weren’t biased.

    • You you remember the countdown MSNBC had to the “Trump Tax Return” story? Maddow built that up for more than 10 minutes just prior, like she was about to cover the second coming of Christ, and then she actually read them… And found that Trump made a lot of money and paid a lot of tax. That was also, I think, a good day for Trump.

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