Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/20/17

Καλημέρα!

[This is pronounced “Kaliméra!,” not to be confused with “Calamari!” My father frequently got them confused when he visited Greece with my mom, the former Eleanor Coulouris, and embarrassed her by greeting the natives some mornings by cheerily saying, “Squid!]

1. The newspaper Arts section headline says, “Mayor Ties Arts Money To Diversity.”

The mayor in question is New York City’s DeBlasio, and since his own family is “diverse,” naturally every other entity has to be, or it is baaaad. This is why I oppose government funding of the arts unless it guarantees that the nation, state or city will not attempt to use its support to control the arts organizations in any way.  Of course, governments will never do that, because manipulating the arts to advance  political agendas is usually the underlying motive in arts grants. Ideologues like De Blasio—wow, he’s terrible—will constantly be grandstanding and doing everything in their power to manipulate artists and their art to ensure that they send the “right” messages—you know, like Nazi art and Communist art. It is exactly the same theory and practice: art as political indoctrination.

Quick: who thinks that De Blasio will be focusing on “diversity” in the management (or on the website) of the Dance Theater of Harlem? Even if the government doesn’t attach strings to its support, arts organizations know that there are more of them than there is tax-payer money to disperse, so there is terrible and often irrsistable pressure to distort their product to give their state funders what the artists think they want—just to be safe.

My professional theater company refused to do that, sticking to the integrity of our mission and not resorting to tokens and virtue-signalling. My now defunct professional theater company, that is.

2. Yesterday, I highlighted the head-blasting comments of New York Times film critic A.O. Scott and his alternate-universe pronouncements about the Obama presidency. To be fair to A.O., his entire profession is packed with historical and political ignoramuses who make their readers dumber with every review. I once created a theater reviewer’s code of ethics, which I mailed to a critic, who sent it back to me with a note that said, “Mind your own business.” Years ago, I published an essay that was called “Why Professional Reviewers Are Unethical,” that began,

When Variety announced that it was firing its in-house film and drama reviewers, there was much tut-tutting and garment-rending over the impending demise of professional reviewing in magazines, newspapers and TV stations. The villain, the renders cry, lies, as in the Case of the Slowly Dying Newspapers, with the web, which allows any pajama-clad viewer of bootleg videos to write film reviews, and any blogger who cares to write a review of a play. “I think it’s unfortunate that qualified reviewers are being replaced,” said one movie industry pundit, “but that’s what’s happening.”

I say, “Good. It’s about time.”

It’s not happening quickly enough, though. “Dunkirk” is opening this week, and, as I predicted, film reviewers are showing their utter historical ignorance. The Washington Examiner skewers them deftly in an essay called “Why the (True) History of Dunkirk Matters.” Highlights, or rather lowlights:

  • USA Today critic Brian Truitt complains that “the fact that there are only a couple of women and no lead actors of color may rub some the wrong way.” He is not the only film critic to observe this.

Morons.

  • Slate.com critic Dana Stevens claims that the British Army at Dunkirk was the “last bulwark against Nazi invasion of the British mainland.”

Not even close to true.

  • Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers writes that, “Had Hitler pursued the fight on the beaches and forced a surrender, we’d all be living a real version of ‘The Man in the High Castle” [Philip K. Dick’s alternate history novel in which the Axis defeats the Allies].

Yup, once England fell, who else was left to fight Hitler?

I can’t think of anyone, can you?

3.  Yesterday, Cincinnati’s DA Joseph T. Deters announced that there would be no third trial for Officer Raymond M. Tensing, who is white, and who shot and killed  unarmed motorist Samuel DuBose, who was black. during a vehicle stop. The first two trials ended in mistrials, with juries deadlocked. Now federal prosecutors will decide whether a civil rights prosecution is warranted—it shouldn’t be, because such prosecutions are really double jeopardy—but since the Trump Justice Department is less inclined than its predecessor to use its power to pander to  civil rights and black advocacy groups, a prosecution is less than likely.

This news comes after recent acquittals of police officers in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Oklahoma, all of whom were seen on video shooting unarmed black men. The news media and activists lump these cases together because the legal system reached similar results in all of them. That is a misleading and inflammatory approach, as is comparing those shootings to the police shootings of Walter Scott in South Carolina, shot in the back while fleeing an arrest, or Tamir Rice, a Cleveland, Ohio child killed while playing with a toy gun in a park.  Nevertheless, it is undeniable that juries, including grand juries, are reluctant to punish police officers whose incompetence, fear, panic or confusion—or racial bias— cause them to take a life.

When he initially announced his intent to prosecute Tensing, Deters said, “This is the most asinine act I’ve ever seen a police officer make.” I don’t know about that, but it seems indisputable that the officer panicked and wrongly used deadly force.  As shown in the video,  Tensing stops a green Honda Accord because it is missing a front license plate. He asks the driver to produce a driver’s license, but DuBose does not comply. After the officer asks DuBose to remove his seatbelt and places his hand on the car door to open it, DuBose pulls the door shut  starts the car. The video shows Tensing reaching into the car and shouting “Stop!” twice. Then the officer fires his gun once, striking  DuBose in the head and killing him instantly.

Tensing’s testimony was that his arm was caught in the steering wheel and he shot because he was in danger of being dragged by DuBose’s car.

I am at a loss to devise an ethical solution to the persistent problem of police so frequently escaping legal consequences of rash or illegal shootings. The elements that make it an ethics Gordian knot are…

1. Usually the killing is due to a police officer having a bad day, a bad moment, or just being a poor officer. Police officers, most people feel, have a difficult job, and shouldn’t be imprisoned for their mistakes unless actual malice can be proved. (I agree with them.)

2. These shootings almost always involve victims who resist arrest or otherwise defy the officer’s lawful instructions. I’d say DuBose’s conduct was at least as “asinine” as Tensing’s. A jury is likely to think, “Well, he brought that on himself” even though deadly force is not a legal response.

3. The African-American community is preconditioned to fear and distrust police, for valid historical reasons as well as present-day beliefs reinforced by statistics, community narratives and media coverage. This nurtures a mindset that makes conduct by black citizens in confrontation with police more likely to be hostile, fearful, or antagonistic. Hostile, fearful, or antagonistic conduct makes police over-reaction and excessive force more likely.

4. Activists want the system to presume that any time a white officer (or sometimes any officer) shoots an unarmed black victim, it is racially motivated. White jurors are offended by that assumption. I am offended by that assumption.

5. In part to mollify the black community and avoid civil unrest, prosecutors often over-charge. Prosecutors tried to add a lesser charge of reckless homicide halfway through Tensing’s second trial, but the judge ruled that it was too late.

6. The “beyond a reasonable doubt standard” seems to be an almost insuperable obstacle when the defendant is a police officer who is routinely placed in situations where a typical juror would be in fear of his or her life.

The situation has all of the elements of a vicious cycle, “a sequence of reciprocal cause and effect in which two or more elements intensify and aggravate each other, leading inexorably to a worsening of the situation.” Breaking that cycle is as imperative as it is unimaginable.

 

63 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, History, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Philanthropy, Non-Profits and Charity, Professions, Public Service, Race, U.S. Society, War and the Military

63 responses to “Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/20/17

  1. “utter historical ignorance of history.”

    Sheesh! Am I now left to question the…um…unique perspective offered up by future Senator Bluto “0.00 GPA” Blutarsky:

    “What? Over? Did you say ‘over’? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!”

  2. #1. The pre-conditions that arts organizations have to deal with when writing grants is really a pain sometimes.

    #2. Until the public at large truly understands what police officers have to deal with on a routine basis nothing will change. The real problem is respect or lack thereof. A wide swath of the public condemns all police based on the actions of a select few officers and they are leaning heavily towards being disrespectful directly to police officers and literally being intentionally uncivil towards the police in general and many of these people are refusing to follow any lawful instructions from police; this is a terribly dangerous trend and it leads to direct physical confrontations with police. The problem is a segment of society that’s becoming anarchists and very much anti-authority of any kind – what could possibly go wrong with this mindset?

    • deery

      https://www.reuters.com/article/us-maryland-police-idUSKBN1A505U

      Baltimore police officer caught by his own body camera planting evidence. The suspect in question spent six months in jail before the footage came to light. This officer has testified in hundreds of cases, with more upcoming.

      • deery wrote, “Baltimore police officer caught by his own body camera planting evidence. The suspect in question spent six months in jail before the footage came to light. This officer has testified in hundreds of cases, with more upcoming.”

        Do “we” should condemn all police officers based on the actions of a few select individual officers? Yes or No

        • deery

          Who is “we”?

          And further, I would question the premise. Is it the actions of only “a few select officers”? What about all the other officers standing around watching him plant evidence and doing nothing? We, as a society, can and should question and condemn any social institution that allows this to happen without censure.

          • deery wrote, “Who is “we”?”

            The answer should be exactly the same regardless of the “we” you choose to use; so choose ans answer the question.

            deery wrote, “And further, I would question the premise. Is it the actions of only “a few select officers”? What about all the other officers standing around watching him plant evidence and doing nothing?”

            Stop being obtuse deery, you know exactly what I’m talking about! A few individual officers scattered across the United States as opposed to the many thousands of officers in the United States that do not do such things.

            deery wrote, “We, as a society, can and should question and condemn any social institution that allows this to happen without censure.”

            Without censure? What the HELL are you talking about? I’m I supposed to take that as you answering yes to my question above?

            • Matthew B

              Stop being obtuse deery, you know exactly what I’m talking about! A few individual officers scattered across the United States as opposed to the many thousands of officers in the United States that do not do such things.

              I have personal anecdotes that back up the claim that officers disdain “snitches” just as much as bad neighborhoods, criminal gangs and prisons do. “Ratting out” bad cops will be a career damaging event.

              In on of the stories I know personally, an officer reported a fellow officer who was in preparation to kill his soon to be ex wife. Once he turned him in, plenty of damning evidence of the plot was uncovered and the officer was convicted of attempted murder. Mind you, this was shortly after the same agency had another officer murder / suicide his wife and the wife’s friend. Even though this move saved at least one life, my friend had to leave the department because he was harassed.

              Stories like this make it hard to feel that the majority of officers are “good.” Good people would stand by the reporting officer instead of running him out.

              • Matthew B,
                Do “we” should condemn all police officers based on the actions of a few select individual officers? Yes or No

                • Matthew B

                  1 – I reject your absolutes. This isn’t “Yes” or “No” but shades of gray.

                  2 – Fallacy of presumption (or strawman… take your pick). I stated that I lower my regard for all officers based on a significant fraction of the officers that don’t hold the bad apples accountable. You turned my statement into it being about d condemning officers “for the actions of a few”. It’s not about the bad apples, it’s about not dealing with the bad apples.

                  3 – The ethical position is to reserve judgement until more facts are known. We’ve got two sizable camps here: People who condemn all cops and those who never will condemn even the bad applies. We’re so polarized because neither side will concede even in the extreme situations.

                  • Matthew B wrote, “I reject your absolutes. This isn’t “Yes” or “No” but shades of gray.”

                    Bull shit Matthew. There is no grey area here Matthew; I asked you a question, stop deflecting and answer it.

                    Do “we” should condemn all police officers based on the actions of a few select individual officers? Yes or No

                    • Matthew B

                      I refuse to participate in your strawman.

                    • Matthew,
                      Try reading this entire sub-thread beginning with my comment that started it.

                    • Do “we” condemn all police officers based on the actions of a few select individual officers? Yes or No

                      Deleted the extra word – bad proof reading on my part.

                    • Matthew B

                      I have read the entire exchange, and I do wonder why you’re badgering me on the lines that you do.

                      I concur with your #2 statement – nothing good will come from disrespecting the officers. It only amps up situations and leads to more bad outcomes.

                      That’s one side of the coin. The other side is the “good” officers need to do more about the bad apples. Far too many apply the ostrich method. They deny the damage the bad apples do. They deny the number of bad apples. They fall into the “us vs. them” too often. Unless they address their own bad conduct, things won’t improve.

                    • Matthew B wrote, “I do wonder why you’re badgering me on the lines that you do.”

                      Asking you a question that is directly related to my initial comment and is also related to the replies to my comment and you label it a strawman and now repeating the question that you have refused to answer it’s badgering you; okay, got it. Nice. (P.S. I think it’s signature significance that you two have not directly answered the question.)

                      I’ll answer the question that others don’t have the guts to answer.
                      “Do “we” condemn all police officers based on the actions of a few select individual officers”; unquestionably NO! That is the same concept as we don’t judge all blacks, Hispanics, Jews, Christians, Muslims, or whites based on the actions of a few individuals within those groups, to do so is prejudice – period!

                      Moving on.

                      Matthew B wrote, “I concur with your #2 statement – nothing good will come from disrespecting the officers. It only amps up situations and leads to more bad outcomes.”

                      (Note I mislabeled that it should have been #3, again bad proof reading on my part)

                      Matthew B wrote, “That’s one side of the coin. The other side is the “good” officers need to do more about the bad apples. Far too many apply the ostrich method. They deny the damage the bad apples do. They deny the number of bad apples. They fall into the “us vs. them” too often. Unless they address their own bad conduct, things won’t improve.”

                      I’m confused; on one had you say that disrespecting officers amps up situations and leads to more bad outcomes, but on the other hand only the police have to change for things to improve. Why does that logic not seem right to me?

                    • Responsible police departments, of which there are legion, make every effort to stop police misconduct. But it’s hard: police see the job as stopping the bad guys and protecting the public. When they “know” who the bad guys are, the legal hurdles and impediments seem like dangerous technicalities. So they cheat, in many cases. They lie on the witness stand. Since their more honest colleaues sympathize with their motives, when misconduct is uncovered there is a strong tendency not to blow the whistle. The Golden Rule, misapplied. They see drug dealers, murderers, gang-bangers and other criminals get freed to hurt more people, and think of themselves as protecting the public by skirting laws that they see as doing wrong. This is an old, old problem, and while it is nowhere as pervasive as it once was, it’s part of that vicious cycle.

                      You can’t just say that other police have to fix the problem. The problem is inseparable from the job police do. And the public is not going to be hard on police for going too far occassion to protect them….except the part of the punlic that identifies with the perps. I don’t have a solution, and we need one. But “Police shouldn’t tolerate police misconduct” is just a useless position. No, they shouldn’t, but they will. It makes as much sense as saying, “people shouldn’t commit crimes, and their communities shouldn’t let those people get away with it.

                    • deery

                      solution, and we need one. But “Police shouldn’t tolerate police misconduct” is just a useless position. No, they shouldn’t, but they will. It makes as much sense as saying, “people shouldn’t commit crimes, and their communities shouldn’t let those people get away with it.

                      Aren’t those two sayings one and the same thing?

                      But unlike your freelance criminal, the police are supposed to be nominally agents of the state, hired at the behest of taxpayers, and is supposed to follow the law. That is why they are entrusted with the powers of arrest and the use of force. I think, at the bare minimum at this point, cameras on all the time while on duty. There is no longer a need to take an officer’s word when you have a dispassionate camera that can record it all. Discretionary cameras are way too easy to circumvent. That should cut down on at least some of the tendencies to lie that some officers have.

                    • “There is no longer a need to take an officer’s word”

                      Neither will there be a need to take the word of a suspect/perp.

                    • Matthew B

                      Zoltair: You continue to misconstrue and misstate my position. Is this intentional or are you emotional about the subject and can’t be rational about it?

                      Consider the logical AND… Both conditions need to happen. Officers need to deal with the poor officers AND people in minority communities need to treat officers better. AND means both need to do something.

                      I’ve never said it is one sided. You seem to think it is.

                    • Matthew B wrote, “Zoltar: You continue to misconstrue and misstate my position.”

                      That’s not true; I have not misconstrued or misstated a thing. Prove your accusation or apologize.

                      Matthew B wrote, “Is this intentional or are you emotional about the subject and can’t be rational about it?”

                      Here’s the extent of the emotional response you’re trolling for. Stop trolling for emotional responses, asshole. There, that’s all you’re going to get, are you satisfied now?

                      Matthew B wrote, “Consider the logical AND… Both conditions need to happen. Officers need to deal with the poor officers AND people in minority communities need to treat officers better. AND means both need to do something.”

                      That’s the first time in this little conversation that you’ve actually stated that anyone outside the Police needs to change for things to get better. That’s a shift from what appears to be a blanket demonization of the police based on the few; have you evolved?

                      Matthew B wrote, “I’ve never said it is one sided.”

                      You’ve implied multiple times that it’s all one sided, the police must change and you seem to be blaming all police based on the few. Own it or evolve.

                      Matthew B wrote, “You seem to think it is.”

                      So now you seem to know what I “think”, really?

                      You’re wrong, that’s not what I think and that’s not what I’ve implied. My focus was and will remain that the whole must not be demonized because of the few; if you think that is ignoring the problems that the few create you’re ignorantly trying to fabricate a strawman to attack me with. The question I’ve asked multiple times, “do “we” condemn all police officers based on the actions of a few select individual officers”, actually acknowledges within the question that there are a few that are not doing things right – you’ve essentially ignored that fact.

                      I do not believe that all the police across the United States should be condemned because there are a few individuals within their ranks that are not doing things right. You want to argue with me about that point, let’s have at it Matthew.

  3. Matthew B

    Regarding #3 –
    It will be interesting to see how the Justine Damond Minneapolis story plays out. I think either way it will inflame the BLM activists.

    This one is far worse than the cases you cite, because this element from your list is missing: These shootings almost always involve victims who resist arrest or otherwise defy the officer’s lawful instructions. . Indications so far are that Justine was simply talking to the other officer. I think that makes it far more likely for charges to stick.

    If the officer is convicted, the line will be: See, a racist system. Kill a black person and walk, kill a white person and they convict. Conversely, an acquittal in this case will demonstrate for everyone that it is impossible to convict an officer.

    • JutGory

      And, the shooting officer is black, to make it even more of a problem.
      White shoots Black-> acquitted.
      Black shoots White-> convicted.
      It requires no thought if you can simply apply a formula.
      -Jut

      • Facile, but it’s just not true when comparing apples and apples: http://www.jewishworldreview.com/1114/ferguson_mirror.php3

        Also: Half the officers indicted for Freddie Gray’s death were black. None were convicted.

        • deery

          But Freddie Gray was black. Let’s see what happens when the victim is white.

          • Sue Dunim

            I don’t see how the shooting was a crime.

            The policeman involved was spooked by having a cyclist nearby, it was night – albeit the place was well lit – someone who talked funny, was wearing Pajamas and who may have been carrying a cellphone that might have looked vaguely like a gun… So he Was In Fear Of His Life , this could have been an ambush by some hopped up icehead.

            That’s enough for reasonable doubt. Such fears don’t have to objectively justifiable, they merely have to be present. That’s the law, apparently.

            There have been many other shootings under far more questionable circumstances where the shooter was acquitted.

            The deceased engaged in risky behaviour, to wit, phoning 911 at night, then approaching a police vehicle, possibly with a cellphone in her hand. Many get away with this, not all get shot, but some do.

            Migrants from other countries where such behaviour is not seen as a deadly threat by police should be warned never to do this, and to avoid all contact with the police in the US lest they too be legally slain.

            • …did you forget the part where the police officer fired past his partner’s face? Who was not acting threatened, by all accounts?

              No, I think this one goes down in flames, as he should.

        • JutGory

          Yes, it is facile, Jack.
          That’s the point.
          Your problem is you are thinking like a thinking person.
          You need to think like an activist.
          It makes conclusions much easier to reach.
          -Jut

  4. 2) It’s a potentially interesting what-if scenario if the Germans had managed to bag the bulk of the British and French that were evacuated from Dunkirk.

    It’s not so much the immediate defense of Britain — above all, the Germans would have first had to get ashore, across the Channel, and then manage to keep an army group supplied across that same Channel. The first was far, far from a given and for the second — look at the major supply issues the Allies had in 1944 when they not only had total air and naval supremacy, but had the almost unimaginable backing of the world’s greatest industrial power (not to mention a totally mechanized army, which the Germans never came close to).

    The BEF and French were rescued, for sure, but only the men — all of their arms and equipment were left behind in France and had to be recreated. However the vital factor saved was this great pool of trained, experienced men who could be a core of the army that would be sent to Egypt, North Africa, Italy, the Far East and, ultimately, to Normandy.

    Without them, it is not hard to imagine Germany having more success in its Eastern campaigns. Ultimate victory is harder to imagine, although, possibly, some sort of eventual modus vivendi between, say, Germany, the USSR, and the United States.

  5. #2 “..once England fell, who else was left to fight Hitler?”

    Considering that at the time of Dunkirk, Russia and Germany were allies, and that the US was neutral, it seems to me a valid question.

    • No, it’s not. Russia and the US were not going to sit around like slugs as this wore on. Remember that Hitler attacked Russia? That Japan attacked the US? Neither event had anything to do with England. Russia and the US were the big boys on the block, and there was no chance they would sid by and let Germany run amuck.

      • Sue Dunim

        What does Japan attacking the US have to do with it?

        The US didn’t declare war on Germany then. It was only after Germany declared war on the US nearly a week afterwards that the US was at war with Germany.

        Probably Hitler’s biggest blunder.

        • Probably the biggest blunder that he didn’t have to make. I’d say that attacking the USSR was bigger, but given who Hitler was there was no chance he wasn’t going to attack Russia.

          On the other hand, once the U.S. was at war with Japan, I suspect that it wouldn’t have been long before President Roosevelt found a reason to ask for a declaration against Germany. There had already been a naval destroyer (USS Reuben James) sunk by the Germans just a few weeks earlier and, given that we were actively helping the British by then, another such incident was likely to occur fairly soon.

        • It has a lot to do with it. Japan and Germany were allies. I brought the US into the way against an Axis power. War against Germany was inevitable: FDR wanted it, and was already assisting Great Britain and Russia. That’s why Hitler declared war against the US: he knew he might as well.

          The point is that all of this would have probably happened regardless of the outcome at Dunkirk.

          • As well, if Dunkirk doesn’t happen,. Britain is that much weaker globally and Japan might be even less hesitant to attack in the Pacific. Great Britain no longer had the capability to fight a to-the-death war with the Nazis as well as a major war with the Japanese. Only the United States did.

            As Jack has mentioned FDR and Churchill both wanted the U.S. in the European war — there is no way Roosevelt would have just watch Europe go down while we only fought the Japanese.

    • The U.S. was neutral in favor of Great Britain. We were just about to institute conscription. I don’t recall exactly when Lend Lease started, but it was only there for Britain and later the U.S.S.R. By 1941 we were helping the British patrol the North Atlantic against German submarine.

      Roosevelt was constrained by domestic politics in going too far in favor of Great Britain, but we clearly were steadily taking a more active role in the war as 1940 and 1941 wore on.

      That doesn’t even mention the fact that Canada was already at war, along with Australia, South Africa, India, and others.

  6. Paul Compton

    I’m pretty sure that Russia would have quite happily let Germany run amok, if they’d struck South into the Balkans or West into Spain rather than East. Why DID they go that way? Farmland and oil in the Caucasus?

    I’m also not sure that the US would have declared war on Germany after Pearl Harbor if Hitler had not stupidly declared war on the US. Yes, I’m aware he had a pact with Japan. Japan’s attacking the US, clearly without warning Hitler they had this on their mind, one month after Germany invaded Russia was a huge disaster. Yet again we can rejoice in the failures, including the failure to communicate, of the Axis nations.

    The contribution of the US and particularly Russia in winning the war in Europe is obvious, but never write off the value of the Poms and the Commonwealth – well, Empire then – standing virtually alone for two years!

    I’m not saying everyone wouldn’t have come to blows eventually but it may not have been for a decade or more, and without England as a jumping off point things would have been so much harder that the cost may have been just too high.

    • Actually the Germans did overrun the Balkans before attaching Russia (aside from the countries there that were part of the Axis). Spain was a not quite ally, but certainly a friendly regime.

      Stalin had been spending his time since the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact occupying the Baltic states, Poland, and parts of the Balkans. He was busy reorganizing and refitting his armed forces, and it is quite possible he’d have been happy to watch Germany go about its business until he felt Russia was ready to attack Germany.

      Also, you have to consider the situation from the viewpoint of Hitler and the Japanese leadership. On December 10, 1941 things looked pretty good (on the surface) for the Axis. Many observers were surprised that the Soviet Union had already lasted nearly six months since the German attack. The spires of the Kremlin were actually within sight of the German spearheads, Singapore, the Philippines, all of South Asia were in the process of being occupied by the Japanese. The U.S. Pacific fleet was destroyed, or so they thought, the western Pacific was a Japanese lake and Japan had secured the resources denied it by the American blockade.

      All in all, victory for the Axis seemed to be within reach, although this turned out to be an illusion. Why wouldn’t Hitler think that declaring war on one more country was no big deal? I agree that objectively it was a stupid decision, but then I don’t think megalomaniacs are known for their flawless judgement.

  7. Paul Compton

    What-if’s can be interesting, if somewhat pointless. They are perhaps best indulged before the event, when it’s not to late to benefit from them.

    This is one of the reasons the debacles around the world at the moment can be so consuming.

  8. Sue Dunim

    Well, at least the US hasn’t gone down the path of North Korea.

    No excuciatingly embarassing statements lauding the Dear Leader.

    ” The Dear Leader Kim Jong Il has a magnetic personality and exudes positive energy, which is infectious to those around him. He has an unparalleled ability to communicate with people, whether he is speaking to a room of three or an arena of 30,000. He has built great relationships throughout his life and treats everyone with respect. He is brilliant with a great sense of humor … and an amazing ability to make people feel special and aspire to be more than even they thought possible.”

    No-one can imagine a White House press statement like that.

    • We didn’t come close during the Obama presidency?

      I mean. It may not be nearly as eloquent as the NK propaganda machines but didn’t one of our anchors talk about how he got a tingly feeling up his leg when he thought about Obama? (Just to take one example of many)

    • A shot of penicillin will clear up that sarcasm outbreak for you.

      • Sue Dunim

        I should have said that before it was issued by the White House, even I could not have imagined it.

        Taking an optimistic view, I would hope that historians will see this as an atypical abberation, before things got back to somehng more like normal, but with lessons learnt by all sides. A pessimistic view would see a heriditary dynasty gradually installed over the next 20 years. As has happened elsewhere, despite constitutional obstacles. With the right SCOTUS composition, anything is possible, black interpreted as being white. Roy Moore for example. Reed O’Connor. Any judge, on either side of politics, whose decisions can be reliably predicted regardless of the merits of the case.

        A realistic view may be somewhere in between. That this is the new normal.

        • “A pessimistic view would see a heriditary dynasty gradually installed over the next 20 years.”

          You mean like Kennedy after Kennedy, stopped only by assassination and negligent homicide? Bush following Bush, then a Clinton redux only avoided by a confluence of chaotic factors? Trump saved the US from a creeping dynastic tradition. Trumps sons are uniformly loathsome; the next appeal to the dynastic impulse is likely to come from Michelle. [NOTE: I originally wrote “kids” which was not what I intended. Ivanka sis not loathsone, though she is unfairly loathed.]

  9. Pennagain

    “I think it’s unfortunate that qualified reviewers are being replaced,” said one movie industry pundit, “but that’s what’s happening.”

    I say, “Good. It’s about time.”

    I don’t know who the “pundit” was, Jack, and I don’t know what he meant by “qualified,” (nor to I want to argue the professional distinction between reviewers and critics here so I’ll stick with “reviewers”), but the film reviewers in Variety by and large know their stuff – ALL their stuff — and write it extremely well.
    If you read the Peter Debruge review of “Dunkirk” I sent you, I hope you failed to include it only because it didn’t fit your argument since it had none of the defects you mentioned. If so, I’m sorry you didn’t include it as an exception. It made no hint of sexism nor wandered into any fictional Nazified future. It’s history is, as far as I can trace, on the mark.
    On the contrary, and as always, it gave away too much for the casual reader – after all, Variety is an industry paper. The people it is written for have no use for the amateur bloggers and trolls-with-opinions, they are film industry people: those who make their living in front of, or behind, the cameras, the post-production companies, the producers, agents and managers, the world-wide advertisers and marketers, the distributors and theater owners. And the ever-growing audience that is interested in more than movie stars and directors’ names.

    Variety covers just about the whole entertainment industry. I know nothing about their other reviewers or reporters – the ones for such as drama, circuses (with or without bread), TV, music or what they humorously call “dirt,” etc. – so I can’t speak for any of them. Each of them lends itself to biases, I’m sure. Film (we’re back to “movies,” more accurately) perhaps more than most, since it exposes itself to a wider range of biased audiences. The best reviewer is going to let the film speak for itself in all its aspects whether it is an excuse for (warning: incendiary subject approaching) a documentary on global warming or a faith-based family drama. Variety’s reviewers are about the best at doing that.

    I’m herewith recommending this review of “Dunkirk” (sorry for the encroaching advertising: can’t afford the rates to push it back) for anyone who has not seen it — and welcome a comment from anyone who has:

    http://variety.com/2017/film/reviews/dunkirk-review-christopher-nolan-1202495701/

    • I did read the review, and Variety generally has competent reviewers, as reviewers go. But having read and reviled films and theater reviewers for decades, they are firmly in the “can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em” category. Why do reviewers who hate a genre get to review that genre? They are conflicted and biased. How does a film expert (like the late Pauline Kiel) get to be an authority, when her perspective is completely different from virtually any normal ticket buyer who does not see the film from the perspective of someone who has seen every film ever made and has an insider’s knowledge of the craft? Why do critics with no sense of humor review comedies? Why do reviewers who don’t “get” musicals review musicals?

      The job of a critic is to tell someone who likes the kind of movie a movie was intended to be whether he or she will like this movie, giving them what might help them appreciate it more without giving it away. Most reviewers can’t do it.

      Robert Benchley, as theater critic for the New Yorker, once returned to see a comedy he had panned that was a big hit. He wrote, in essence, “Well, I’m obvious the one out of step here. The audience loves it. You probably will too. I hate it, but what do I know.”

      Now that’s an ethical reviewer.

      • Growing up, my family avidly read movie reviews, and avoided the ones they liked. If a movie was panned by critics, it likely was good entertainment, in other words.

        We knew even then that the eggheads in media did not hold our values, nor knew what entertainment media to the common American.

  10. There are a number of factors in this case that are unclear. However, speaking from a standpoint of experience (forgive my pomposity!) I can state that one of a patrol officer’s greatest fears is being dragged to death by a hostile mororist. It’s a damned ugly way to die. If that policeman was in the position he claimed, he may have had every reason to fear for his life. Whether the subject was armed or not would have become irrelevant. An automobile with any horses at all under the hood is a deadly weapon in itself.

  11. I must star this off my mentioning: I swear there was an ENTIRE post about some hyper-sensitive idiot somewhere crying that the movie “Dunkirk” wasn’t ‘diverse’ enoug. In my inability to find that post (if it exists, as my memory insists it does), I must post here, and I must hope that this comment gets moved to THAT post.

    I have finally seen the movie Dunkirk and I must say that only abject morons can claim the movie lacks diversity. For the time period and geographic location, I think the director went out of his way to demonstrate that the war effort *in Europe* *in 1940* was wrought not only by white males.

    The director ensures we see that the French army had black soldiers (whether or not any were at Dunkirk, I do not know); but we are consistently brought back to a crowd of French soldiers, of which the camera will convince us must be 50% of the French army, waiting on the jetty to be evacuated by British ships. I won’t mention the bull crap line of the British officer saying that the French weren’t allowed to be evacuated on British vessels since somewhere north of 85% of evacuated French soldiers were evacuated on British vessels.

    We were also consistently showed scenes of women fulfilling one of the few roles they were able to fulfill *in that era* serving as nurses on board evacuation vessels….and THEY died just the same as the men when the ships went down.

    The most striking image of the movie, which I think is the thesis statement of the movie Dunkirk (and probably the thesis statement of the real event, if real events can be said to have a thesis statement) is the scene where it’s revealed that hundreds and hundreds of civilian boat owners answered the call of their beleaguered countrymen and plowed across the Luftwaffe-harassed channel to rescue them. Every stiff British lip facing south to France as fishing trawlers, weekend runabouts, and sailing dinghies answered the call. The scene was set perfectly: hundreds of *ordinary* civilians elevated to heroes by conditions beyond their control were almost lost against the back drop of dozens and dozens of boats on a sea bounded only by horizon. But despite the miniaturization of the individual amidst the colossal group effort, ONLY A MORON FAILS TO SEE that the director made PROMINENT, IN THE EXACT MIDDLE OF THAT THESIS STATEMENT OF A SCENE, a woman, nobly standing, an active leg forward bracing against the wind and waves smashing her boat–leanings TOWARDS the ENEMY to save her brothers and cousins, and NEIGHBORS and strangers.

    Given that WW2, in Europe, IS (with few notable exceptions) a story of white men fighting against white men, the movie Dunkirk GOES OUT OF ITS WAY to let us know that this particular episode of the largest War in History involved MORE than just White Men.

    In short, hyper-sensitive nay-sayers….get lost.

    That being said: I do have several complaints about the movie, (which can be discussed later) but in terms of art and in terms of a really enjoyable and gripping story, Dunkirk gets an A+ in my book.

    (And I really do hope that if there is this fabled post specifically on the movie Dunkirk, this post of mine is migrated over to it.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s