Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/12/17

Good morning, all!

1. I can’t keep writing the same post repeatedly as the politically correct, the historical censors, the Soviet-style Left and the gallactically stupid continue to tear down statues and eliminate honors to significant Americans who are predecessors deemed worthy.  Just hunt for the “airbrushing history” tag here and you’ll find too many already. We should note, however, how the cognitive dissonance scale is coming into play to the benefit of the unethical airbrushers.

In Charlottesville, home of the University of Virginia, this weekend will witness thousands of white nationalists and neo-Nazis demonstrating to protest a plan to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee  from a city park, because, Lee’s sub-21, infinitely wise undergrads insist, erasing Lee from history will undo the legacy of racism, or something. Of course, for the Racist Right to be the ones protesting makes this position look reasonable. White supremacists organizing the protests unjustly associates Lee with their cause, making his statue mean something it never did, and attaching him to  cause that was not his. The protests against tearing down Lee’s statue–UVA’s founder, Thomas Jefferson, will be next on the non-person list, or close to it—should be coming from historians, scholars, liberals, believers in fairness, nuance, and integrity, and those who are literate enough to understand that the life of Robert E. Lee has much to teach every child and American about loyalty, hubris, hard choices, tragic choices, hypocrisy, courage and more. Why aren’t they protesting? Two reasons, now: they don’t want to be shoulder to shoulder with the scum of the earth, and they are too timid to stand up for crucial ethical principles, unlike the censors of Charlottesville, who don’t understand them, and the Neo-Nazis and white supremacists, who don’t have them.

2. And speaking of historical airbrushing and censorship: Last year, I designated the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C as an Ethics Dunce for omitting the second African American SCOTUS justice, Clarence Thomas from mention while devoting an exhibit to his unsubstantiated accuser, Anita Hill.  Now the museum has announced plans to honor Jim Vance.

Come on, you all know who Jim Vance is, don’t you? (D.C. area residents: shut up!) Jim Vance, who transformed America for blacks? Give up? Vance was a long-time popular local D.C. television news broadcaster, with a nice screen presence and a casual delivery.  He just died, and he was black. The museum’s founding director, Lonnie Bunch, said the broadcaster “symbolized that it was really important that America was changing and his presence was a symbol of that change.” Right, sort of….although Vance was hardly the first or the most prominent black newscaster in D.C. Clarence Thomas, however, was the first conservative black justice…which is, of course, why is being shown such disrespect by the “Nation’s Attic.”

I haven’t visited the huge, striking new museum on the mall yet, and I won’t until its shows signs of being am objective chronicler of history rather than a tool of interest group propaganda.

3.  From the Fred Files, and I don’t understand this story at all.

Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green announced on August 2 that she was dropping all charges filed against Tatyana Hargrove including resisting arrest and use of force against a police officer, saying, “In my opinion, after reviewing all the facts and legal principles I do not believe a jury would be able to find beyond a reasonable doubt that she was guilty of that charge. So for that reason, the charges are being dismissed.”  In her opinion? She doesn’t believe? Beyond a reasonable doubt???

How about the fact that no semi-conscious juror, much less a whole jury, could  find Hargrove guilty under any rational standard under the sun?

Tatyana Hargrove is a black 19-year-old woman who was punched in the mouth by an officer, bitten by a police K9 and arrested last month after an officer said he mistook her for a 180-pound bald man suspected of threatening people with a machete at a nearby grocery store. The story makes no sense at all. Hargrove says that on June 18 she was walking home after buying  a Father’s Day gift  when she was approached by an officer with a drawn gun.

“He [the officer] put his other knee on my head, and I told him, ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe’ and I started yelling out: ‘Somebody help me, somebody help me, they’re going to kill me,’” Hargrove said in a video. The arresting officer, Christopher Moore, said in a police report obtained by  that he didn’t know Hargrove was a woman until after she was handcuffed. Here she is:

He mistook her for a machete-wielding suspect who had threatened several people, according to the police report. That man, Douglas Washington, was described in multiple police reports from June 18 as a 25- to 30-year-old man, bald, about 170 pounds standing at 5 feet 10 inches. He was wearing a white t-shirt, dark jeans and a pink or red backpack that contained the machete. Hargrove is 115 pounds,  stands 5 feet 2 inches, was wearing a baggy white shirt, blue jean shorts and a black hat. She was straddling a bicycle, and had a red and black backpack slung over her shoulder. She is also female.

“She appeared to be a male and matched the description of the suspect that had brandished the machete and was also within the same complex the suspect had fled to,” Moore wrote in his report. He thought she had a weapon in her bag.

Yeah, Washington and Hargrove sound like virtual twins.

Writes Fred, evoking Hanlon’s Razor: “Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.”

True, but malice this stupid can only be incompetence.


23 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/12/17

  1. She appeared to be a male? You really can’t judge that by appearance anymore. But, she certainly doesn’t appear to be 180 pounds and bald.

  2. Green says neither of the officers involved in the arrest will face any charges.

    District Attorney Green says law enforcement in the county needs to ‘repair any damage’ to trust in law enforcement in minority communities caused by this case.”

    Hence the dropping of the charges against this particular suspect, rather than piling them on so she takes a plea deal. We should all be grateful. Seriously. She could quite easily have been executed, or faced life without parole.

  3. As for the statue – whatever it meant in the past, it means something very different now.

    In a sane world, the statue would stay, along with a plaque and references to a museum giving historical background.

    But just as the pimp and petty thief Horst Wessel was adopted as a Nazi martyr, so those shouting “Jews to the ovens” have adopted the slaveholding Confederacy and all its works. Judah P Benjamin included, because they’re not exactly historically literate.

    They’ve adopted the Islamist tactic of vehicular homicide too apparently, one killed, over a dozen injured, some critically.

    Oddly, no firearms were used. A big difference from a century ago. A bigger difference is that the police weren’t on the side of the KKK, and by all accounts, acted in a thoroughly professional manner, trying to defuse the situation and minimise violence.

  4. Poor General Lee. He must be rolling in his grave over the stupidity and violence exhibited by both side. This is the man who knelt down to pray next to a black couple in an Episcopal Church after the Civil War when none of the other white parishioners would.

  5. In Charlottesville, home of the University of Virginia, this weekend will witness thousands of white nationalists and neo-Nazis demonstrating to protest a plan to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee from a city park, because, Lee’s sub-21, infinitely wise undergrads insist, erasing Lee from history will undo the legacy of racism, or something.

    Since no one is trying to “erase Lee from history,” that is not the argument, and pretending it is is a strawman. Removing statues of one of the most historically documented people in the world is not, and cannot be fairly seen as, “erasing history.”

    White supremacists organizing the protests unjustly associates Lee with their cause, making his statue mean something it never did, and attaching him to cause that was not his.

    Even if I grant you the premise that Robert E. Lee was not fighting for the cause of white supremacy, the statue always meant exactly that, and was erected as part of a misinformation campaign designed to idealize the South and justify Jim Crow laws:

    After the Civil War, Lee resisted efforts to build Confederate monuments in his honor and instead wanted the nation to move on from the Civil War.

    After his death, Southerners adopted “The Lost Cause” revisionist narrative about the Civil War and placed Lee as its central figure. The Last Cause argued the South knew it was fighting a losing war and decided to fight it anyway on principle. It also tried to argue that the war was not about slavery but high constitutional ideals.

    As The Lost Cause narrative grew in popularity, proponents pushed to memorialize Lee, ignoring his deficiencies as a general and his role as a slave owner. Lee monuments went up in the 1920s just as the Ku Klux Klan was experiencing a resurgence and new Jim Crow segregation laws were adopted.

    The Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Virginia, went up in 1924. A year later, the U.S. Congress voted to use federal funds to restore the Lee mansion in the Arlington National Cemetery.

      • No. If we universally removed statues of Robert E. Lee, that would not be at all sufficient to erase him from history. There are no statues of Hitler in Germany; are Germans uninformed on who Hitler was?

          • I don’t actually “know” that Germany would do that, so some kind of support for that assertion would be helpful. The assertion in the second sentence is also unsupported. Where is your evidence that liberals want Americans to forget the Civil War? Aren’t we the same people that conservatives accuse of constantly bringing up past injustices?

            People don’t put up statues just to remember important historical figures; we do it to *honor* them. If we only did it to remember, we’d have statues of Hitler and other tyrants we defeated. But we don’t make a habit of honoring leaders of treasonous white supremacist movements. Except for the Confederacy.

            • HA! Oh, I don’t know: banning the confederate flag at national battlefields? You can’t exactly explain the Civil War without mentioning the confederacy. It’s all too triggering and painful, Chris!

              • You keep conflating “mentioning” the confederacy with displaying statues and flags. Why are you doing this?

                I don’t know about banning the flag at national battlefields; I haven’t seen examples of that. What is the purpose of such flags? If it’s for education, keep them up. Are you opposed to removing them from state capitol buildings? In that case the purpose is not education, but to honor the Confederacy.

                Reasonable people can draw distinctions about when and where such icons are appropriate. The government has an interest in keeping its history alive. It has no interest in honoring a treasonous white supremacy movement that tried to overthrow it. The Robert E. Lee statue does exactly that, and should be removed for that reason.

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