1. I’m moving this to the top from its original placement at the end. I warned that the mania for retroactive statue-toppling and historical air-brushing was a deadly slippery slope to cultural chaos from the moment Dylan Roof’s rampage primed the Confederate flag banning push. I said that there was no clear stop on that slope, and that this was a massive ethical error that would quickly spin out of control.
I am accepting apologies and “You were right, I was wrong” messages at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will reply gracefully.
2. It’s a good thing, in some ways, that President Trump has no ethics alarms, or has them but doesn’t understand what all the ringing means, because if he did, he might realize that he has put himself in ethics zugswang in the matter of former sheriff Joe Arpaio, the anti-illegal immigration zealot who is facing up to six months in jail for defying a federal judge’s order to stop targeting Latinos based solely on the suspicion of their legal status. Trump has been urged to pardon Arpaio. Let’s see:
- Arpaio did defy a judicial order. Should a law enforcement official be treated especially harshly when he does this?
- The judicial order related to Arpaio’s practice of assuming that individuals of Hispanic descent were more likely to be violating the immigration laws in his jurisdiction than other citizens. Since his jurisdiction was rife with Hispanic illegals, was this an unreasonable assumption on his part? No. Was it still discriminatory? Sure. Is the balance between profiling, which in such situations is a valuable law-enforcement tool, and the importance of equal treatment under the law a difficult one legally and ethically? Yes. Does a sheriff have the right and authority to ignore the way this balance is decided one legal authorities define it?
- Is the determination of this balance often polluted by ideological biases, in this case, against enforcement of immigration laws?
- Do Donald Trump, and his supporters, and those Americans who may not be his supporters but who agree that allowing foreign citizens to breach our borders at will without legal penalties is certifiably insane, believe that Arpaio’s position on illegal immigration is essentially correct and just?
- Nonetheless, did his ham-handed methods give ammunition to open-borders, pro-illegal immigration, race-baiting activists like the one who told the New York Times,
“Trump is delivering a slap in the face to dignified, hard-working people whose lives were ripped apart by Arpaio. Arpaio belongs in jail, getting a taste of his own medicine. Trump wants to put Arpaio above the law, showing they are both about white supremacy.”
- Is sending Arpaio to jail a political imprisonment?
Yes, although he made it easy to justify on non-political grounds.
- Are political prisoners the ideal objects of Presidential pardons?
- Would pardoning him send dangerous messages (it’s OK to violate judicial orders you think are wrong; the ends justifies the means; Presidents should meddle in local law enforcement, “extremism in defense of liberty is no vice”) as well as defensible ones ( judges and elected official enabling illegal immigration are a threat to the rule of law; Joe is an old man with a long record of public service who deserves mercy even though he was wrong…)
- Will such a pardon, especially as the news media is again spinning to make the case that Trump is sympathetic with xenophobes and white nationalists, further inflame an overly emotional debate that needs to be calmed, not exacerbated?
- Is the most responsible course for Trump to stay out of this mess?
- Will he?
Of course not.
3. ESPN’s indefensible decision to pull Asian-American sportscaster Robert Lee from broadcasting a football game [NOTE: this is a correction: the original post erroneously and stupidly called it a basketball game.] in Charlottesville is, of course, being defended. ESPN’s jaw-droppingly moronic statement, tweeted yesterday, shows how badly. The Bristol, Conn. based sports network wrote,
“This wasn’t about offending anyone. It was about the reasonable possibility that because of his name he would be subjected to memes and jokes and who knows what else. Think about it. Robert Lee comes to town to do a game in Charlottesville. No politically correct efforts. No race issues. Just trying to be supportive of a young guy who felt it best to avoid the potential zoo.”
The claim that morons somewhere would be offended at least makes twisted sense assuming the network’s cowardice and aversion to progressive fury. But pulling an employee from an assignment based on a fear of jokes and memes? Announcing that social media trolls are now the tail that wags the journalism dog? Making the brain-cramping argument that pulling an announcer because of fear of what political correctness bullies and fanatics might say or tweet isn’t about political correctness? Can any organization be that stupid?
- CNN’s Roxanne Jones added this incompetent and biased analysis to the question of whether ESPN acted reasonably:
“Nope, not unreasonable at all. Not in today’s America. Not when we just witnessed heavily armed, swastika-wearing protesters who believe in white supremacy clashing in the streets with counterprotesters, who believed just as passionately that all people are created equal. Not when one woman is dead and dozens more injured because they had the audacity to stand up to the failed notion of white supremacy. Not when a statue, or a team name, or a presidential tweet can incite racial tensions and violence”
Is this a new rationalization for the list, of just so crushingly cretinous that it sounds like one? I think it’s a Bizzaro World argument: everyone’s acting absurdly, so acting absurdly is reasonable. Let me make that clear with a slight translation: “It’s reasonable for ESPN to pull an Asian-American announcer because social justice warriors want to purge statues of a long dead general and the wrong people protested against it, and two groups featuring armed thugs fought over the fact that they hated each other, and this made the network afraid of jokes and memes.”
THIS is CNN.
- Conservative talk radio host Buck Sexton tweeted, “ESPN owes Robert Lee an apology. Can’t punish Asian Americans as part of PC obsession. Only elite college admissions offices get to do that.”
Unfair? Explain why.
- Moderate conservative commentator S. E. Cupp–she teamed with New Gingrich on CNN’s recent failed attempt to revive “Crossfire”—wrote in an op-ed for the New York Daily News,
President Trump held a rally in Phoenix, in which he once again offered unto his base the reddest of red meat.
“They’re trying to take away our culture,” he said, of the exploding debate over Confederate statues and monuments.
“They’re trying to take away our history. And our weak leaders, they do it overnight. These things have been there for 150 years, for a hundred years. You go back to a university and it’s gone. Weak, weak people.”
Simultaneously, on the other side of the country, something else was happening. ESPN was scrambling to release a statement on a baffling assignment change that a sports website had caught wind of.
The decision to remove an Asian-American announcer named Robert Lee from calling University of Virginia’s home opener — “simply because of the coincidence of his name,” as ESPN inexplicably admits — unsurprisingly lit up the Internet with outrage, jokes and memes. It also rendered inarguably true the assertion made by President Trump himself as well as many others that this debate will descend quickly and embarrassingly down a slippery slope. I’d argue the pre-emptive removal of an Asian-American sportscaster, who had nothing to do with the Civil War or slavery, from a college football game simply because his name sounds similar doesn’t represent a gradual slope, but a 1000-foot cliff.
Whatever you think of the statue debate, one thing is now abundantly clear: President Trump has won it.
The list of offensive iconography grows by the hundreds every day. From removing Lee statues all over the South to changing the name of Fenway Park’s Yawkey Way and Boston’s Faneuil Hall, even abolitionist strongholds aren’t spared the scrutiny of ravenous liberal activists on a mission to run as far as they can towards crazy with this argument…
Over at the University of Southern California, activists are taking issue with the school’s mascot, a horse named Traveler. The mascot, according to his official bio, is “a symbol of ancient Troy. Its rider, with costume and sword, is a symbol of a Trojan warrior.”
So what’s the problem? Robert E. Lee’s horse was also named Traveller — spelled differently, but unacceptable nonetheless.
This is nonsense. What’s unnerving to conservatives like me, who are actually sympathetic to the fact that confederate flags, statues and monuments are painful reminders of one of our darkest moments as a nation — and have written so — is that this is exactly what Trump wants….
Trump dared liberals to go down this kooky rabbit hole of political correctness. It’s fertile ground and he knew they’d take the bait.
And did they ever. So instead of talking about the growing scourge of white supremacy in this country, and what the President should do about it, we’re talking about blowing up Mount Rushmore and punishing Asian-American sports announcers for having the wrong name. Game, set, match: Trump.
Whatever seriousness this argument once had is gone. And I, for one, think that’s a real shame. But in the meantime, all the other Robert Lees out there should think about brushing up their resumes.
- The Asian American Journalists Association said in a statement that “it is unfortunate that someone’s name, particularly a last name that is common among Asian-Americans, can be a potential liability.”
Who is making it a potential liability?
- Finally, Robert Lee has been unavailable for interviews, and ESPN is claiming that he agreed with its decision. I want to see him say that, on camera. If true, then he is a coward, and could learn something about courage from his maligned sort-of name-sake. in fact, there is a lot every American can learn from Robert E. Lee. “Today’s America,” however, doesn’t approve of learning from the past. Today’s America is increasingly about programming minds to achieve a politically correct future.