Ethical Quote Of The Week: Ann Althouse

“Hey, journalist — you call yourself a “journalist” — how about not being on any side? Have you completely forgotten that idea? Sad about your camera, but what about your ethics? Did somebody grab them too and smash them on the pavement? Or is it still possible to scrounge back somewhere in your head and find them?”

—-Bloggress and retired law prof Ann Althouse, commenting on a New Republic story in which a photographer complains about an antifa thug breaking his camera despite his assurances that they were on the “same side.”

Yes, Ann, journalists have completely forgotten that idea, and that idea was little more than a faint memory by 2008, when total ethics amnesia set in.

The journalist in question, Mike Kessler, signals his assumed virtue by writing…

To be clear, there’s no equivalence between white supremacists and antifas. One has a message of hate, and one seeks to stop that hate…. Conflating the two groups is a way for whataboutist conservatives to play down the racist rot that is spreading on the right….

To be clear, Mike, that’s utter bullshit, though it is the basis upon which the news media, Democrats and Never-Trump Republicans mugged the President for condemning  equally—as he should have–the violent white nationalists in Charlottesville who were protesting the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue, and the violent antifa felons who attacked them to stifle their exercise of their Constitution-guaranteed rights. The far-left’s  hooded antifa assholes who claim to oppose hate while wielding it, and whose objective is to destroy the freedom of speech through intimidation, are exactly as dangerous, repulsive and wrong as the far-right bigots who want to deny equal rights and opportunities to non-white minorities.

To be clear, these anti-democratic objectives—racial discrimination and suppression of free speech, are both unacceptable in a free society, and that makes them “equivalent” enough. They should both be opposed with the same fervor by all ethical, civically competent Americans, regardless of partisan tilt. If you  prefer weakening the First Amendment to bigotry, you are as much a threat to the nation as the torch-bearing mob, and probably more. If you are a journalist and in favor of the anti-speech antifa (hardly anti-hate!), you are a hypocrite and a fool, as well as a disgrace to your crumbling profession.

As I have been writing for a long time, the news media’s abdication of journalism standards and ethics for partisan and ideological agendas is the most serious and important ethics story of our the century so far.  Ann Althouse gets it. Once journalists did.  I wonder when and if they ever will again.

20 thoughts on “Ethical Quote Of The Week: Ann Althouse

  1. To be clear, these anti-democratic objectives—racial discrimination and suppression of free speech, are both unacceptable in a free society, and that makes them “equivalent” enough. They should both be opposed with the same fervor by all ethical, civically competent Americans, regardless of partisan tilt. If you prefer weakening the First Amendment to bigotry, you are as much a threat to the nation as the torch-bearing mob, and probably more. If you are a journalist and in favor of the anti-speech antifa (hardly anti-hate!), you are a hypocrite and a fool, as well as a disgrace to your crumbling profession.

    It would be easy I suppose if the analysis required to understand America’s present were so simple, and susceptible to a simplistic analysis. But that is not the case, not at all. To understand what is going on in the present — which is the fracturing of a national identity, a crisis of extremely telling proportions that has just now become more manifest as such (it began long ago) — requires a concerted historical analysis.

    It is impossible to say that the identity politics, the rise of adversarial feminism, the declarations about Black, Latino and the underprivelaged’s clamoring against the American power-structure are not democratic at their core. It is as a result of democracy, and democratic activism, that the national identity has been undermined. Therefor, what is happening (I offer this description as interpretation) now is that large groups of Americans, that is sectors of the demos, do not any longer identify with the former, the original, the previous ‘America’.

    The outcome of democratic processes is now bringing about a circumstance of national identity crisis. It begins to become a situation of having to choose between which ‘democratic America’ one sets one’s will on 1) identifying and describing, 2) empowering and re-inforcing, and 3) serving.

    To return to ‘core identity’ is a good part of what is involved. If your ‘story’ and your ‘narrative’ says that the principles that defined America at its founding are not yours, and if you cannot defend them and serve them as such (the ‘white power structure’ et cetera et cetera), and if you are caught in the relativistic currents that move powerfully through the present, you have detached yourself from the possibility of being an American in this sense of the word. You can still definitely be an American, but you will serve some other, some hybrid, some newfangled ‘America’. Right now, at least to appearances, you are winning. Democratically!

    I would place all of this (a will to recover what is being dissolved) as a movement toward ‘Originalism’. That is, it corresponds to originalism in Robert Bork’s sense. But it is philosophcially and epistemologically a more far-reaching issue. The New America which is emurging and clamoring for power and influence serves other ideas, other ‘impositions of value’.

    It is not a popular statement, I know, but I assert that real identification with original America can only occur among people who will to accept those tenets, the tenets that defined original America. I emphasize ‘will’ because in a confused postmodern present no one seems able to claim a master narrative. Again, the crisis of the present has been brought about because the original tenets were contested. This much seems clear to me. It is intricate and labyrinthian in detail, but in a broad sense I think this is a fair reduction.

    But there is an understructure here that needs to be spoken of: that is the underlying economy, the interests of unreally massive corporations that now exert tremendous power over the nation-state and in this sense ‘own’ it. If there is a constitutional crisis, or a demographic crisis, or a race-crisis, or a crisis that has to do with ‘essential identity’, I do not believe they care. They require order in order for their systems to function. Therefor, they have an interest in neutralizing conflict, in pacification, in influencing the present in such a way that the extremists are neutralized as much as possible.

    In this sense the democratic crisis must be overcome non-democratically! Not to sound too paranoid (it is not paranoia really, it is realism) one has to mention the ‘deep state’ and the ‘shadow government’ and the extra-democratic and para-democratic force that will be called in (I assume it has been called in) to neutralize democratic conflict. (If anyone thinks differently I sure would appreciate the couner-argument).

    The centrist have a good case to make if they can succeed in re-establishing the olden definition of ‘America’ and, as in war-time, get people to rally around it. That will be an artificial attainment, and a fleeting one, for rather obvious reasons: American identity has been shattered. That came about because it was what was worked for. It was attained because enough people wanted it, or thought they did in any case.

    I suggest that the ‘original demographic’, to use a term that can only be understood as one of the hottest and most contested terms possible in our present, must rally itself and must understand what is at stake. I would say that they are the main ones (not the only ones but certainly the main ones) who can re-identify with what ‘America’ is, and with what made it it. Corresponding to this (radical) assertion I suggest that one can rather quickly identify who does not, and who cannot and will not, identify with that America.

    Unless my way of seeing is distorted, shallow, incomplete and therefor false, I suggest that there is no way to diminish the declension we all are witnessing as it unfolds before our eyes. In fact, it must increase, and one must actively desire that it increase, to bring matters to a decisive head, and to a more overt crisis.

  2. The far-left’s hooded antifa assholes who claim to oppose hate while wielding it, and whose objective is to destroy the freedom of speech through intimidation, are exactly as dangerous, repulsive and wrong as the far-right bigots who want to deny equal rights and opportunities to non-white minorities.

    Exactly as repulsive and wrong, yes. But not exactly as dangerous. White supremacists are a tiny, powerless band with no support whatsoever from anybody in the country who has the slightest influence or power. Antifa may be small, but until the past week or so, they have had strong support and favorable publicity from mainstream Democratic politicians and a large part of the prestige press. There’s no danger that white supremacists will undermine our democracy. Antifa and its supporters are well on their way towards doing just that.

    • How much of that condemnation is real?

      Furthermore, while the office-holders condemn it, what of the academics and funders of “Democratic” causes who still support antifa?

    • Great point, Greg. They are really dangerous. They’re anarchists. It’s so weird. It’s as if we’re back in the ’20s and it’s Sacco and Vanzetti all over again. Here we thought Communism was gone and Bernie shows up. Now we have anarchists running amok again.What’s old is new again, I guess.

      • Calling them anarchists is playing into their misdirection. Antifa goals are clearly stated and it’s a Marxist plan for the destruction of Capitalism and they violent overthrow of the Constitution. It’s in their literature. They are also closely allied to the World Workers Party, a 1950’s Communist organization. Calling themselves Anarchists is their way to try to gain acceptance from the Far Left.

        • That’s interesting. I thought calling one’s self an anarchist was also appealing to the left. Just kind of a generally all around anti-American outfit is the impression I get. Sort of a big tent for America haters. Thanks for the info JR.

  3. If the amnesia set in in ’08, then all the eager, ambitious, risk taking journa-kinds never saw any different behavior. The older ones have chickened out or are too tired and unwilling to risk their own and their family’s prosperity in fighting the mob. I think it may be time to revive that standard or rule that opposing views need to be as featured, For every rant.

  4. Journalists all evidently think it’s unethical NOT to oppose Trump. Query: If Rubio or Cruz had defeated HRC, would the Resistance not have arisen? Frankly, I doubt it.

  5. Somehow they manage to get the fact that there AREN’T EVEN ANY WHITE SUPREMACISTS AROUND get lost in the shuffle. Most of the people Antifa are “opposing” (which is to say, sucker-punching) are just moderates. There is no war going on between extremists, because the right-wing extremist side can barely muster up a crowd of 200 racists even when they plan for a gigantic rally and invite racists from all over the country.


      Because you are forced by the way the issue has been framed to mis-identify white identity politics with white supremicism, my impression is that you get off to a bad start. True, there are very few ‘white supremicists’ in the sense that you mean, but there are tens of thousands, and millions, of Whites who are beginning to research and to reconsider what ‘white identity’ means to them, and what it will mean as the fact of the deliberate reengineering of American demographics becomes not only apparent but their lived experience.

      Though there are few white supremicists who have any platform at all, there are many many millions of non-whites who have internalized the ethnic-identity victim-of-America model of perception. This has been, and is now, a significant outcome of the culture wars: the rise of contrary identity political models. The people who have torn down monuments in the South and who celebrate this, are merely bringing into the historical moment, as an act of justice and righteousness, what their political and social histories have taught them. With no cognitive dissonance they are doing good in their world. And democratic doctrine, and demographic-democratic power, show them that they have every right to revision America to accord with the up-and-coming politics of the newly defined America. He who controls the present will then extend that control to historical revisionism, ‘social history’, and a profound redescription of history and its meaning. This is what is happening now. This will not stop happening. What we see now will increase, not decrease. To understand what is happening, and why, and where it will lead, requires clear thinking of a meta-political sort.

      Everything defends on one’s initial definitions and one’s predicates. It is a fact that America has been deliberately transformed into a ‘multicultural society’. The roots of this ideological shift, with demographic enginnering, can very easily be researched. But how one interprets this shift will depend on where, exactly, one stands oneself in relation to it. Obviously, 98% of white Americans cannot express any idea that they could justify to themselves that would support a white identity posture at any level. To identify as white has been villified. And this is why even you will use the term ‘white supremicism’. It is the only lens you have available to you. To think differently on this issue will amount to thoughtcrime.

      To recover America will involve a radical internal project of recovering the capacity to think and see clearly but more importantly to reconquer the mental territory that allows one to define. The statement that I could make to indicate what a strong definition can do is: “America was conceived and built by white Europeans and belongs to them” is such a statement that, hearing it,will cause ideological chaos. It is a true statement though (yet one that requires many levels of qualification) but is one that in the present dispensation cannot be said outloud. It can be thought though.

      Once one begins in what I call a ‘radical redefnition project’ one gains power over the semi-truths of the present. But the game of definitions is one that also hinges in power, and so to define is in its essence a question about power. And that makes it really really hard for many people. Easier to relinquish power and give themselves over to contingency than to perform the inner, the spiritual and ideological, work to claim self-identity, self-awareness and thus power.

      And that is more or less exactly what has happened in the Postwar, and it is all coming to gorgeous fruition and it dances macabrely before our eyes! To change that means to change oneself in relation to it.

      Any manifestation of power (the power of definition, the power of active molding of the present) will be met with acute and immediate counter-manifestations of power. White identity is the enemy.

      • The white identity reaction was predictable.

        The Democrats made this inevitable by dividing people into ever smaller labels, all of which are ‘victims’ of all white people.

        People will eventually recognize an existential threat, and respond, regardless of law and public opinion.

        So, weak conservatives go alt-right, accepting the progressive playbook as their own. Whites begin to identify as a race, because they have been vilified as a race.

        • So, weak conservatives go alt-right, accepting the progressive playbook as their own. Whites begin to identify as a race, because they have been vilified as a race.

          What do strong conservatives do? It is a genuine question. I would like to hear your honest thoughts on this.

          • Strong conservatives have moral and ethical objections to uncivil behavior. It is our greatest strength and has become our worst political weakness. We believe in fair play. If the force of your argument carries the day, we do not riot in the streets when we lose. We do not lie about our opponents (the truth is harsh enough these days!) We believe in personal responsibility, service to our fellow man, and equal justice for all. You have a right to do whatever you want unless and until you infringe upon the same rights in others. The Constitution is the Law. If you do not like it, you can change it.

            The GOP Establishment are not conservatives. They are RINO, who would run as Democrats if they lived in a blue state. They have no convictions. They want power for power’s sake. They want to a part of the ruling aristocracy, and believe that they are better than their constituents.

            Strong conservatives work to help others by teaching them how to be successful using time proven techniques (honor, hard work, charity for those in need while they are in need, the Golden Rule, etc.) that rely on human nature, which does not change. People are the way they always will be, and your life is a result of personal choices. Character is the outcome of those choices, for good or ill. We believe in changing lives because it is the only true way to help those who seek it. If you do not want help, we will not force it upon you. That is your right, after all.

            The nation has pulled together to help the Texas coastal areas. This is an example of strong conservatism in action: self reliance, compassion, and a will to act. This is what made America great in the first place, and is the only thing that can restore her to that state.

            I hope you can understand my point despite my lack of eloquence in describing it.

            • Hello there. Thanks for your response. I have a couple of questions. But first a comment. I think the label ‘Alt-Right’ is misleading. One part of the Alt-Right comes out of 4Chan and 8Chan and a sort of half-mad, juvenile, irresponsibly critical position among anonymous participants. Many of these people attack progressives and leftists and feminists (a fave) simply because they have a malicious anger.

              But there is another pole of the Alt-Right that should have a better name. There is the European New Right which is intellectual and historical in its approach and, if Alain de Benoit is taken as one of its founders, arose as a right-leaning reaction to Paris 1968. Therefor, the European New Right could be said to have certain things in common with, as for example, Robert Bork. Benoit and Bork do not correspond one to the other but they definitely ‘share concerns’.

              My question is: What comes to mind when you think of the Alt-Right?

              I just got through reading a book on the history of the ‘Culture Wars’ of the 80s and 90s and it helped me to understand a great deal more about American politcs. Can you name a few titles that you have liked and think important?

              • Alazia,

                Sorry for late responses… we are rebuilding here in Texas, and my attention is otherwise occupied as life got a bit more intense even for those who were not directly impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

                My question is: What comes to mind when you think of the Alt-Right?

                I have yet a third take on the two you enumerated.

                The ‘malicious angry’ crowd is no different that those they castigate, given their lack of conservative underpinning, or indeed, any ethical or moral compass whatsoever. In my mind, they are ‘anti- anti-,’ against the progressive perpetual ‘anti-‘ movement, simply because granddaddy did things a certain way that is now ‘unacceptable’ to smugly superior limousine liberals. Lots of noise, but little action as far as I can discern.

                The ‘European New Right’ is admittedly closer to my definition of the Alt Right, but they incorporate something of the ethics and self restraint not associated to my definition. Bork made good sense on many topics, and his adherence to ‘Madisonian Original Framer Intent of the Constitution’ as a guide for later judicial decisions makes him far too reasonable to be Alt Right.

                No, my definition, having been part of those that put Bush ’43 in office (he was Texas governor at the time, and we knew he was globalist, but better than algore) and having watched the GOP after that time abandon its conservative roots in favor of power for its own sake tends toward ‘those who once stood against the nefarious tactics used by the Left to vilify their opponents, but who now embrace such measures.’ My vision of the Alt Right (and many fellow travelers from years past) is somewhat akin to angels fallen from grace, if you will: those who should know better, but (for whatever reason) have abandoned ethics and morals in favor of striking back at their opponents, by using their own tools against them. Some of these never understood conservatism ‘in their bones,’ but many others just got tired of always losing, both in the media and at the ballot box. This group changed themselves… and it is working at the ballot box, if not in the media. But they are no different than those they oppose, IMHO. Thus when I use ‘Alt Right’ with a sense of disappointment, loss and sadness. Winning using my opponent’s methods makes for a Pyrrhic victory, as we lose our soul in the process.

                As an aside: This Alt Right is distinct from the RINO crowd, who totally agree with leftist (progressive) policy but believe THEY should be in charge. This group represents the GOP Establishment, who wish to be a part of the new ruling aristocracy but represent constituents who would not vote for a Democrat. Therefore they ‘mislead’ (lie) during elections but act like progressives once elected. I submit John McCain as a prime example of this type.

                Can you name a few titles that you have liked and think important?

                At the risk of being mocked by the ‘intellectuals’ on this site, much of my awakening was started by reading Rush Limbaugh’s “The way things Ought to Be” and the follow up “See, I Told You So.” I lived and paid attention as those books were being released, (my moniker is ‘slickwilly’ for a reason: Bill Clinton was the ‘Teflon’ president and that time was when I started paying attention to politics) and they addressed the politics and zeitgeist pretty accurately in my experience, while refining my facts. I cannot listen to Rush (or any political talk show) these days as getting angry (at the progressive antics such shows bring to light) while I am driving is dangerous to myself and those who share the road with me. I also work for a living which crimps my radio listening time. 🙂 Rush is a showman, and his show is really intended to entertain first so that ratings are maintained. But he has a keen insight that often is useful when searching for alternate viewpoints from which to address topics.

                I have since moved beyond that beginning, and tend to NOT read books in favor of online sources. I research topics of interest, and constantly learn from that. My conservative identity is fully formed, and I look to multiple sources to discern the likely truth of a story. Ethics Alarms is like a whetstone to my blade: honing my views and tempering them to a finer point. It is the only place I have found progressives who are willing to explain why they think as they do, and not just shut down conversation with virtue signalling proclamations as to my race, gender, politics, or breakfast choice.

                • Hello there Slick, thanks for your response. There is a good deal to think about in it. I have heard of Limbaugh but I don’t think I have ever read anything by him. But YouTube is a magic tool to get a sense of what some of these political and ideological figures were like.

                  As far as I am able to tell, there is no political-orientation model that could have much affect of any tangible sort that is not ‘radical’ in one way or another. Even the Borkian ‘originalism’ (not sure if he is the best one to represent it but I think you know what I mean), if taken to its logical ends, would amount to fairly radical change.

                  As I said, I think the term ‘alt-right’ is not helpful because there are many many different perspectives there. Many of them by people who (as far as I can tell) have little ‘ownership interest’ and who are experimenting with different ideas.

                  A book that helped me to understand the more radical right of America was ‘Right-Wing Critics of American Conservatism’ (George Hawley, Kansas University 2016). My understanding is that American Conservatism has mostly purged out of itself the people who have transformative ideas. There is simply no place for them within the standard politics of the day.

                  • Transformative ideas are somewhat hard for most conservatives to fathom. They want a return to ideas that worked (more or less) for 200 years. That said, it will take unique approaches to get back to that time, as the damage is already done to society (just as the socialists intended)

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