1. “General, I have no division!” At about 2:00 pm, , July 3, 1863, by the little Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg, Robert E. Lee launched his last, desperate and audacious stratagem to win the pivotal battle of the American Civil War, a massed Napoleonic assault on the entrenched Union position on Cemetary Ridge, with a “copse of trees” at its center. The doomed march into artillery and rifle fire, across an open field and over fences, lasted less than an hour. The Union forces suffered 1,500 casualties,, while at least 1,123 Confederates were killed on the battlefield, 4,019 were wounded, and nearly 4000 Rebel soldiers were captured. Lee’s bold stroke had failed spectacularly, and would go down in history as one of the worst military blunders of all time.
That verdict is debatable, but this is not: Pickett’s Charge, as the attack came to be called, holds as many fascinating ethics lessons as any event in American history, and this blog has returned to it for enlightenment time and time again.
There is the matter of the duty to prevent a disaster that you know is going to occur, the whistleblower’s duty, and the theme of Barbara Tuchman’s work, “The March of Folly.” There was Robert E. Lee’s noble and unequivocal acceptance of accountability for the disaster, telling the returning and defeated warriors that “It is all my fault.” The defeat also turned on moral luck, with many unpredictable factors, such as the intervention of a brave and intrepid Union cavalry officer named George Armstrong Custer, who also teaches that our greatest strengths and most deadly flaws are often the same thing, and that the Seven Enabling Virtues can be employed for both good and wrongful objectives. Pickett’s Charge shows how, as Bill James explained, nature conspires to make us unethical.
Pickett’s Charge also teaches that leadership requires pro-active decision-making, and the willingness to fail, to be excoriated, to be blamed, as an essential element of succeeding. Most of all, perhaps, it illustrates the peril’s of hindsight bias, for without a few random turns of fate, Robert E. Lee’s gamble might have worked.
2. Funny how if you continually denigrate someone based on his color and gender, he will eventually stop respecting you. Stanford University has established a Men and Masculinities Project that aims to help men develop “healthy and inclusive male identities”—because they obviously don’t have those now. “We acknowledge that male identity is a social privilege, and the aim for this project is to provide the education and support needed to better the actions of the male community rather than marginalize others,” anti-man-splains Stanford’s gurus. Stanford, of course, is not alone in pushing the ubiquitous progressive narrative that men are toxic, along with whites, making white men the worst of all. Perhaps this might explain why support for Democrats among young white men is falling fast.
Nah, it must be because they are sexist and racist…
3. But..but…settled science! The Economist estimates that as many as 400,000 papers published in supposedly peer-reviewed journals were not peer-reviewed at all. Scientists, scholars and academics are no more trustworthy or alien to unethical conduct than anyone else, but because most of the public (and journalists) don’t understand what they write about and have to accept what they claim on faith, they are presumed to be trustworthy.
Think of them as the equivalent of auto mechanics.
4. Thank goodness I don’t trust polls! Gallup says that a record low of only 47% of US citizens are “extremely proud” to be American, a figure dragged down by Democrats, of whom, according to the poll, only 32% are “extremely proud.” I attribute this discouraging result to
- Historical ignorance. The United States saved the world, something few nations can claim, and has been the catalyst for democracy and increased human rights worldwide. Its freedoms allowed creativity to bloom, giving the world many of its greatest technological and scientific advances.
- An increasingly anti-American higher education culture that has indoctrinated many young Americans into hating their own country. The poll shows that not going to college makes one more likely to be proud of the U.S. I’m not surprised.
- The “deplorables” narrative regarding the election of President Trump, which has been pushed by the news media as well as the educational community, Democrats and “the resistance.” I didn’t vote for Trump, nor am I happy to have someone with his massive character flaws in the White House, but his election showed how vigorous our democracy is. It proves that U.S. citizens are not placid sheep, easily manipulated by the news media, and that eventually smug elites who broadcast their contempt for regular citizens and continually pat the public on the head to say, “Now, now, we know best, and if you don’t think so, you’re a racist, sexist, xenophobic bigot!” will go too far, and get a well-deserved thumb in the eye. That thumb was Donald Trump, and the willingness to poke it is the American spirit. I am extremely proud that spirit still flourishes despite all the efforts to extinguish it.
In that Harvard-Harris poll noted in a previous post, 53% of Democrats polled said that any illegal immigrant who makes it to America’s borders should be allowed to stay. That’s a position that is completely indefensible, except perhaps with proof of a closed head injury. What kind of law holds that one shouldn’t break it, but if you do, then bygones should be bygones?
The Left’s support of open borders, as recently displayed by demands that ICE be abolished is one of the most irresponsible, irrational, intellectually dishonest and self-evidently mad delusion in recorded history, right up there with universal disarmament and world communism. Get well quick, Democrats.
5. No, ma’am, YOU’RE the jerk. Just like Maxine Waters. A woman named Kristin Mink decided that EPA administrator Scott Pruitt doesn’t have the same rights as every other citizen to dine unharassed in a public place, so she accosted him in a restaurant in Washington, D,C, in a confrontation that was posted on Facebook. “I would urge you to resign before your scandals push you out,” she said in conclusion. Mink hauled her infant along with her to ensure that Pruitt couldn’t even tell her to get out of his face–that “kids as human shields” tactic that the Left now employs with gusto.
“We deserve to have someone at the EPA who actually does protect our environment; someone who actually does believe in climate change and actually takes it seriously for the benefit of all of us, including our children,” Mink said as Pruitt stared back at her. That’s a perfectly valid opinion, and she can express it online, in a blog post, or in letters to editors and members of Congress. She does not have the right to prevent an official from enjoying his meal, and again I am disgusted that nobody, including the restaurant staff, had the integrity and guts to intervene. Please, God, let me be in a restaurant when someone pulls this kind of stunt!
The jerk, and she is a jerk, wrote later that Pruitt was “cowardly” for not engaging with her, and that citizens have a “responsibility” to confront “unethical” and “immoral” officials whenever they encounter them. Wrong. Someone believes that every official is unethical or immoral, and what Mink is calling for is open-season on all public servants, making such service dangerous, unpleasant, and impossible. Such a position requires a complete rejection of the Golden Rule.
As it happens, Pruitt IS unethical, and should resign. That doesn’t change the fact that he has a right to dine out without being accosted by Maxine Waters’ newly recruited bullies and thus.