Rationalization Pop Quiz: What Do Barry Bonds And Elizabeth Warren Have In Common?

I wonder how many strategy sessions it took for the supporters and enablers of Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) to come up with their latest defense of her ongoing lie that she is part Cherokee? We know it’s a lie now—a deliberate misrepresentation designed to deceive—because the Bay State crypto-socialist has refused the obvious resolution of taking a DNA ancestry test….again. You know she’s taken at least one, and maybe more. Being able to wave scientific proof that she had Native  American ancestors after all the “Fauxahontas” jibes would be a political bonanza for Warren, and solve her most daunting public relations problem outside of my home state, the Land of Michael Curley, where corruption, lies and letting young women drown don’t put a dent in your popularity or vote totals, for some reason. Sure, Warren took the test. She probably took another one just in case it was wrong….and she still doesn’t have the integrity or courage to admit her lie.

And that, now and forever, is why her Cherokee fantasy matters. It shows that Warren lies, and lacks integrity. It shows that she was willing to use a falsehood to gain traction in university employment competitions where gender, race and minority status often made all the difference….even if it meant that a real minority candidate failed because of her subterfuge.

Yet those strategy sessions yielded this defense on Warren’s behalf: according to an investigation by the Boston Globe, Warren’s fake Cherokee claim wasn’t a factor in her hiring by Harvard Law School:

The Globe examined hundreds of documents, many of them never before available, and reached out to all 52 of the law professors who are still living and were eligible to be in that Pound Hall room at Harvard Law School. Some are Warren’s allies. Others are not. Thirty-one agreed to talk to the Globe — including the law professor who was, at the time, in charge of recruiting minority faculty. Most said they were unaware of her claims to Native American heritage and all but one of the 31 said those claims were not discussed as part of her hire. One professor told the Globe he is unsure whether her heritage came up, but is certain that, if it did, it had no bearing on his vote on Warren’s appointment.

Perhaps the editors and journalists at the Globe never heard of moral luck, but I bet at least some of those law professors comprehend the concept. Whether or not Warren’s deliberate lie and misrepresentation of her ancestry actually was a factor in her hiring at Harvard was pure chance, and occurred after Warren had embraced a false identity. Once she did that, the consequences were out of her control. Her lie doesn’t become less unethical because it didn’t have any effect after the fact of it. A lot of people have trouble grasping this basic ethical concept, but it isn’t that hard. A person who drops a bowling ball from a bridge onto an express way is just as irresponsible and reckless if the ball misses every thing as he would be if the ball caused a ten car pile-up and the death of ten. He’s just as bad either way, and the rest is all luck. The same is true of Warren’s affirmative action-courting lie.

This rationalization being floated on Warren’s behalf is identical to one of the most popular excuses employed to argue for steroid cheat Barry Bonds’ admission to the Hall of Fame. “Bonds was a great player before he started using Performance Enhancing Drugs,” the spin goes. “There’s no way of knowing whether the steroids or his natural ability were responsible for all those hits and home runs. Maybe he would have passed Hank Aaron anyway!”  Bonds and Warren supporters are not only ignoring moral luck but embracing consequentialism, which follows from using rationalization…

61. A.  Barry Bonds’ Pass: He didn’t need to cheat.”

This has long been the refrain in the Barry Bonds argument for  baseball’s uber cheater to be admitted to the MLB Hall of Fame. Bonds, you see, was a great player before his alleged use of steroids began, so even if he did use steroids (he did), what difference did it make? How do we know that the steroids helped him? Some excuse Bonds on the grounds that whatever advantage he thought he was gaining by using PEDs, they were imaginary. He may have tried to cheat, but since he really didn’t benefit, there is no cheating to punish. Similarly, Tom Brady is a great quarterback, so what proof is there that deflating the balls was the reason he had a great second half in the play-off game in question?

The argument doesn’t make sense, logically or ethically. It is like arguing that a young Einstein couldn’t cheat on a physics exam even if he stole the answers and memorized them, because he would surely have figured them out anyway. Cheating demonstrates dishonesty, trustworthiness and a lack of integrity, whether it materially assists the cheater or not. What is wrong with cheating is the act itself, not the magnitude of the results, or even whether there are any.

In short, “It’s the cheating, stupid!”

27 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Race, Science & Technology, Sports

27 responses to “Rationalization Pop Quiz: What Do Barry Bonds And Elizabeth Warren Have In Common?

  1. Other Bill

    The thing that annoys me about efforts like this by newspapers is that The Globe is clearly making an all hands on deck effort to airbrush Warren’s bio to help her anticipated run for president. It’s so pathetically transparent. This sort of piece might just as well have been written by her staff or some public relations firm for her and at her expense. But because it’s written by The Globe it acquires a veneer of plausibility. It becomes “news.” As in, “Well would ya take a look at this, Honey. Did you see The Globe has found out Liz Warren didn’t really get her job in Cambridge because they thought she was an Indian? Well I’ll be darned. I guess that means she can be President after all! Isn’t there another dough nut in that box?” This isn’t news. It isn’t investigative journalism. It isn’t even an editorial. It’s made to order (bespoke, The Globe or NYT would say) campaign literature. It’s a newspaper selling itself out for a candidate. And it’s absolutely reprehensible. But I guess it’s par for the course in Taxachusetts. I hope she runs. If the Dems nominate her, she’ll make Mike Dukakis (and George McGovern) look like a landslide winners.

    • Arthur in Maine

      Exactly. I haven’t read the article because I’m out of Boston Glob freebies this month, and I refuse to spend a nickel on that rag. But when I saw the headline, I knew instantly what it was and what it was trying to do – at best support her presidential ambitions, at minimum make sure she glides to another Senate term. Depending on how things shake out during the Massachusetts primaries tomorrow, she actually could face a credible challenger in November.

  2. Isaac

    I think it’s the consensus that Nixon was on his way to crushing the 1972 election regardless, and didn’t NEED to spy on anyone or cover it up…so how about we all just forget that nothingburger Watergate….

  3. To me, it is “Stolen Valor.”

  4. Chris Marschner_

    Another way to put it is outcomes are not behaviors. Cheating is behavioral.

  5. Mrs. Q

    I’m no fan of Warren but attempts to force/pressure people to take a DNA test regardless of their claims is despicable to me. That’s private info that ends up in a database, sometimes run by unethical companies who can’t guarantee total privacy to those tested. Being mixed race I’d hate to one day have to prove how black or French or whatever I am to please others. My sister in-law looks more ‘white’ than Warren & she’s half Native. Should we force her to submit to a DNA test so she can keep getting tribal benefits? Having actually grown up around Native Americans, Warren actually does look partly Native to me. I’d say more of a French influenced tribe. And no we don’t know if she’s taken a test. That’s speculation. It’s time to let this go. Let’s judge Warren by her works, which speaks for itself.

    • Who wants to force her? We know her situation, we know why people doubt her, we know that it is significant baggage. People take ancestry tests for fun; she only needs evidence that what she claims is true is true, and it’s easily available. There’s only one thing to worry about, and that’s that the test would prove that she’s lying, as her failure to find any documentation already does. As I said, the chances that Warren hasn’t already taken one of those tests is about zero. Your reservations don’t apply to Warren. The only thing she has to fear is the truth.

      • Chris Marschner_

        I agree that Mrs Q has a valid argument with respect to feeling compelled to take any form of test to validate her claims of lineage. If she believes she is that should be sufficient for most purposes. If she is not of a particular lineage and knows it then she must live with the lie.
        If she is right, and she claims her test proves it, there will always be people that claim that she simply fixed the test and still disbelieve. This is not the equivalent of claiming a different biological gender or testing atheletes for drug use as there is no proscription nor prescription for being from some group of people for employment or political purposes. I for one do not want to go back to the “one drop of blood” test as a determinant of race.

        I could not care less if she is Cherokee or Mongolian. The focus should be on her diatribes on student debt when she makes $500K to teach one class. Did she cheat to obtain a position, no one will be 100% sure. Does anyone think Harvard would terminate her now?

        The people will assess her veracity.

        Ultimately if we go back far enough we are probably all descendents of Lucy in one form or another.

        • Missing the point. What she is is irrelevant. The fact that she asserted minority status to gain an illicit advantage in the job market is the issue, and her insistence that her claims were justified while being unable to produce any evidence backing them. She insists X is true while refusing to take an obvious measure that could show it is is true, because she knows it isn’t true. This is a character issue, not a lineage issue.

          • adimagejim

            Using her unproven heritage as a way to game a preference system to springboard a career should diminish or eliminate her credibility. Unfortunately, though it should, it matters little to nothing as long as she is a full fledged member of the resistance.

          • Chris Marschner_

            The simple and most ethical soution is to eliminate racial and ethnic choices from the employment process entirely. This would render the issue in the future moot. If we assume she is telling the truth but for all intents and purposes she also has all the attributes of a WASP why should she want to gain an advantage in employment when, given that she tells us all what is fair, she would know full well what she is doing is unfair; or at least does not really believe that fairness matters.
            I do not need a lineage test to assess her credibility. My concern is more for those that may become a victim of social pressures submit to some technological advance to get to the truth who do not have resources to defend themselves. What is the difference between using sodium pentithol or a dna test? None in my mind. Nonetheless, I do not need a lineage test to assess her character. Even if true she abused the system that was created to provide a leg up for the truly disadvantaged that would bring about the diversity of culture she pretends to champion.

          • Mrs. Q

            Have you done any research on these DNA companies? Do you know about their security issues? Have you investigated what research their doing and where they want findings to go to? Have you looked into the inaccuracies these companies have in their results regarding ethnicities based on regional changes? This is about more than taking a “simple test.” Check out what 23 & Me and Ancestry.com are doing this stuff. Understand how Google’s transhumanist departments are using this data. Sometimes what seems simple isn’t, especially since genetic information is increasingly becoming a hotbed of ethics dilemmas.

            If Warren was unethical by lying about her heritage then her claims are ultimately between her, the tribe, and the college. Pushing Warren to submit her most private info to potentially unethical companies is a lowest common denominator solution and sets a dangerous precedent for making people prove things by invading their genetic privacy.

            • Her claims are ultimately between her, the tribe, and the college….and the public she’s misrepresenting herself to. She opened the door, as we say in court.

              Actually, this is one of the first legitimate uses of those testing kits that I’ve heard of. Personally, a person’s racial and ethnic markers couldn’t interest me less.

              I have several articles about this issue on file; they all generally support this one.

              If there were any chance that they might clone Warren with the information she gave them, that would be worrisome.

              • Jack wrote, “Personally, a person’s racial and ethnic markers couldn’t interest me less.”

                You and me both.

                I question the sanity of anyone that would react to their DNA test results like the doofas in that idiotic TV commercial where the guy wore Lederhosen before he sent in his test and switched to a Kilt after he got his test results. Nothing they learn from the DNA test actually changes who they are just their own perception of themself but that change only happens if they allow it to change them. For God’s sake people, the results don’t change who you are.

                In my book these DNA companies are the rough equivalent to snake-oil salesmen trying to sell a new and improved person to psychologically insecure people. I’ll never have one done.

                • PennAgain

                  Mrs. Q, If I remember correctly, the only demands for her to have a DNA test were by the tribe she purported to belong to. They have to have some proof that the person is eligible if for no other reasons than there is money involved as well as pride. The proof that they want would be found in her DNA and nowhere else. The percentage of inheritance the tribe asked for would be readily available in an DNA test. And she could have taken a number of tests, from different companies — as many as there are, if necessary — to get those results, but all these years later, the tribe still says they haven’t seen any. Under these circumstances you may well go ahead with your faith in her ability, if your faith is strong enough to overlook the absence of any proof of her claim.

              • Mrs. Q

                If there were any chance that they might clone Warren with the information she gave them, that would be worrisome.

                Indeed.

            • Most worrisome to me is that they can and have provided the error fraught information to law enforcement without a warrant, looking for relatives of a suspect’s dna through which to locate said suspect.

  6. adimagejim

    Senator Warren being of Native American descent, they call themselves Indians, from this point forward is neither to her detriment nor credit. None of us have a time machine. It is what she is now that matters, a socialist.

    Favoring central planning of economies and removal of the profit motive, not greed, means you are an ignoramus who knowingly selects a system which has historically killed millions of people by design and by accident and millions more to suffer greatly while concentrating power away from the governed. Her DNA may be how she got here and is a stepping stone we cannot remove.

    It is nothing compared to what she wants to become.

  7. Elizabeth Warren hasn’t changed my opinion of her in years; if she’s talking, she’s lying.

    FTR: I have some Cherokee blood in me, my great (3x) maternal grandfather was a full blood Cherokee. That makes me part Cherokee but probably not enough to gain any minority status but honestly I wouldn’t claim it anyway, I’m a citizen of the United States of America and that’s good enough for me. I have an old Army buddy that’s got a similar Cherokee heritage but I think his is one great less than mine, he doesn’t use his heritage either.

    I haven’t thought about this for a long time. I had a girlfriend in High School (a year ahead of me, we were only about a month apart in age) that was a full blood Cherokee Indian. She just wanted to be an American but her parents were all about preserving the bloodline and having that special status, my blood just didn’t measure up. They moved outside of Cherokee, NC about half way through her senior year. I drove to Cherokee, NC a month or so after I graduated High School to see what became of her; when I walked into the place she worked her visible joy was absolutely priceless, she had moved on as I fully expected, reconnecting was a blast, her fiancé was very gracious, a really great guy and also not a full blood Cherokee, we had a really nice visit. She still just wanted to be an American and not pigeonholed as an American Indian.

    Once people realize that they are simply Americans for all general purposes other than family heritage, all this kinda stuff just fades away from the public eye and that’s how I believe it should be. Getting some kind of special status because you have a higher percentage of minority blood than others shouldn’t garner you special privileges to unethically elevate you above others, we’re all just Americans.

    • I wrote, “I drove to Cherokee, NC a month or so after I graduated High School to see what became of her…”

      That’s a little vague and misleading; I was actually already camping with friends at Elkmont campgrounds outside Gatlinburg, TN and I decided to day trip over the mountains to Cherokee to look her up. We were really good friends for a couple of years before we were a “couple”.

  8. I still assert that Warren HAS taken a DNA test and that test HAS concluded that she has Native American ancestry. Only, I bet it’s maybe like 1/32nd or 1/64th or some other ridiculously minuscule amount that would only garner much much more ridicule and literally no “minority cred” boost.

    • PennAgain

      Possible. Since she hasn’t spoken up yet, though, and now that she is gaining support by people who are long used to covering up “the little things” so they can put “their” candidate into office, there is no chance that any such information would be revealed.
      All that’s left is this broom leaning against a corner wall, whistling to itself about that lump under the rug.

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