Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/15/2019: I Am Cleopatra!

Good morning, Ethics Lovers!

1. Coming attractions. Rep. Steve King is now officially a human ethics train wreck, but boy, it would be nice if we could trust the news media. I will be writing a full post on this matter soon, but in the meantime, if someone can find me the full text of the alleged “interview” with the Times that generated King’s infamous “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” statement, I would be very happy. The link used by all sources reporting on the interview and its aftermath, including the link used by the Times, goes to Before Trump, Steve King Set the Agenda for the Wall and Anti-Immigrant Politics.”

But that’s not an interview! It’s an anti-King hit piece. I wanted to see the context of King’s remark, like, say, the question that evoked it. Is that too much to ask? All we get, however, is this:

Mr. King, in the interview, said he was not a racist. He pointed to his Twitter timeline showing him greeting Iowans of all races and religions in his Washington office. (The same office once displayed a Confederate flag on his desk.)

At the same time, he said, he supports immigrants who enter the country legally and fully assimilate because what matters more than race is “the culture of America” based on values brought to the United States by whites from Europe.

“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” Mr. King said. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”

That’s telling us about the interview, not the interview itself, and doing so while poisoning the well. More later. However, the fact that the Times won’t provide the unredacted interview itself is troubling.

2. Trump Tweets. Finally I can compliment a good one. This morning the President said, in the climax of a tweet, “They got caught spying on my campaign and then called it an investigation.” I’m critical of Trump’s communications skills, but you can’t do better than that. I also strongly suspect that he is correct.

3. Yet more casting ethics controversy! Cross-filed in the Ethics Alarms “Don’t confuse me with facts, my mind’s made up!” files, the Perpetually Outraged are ginning up a protest over the report,  according to Britain’s Daily Starthat Lady Gaga and Angelina Jolie are competing for the role of Cleopatra in a new film. They should be protesting that anyone is going to inflict another Cleopatra film on us, after the previous one, with Elizabeth Taylor looking fat and bored, was one of the biggest bombs in Hollywood history.

“Stop whitewashing Cleopatra!!!” tweeted Kendra James, writer and editor at Shondaland.com. “Film the story of literally any other queen on the vast African continent.” This is an especially good version of the complaint to address, since it is gallactically stupid. The last part is really dumb, as Cleopatra’s life, even without fictionalizing, and her political influence at the time were extraordinary, and the life of “any other queen” won’t come within miles and miles of equaling her in dramatic potential and audience interest. Then there’s the inconvenient fact that Cleopatra was white, at least, if I’m white. She was of Northern Greek stock (like me!) and ruler of Egypt through the conquering ways of Alexander the Great—which is one reason she lived in Alexandria (like me!) During the “Black is Beautiful” phase in the Sixties and Seventies, when civil rights activists were claiming that all sorts of historical figures were really black (Jesus was a big one), the historically and anthropological myth that Cleopatra was “of color”  became widespread. Thus black singer/ actress Leslie Uggams—Kizzy in TV’s “Roots”— was cast as young Cleo in the 1968 Broadway musical (a flop) called  “Her First Roman,” based on Shaw’s “Caesar and Cleopatra.” It doesn’t matter, really, what an actress playing an ancient historical figure looks like, unless a project claims historical accuracy. The reason that musical flopped wasn’t because Cleopatra was black: I saw the show in Boston. Leslie was great. Claiming that the character can’t be played by a white actress, however, is indefensible, and bad history.

There is literally no evidence that Cleopatra was black. She was Greek, and all surviving artwork and depictions of her show her to be a striking woman with a memorable nose.

She also was apparently only 5 feet tall and chubby. Let’s cast Melissa McCarthy!

4. Nah, there’s no difference between Obama judges and Trump judges! A necessary, reasonable, and important question on the upcoming census form was struck down by U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman, who said yesterday that while asking those surveyed to reveal whether they were citizens or not was legal,  U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross hadn’t followed the  proper procedure in adding it. Of course, Democrats are terrified of the question because it will almost certainly reveal that “Blue” states don’t have as many citizens as their Congressional representation indicates.  Pro illegal immigration groups argue that adding the question might frighten “immigrant” households away from participating in the census. Why would it frighten immigrants who are in the country legally? And why should I care if it frightens illegal immigrants, who shouldn’t be taking the census anyway?

I read this news, and assumed that it was a blatantly partisan decision. Sure enough, Furman is an Obama appointee. The issue will be considered by the Supreme Court in February, and I expect justice and common sense to prevail.

41 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/15/2019: I Am Cleopatra!

  1. Of course, Democrats are terrified of the question because it will almost certainly reveal that “Blue” states don’t have as many citizens as their Congressional representation indicates.

    Would it even matter, since congressional districts are apportioned based on all residents counted by the census? If I recall, only Indians who were not enumerated were excluded from the districting.

    • “all people (citizens and noncitizens) with a usual residence in the 50 states are to be included in the census and thus in the apportionment counts.” says the Census. That’s bats, and there is a good reason to know how much of a state’s apportionment is illegal. And if an illegal immigrant is afraid to declare himself? Good.

      • But isn’t this ‘foreign collusion’? I mean, Congressional representatives actually representing foreigners! By all accounts, foreign nationals probably have more Congressional representation than my state and the 3 states around mine. Some of them might even be Russian!

  2. http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/13529/rashida-tlaib-bigotry

    To single out only the “Jew among nations,” and not the dozens of far more serious violators of human rights is bigotry pure and simple, and those who support BDS only against Israel are guilty of bigotry.

    What is unacceptable is discriminatory actions, and nothing can be more discriminatory than singling out an ally with one of the best records of human rights in the world for a boycott, while continuing to do business with the worst human rights offenders in the world.

    Many of the same bigots who support BDS against Israel, oppose boycotting Cuba, Iran, China, Russia, Venezuela, Syria, Saudi Arabia and other human rights violators. Legislation designed to end such discriminatory actions would be constitutional, if it did not prohibit advocacy.

    No one has accused Tlaib of forgetting what country she represents when she supports the Palestinian cause, even though Palestinian terrorists, acting in the name of “Palestine,” have killed numerous Americans. Americans of any religion have the right to support Israel, and most do, without being accused of disloyalty, just as Americans of any religion have the right to support the Palestinian cause. It is both bigoted and hypocritical to apply a different standard to Jews who support Israel than to Muslims who support the Palestinian cause…. If she is the “new face” of the Democratic Party, we Democrats should begin worrying.

  3. It is possible — I am not sure — that what is most distressing the the New York intellectual establishment is an interview like this one.

    The fact that the interview happened in Austria. The fact that it openly and intellectually discusses real issues that pertain to Europe, and America. That it touches on cultural and ethnic issues, that the word ‘race’ is mentioned, as well as religious issues (a critique of Islam by groups that have as their object to diminish the presence of Islam in Europe), is simply explosive. Steve King is a Christian and his perspective is such. That is also intolerable.

    That he mentions the book The Camp of the Saints cannot be else but deeply troubling to the elites who establish the parameters of ‘thinkable thought’. (Actually, that is a Chomsky term! pardon me).

    This is pretty intolerable:

    Steve King: It is all interconnected. In the US, we have almost a million abortions a year, babies who would be raised by American parents. Then we bring in 1,2 million legal immigrants a year and add another 600,000 or so illegal immigrants. The US subtracts from its population a million of our babies in the form of abortion. We add to our population approximately 1,8 million of “somebody else’s babies” who are raised in another culture before they get to us. We are replacing our American culture 2 to 1 every year. In addition, only between 7% & 11% of the 1,2 million and zero% of the 600,000 illegals are based on merit. We have no say about the qualifications of approximately 1,7 million legal and illegal immigrants each year. We don’t even ask the question, “What can you do for our country?” I see some similar issues going on here in Europe.

    What right does he have to talk about such things?!?

    If you read the interview through, at most points he recites the very correct things, nothing outrageous. But his interviewer, of course, has ideas that in comparison would be called ‘extremist’.

    It is simply intolerable that he had such a conversation though. Our own establishment is terrified of what will happen if conversations OPEN and people do sit down and talk about their world. Heavens! They might come up with their own ideas about things, their own social choices.

    They have to control the discourse. They are losing the ability to control it. They are freaking out.

  4. 1 Coming attractions

    Not to be snooty, but I’m not at all sure what ethics lessons can be learned by Steve King’s behavior. Even if the current kerfuffle was words taken totally out of context and otherwise innocuous, all he had to do was remember the very recent example of John Schnatter of Papa John’s fame. In any case, his other comments on many other things are enough to condemn him to ethics dunce status at minimum — possibly even an ethics corrupter.

    When you are a public figure, let alone a congressman, you have to avoid this sort of talk. It may suck, but that’s the world in which we live. No matter how hard we defend free speech, there is no way (and rightly so) to be free of the social consequences of it. The outrage machine is far too potent a force to let the lip slip.

    2 Trump tweets

    Indeed ™.

    3 Casting controversy

    Where are the fact-checkers when you really need them? Oh, that’s right — Jim Treacher had that covered:

    Modern journalism is all about deciding which facts the public shouldn’t know because they might reflect badly on Democrats.

    Or leftists. Same same.

    4 Obama judges

    David French at National Review had an excellent article on this very thing yesterday. Blatantly partisan decisions abound, and remarkably, they are indisputably wrong and partisan. For example, two of the judge’s rulings are essentially that Obama’s executive orders cannot be overturned by Trump. There is no universe in which this can be right.

    • When you are a public figure, let alone a congressman, you have to avoid this sort of talk. It may suck, but that’s the world in which we live.

      The world has now been changed. Not the same *world*. It is now a new time, with new (albeit developing) rules and parameters.

      Now, it is good, proper, ethical, moral and necessary that a congressman divulge his thoughts, especially in respect to a crisis as is ‘white replacement’.

      Now that the new rule has been established let us all get on with the same.

  5. RE Steve King
    This issue was discussed on WMAL this morning. Apparantly, there is more to the story. Through the magic of creative editing, by ommitting the predicate of the sentiment, you can create whatever meaning you desire.

    I too would like to see the transcript before coming to a position. So too should his detractors because this can occur to anyone.

    • Agreed. But I have still seen enough to know he’s an idiot, and close enough to a racist for horseshoes. Here’s part of the quote that Alicia posted: “It is all interconnected. In the US, we have almost a million abortions a year, babies who would be raised by American parents. Then we bring in 1,2 million legal immigrants a year and add another 600,000 or so illegal immigrants. The US subtracts from its population a million of our babies in the form of abortion. We add to our population approximately 1,8 million of “somebody else’s babies” who are raised in another culture before they get to us. We are replacing our American culture 2 to 1 every year.”

      What is an innocent reading of “our babies”? He’s talking about race and ethnicity, and that’s dumb, because a lot of aborted babies aren’t white.

          • Hmmmm? I am uncertain what you are talking about. If it is Jack, he once wrote my name wrong or spellcheck corrected it, and apologized.

            Not that an apology was needed.

            (Unfortunately for me, *Alicia Tyler* is (or was) a star in the adult film circuit.)

            • If I wrote Alicia instead of Alizia, I wasn’t aware of it at the time. I also type “Miachel” EVERY SINGLE TIME I try to write “Michael.” Obviously an effort to “to distort and alter the names that others have for themselves,” according to P.M., who is apparently under the delusion that I am President Trump.

              • You… owe me a keyboard… and a damn fine cup of coffee. I had the ingredients and temperature juuussttt right!

                Now my nose hurts, as the right temperature for my mouth is evidentially way to hot for my sinuses and nostrils.

            • While I myself would never know of such things, my people have informed me that the talented Ms. AliCia Tyler, after compiling a substantial…um…body of work, is no longer with us, having passed nearly 5.5 years ago.

      • Jack, I have no dog in this fight but tbe paragraph Aliza gave is not what I heard this morning. What I heard related to his complaint that we so casually call people racists, xenophobe, misogynists, white supremacist, white nationalists, —pause — western civilization, when was that a bad thing?

        As for Kings statement, if you hone in on one noun “culture” you can interpret this statement innocently. Does it matter the ethnicity or race of a person that is inculturated by a society that is rife with violence and chaos and later brought to a nation of laws?

        Let me put this into perspective: imagine we are in the US in 1937, hundreds of American children of German descent are joining the Bund movement. Would you want that culture to spread to your community? I would not, and not because of race or ethnicity.

        Is it possible that children allowed to grow up “inculturated” in communities where might makes right is not the norm might be preferable to importing children who have learned behaviors that are antithetical to the new host nation.

        Every day I wake up to this side attacking the other side for something said or done. Today, Trumps statement that the hamburgers for the Clemson Team being a mile high was fact checked.

        My goal for this year is to spend less time condemning and more time seeking to understand

      • What is an innocent reading of “our babies”?

        It seems obvious to me that he is referring to babies born to Americans. I am not sure where you are reading a racial or ethnic component into that statement.

        • Because babies born here are all “our babies.” He is makimng a distinction between babies born to immigrants, illegal or not, and “us.” That’s classic otherizing. A baby born here is a citizen, immediately “ours” and the equal of any other baby born here.

          • Of course any baby born here is going to be raised culturally American. that is what the term ‘citizen’ means.

            He did not say anything about babies that were born and being raised here, Jack. Only the imports are in those numbers. Any ‘otherizing’ is because there is a difference between the imported and domestic culturally ingrained models.

            • Again, the same claim was since the nation began made about Germans, Jews, Greeks, Italians and Asians of all kinds. It was and is demonstrably wrong, and based on bigotry.

              King is the worst possible human hill to die on. He’s an idiot, he can’t control his auto-bigotry, and he harms all conservatives and Republicans by his very existence.

        • In order to see our present, as I am fond of saying, one has to be able to describe it fairly and accurately. Therefore, a clarification is in order.

          There is no doubt from the research that I have done (and especially it is evident in the interview by the Austrian woman I link to above) that Steve King is familiar with the discourse of the New European Right. He is also familiar with Jared Taylor and American Renaissance, and he has read The Camp of the Saints (it bored me, personally, and I didn’t get through it) and (has the audacity) to meet with people who are on the Identitarian Right in Europe. There is no doubt about any of this.

          It is evident from what Steve King says that he is a Christian. He opposes abortion 100%. He would appose abortion by all women, or whatever race. I do not know this for a fact but it is evident given his record.

          He is — beyond any doubt, and it is only fair and proper to say it so that it is UNDERSTOOD — developing a position of white advocacy. This must be understood. Better though to understand what that position actually entails before condemning him and ‘casting him into the outer darkness’. That white advocacy position involves a recognition that if white birthrates do not increase, then year by year the European-descended demographic in America (and in all the European-descended world) will decrease rapidly. We are not reproducing at replacement rates.

          Therefore, if advocating that is wrong, evil, unethical and uncivil, then he is indeed all those things and must be shunned. But let us be clear. He is advocating for increasing the birthrate of whites; he is advocating (even if he does not state it: I *picked this up* in his Austrian interview) for the halt and the reversal of the present trends in Europe. He is talking with people who are openly advocating reclaiming Europe from what they call a Muslim Invasion. And he is advocating for the strengthening of Christianity, within the terms of Christianity. There should be no doubt of what interests him and what he is *up to* in his nascent activism.

          And it should be ABSOLUTELY CLEAR that these positions are condemned in absolute terms by the NY intellectual establishment. It is important to name this ‘establishment’. Because they have a great deal of power and influence and they stand behind the NYTimes and what it is doing. It is leading a very specific attack against people and ideas that it feels threatened by. You can decide if this is *right* or if it is *wrong*.

          The Times — to all appearances — twisted something he said which they evidently recorded (somewhere) into something he did not say, not in that way (if Chris’s report is accurate). That is very underhanded. It is common, but underhanded. They are obviously framing him and want to drive him from politics. You can decide if this is *good* or *bad*.

          In order to understand what I call white advocacy one must study it. I have done this. I know what it is and also what it isn’t. It is a fair position to hold. But it is not unproblematical given the radical elements that operate in our present.

          • I agree with what Alizia is saying her regarding the Times. They have run this little smear campaign against their enemies (that is to say, conservatives) my entire life. They twist words, leave off context, and outright lie about what their opposition says.

            I do not understand how Jack, as well as he knows how the Times treats Trump, would not understand that this is how the Times operates, and has for at least 40 years. The ‘paper of record’ is a partisan progressive propaganda rag, and not fit to line a bird cage. Narrative is EVERYTHING, and human nature says two things: 1) if they will do it to Trump, they will do it to ANYONE, and 2) such corruption will leak into every department over time, and they have had decades for this to permeate the organization.

            I would double check a step guide on how to boil water, if the Times printed it.

      • What is an innocent reading of “our babies”? He’s talking about race and ethnicity, and that’s dumb, because a lot of aborted babies aren’t white.

        The innocent reading is the one that doesn’t beg the question by building in the very “talking about race and ethnicity” that is at issue, but rather reads the text as is in a straightforward way, i.e. without dripping in other implied stuff while contorting to allow that.

        In particular, “our babies” comes up to be compared and contrasted with ‘“somebody else’s babies” who are raised in another culture before they get to us [emphasis added]’. It’s not a race thing at all, not as it stands. That is, any whiteness involved is a historical coincidence and circumstance. The key point of “our babies” – in this context – is that they are “our” (that is, your) vehicle of cultural transmission. Without them, you become as “the mule, without pride of ancestry or hope of posterity”. Just remember to read that quotation in a higher rather than a lower sense, and you’ll get there. Forget to do that, and you’ll only build in your conclusions all over again.

        • All immigrants are “someone else’s babies.” That’s otherizing all immigrants, which is Know Nothing Party, nativism at its worst. It’s not even a dog whistle: it’s loud and clear.

          I know you like to play pedant, but that’s not a cavil worthy of you. Or anyone.

          • Still missing the point, Jack. Love you like a brother, but this is about culture and qualifications, not race.

            Where does that quote say the legal immigration is BAD? The argument is that when immigration is not merit based, it is bad, legal or not.

            • A non-racist doesn’t use the device of “them and us” to make that point. Indeed, King slips into racist/xenophobe speak making other valid points too. He is the Republican who seems to validate all left-wing racebaiting. To King, “qualified” immigrants clearly means white Europeans.HE makes it easy to conflate illegal immigration with legal immigration. HE makes opponents of illegal immigration vulnerable to claims that their opposition is based on color and race. Bringing other cultures here has never been a problem, because the nation has been an assimilation machine. Talk about the breakdown in THAT, not that other cultures pollute the pure here.

                  • I did not read the longer post (nor knew it existed) while replying to the older one.

                    My take on the text as shown on the older post is spot on, absent knowing anything else on the guy. I still stand by that part: it is not racist in the least. The Times has lied about what a Republican has said many times, and the lack of a transcript was most concerning, given that history.

                    The guy himself is an idiot, I now see, and does not deserve my defense of him given that he is certainly a bigot. My hot take on that is on the newer post.

      • What is an innocent reading of “our babies”? He’s talking about race and ethnicity, and that’s dumb, because a lot of aborted babies aren’t white.

        Wait. He explicitly talked about American babies who would have been raised in American culture, who are being replaced by babies raised in another culture. The man is discussing cultural change.

        Where is race mentioned? Are Blacks, Asians, and Latino ancestored people NOT American? What was all that I learned from Schoolhouse Rock about the Melting Pot? All this time only melanin challenged people were Americans?

        As a member of the melanin challenged, I did not hear any dog whistle in that statement. The man was talking about culture, and he is objectively right, even if you want to quibble with the actual numbers.*

        MOST aborted babies are not white, by design. Planned Parenthood sets up in minority areas by preference. Margaret Sanger WAS a racist who shared Hitler’s ideas about eugenics.

        Every American baby who is murdered in the womb is not being raised in American culture. The replacements that are allowed to come have not been raised in our culture.

        Just logic.

        *I believe the numbers for illegals is actually higher, both in how many arrive per year and how many reside here already. This only makes the math wore emphatic as to the cultural change.

        • ”Margaret Sanger WAS a racist who shared Hitler’s ideas about eugenics.”

          Shared? It’s been suggested that if she didn’t actually put him onto it, she sure as heckfire cut brush, busted sod, and broke trail to ease his journey.

          And how bad could Sanger be if HRC, the 2009 winner (SanFranNan won in 2014) of the eponymous Award, held her “in awe?”

  6. 3. Before the movie was released, the consensus on Will Ferrell as Sherlock Holmes was that there was a small chance it could go very, very well. It’d be the same for Melissa McCarthy as Cleopatra.

  7. … the Perpetually Outraged are ginning up a protest over the report, according to Britain’s Daily Star, that Lady Gaga and Angelina Jolie are competing for the role of Cleopatra in a new film. They should be protesting that anyone is going to inflict another Cleopatra film on us, after the previous one, with Elizabeth Taylor looking fat and bored, was one of the biggest bombs in Hollywood history.

    No, no, no, your timeline is wrong. There has already been a second Cleopatra film, made right after the Elizabeth Taylor one, the British “Carry On Cleopatra” with Amanda Barrie in the title role. That had Kenneth Williams as Julius Caesar uttering these immortal last words on being assassinated: “Infamy! Infamy! They’ve all got it in for me!”.

    Did I mention that the “Carry On” films are comedies?

  8. I am a pretty simple guy, and maybe it’s just me, but I see a distinct connection between the “casting ethics controversy” over Cleopatra on the one hand, and criticism of any defense of Western civilization on the other hand. Paralleling the ignorance of Cleopatra’s whiteness is the even more troubling ignorance of what Western Civilization embodies. I am old enough that I was required to take Western Civilization as a required freshman college course, and was lucky enough to have already been exposed to much of the content in high school. For those who reflexively speak derisively of Western civilization, I don’t think that term means what they think it means. Western civilization is much less about “whiteness” (as seems to be the primary interpretation of the “woke,” and more about a sustained and enduring culture shaped by the accumulated values (including ethical values), behavioral and social norms, traditions, customs etc., which have influenced and continue to influence our society and its social / political systems. While the origins of Western civilization are certainly European, Western cultures have always been influenced by others through trade, immigration, or even conquest and colonization. Civilization is always evolving. A competent civilization can examine aspects of other cultures, weigh them in the balance of its values and ideals, and select (consciously or unconsciously) features that are deemed worthy of emulation, Some cultures have proven their superiority, primarily by the degree to which they promote rationality and achieve individual liberty and the freedom to pursue happiness. Our imperfect but great American culture is a blessing, and one that can easily be lost if current trends continue. I believe it is being intentionally undermined by people hungry for power at any cost, and I pray they do not succeed.

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