Super Bowl Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 2/3/219…To Remind You That You Can’t Be Serious About Ethics And Support The NFL. Sorry.



Started this post in the morning; now, after another wipeout sick day, I’m trying to get it up before midnight. I’m sorry.

1. As a’s last year’s Super Bowl guilt trip. I’d write a fresh one, but believe it or not, I’m still sick and in bed. Key quote:

It’s your choice. If you do choose to cheer on the Pats and the Eagles [this year, the Rams], though, don’t pretend that you don’t know that what you’re really cheering, enabling, and ensuring will keep ruining lives.

Incidentally, NFL TV ratings are way up this year. DEE-FENCE!

2. Today’s blackface news...This is not a parody; academics really are this ridiculous: in New York Times op-ed too dumb to link to, headlined ‘Mary Poppins, and a Nanny’s Shameful Flirting With Blackface,’ Professor Daniel Pollack-Pelzner argues that the scene in the original 1964 film in which Mary cavorts with the chimney sweeps and ends up with her face blackened by soot is racially offensive, because it emulates blackface. Points:

  • This utterly deranged PC nonsense was actually seemed worthy of publication.
  • This tells us the risks parents of today take by entrusting the minds of their children to irresponsible institutions and educators who have devolved into advocates for racial paranoia.
  • Linfield College, in Oregon, employs this lunatic, meaning that its administrators think that someone who watches a fantasy dance number performed by chimney sweeps and sees a racist message can be trusted to teach its students.
  • Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, who collaborated on the 2004 stage adaptation of Mary Poppins that returns to the West End later this year, explained for the benefit of the Times, the crazy professor, and anyone so gullibve as to take either of them seriously, that Mary’s acceptance of the soot on her face is meant to be a gesture of support for the sweeps. “All she wants to do is join the sweeps and show them she isn’t standing apart – that she wants to belong to that group. It’s a touching scene and it displays a warm friendliness towards the sweeps,” he said. Funny, I was able to figure that out when I saw the film the first time, and I was 14-years old.

3. Professor Volokh in Reason on the Governor Northam scandal (and also the Kavanaugh accusation):

Consider what standard we’re trying to set for the future. If it’s “people who are lying today about their bad behavior from 35 years ago shouldn’t be in high office,” that may be sensible. If it’s “people who committed serious crimes 35 years ago, for which they weren’t punished, shouldn’t be in high office,” that may be sensible. (Again, I don’t believe that Justice Kavanaugh was guilty on those counts, but that goes to the particular facts related to those accusations, and not the general principle of what should have been done if the accusations were accurate.)

But if it’s “people who said or did offensive things 35 years ago shouldn’t be in high office,” or even “people who expressed racist / sexist / anti-gay / anti-Semitic / etc. opinions 35 years ago shouldn’t be in high office,” that’s a very different thing. It’s tarring someone forever for minor misconduct (again, I note that major misconduct would be a different matter), without considering whether he may have developed better judgment and better views from age 25 to age 60. It’s rejecting the possibility that people actually get wiser as they get older — that they grow up — that they improve their judgments, their beliefs, and their conduct. And it’s potentially depriving the nation of many valuable public servants because of a dumb thing they did long ago.

As with the verdict that Mary Poppins wasn’t preparing to sing “Mammy,” this analysis shouldn’t need a distinguished law professor’s authority to be accepted as valid, fair and reasonable.

And yet here we are.

4. Adventures in desperate whataboutism. I wondered how long it would take for the mainstream media to try to find a way to somehow turn Ralph Northam’s humiliation on President Trump. Sure enough, Tom Nichols, a typical “resistance” prof at an institution I am embarrassed these days to admit to graduation from, argues in the Washington Post, that Republican can’t criticize Northam because  “they’ve reserved their scorn for one chief executive, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, and have held back when it comes to criticizing a chief executive from their own party, President Trump, for his racially divisive statements and public positions. That is naked hypocrisy.” No, the professor’s lamely reasoned screed is naked whataboutism. Republican are furious with Northam because while running for governor he viciously accused his GOP opponent of being racially biased, knowing that he himself had an unrevealed blackface episode in his past. They think that’s hypocrisy—it’s not, but it certainly makes Northam’s campaign race-baiting even more repulsive. Moreover, Democratic voters didn’t know about Northam’s colorful past. President Trump’s “racially divisive and public positions” were not and are not racist, and they were always front and center, disclosed and transparent.

What I really like about Nichols’ article, though, is that he tries to justify the accusation that the President is racist, a key Big Lie in the Democratic arsenal, and fails spectacularly. I keep thinking there must be something I’ve missed when I hear Democrats and Facebook dupes call the President a racist as if this was established fact. Nope, it’s the same weak array:

  • “For years, he fueled birtherism to attack President Barack Obama.” 

Trump used the same ‘birther” tactic to attack Ted Cruz, who, you may have noticed, is not black. The fact that many “birthers” were racists does not mean that only racists were birthers  , nor does one unfairly attacking a black President mean that the attack is based on race.

  • “He once argued that a federal judge, Gonzalo P. Curiel, couldn’t be impartial in a case involving Trump because, as Trump said, “He’s a Mexican. We’re building a wall between here and Mexico.”

I wrote about this when it happened. Trump was asserting that the judge had a conflict of interest. That’s all. There was nothing racist in that assertion under any definition of the word. He unfairly assumed that the judge’s heritage would interfere with his independent judgment. That means that he doesn’t have proper respect for judges.

  • “Early in his presidential candidacy, Trump called for a “total and complete ban on Muslims entering the country.”

I know the Left is in denial about this, but the domestic terror threat in the U.S. is overwhelmingly created by Muslims. Trump’s meat-axe solution of banning Muslim immigration here was an extreme and poorly considered policy, but 1) it was based on religion, not race and 2) is grounded in national security policy beliefs, not any form of racial inferiority.

  • “In office, he ruminated on the United States needing more immigrants from places such as Norway and fewer immigrants from “shithole” countries, referencing Haiti, El Salvador and African countries.”

Seriously, professor, this is the best you can do? The “shithole” incident was malevolent and disputed  leak from a private meeting, The President was expressing a defensible argument that the U.S. should be accepting better educated, more self-sufficient immigrants from first world nations rather than the poorest and most culturally damaged. Norway is the 26th wealthiest nation per capita in the world. El Salvador is 79th. Haiti doesn’t crack the top hundred. It is fair to call Trump a Western civilization chauvenist, and it is a popular leftist tactic to denigrate those who champion Western values as racists. Nonetheless, that is a slur, not a fact.

  • “…polls taken at various times during his presidency that show significant percentages of Americans either see Trump as racist or, at a minimum, someone who has “emboldened” racists.

Significant numbers of Americans have been told for years that the President is a racist by people like the professor and the mainstream media, based on the pathetic evidence the professor just martialed. What they tell pollsters proves nothing. What a brilliant bootstrapping scam! Spread a Big Lie, wait for lazy members of the public to absorb it, then poll them and say, “See? The polls say I’m right!”

And that’s it! Two years of the Trump administration, and Hollywood, academics, black politicians, journalists and pundits state as fact that the president is a racist, and that’s the strongest “evidence” for that position.

5.  The CBS Face The Nation interview. It will be picked apart by the mainstream media, of course, but this was one of the President’s better performances. And here is the section on the topic above, race:

MARGARET BRENNAN: Talking about the- the kneeling position you’ve taken and the controversy around it. Do you think that the players who did kneel had a point? I mean did you- are you sensitive at all to players like Colin Kaepernick, who- who point out that the majority of victims of police violence are black?

PRESIDENT  TRUMP: Well, you know, I’m the one that had passed judicial reform. And if you look at what I did, criminal judicial reform, and what I’ve done- President Obama tried. They all tried. Everybody wanted to do it. And I got it done and I’ve been, you know, really- a lot of people in the NFL have been calling and thanking me for it…. They have been calling and thanking, you know, that people have been trying to get that taken care of and it’s now signed into law and affects tremendous numbers of people, and very good people. I think that when you want to protest I think that’s great. But I don’t think you do it at the sake of our flag, at the sake of our national anthem. Absolutely.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you are- do I understand you saying there though, that you still are sensitive though? I mean you- you understand the motivation for the protest …  though you don’t like the form of it.

PRESIDENT  TRUMP: A lot of it is having to do with reform from what I understand. Whether it’s criminal justice or whatever it may be and they have different versions and everybody seemed to have a different version of it. But a lot of it had to do with that, and I took care of that. I think that people have to, at all times, respect our flag and at all times respect our net- our- our national anthem and our country. And I think there are plenty of places and times you can protest and you can do a lot. But you can’t do that. That’s my opinion.

BRENNAN: In a CBS poll we just took, 63 percent of Americans say they disapprove about how you’re handling issues of race in the US…. What do you think of that?

PRESIDENT  TRUMP: What has happened is very interesting. The economy is so good right now. You saw the jobs report just came out. Three hundred and four thousand added jobs, which is a shocker, for the month. A shocker to a lot of people. They thought it was going to be half that number. The African-Americans have the best employment numbers in the history of our country. Hispanic Americans have the best employment numbers in the history of our country. Asian-Americans the best in the history of our country. You look at women, the best in 61 years. And our employment numbers are phenomenal, the best in over 50 years. So I think I’ve been given a lot of credit for that. And in terms of race, a lot of people are saying well this is something very special what’s happening.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So- because when colleagues of yours, even like Republican Senator Tim Scott. He said Donald Trump is not racist. But he said you’re racially insensitive.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I have a great relationship with Tim and certainly with his state, South Carolina, and- where we do very well. And I think if you look at the numbers for African-American unemployment, best numbers they’ve had- literally the best numbers they’ve had in history. And I think they like me a lot and I like them a lot. 


  • The majority of victims of police violence are NOT  black! How can CBS get away with a whopper like that??? Yet aniother Big Lie, and the news media is again complicit in spreading it.
  • Watch the news media concentrate on Trump overselling the improved black employment numbers.
  • Nope, Trump is not “sensitive.” Being “sensitive” means saying comforting things, pandering to groups who demand pandering to, avoiding offense, even at the price of the truth. It’s an asset in a politician and a leader, but no one should be fooled—though many are—that Clinton biting his lower lip and “feeling our pain,” or Reagan’s professional radiation of CinemaScope empathy proves that either President “cared”  more than Donald Trump, who doesn’t do “caring.”
  • Althouse on the same point in the interview:

It makes me think about how much of racial politics is a display of sensitivity — the theater of looking like you care. Trump turned down the triple invitation to sell himself as sensitive, and that underscored what he did say: What counts is what you do. Brennan did not challenge his claims of accomplishment. Was she not prepared for his solidly on-track talk about results? If he’d caved and said I really do care, I’m a sensitive guy, would she have flung a bunch of his old insensitivities at him? Perhaps Brennan was prepared for that. The way Trump handled the race issue made Brennan look weak. It felt like she was taunting him for being generally insensitive to black people, trying to get a rise out of him. But time and again, he didn’t get mad — he talked very positively about the things he is actually doing.


41 thoughts on “Super Bowl Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 2/3/219…To Remind You That You Can’t Be Serious About Ethics And Support The NFL. Sorry.

  1. You quote Althouse:-

    … Trump turned down the triple invitation to sell himself as sensitive, and that underscored what he did say: What counts is what you do… It felt like she was taunting him for being generally insensitive to black people, trying to get a rise out of him…

    I am reminded of an Abraham Lincoln story, which is illustrative whether it is true or not (si no e vero, e ben trovato).

    An abolitionist had a meeting with Lincoln, and as he was about to leave he expressed his surprise that Lincoln had not shown more warmth and love towards the slaves.

    “Love them?”, replied the Great Man, “I’d support a motion to do something about bad drains, but I don’t love them.”

    More broadly, this is part of the one-eyed idiocy of people persons who think people should always and everywhere be the focus (as opposed to the motivation). You know, the English teacher who thinks his job is to teach children, or the surgeon who relates to his patient – or the TV producers who ruin perfectly good science series by showing people what the science will mean for their everyday lives instead of showing what is going on (you know, science).

      • Most of that was connecting – as an antiparallel – the general idea of being sensitive and a particular example of someone who wasn’t coming over all sensitive, using as the example someone who it would be hard for many readers to dismiss simply for not being sensitive. The last paragraph was an obiter, pointing at a general pattern I have seen in a number of places and which I saw peeping out here, too.

    • Or the protestor who proudly claimed that feelings mattered more than facts when confronted by a black man wearing a MAGA hat. Not quite the same thing, but the end of your post reminded me of it.

  2. Make no mistake, the racist tag, among others, will be made to stick regardless of facts and be used to subsequently ruin the lives of all who disagree with them on any policy once they gain the necessary popular power via propaganda.

  3. “Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma (often athletes), including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head that do not cause symptoms.” This means early-onset dementia, severe depression, behavioral changes, and too many suicides of former players.

    Any parents that let his child become involved in football now — THE FACTS ARE IN –is setting the child up for a shorter, miserable life, regardless of any fame, or money that may go with it. Said parents are morons, uncaring, greedy, and do not deserve to be parents.

    The NFL in its greed, will only stop this when the pipeline of players dries up, and that means YOU, PARENTS! Those who enjoy watching the mayhem should just for one second consider what will happen to these 21st century gladiators… in 5 or ten years. Then imagine it’s your own son.

    At least baseball has begun to take the CTE/concussion symdrome seriously — look up their new rules for players who suffer concussion.

    And just to infuriate some: Sad that Tom Brady will some day be sitting drooling in a wheelchair, and he won’t even be able to remember his football ‘triumphs.’

    Greed, ignorance, rationalizations, short and long term bodily harm — this is football. Enjoy.

  4. 3 Quoth Prof. Volokh:

    It’s rejecting the possibility that people actually get wiser as they get older — that they grow up — that they improve their judgments, their beliefs, and their conduct. And it’s potentially depriving the nation of many valuable public servants because of a dumb thing they did long ago.

    It’s even worse than this, really. It’s elevating conduct that is specifically protected under our constitution to the level of a thought crime. How long will it be before we find a way to make thought crimes actual crimes?

    Practically all the cartoons of my youth violate this new cultural “prime directive.” There are many depictions of characters in blackface and with exaggerated racial characteristics. I can’t imagine how many TV shows of the 50’s and 60’s violate it. Are all those actors to be held to account? You have to think that’s the next step, even if they are loyal Democrats.

    This new version of PC, which is simply the old version taken to the viable limit of its extreme, is toxic beyond reckoning. It is, and will continue to, destroy American culture and replace it with something unrecognizable.

    4 Whataboutism

    Great Fisking there, Jack. Unfortunately, nobody who reads Nichols’ article will be convinced one way or the other. Trump supporters don’t care, and Trump detractors only allow negative things about Trump to impinge upon their calcified consciousness.

    5 CBS interview

    Nope, Trump is not “sensitive.” Being “sensitive” means saying comforting things, pandering to groups who demand pandering to, avoiding offense, even at the price of the truth.

    Why am I reminded of the State Farm insurance commercial where the robot agent “cries” to prove his sympathy?

    This is no different, and no less absurd. Our national discourse is rank with emotional gobbledygook. You can have the love of everyone as long as you are “sensitive” and “care” about all the right things. It doesn’t matter if your caring and sensitivity are fake, it only matters that they are about the right things and that you don’t have so many skeletons rattling in your closet that the din would drown out everything else.

    Kind of like Northam.

  5. So, who won? Seriously. I didn’t realize the Superbowl was yesterday until Saturday when I started seeing ads for it. I woke up this morning and my son asked me who won. I still don’t know. I don’t actually care enough to look it up.

    On point 4, it may not be that he doesn’t have the proper respect for judges, he may just take them at their word. If judges don’t feel that they should rule based on their race and background, perhaps they should stop saying such things.

  6. “Northam’s colorful past.

    Ah, Jack. You certainly know a well-turned phrase when it pops into your head. Made my day and it’s only 8 AM way out west.

  7. Re: 2
    I have a hard time with black face issue creating pain. When the Wayans brothers created the film White Chicks as a parody of white suburban girls in which two black men put on white faces and dressed as valley girls, where was the outrage? None, and for good reason. It was to create a parody. Am I now supposed to get my ire up everytime some movie or act could be seen as demeaning to whites.?

    If you sufferred any pain from the recent disclosure of this image from Northam’s yearbook why do you blame Northam? Your seeing of this image results from someone other than Northam giving you the opportunity. The question is why. The release of the image, the Hader gotcha, was designed to harm Northam and you are collateral damage.

    We must stop letting the media create or facilitate these social schisms which serve to improve their bottom lines. The 24 hour news cycle needs to have something to talk about so they remain important. Like the middle school playground elite they foment distrust and exclusion for their own purposes.

    Race relations would be light years ahead if the default position is not to find some sort of racially motivated slight everywhere. Racial insensitity is a two way street. Simply being something other than white does not releave one of his or her responsibility to understand racial insensitivity. When we begin to decouple perceived insensitive comments from actual racist behaviors then maybe we can move foreward. But, the more I feel I am being trashed for not pandering to or supporting every want and desire of person of color, the more I will be less inclined to support such causes.

    • Chris, the race grievance industry is a real thing. It’s running the American academy, the media, politics, and now it’s working its way into American business. It’s not going to go away. It’s too lucrative.

        • Resistance is futile, CM. I think it’s just a tsunami that will have to wear itself out. I hope.My concern is it has been uncritically and enthusiastically embraced by the forty plus and under somethings and will, over the next twenty years grow to be the completely dominant view. See, eg., Alexandria Ocasion Cortez, among many, many others. I don’t see anything out there capable of countering it, other than the economy collapsing a la Venezuela, the USSR, Cambodia. But look at North Korea and Cuba. They are basket cases yet they continue essentially unabated.

  8. Didn’t watch the Super Bowl but was pleased to see the subscribe to pewdiepie banners in the background of the field goal kicks.

    Ps sub to pewdiepie

  9. It’s your choice. If you do choose to cheer on the Pats and the Eagles [this year, the Rams], though, don’t pretend that you don’t know that what you’re really cheering, enabling, and ensuring will keep ruining lives.

    What if you don’t cheer on either one, but watch the game because it is an American institution?

    I watch zero NFL games, except for one — the Super Bowl. For me, not watching that is like not watching an “I Love Lucy” or “All in the Family” rerun because of its gender and ethnic stereotypes.

    I don’t support the NFL in any meaningful way. Their brand has no impact on my buying decisions, and the commercials these days are more likely to create an excuse for me to boycott a brand than buy from it, especially the ones on Super Bowl Sunday.

    In sum, I treat the Super Bowl and concomitant pageantry as an institution. The NFL otherwise gets zero attention from me.

  10. #1. I managed to be relatively football free this season, but only because watching football and tracking players, standings, etc takes up far too much of my time to be justified. I did check in on the Super Bowl twice, though, to see if there was any chance the Rams could stick it to the Patriots. I may need to go to confession for my loathing of the Patriots.

    But as for the CTE issue: Jack, I’m firmly convinced that football and other heavy contact sports does not produce CTE. I believe that there is a common factor that causes both football playing and CTE. (Slight tongue-in-cheek…)

    #2. At this point, I want Orlando Bloom tarred and feathered for his portrayal of a blonde in Lord of the Rings.

    But seriously, doesn’t anyone out there realize that this whole “blackface” issue is just continually driving further wedges between people? Does maintaining, even exacerbating, racial tensions really seem like a good idea to these people? Yes, I understand the divide and conquer of politics. Yes, I understand that race baiting is a way to keep the party factions in line. But does anyone actually project a good outcome from this? Given Northam’s immolation, is the Democratic party on the verge of an irreparable breakdown in which all the disparate factions start eating each other alive?

    #3. I’m also perturbed at the idea that no one can change over the course of ten, twenty, thirty or more years. I suppose that’s in part because of my own failings when I was in my early twenties, and the belief that I’m a far better person than I was then. But I suspect the reason to hold people forever accountable is so that anyone that isn’t like can be tarred and removed from office at any point. Just gin up enough anger and hate against a wrongdoing, however minor, however long ago, whatever the context was, and that undesirable can be forever destroyed. Justice has nothing to do with it; personal improvement has nothing to do with it; voters have nothing to do with it. Pure mob brutality is becoming the law of the land. Of course, Northam has to be sacrificed to pave the way for ousting Trump for the same kind of reasons…

    #4. Isn’t assuming a Hispanic will de facto rule in favor of Mexico somewhat racist, in all fairness?

    But I do dislike how pointing out very obvious facts makes one racist. Most terrorism nowadays is coming from Muslims. We do have a problem with people illegally crossing our southern border with Mexico. And a lot of people who are leaving their countries for a better life are leaving because those countries are terrible places to live.

    #5. Yes, but results don’t matter. It is all how you feel and how you care about things. If you express that you care about improving the lot of minorities, then you’re a saint, even if all your policies make life for them worse. In fact, isn’t it better if your policies actually make things worse, because then you can keep those minorities coming to you, because you care, and because their plight means they won’t feel content with their lot and become disengaged from politics?

    • #4. Isn’t assuming a Hispanic will de facto rule in favor of Mexico somewhat racist, in all fairness?

      Is assuming that a gay judge with a lifetime partner will tend to rule in favor of gay marriage bigoted? How about a black judge presiding over a Klansman trial? If such things don’t matter, why the demands that the Supreme Court “look like America”? Trump’s enemies call his concerns racist, but they insist that an all-white, male SCOTUS wouldn’t be sufficiently objective.

      • Jack, if I’m reading you right, then the answer to my question is, “yes, it is somewhat racist, but the Left is not upholding that standard when it wants the SCOTUS to look like America?”

        I suppose I should have indicated, given my response to the other 4 points start with a bit a flippant statement, that this was an earnest question…

        • Ryan, I really don’t think it’s racist. Especially with group identification being pushed so hard as a virtue. My point is, How can the same people arguing for group preferences based on perceived group biases then argue when such a member of a group is perceived as holing the bias he or she was appointed to represent?

      • And the more I think about it, the more I think that in general, concerns in each of the situations you cited are justified, on the whole, because as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t really think you can wholly extract one’s bias from one’s interpretation of the law. However, examination of an individual could still show that the general concern is not necessarily applicable. I could envision a gay judge living with his partner still deciding against gay marriage if there was some impropriety in the law being met. But even so, if I were looking at a gay judge, would be I be right to insist that he recuse himself from the case because of his vested interest? Would I be right in thinking that he wouldn’t do his due diligence to ensure that when he ruled in favor of gay marriage, that he had all his ducks in a row, so that his opinion is well-founded on precedent and the actual text of the law?

        Ack. I’m still working through this. Is it bigoted to think a judge’s homosexual lifestyle would color his decisions, or is it just to be expected that it would, because that’s the interpretive lens through which he sees the world?

  11. Did not watch the game. Did not know who won until it popped up in an ad of some sort: did not care enough to check.

    Got real life slamming me right now, with a spouse and a father both out of circulation.

    Sorry, Jack, for a limited posting schedule for a while. I still lurk, and find your insight valuable for daily use.

  12. Re 2.

    Given the NYT has weighed in on Mary Poppins which is based in fantasy perhaps it can discuss Bette Davis’s suggestion she put on blackface in film The Corn is Green.

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