Ethics Dunce: Pete Buttigieg

The competition for the worst Democratic Presidential nominee hopeful just got a bit more interesting when one of the media darlings among the 24 (24!) hopefuls made an Ethics Dunce of himself (in an interview with Hugh Hewitt) in a manner that is disqualifying for the Presidency by Ethics Alarms standards. Here’s the relevant section:

HH: … A very blunt question, because you talk about going to every Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Indiana when you were running statewide. Should Jefferson-Jackson dinners be renamed everywhere because both were holders of slaves?

Buttigieg: Yeah, we’re doing that in Indiana. I think it’s the right thing to do. You know, over time, you develop and evolve on the things you choose to honor. And I think we know enough, especially Jackson, you know, you just look at what basically amounts to genocide that happened here. Jefferson’s more problematic. You know, there’s a lot to, of course, admire in his thinking and his philosophy. Then again, as you plunge into his writings, especially the notes on the state of Virginia, you know that he knew that slavery was wrong…. And yet, he did it. Now we’re all morally conflicted human beings. And it’s not like we’re blotting him out of the history books, or deleting him from being the Found[ing] Fathers. But you know, naming something after somebody confers a certain amount of honor. And at a time, I mean, the real reason I think there’s a lot of pressure on this is the relationship between the past and the present, that we’re finding in a million different ways that racism isn’t some curiosity out of the past that we’re embarrassed about but moved on from. It’s alive, it’s well, it’s hurting people. And it’s one of the main reasons to be in politics today is to try to change or reverse the harms that went along with that. Then, we’d better look for ways to live out and honor that principle, even in a symbolic thing.

Even before this fatuous statement, my Presidential history, common sense and current day political analysis led me to conclude that the South Bend mayor has no chance of being nominated, and if by some miracle of convention deadlock deal he was, no chance of being elected. He is 1) gay, 2) white, 3) male, 4) way too young, and 5) too much immersed  the Democratic Socialist camp. I don’t have to get to some of his other problems, like the fact that he is infuriatingly smug. However, the statement to Hewitt would disqualify him for me even if I were a Democrat, and should make all thinking and ethical Democrats—you know, the ones that aren’t nascent totalitarians, look elsewhere, though good luck with that.

Back in 2015 I anticipated the Left’s Soviet-style cultural bulldozing in the post, “Stop Your Cultural Bulldozing, America: Disney World Taking Down Bill Cosby’s Bust Is Like Removing The Jefferson Memorial.”

It concluded,

O.J. Simpson is still honored in the College Football Hall of Fame, because he was one of the greatest college stars ever. His post-career hobby as a murderer, like Bill’s extra-curricular activities as a serial rapist, have nothing to do with the honor, just as Cosby earned and still deserves, his honor for what he achieved on stage and screen.

Sure, it’s uncomfortable having a bust of an unapologetic sexual predator in a Disney World attraction, and it might prompt some uncomfortable question from the kiddies. Well, good. It’s never too soon to learn that human beings are flawed, complex creatures, and that even the most brilliant and talented have dark sides, do terrible things,  and can be cruel, selfish, dishonest and even criminal. We honor Thomas Jefferson for his crucial role in giving this nation life, and defining its mission and values for the ages. We’re not honoring his hypocrisy, his cowardice, his own rapes,  or his slaveholding. Disney World, of all places, should understand this, since its progenitor was both a genius and a man who left a lot of circumstantial evidence in his legacy that he was anti-Semitic.

“First they came for Cosby, and we did not speak out…”

There is no stop to this slippery slope, and the political correctness mob will never stop. Yesterday the House of  Representatives voted without dissent to ban Confederate flags from national cemeteries, as well as confirming the Park Service’s hysterical order that Confederate flags cannot be sold as souvenirs at Confederate army battlefields. A man who died under the Confederate flag can’t have that flag placed on his grave one day a year? A child who wants to learn about the Civil War and collect artifacts and symbols is prevented from doing so by government power?

Stop airbrushing your history, your heroes, your geniuses and your trailblazers, America. 

It is wrong—dishonest, incompetent, unfair, irresponsible, destructive….and so, so short-sighted and stupid.

Yes, it takes courage to oppose this tidal wave of political correctness—surely some in this country still have courage, right? I know it’s scary in an environment where the immense weight of the news media, the internet and the government are constantly teaming up to smear and destroy anyone who dares to take unpopular positions—that means, “rational positions based on more nuanced analysis than the average internet meme from Move-On”—or who tries to slow  one of the  unreasoning, destructive , runaway cultural freight trains that are bearing down on American society with increasing frequency. But prominent people stood up to Joe McCarthy, opposed popular wars, fought for civil rights, and have repeatedly risked reputation, employment, friendships and even their lives to insist on sanity, proportion and rationality when it was being swept aside by coalitions of the opportunistic, the Machiavellian and the ignorant. Surely there are prominent Americans who will stand up to this? Hello? Is anybody there?

Because this isn’t just airbrushing. It is bulldozing. And the culture, history and perspective it will leave the nation with will be flat, bleak, and a lie.

I am not always right, but I was damn right that day, and I caught a lot of flack for it.

Not much here, interestingly, but I posted that essay on Facebook—back when Facebook wasn’t lumping Ethics Alarms with Milo and Farrakhan—and was chided by one of my more impressive and respected lawyer friends who insisted that there was no slippery slope from Bill and the Confederate flags to Jefferson, and that I was being hysterical and absurd.

Later, of course, New Jersey’s Democrats decided to strip Jefferson’s name from its annual dinner. University of Virginia students demanded that a statue of Jefferson be toppled—Jefferson founded that institution, and included it as one of his three greatest accomplishments on his gravestone, omitting serving as President and the Louisiana Purchase.–and last year and this Hofstra students have made the same demand about a Jefferson statue on that campus.

Lately Confederates and defenders of slavery before the Civil War have been the primary objects of the destructive  Confederate Statuary Ethics Train Wreck,Confederate Statuary Ethics Train Wreck, but the cannons of the war on Jefferson could be heard faintly  behind the raging war on Robert E. Lee, and we will soon see a day when the President, or someone else, is judged a racist for stating that there are some good  people who oppose tearing down the Jefferson Memorial and razing Monticello.

There I go, being hysterical again.

Buttigieg is supposed to be smart, but his statements to Hewitt were facile and contradictory. Jefferson’s name on the Democratic Party dinner, the Memorial, and his status as a Founding Father are based on exactly the same achievements and acknowledgement of exactly the same debt.

The United States, and all it has achieved, and every one of its citizens including you, me and Mayor Pete, would not be who we are or where we are without Thomas Jefferson. His words in the Declaration of Independence created the mission statement for the nation, the genesis of the Constitution, and the crucial, indispensable delineation of the values of an emerging experiment, a society built on aspirational values, then and now unique in the world.  While he was not personally capable of acting on his own declaration that all are created equal and deserve liberty, Jefferson’s words planted the seeds that made the abolishment of slavery in America—which could not have occurred during his lifetime—inevitable.

For Buttigieg to casually brush all of that aside because Jefferson was a slaveholder (more than 200 years ago,  when slavery was legal, and the belief in black inferiority was nearly universal) is sadly typical of the motivating values of the current Left. In that increasingly rigid and cant-driven movement, the legacy of slavery and racism are the  prime  considerations behind so  many progressive agenda items, prompting escalating racial division and hate—but strategically and politically advantageous division and hate.

How can Thomas Jefferson be worthy of honor as a Founder and deserving of a memorial statute in the Capital, but not worthy of having his name on an annual dinner in Indiana? Buttigieg reveals himself as a hypocrite, a panderer, and a phony intellectual, as well as a potential leader who believes in manipulating the historical record to point the pliable public his way through deception.

Yes, Thomas Jefferson was himself a hypocrite, as well as a coward. He knew it; so did many of his colleagues. During the Revolution as Governor of Virginia, he breached an agreement among the states to send the state militias to the aide of neighboring states under siege, because he feared being captured by the British. A fellow Virginian entrusted his land to Jefferson while he was abroad, and returned to find that Tom had sold it to pay his own debts. Yet Jefferson’s fellow citizens and Founders recognized that what he had given the nation and the culture with his thoughts and words, even thought they described ideals that he was tragically unable to embrace fully in his own life. made his personal failings a footnote.

Every President aspired to meeting standards that he knows, or should know, are beyond his grasp. Failing to understand why America honors Thomas Jefferson, as much its creator as any man, disqualifies Buttigieg for the office.


19 thoughts on “Ethics Dunce: Pete Buttigieg

  1. If ever there was a time in which the importance of Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence was vital, that time is now. The Declaration was radical. The idea that we are born with rights was not a commonplace notion. Rights were granted by the government and, if granted by the government, could be removed by government.

    That seems to be the endgame of the modern-day progressives and their allies. They don’t allow for rights to be granted at birth (unless you belong to the protected classes). They want rights to stem from government instead of being secured by it so that what they don’t agree with can be limited or withdrawn at will.

    That is frightening. Government as the granter of rights and the government, in their minds, rightfully controlled by them.

    If you can discredit the man, you can discredit his ideas.

  2. If you can discredit a man based on his worst ideas, you will have no problem discrediting him in spite of his best ideas.


  3. Everything is measured against our enlightened modernity. Remember, Noah was only “righteous in his age.” How will progressives 200 plus years in the future judge ancient SJW’s of today…progressives 200 plus years in the future. Hilarious.

  4. ‘But prominent people stood up to Joe McCarthy’ – Ahem, could you please consult the Venona decrypts, and find out that the senator was correct!?

    • Nope. Correct that there were communists in the government? Sure. Correct to use false allegations, guilt by association, and fearmongering to enhance his own power? No. He was a monster, and a cancer on democracy. Don’t peddle that crap here again.

  5. When Connecticut Democrats renamed the dinner, they stated that they “just wanted to to start a conversation”, and expressed surprise that people were “so afraid to have a conversation”.

    • Rich, as we know from Barack Obama’s use of “conversation,” it means “We’ll harangue and you deplorables on the wrong side of history will shut the fuck up and listen!”

      • Because the left has cast itself in the role of parent, teacher, and policeman, and the rest of us in the role of stupid kid who doesn’t know better and needs to be made to learn by force.

  6. It’s essays like this that give me hope that there are still Americans out there who do love this country and the ideals upon which it was founded. I find it so difficult to comprehend why anyone would want to erase anyone from history. Everyone has done good and bad things, made wise and poor decisions. But that is part of how we learn to become better people. We truly do stand on the shoulders of giants. How can we become better people if we erase our foundations and forget the lessons of the past? We cannot.

  7. I would like to ask Buttigieg what options would Jefferson, et al have back in 1750.
    Seems to me the only other option, given the general sentiment of both northern and southern whites that Blacks were inferior to them, would have been to exclude their entry by law or at least by heavy handed discouragement such as that which occurred between the nativists and immigrants circa 1850.

    I do wonder what this nation would have been like had there been no slave trade. I doubt seriously that we would have evolved into a nation that we are today. Would we even have a black demographic of 15% ? I don’t know. We might be more like Denmark or Norway.

    Believing that blacks, even without slavery, would have been warmly embraced and fully integrated as equal partners in the development of the American experience is as ludicrous as believing the Conquistadors were benevolent guests in Mesoamerica.

  8. When one of the founders of this country and the originator of its concept of religious freedom is getting scrubbed from the public square and his statue is in danger of being toppled, when an astronaut can’t praise Churchill, one of the four or five greatest statesmen of the 20th century, without getting mobbed by social media, and when Italian-Americans like myself have to look over our shoulders when we celebrate our heritage, including the third most influential man ever on this planet, that’s what fascism feels like.

  9. Not only a great essay, but comments as well. God bless you all…
    The “Wolfe in Sheep’s Clothing” Progressives are among us, using “Alinsky Conflict Tactics” to destroy our Individual Freedoms. The 13th. Rule: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it & polarize it.”
    Today it’s Jefferson, yesterday it was AG Barr, Judge Kavanaugh & yes Jack Marshall. The goal is to render the Declaration of Independence & The Great Charter of Freedom, the Constitution “nugatory & nonsensical” in the minds & hearts of the People.
    Mayor Pete is a “Wolfe in Sheep’s Clothing”…

  10. The United States, and all it has achieved, and every one of its citizens including you, me and Mayor Pete, would not be who we are or where we are without Thomas Jefferson. His words in the Declaration of Independence created the mission statement for the nation, the genesis of the Constitution, and the crucial, indispensable delineation of the values of an emerging experiment, a society built on aspirational values, then and now unique in the world. While he was not personally capable of acting on his own declaration that all are created equal and deserve liberty, Jefferson’s words planted the seeds that made the abolishment of slavery in America—which could not have occurred during his lifetime—inevitable.

    It seems necessary to suggest that soon, one day or the next but soon, the nation of the United States will confront the ‘constitutional crisis’ that is brewing within it. It seems unavoidable. According to some, right now, a strange régime exists and has power: is aggressively asserting its power. In order to understand the present, one has to be able to see it and describe it accurately.

    Patrick Casey put it this way:

    [Patrick] warned of the “specter” of Woke Capital. Powerful financial institutions support Left-wing causes, particularly mass immigration. The mainstream conservative movement has been slow to recognize that “capital is not a friend to America.” Meanwhile, the Left has redefined “oppression” in racial and cultural rather than economic terms, essentially justifying collaboration with big business. Big Tech, banks, and media conglomerates coddle socialists as they persecute identitarians. Mr. Casey argued that capital is actively driving Leftist trends, mostly out of “sinister and cynical” self-interest. He argued for activism and education to overcome the “false consciousness” promoted by a corrupt, globalist ruling class, and ended with a fiery call for a new elite.

    There are some perplexing questions. When we say ‘woke capital’, what exactly do we mean? I suppose this means a general economic system which encompasses and contains all those disparate people that are part of the multi-cultural Walmart America. Right? These are ‘American units’ and they are successively attached to the body politic, sort of like grafting. ‘Woke Capital’ supports immigration because, in its ‘eyes that cannot see’, it only recognizes *consumer units*, and it does not care if the consumer units that wander in Walmart America are of original American stock . . . or refugees from Mogadishu.

    A given *unit* does not have to have any particular *level of understanding* (of the US, its founding, its Constitution, nor of anything particularly) because the units function — in the blind eyes of the emerging Régime — is as little more than that of consumption. Woke Capital has *invested* heavily in this model, and it is said that this is the *globalist’s model*. And that model — one must state the truth! — is what the term Americanopolis refers to. Americanopolis is obviously a critical term. And this is (at least in a significant aspect, a notable aspect) the *world* that has been designed by American planners as a result of and after the Second WW.

    If this is understood, then a critique of ‘woke capital’ in our present makes more sense.

    And yes, I really do want to talk about, to think about, and to discuss in open conversation “the crucial, indispensable delineation of the values of an emerging experiment, a society built on aspirational values, then and now unique in the world”, because I must, and I am bound to, consider and analyze what has happened that has led to the present situation of constitutional crisis.

    Who can spell it out for me? Who understand the ‘causal lines’? Who has the clarity of vision to sit me down and make it clear? Does any person writing on this blog, now, have some special qualification? I must say that, here, I do not get the sense that anyone has such understanding. One does not find the enlightening conversation among those of the conventional Conservative Right. Why is that?

    Said of Jefferson: “While he was not personally capable of acting on his own declaration that all are created equal and deserve liberty.”

    But this is not so. He clearly laid out a plan, but it is a plan that is considered abominable today, and is one reason for condemning him now. He had an interesting perspective really. On one hand he doubted that the Blackman could ever participate politically and socially with Whites and white culture. But he also said that there was a danger in taking a definite stand against that possibility (from a letter to the Marquis de Chastellux):

    I believe the Indian then to be in body & mind equal to the whiteman. I have supposed the black man, in his present state, might not be so. but it would be hazardous to affirm that, equally cultivated for a few generations, he would not become so.

    Frankly, despite his own collusion in slavery, he had a quite clear and enlightened posture.

    I wonder what Jefferson would prescribe if he were alive today? I wonder what a man of his notable intelligence (really genius) would recommend for us now, in this confusing and ideologically chaotic present?

    It seems to me that it is people like Jefferson that we need today. We do not need sold-out quasi-‘Conservatives’ though, but men and women with quick minds who are unconstrained in their thinking. Men not submerged in *politically correct thinking*, but daring men and women who are intellectually free of constraints. Good Lord, where shall these be found?

    The constitutional crisis must be inspired & fomented, not curtailed and suppressed. In my opinion it is the Emerging Right in America that is reclaiming the tenets and terms of genuine conservatism. So, after they have tossed him onto the trash-pile, he can be picked up again, dusted off, and put to good use in the present.

    • “When liberalism no longer had to fight against opponents who could put an end to it, it mutated into a lifestyle of consumerism and fragmented sub-political individualism. Culminating in what some refer to today as Clown World. In other words in a situation of self-parodying absurdity where we seem to have lost all guidance, all standards, all seriousness, and exist in a freakish world.”

      That is Michael Millerman reading some excerpts from his translation of Alexander Dugin’s The Fourth Political Theory.

      If we shall speak of a constitutional crisis, and if we were to get clear about the crisis that is taking shape in our present, I suggest that we would realize that we do, in fact, stand on the brink of an era that requires a *new political theory*. We must have some conceptual tools, mustn’t we? with which we can more accurately, more realistically. understand what is going on in our present.

      It is interesting to re-read some of Jefferson’s quixotic writings, the man was certainly brilliant. But what would a Jeffersonian Mind have to say about the present state of this absurd ‘America’ which has trans-mutated so astonishingly? And how would he have confronted the Clown World we now find ourselves facing?

  11. The elephant in the room, of course is a question I wish some reporter would ask. I promise you I will ask it myself if I ever cover this issue, but I’ve not yet had the occasion.

    It’s a simple question: If you’re saying we should rid society of referencing people or institutions that supported slavery, then shouldn’t that also apply to the Democrat Party?

  12. Jefferson is a great man, who soars above the little gnats that now chew upon his ankles. Yes, I said ‘is.’ Even dead, he is worth more than the weight of Monticello in Buttigiegs.*

    That said, he was a man, with all the human nature that implies. i recently found out, for example, that he made his own bible, cutting out all of the miraculous that Jesus did, including His resurrection. This ‘Jefferson Bible’ is hubris, plain and simple. We are all short of the mark, to be sure.

    *Experts disagree upon what a ‘Buttigieg’ weighs, with the more conservative equating it with a standard ‘buttload’ while more liberal interpretations favoring ‘three cubits long and two stone,’ or ‘four score and twenty.’ Your mileage may vary.

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