Saturday Ethics Review, 7/13/2019: The Uncomfortable Truth About “The Lion King,” The Green New Deal, Children At the Border, Blackface, And Harvey Weinstein


Is it unethical for an ethics speaker to drop trow during a program? I think so. It was a situation I narrowly avoided this morning. I am a rather animated speaker, and after I slammed the D.C. ethics rules into the floor to illustrate a point, my effort to retrieve the volume resulted in the rear snap of my galluses pulling loose from the back of my pants. With an unpantsing imminent (and about to be streamed live to hundreds), I asked my moderator to come down from his platform and rescue me by reclipping the devices on, which he did.

Hilarity ensued.

1. “Asshole” ethics. In another episode today, I referred to Harvey Weinstein as an “asshole,” in the context of discussing the multiple David Bois ethics problems in handling the Hollywood mogul’s representation. The exact statement was “Even assholes deserve competent representation.” This came closely after I had mentioned that lawyer incivility was an ethics problem whether there were explicit rules against it or not. One of the attendees in cyber-space texted a query as to whether it was uncivil for me to use the term “asshole.”

I answered that I was reminded of the moment in  “1776” when one of the members of the Continental Congress challenges Thomas Jefferson’s use of the term “tyrant” to describe King George. Is it really necessary, Jefferson is asked, to use such a harsh word? Why resort to an insult? “Because the King is a tyrant,” Tom replies.

I went on to say that I have found that in certain situations, only certain harsh words are sufficiently accurate.  What should I call Harvey, a miscreant? A jerk? No, the man is an asshole, I said. I’m not using the term as an ad hominem attack, but as the most accurate term I can think of for someone who has done the things he has done to so many women while indicating no remorse at all. I do not use the term indiscriminately, and would not use it in certain forums, such as open court. But I do not believe in word taboos, and when the description, however harsh, fits, it is not uncivil to make a Harvey Weinstein wear it.

2. Now, what’s the right word for THIS? In the Washington Post,  Dan Hassler-Forest reflects on the themes of “The Lion King” and asserts that the lions, hyenas, and gazelles are “stand ins for human societal organizations” and that the themes of the movie “incorporates the white supremacist’s worldview.” Hassler-Forest is an author and public speaker on “media franchises, cultural theory, and political economy” who works as assistant professor in the Media Studies department of Utrecht University in the Netherlands. “No matter how you look at it, this is a film that introduces us to a society where the weak have learned to worship at the feet of the strong,” his article asserts.

Yes, Professor Obvious, that’s because “The Lion King” is about non-human societies, and somehow, most six-year-olds are able to figure that out. I wonder why the Post thinks this bit of knowledge is worth an op-ed. “A Bugs Life” and “Antz” are about ant colonies, for example, and yes, those animated films illustrate a society with an autocratic hierarchy too. In fact, any film, animated or otherwise, about animal communities that extols democratic societies and celebrates individual rights is expressly  using animals as stand-ins for human beings, like “Zootopia.” “The Lion King” is not about humans or their societies. Will some third grader please explain this to the professor?

3. “I’m shocked—shocked!” Saikat Chakrabarti, the chief of staff of Representative Ocasio-Cortez, explained to the Washington Post  that the so-called “Green New Deal” has been misunderstood. “The interesting thing about the Green New Deal is it wasn’t originally a climate thing at all,” he said. “Because we really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing.”

Oh, it wasn’t misunderstood at all, at least not my me and many others who have their eyes open. Climate change fear-mongering has long been employed to persuade the gullible and prone to hysteria that they should accept a radical reduction in their personal liberty as a desperate, sole alternative to climate Armageddon.  Not all environment-minded activists are this manipulative and Machiavellian; some are undoubtedly sincere despite having common cause with nascent totalitarians like Ocasio-Cortez, Elizabeth Warren and others. Enough, however, are happy to use climate-change hysteria to accomplish their hidden, more sinister goals.

It’s remarkable that Chakrabarti thinks its wise to be honest about it.

4. Now I really AM shocked… The Abrons Arts Center in Manhattan will host the world premiere of Joshua William Gelb and Nehemiah Luckett’s “Jazz Singer,” a new adaptation and experimental reinterpretation of “The Jazz Singer,.” The  1927 film introduced “talkies” with singing star Al Jolson as the son of a Rabbi  who defies his father by seeking a performing career in blackface. The production will actually use blackface, which I would think is unavoidable if you are going to do the show (the Jolson movie was based on an early 20th Century play) or any version of it . The musical adaptation  of the film has been in the works for almost three years, said Craig Peterson, the artistic director at Abrons.

Bravo. I wanted to revive the play under the auspices of my theater company in the Washington, D.C. area, but never got around to it.  I suspect that I would have had a fight on my hands with the board. As I have written here (and here, and here) before, not all blackface is racist in intent or effect, and mounting “The Jazz Singer” is another example of a legitimate use of the genre.

Of course, just publishing  those articles appear to be one of the reasons Ethics Alarms has been banned on Facebook, because no matter how you look at it, Facebook introduces us to a society where the weak have learned to worship at the feet of the strong.

4. Bravo…to all for the suburb Open Forum yesterday. I have yet to get through all of it, but I will, and it is obvious already that it is a rich mine for Comments of the Day. Thanks, everybody.

5. Heading straight to the “Don’t confuse me with facts, my mind’s made up” Hall of Fame. Testifying on the Hill  yesterday on the topic of family separations at the border, former acting ICE Director Tom Homan was clear, unyielding and overwhelming as he batted away the contrived hysteria over separating children from parents at the border.

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez—yes, her again— called  Homan the “author” of the “family separation policy.”  Homan clarified that while he did not write the policy, he had made “numerous recommendations” to Homeland Security, including advocating a “zero tolerance” policy for those attempting to cross our borders illegally.

“Which includes family separation,” Ocasio-Cortez interrupted, thinking that she had a “gotcha.”

“The same as it is with every U.S. citizen,” Homan replied “… [who] gets arrested with a child.”

Ocasio-Cortez then said, “Zero tolerance was interpreted as the policy that separated the children from their parents.”  No, the articulate and cool witness countered.

“If I get arrested for DUI and I have a young child in the car I’m going to be separated,” Homan said. “When I was a police officer in New York and I arrested a father for domestic violence, I separated that father from his family.”

 (Thank you!)

“Mr. Homan, with all due respect, legal asylees are not charged with any crime,” said the congresswoman. Wrong, Socialist Breath. Homan: “When you’re in this country illegally, it’s violation 8, United States Code 1325.”

“Seeking asylum is legal,” Ocasio Cortez replied.

“If you want to seek asylum, you go through a port of entry,” Homan correctly said, noting U.S. law. “Do it the legal way. The Attorney General of the United States has made that clear.”


There isn’t even the basis for a legitimate debate here. This is why Ocasio-Cortez was left muttering to herself, and had to resort to trying more rationalizations on Twitter.

33 thoughts on “Saturday Ethics Review, 7/13/2019: The Uncomfortable Truth About “The Lion King,” The Green New Deal, Children At the Border, Blackface, And Harvey Weinstein

  1. 3. and 5. AOC is a sock puppet for the Commie Justice Democrats. Nothing more, nothing less. This guy Chakbarti writes the script she’s reading from. He’s the brains of the outfit.

    • If Chakrabarti is the brains of the outfit, that’s a pretty sad indictment of the outfit. When you’re scamming people (like using the “climate crisis” to radically reshape the entire global economy, for example), it’s generally considered a bad move to openly admit to a national newspaper that you are a dishonest scammer. At the very least, it makes it a lot harder to pull off the swindle. That’s a bush-league move, bro…

      • Jeff, I think these Bolsheviks in Brooklyn believe the country is ripe for a violent revolution. They think all they need to do is get their message out and masses will heed the call and storm the Bastille. I don’t think he’d view his frankness as a mistake at all, he’s just issuing orders. These people are delusional, but that doesn’t make them not dangerous.

  2. 2. This was as easy to see coming as the Russian winter. The Lion King is male and blond. He’s not an animal of color. Lions have been featured on royal heraldry forever. Of course the movie is elitist and racist and white supremacist. It’s not “Imagine.” Disney had to see this coming. I’m surprised they re-did the movie. It’s simply not politically correct. Having “cultural scholars” take it apart is no harder than taking candy from a baby.

    • Yeah, except they re-did the Jungle Book and it was well-received. Who would think the beloved Lion King, which has spawned stage and network TV presentations, would suddenly be objectionable.


  3. #5. AOC Is a virtue signaling social justice warrior. She chose to continue down a path that ended ip showing her complete ignorance of the law. Her choice, her consequence. She’s a damn fool.

    • I find her, and the rest of her squad, incredibly dangerous. Four virulently anti-American ideologues in the U.S. House. Unprecedented. These women make old Lefty America haters like Bernie Sanders and Steve Cohen look like pikers. This kiddie corps is really vicious and determined. I think they’re actually ruthless.

      • I am not sure she is a dangerous as she thinks she is. I suspect she loses next year as punishment for scuttling the Amazon deal. That idiocy was very unpopular in her district.

        I am surprised we did not see an EA post on Ocasio-Cortez’s hysterical rantings last week when criticized treatment of detainees (while in the next breath voting against funding for ICE, which boggles the mind) as inhuman and unamerican.

        Additionally, I am not convinced she hates the country – she is an attention seeker, red lipstick and all. However, Tlaib and Omar are infinitely more dangerous. They truly hate this country and see it as the progenitor of evil. They work within the system to destroy it. How Pelosi put Omar on the intelligence committee is beyond me


        • Additionally, I am not convinced she hates the country – she is an attention seeker, red lipstick and all. However, Tlaib and Omar are infinitely more dangerous. They truly hate this country and see it as the progenitor of evil. They work within the system to destroy it. How Pelosi put Omar on the intelligence committee is beyond me.

          Which country? There are numerous poles now in a dis-united Nation.

          The ‘red lipstick’ thing is a Red Herring. There is something very dangerous about AOC and all people who are linked, sentimentally or ideologically, with her. The question I ask is: What then is your link with her and the ideology — the felt sense of *the way things should be* — that animates her?

          AOC/Tlaib/Omar represent logical consequences from Lincoln’s ‘propositional nation’ or perhaps one should say from ‘radical Republicanism’. They are agents for the manifestation of a new nation, as well as haters of the old nation. Of course they are! They are tearing down its former monuments: a necessary step in actualization of their re-vision.

          Understood in this way they embody a felt-doctrine, if you will, of white replacement. If this is so the notion of ‘white replacement’ can be examined to see what is there. It is an important, and a controversial, topic.

          AOC/Tlaib/Omar represent a ‘value’ and the value conceived and held needs to be better understood. (See: Max Scheler ‘On Feeling, Knowing & Valuing’). That value is held and defined by everyone who accepts the tenets of Lincolnian American Progressivism in its Postwar form which has morphed into an unassailable predicate of New Americanism.

          It now gathers force as momentum carries it forward. It appears to be moving in the direction of a confrontation and of a genuine civil crisis, of a sort that no one knows how to envision. But the curious thing — and the real ‘danger’ here lies — is the degree to which the basic tenet is subscribed to and believed by a far wider circle of persons than the radical activists. Who then is a participant in ‘white replacement’ or in the dispossession Wilmot Robertson wrote about? Who accurately conceives of the real issue and the real problem? Who can talk about it?

          If you cannot oppose the idea (it is really a felt-value and much less an intellectual idea, much as a folk song transfers a sentiment into the heart), if you do not have a ready means to contradict it and oppose it, then you are a participant in the ideology of dispossession.

          Now, against that backdrop it is possible to examine a counter-sentiment, however seminal, however inchoate, within the ‘original demographic’ of resistance to what has been outlined for them, for the ‘fate’ designed for them. If it is not understood as the awakening of power-consciousness to a necessary confrontation, it is not really understood.

          And if these issues are understood then one can also understand why it is that “AOC/Tlaib/Omar” as emblem of American Progressivism (a vast machinery of industry, government and economy) has very good reasons to fear, however paranoid and exaggerated that fear may be, a figure like Trump who resonates with the dispossessed majority and who has, knowingly of unknowingly, signaled to them. And Trump also resonates with the various factions described as ‘extreme right’ in dozens of other countries who develop resistance strategies to similar machinations in their regions.

          And then one will be in a better position to understand the ideological positions that are capable of taking a stand — of beginning to conceive of — a genuine position against dispossession.

          But how difficult this is! How spiritually and morally hard it is to come to the point of conceiving ‘reality’ as against the false-picture that is part of felt-experience! When one understands some part of this, one can then better understand why it is that Conservatism is seen as an abetting force to advancing and unassailable Progressivism.

          From The Dispossessed Majority (1976):

          In the very largest and broadest sense, the metamorphosis of liberalism signifies the transformation of an intra-racial struggle for individual rights and liberty into an interracial struggle for power. The struggle is a total one. It encompasses every domain of American endeavor, from the lowest levels of brutishness to the highest levels of art, religion, education, and philosophy.

          • [Universal Warning! There are numerous ideas and references to difficult ideas contained here. If you are triggered by ideas, this is your trigger-warning. Read no further! Stop! Turn back!]

            As an added bonus (and there is never a charge nor any hidden fees!) here is some information about Scheler’s ‘On Feeling, Knowing & Valuing’:

            One of the pioneers of modern sociology, Max Scheler (1874- 1928) ranks with Max Weber, Edmund Husserl, and Ernst Troeltsch as being among the most brilliant minds of his generation. Yet Scheler is now known chiefly for his philosophy of religion, despite his groundbreaking work in the sociology of knowledge, the sociology of emotions, and phenomenological sociology. This volume comprises some of Scheler’s most interesting work–including an analysis of the role of sentiments in social interaction, a sociology of knowledge rooted in global social and cultural comparisons, and a cross-cultural theory of values–and identifies some of his important contributions to the discussion of issues at the forefront of the social sciences today.

            This also has some bearing on the reaction to perceived messaging in The Lion King:

            “Existential envy which is directed against the other person’s very nature, is the strongest source of ressentiment. It is as if it whispers continually: “I can forgive everything, but not that you are— that you are what you are—that I am not what you are—indeed that I am not you.” This form of envy strips the opponent of his very existence, for this existence as such is felt to be a “pressure,” a “reproach,” and an unbearable humiliation. In the lives of great men there are always critical periods of instability, in which they alternately envy and try to love those whose merits they cannot but esteem. Only gradually, one of these attitudes will predominate. Here lies the meaning of Goethe’s reflection that “against another’s great merits, there is no remedy but love.”

            Oddly — perhaps it seems like an insurmountable contradiction? — this is why I believe that ‘love’ and really ‘Christian value’ can function with and along-side the will to reclaim power in our present, and to turn — pardon the reference — against the Jackals and their devious project. One must really love one’s people. And one must also help other people to love themselves.

            • I’ll stick with calling AOC’s handlers Commies or Bolsheviks and virulent America haters who want to foment a violent revolution. The fact they have installed four people in Congress is unsettling.

              • I see your point, OB, but I genuinely wonder if this is a sufficient term. I am not sure they really have the ideological formation of real communists. So, calling them Commies and Bolsheviks may not actually describe who they are and what they are working toward accurately.

                As you know I also have some questions as to whether they are really ‘America haters’. I believe I know what you mean by ‘America hater’ — and as comparison Slick recently resorted to the use of that descriptive in relation to me — but in truth there are many different people with different, and quite opposed, critiques of ‘America’. And indeed there is not a clear and solitary and agreed-on definition of America! These definitions are all up in the air and in chaos.

                And here on this Blog, generally, I have come to understand that any substantial critique of America, even a minor one or a localized one, about the use of American power, or (as I often say) of ‘the Americanopolis’ (a distortion of the original republican values into a powerful, brutal and tyrannic neo-imperialism with an underlying perverse sexual element that is spread to the world as a contagion) is seen as ‘America hating’.

                Would it not be more potentially accurate to call them ‘Whites hating’? Is it possible that the real motivating hatred is there, under the surface, but cannot be fully named because no one wishes to face the real facts squarely?

              • From today’s Times (Go, Donald, go!):

                WASHINGTON — President Trump on Sunday weighed in on the friction between a group of four freshman Democratic congresswomen and Speaker Nancy Pelosi: He suggested that the congresswomen — none of whom are white — should “go back and help fix” the countries they came from. His message was immediately seized upon by Democrats, who called it a racist trope.

                “So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter.

                Very interesting. This would fit in to my interpretation of what is going on in the present. Clearly, Trump is ‘communicating with his base’ and he is right in that border-land between what is suggested and what is explicit. Surely his opponents will do all in their power to describe it as ‘racist’, but it is more than that. It is ‘racialist’ but also cultural and civil.

                The original demographic are the heirs to those who created the American system, and they are the only ones who can maintain it, or in the present case, recover it.

                An additional meaning, which will come out soon enough, will have to do with establishing the link of America’s brown masses with the anti- or counter-Americanism they are developing and espousing. Because this is at the base what this is about: an inter-racial ideological war that is developing, but with demographic consequences. The sooner that it is defined, seen, recognized, understood, the better for all concerned.

                “We’ve got some DIFFICULT DAYS ahead . . .” as the nature of the struggle takes shape. Odd how so much that was done now requires un-doing.

        • John, if she loses her seat, that will be a good start but she’ll be rewarded with a show on MSNBC and become even more ubiquitous. Also, are you sure the voters in her district are as rational as you posit? Tribal loyalty may trump everything else. She’s Puerto Rican! She’s one of us! Vamanos!

  4. Sure, the Lion King is a paean to White Supremacy. I’ll add it to the list, right after “law” but before “marriage” and “mathematics.”

  5. I am not sure she is a dangerous as she thinks she is. I suspect she loses next year as punishment for scuttling the Amazon deal. That idiocy was very unpopular in her district.

    I am surprised we did not see an EA post on Ocasio-Cortez’s hysterical rantings last week when criticized treatment of detainees (while in the next breath voting against funding for ICE, which boggles the mind) as inhuman and unamerican.

    Additionally, I am not convinced she hates the country – she is an attention seeker, red lipstick and all. However, Tlaib and Omar are infinitely more dangerous. They truly hate this country and see it as the progenitor of evil. They work within the system to destroy it. How Pelosi put Omar on the intelligence committee is beyond me


  6. But lion king IS about people. It may not be about a critique or a promotion of a particular arrangement of society, but it IS about humans are born into situations larger than them, and whether or not the ethical choice is pursue yourself or pursue the larger context into which you were born.

      • As are all fairly tales and fables

        I think that’s what bugs me about this most of all. It’s a universal tale about virtue and legacy. To make those into a stand-in for “”whiteness”” is exactly to lean into the purported assumptions of purported white supremacists. Some professor is trying to bolster a probably floundering academic career, staving off the dreaded irrelevance, by pointing at notions of responsibility, honor, dignity, grace, strength, nobility, et al., the holders of which being portrayed as most fit for rulership (which cannot be denied by man or beast), and saying that they are per se essential characteristics of whites which are not held to equivalent degree by persons of other races. This is his unstated major premise. If this premise is true, then white supremacy is just true. That’s the whole ball game, and he just tossed it out as a foundational assumption. This is as extreme a position as one could find amongst any Klan cell or Unite the Right rally.

        • Great point. If such characteristics are only important to white people and no one else, and no one else needs to worry about aspiring to these things, people of color are doomed to subservience and being coddled by their handlers forever. The irony of intersectionality. Can’t win the game, change the rules or take your ball and go home!

  7. #5
    A prime witness trotted out by the dems in those hearings was a Guatemalan woman who made her way to the border with her two year old child and crossed illegally. The child got sick, possibly from another illegal, and died after the pair was released to relatives.

    Instead of being charged with child endangerment, abuse, and some degree of homicide, she is feted by the dims, gussied up for the hearings, and is suing the suing the Arizona city that hosts the ICE facility for $60 million.

  8. Related to the issue of illegal immigration. A man tried to firebomb a detention center in Washington state where illegals who had been separated from the children they brought with them were being held.

    People who knew him described him as an anarchist and antifascist (isn’t that just Antifa?), and as having sent out letters to friends before he went on his crusade, saying goodbye. Included with these letters was a manifesto (one that hasn’t been seen by anyone outside of the friends, far as I can tell).

    He was also a member of a local Occupy chapter. Luckily, all he managed to do was torch a car before being stopped by the police. He died of his injuries fairly immediately. The thing that gets me the most about this incident (besides the almost zero coverage outside of local papers) is that if he had succeeded in setting the place on fire, he would have killed quite a few of the illegal immigrants he and his ilk want to “save” from the government.

  9. 1. I guess you could’ve called him a butthole. Or a butt-head. Or an asshat.

    I’ve got more if you need them, just in case “asshole” becomes stale.

    2. Well, why wouldn’t the Lion King be a metaphor for white supremacy? Everything else is, according to the loony Left. Why should the Lion King get a pass, product of corporate greed that it is?

    3. I don’t think anyone but woke, Barbara Streisand-level idiots believed it was anything but a change-the-entire-economy thing.

    It’s remarkable that Chakrabarti thinks its wise to be honest about it.

    Oh, he’s not, not really. The purpose isn’t just to change the economy but the entire constitutional order, as that would be necessary before this abomination could become the law of the land. He didn’t mention that, because… well, “… you have to pass it to see what’s in it.”

    That worked out so well before.

    5. That’s how you properly expose a clueless radical as a clueless radical. Fox news should replay that on a loop for about a week.

    I’m beginning to think Ocasio-Cortez is actually stupid, not just an inexperienced idiot.

    You can’t fix stupid.

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