Sunday Ethics Cooler, 7/21/2019, Because The Last Thing We Need Is A Warm-Up: “Oh, Just Bitching About Stuff” Edition

Hot enough for ya?

1.  THIS should drive my Facebook friends crazy...The latest SurveyMonkey/NBC poll out at the end of last week gives President Trump’s approval rating  at 48%. He reached 49% in a daily YouGov.com poll this month. In short, the concerted effort by Democrats and the news media to tar him as racist (again) as a result of his dumber-than dumb tweet conflating all four Democratic socialist freshmen with Somali immigrant Omar and evoking his alleged “shithole” comments about third-world countries failed (again.)

Yet a) nobody should trust polls, b) “approval/disapproval has a weak correlation at best with voting, and c) there’s a long way to go before November 2020. Still, I am tempted to post the story on Facebook just to evoke the howls of anger and protest I know it will trigger. After all, I have to keep reading, day after day, week after week,  the obsessive posting of the most ridiculous anti-Trump links imaginable. For example, who cares that some Holocaust survivor says that the U.S. today reminds him of “1930s Berlin”? That’s an idiotic, ahistorical, unsupportable opinion whether the opiner is a Holocaust survivor, Hillary Clinton or a man in a rubber room. The statement is no more respectable or worth posting than if he said the U.S. today reminds him of “Avatar,” the Gobi Desert or “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.”

It’s unethical to post things just to drive people crazy, though. So I won’t.

But I’d like to.

But I won’t.

2. Want to see a clinical example of the kind of people who can’t handle Ethics Alarms? Meet Taffy. I allowed Taffy Marchand’s comment on the Dad-drinking-daughter’s-breast- milk post, and now have had to ban or spam several insulting and/or idiotic comments that followed. Here’s what she wrote:

I am a nurse in a neonatal intensive care unit. We deal with breast milk all day long. I was taken aback by your consideration that this is, in any way, incestuous. I think that may have more to do with they fact that breastmilk comes from breasts. Which, perhaps you have sexualized to an extreme. If the father was nursing from his daughter that would be in question. She is merely pumping milk and leaving it in a container for him. We drink milk pumped from other species, so why are we so freaked out about human expressed breast milk? Is it going to cure his cancer? It’s very doubtful but there is clear evidence that breastmilk has a plethora of health benefits. I explain this over and over again to families that mom’s breast milk is the ideal nutrition for her infant, followed by donor breast milk because it is species specific, followed by formula, which is essentially expressed breast milk from another species. Also, I have all the empathy for a family struggling with a cancer diagnosis. I think it lacks compassion and consideration of their circumstance to consider an incestuous label. It certainly won’t cause any harm for him to consume breast milk.

  • The post didn’t say that it was incestuous. The quote: “What do we properly call a father consuming his daughter’s breast milk? Is that too close to incest for comfort? Does it matter if it’s close, as long as it isn’t quite?” As is much on the blog, and as the title suggested, the point was to think about ethical distinctions. “Close” to unethical conduct isn’t unethical, is it? Or is it?
  • Breasts are considered sexual equipment and sexually provocative in this culture, and indeed most cultures. Accusing me of “sexualizing them to an extreme” is a cheap shot, and unethical debate tactics.
  • “We drink milk pumped from other species, so why are we so freaked out about human expressed breast milk?” Well, heck, Taffy, why not just use mom and any teenage daughters in the house as cow substitutes, and save dairy expenses?
  • “It’s very doubtful but there is clear evidence that…” Signature significance for someone who isn’t thinking before they type. I’m not going to take insults from someone capable of writing that…
  • Empathy is irrelevant to the issue raised by the post. It is also the Universal Get Out Of Ethics Problems Free card.
  • “I think it lacks compassion and consideration of their circumstance to consider an incestuous label.” No, Taffy, it is never wrong to consider anything. NOT considering uncomfortable possibilities is the path to ignorance and ideological cant. Of course, when your mind is made up and you regard anyone suggesting a different perspective as a pervert, I can see how might miss this.

3. Well, there’s one more museum I can’t trust. The National Museum of African-American History and Culture by the Mall in D.C.  will be showing and old documentary on Angela Davis titled, “Free Angela Davis and All Political Prisoners.” After the screening Davis will be interviews and answer questions. From Smithsonian’s press release press release:

“We all recognize that Prof. Davis is a figure for the ages, as fascinating to us now as she was at the height of her incarceration and trial” (in 1972)…[hers ]“is a quintessential American story of activism,” and that “because of her activism in support of social justice, she was criminalized and named on the FBI’s 10 most wanted list.”

Why, of all places, is the Smithsonian engaging in fake history? From The Bulwark (and many other sources that corroborates this):

[Angela Davis] was tried for purchasing guns for a courtroom raid carried out by her lover George Jackson’s brother, Jonathan, whose use of these guns in a shootout (while attempting to flee) killed one of the four people he had taken hostage, a man named Judge Harold Haley. The purchase of these guns was easily traced to Davis who, rather than surrendering, fled to avoid being captured. She was eventually found at a motel on 8th Avenue in New York City, where she was taken into custody, having been charged by superior court judge Peter Smith with “aggravated kidnapping and first-degree murder.”

Rather than working for civil rights in the manner of Martin Luther King Jr., James Farmer, or A. Philip Randolph, Davis was a leader of the American Communist Party, and a member of the violent and armed Marxist group, the Black Panther Party. After her arrest, the international Communist movement declared her a martyr and Moscow orchestrated an international group of gullible Europeans who proclaimed her innocence and demanded her freedom. In Communist East Germany, school children were told to write postcards to her expressing their support and solidarity.

At her trial, the jury surprisingly found her innocent even though 20 witnesses had testified against her. Careful investigation later revealed how compromised the jury was. One of the jurors, Mary Timothy, would go on to have an affair with Communist Party member (and head of the official Committee to Free Angela) Bettina Aptheker. Immediately after Davis was acquitted, another jury member faced the reporters and TV networks and gave them the clenched-fist salute regularly used by revolutionaries. That juror, Ralph Delange, explained “I did it because I wanted to show I felt an identity with the oppressed people in the crowd . . . and to express my sympathy with their struggle.”

Great…just what we need: Communist indoctrination at the Smithsonian.


30 thoughts on “Sunday Ethics Cooler, 7/21/2019, Because The Last Thing We Need Is A Warm-Up: “Oh, Just Bitching About Stuff” Edition

    • Who is that alien with the really out there hair style?

      Don’t you find it amazing that all these ancient societies came up with the same simple construction technique – rocks on rocks. Almost as improbable as multiple societies thinking about the wheel around the same time.

      • Ah, but Chris, some of them stacked somewhat larger rocks than others. This is obviously the result of extraterrestrial influence, because humans have never been known to try to outdo each other by pointlessly making larger and larger objects.

  1. 3. Are you really surprised, Jack? Our institutions have been infiltrated and compromised to their cores. To be an American of even the 1980s variety is anathema to what this country is becoming with frightening rapidity.

  2. But Angela Davis looked so good in an Afro! She’s iconic! Right on! Power to the People! (Also, likely the most infamous — famous? — participant in the Hamilton College junior year in France program. So she’s got that going for her.)

  3. I wonder if any if the few survivors of Jonestown have any comment on Angela Davis’ encouragement to stay in Guyana after many of the families of those there pleaded for their lives.

    One misguided friend compared me to her back in my lefty activist days. Even then I knew to be insulted.

  4. I don’t follow your objection to Taffy’s “health benefits” line. I think the comment makes perfect sense in the context of the preceding line: “Is it going to cure his cancer? It’s very doubtful but there is clear evidence that breastmilk has a plethora of health benefits.”

    She’s missing a comma after “doubtful”, which would make the sentence clearer, but otherwise, I don’t see the problem. She’s saying it’s doubtful that milk will cure his cancer, but that there is evidence that milk does have other health benefits. It’s no different than saying “Will doing push-ups cure cirrhosis? It’s doubtful, but there is clear evidence that exercise has a plethora of health benefits.”

    • My comment about the sentence as I read it is that evidence can’t be “very doubtful” and still “clear evidence” for a proposition, but that’s how the sentence reads.The missing comma threw me; I read it as a new thought, and unrelated to the previous sentence.

      Even then, the best the sentence can be called is a non-sequitur, unless she’s arguing that a general health benefit is sufficient reason for a father to be sucking up his daughter’s breast milk. If that’s the argument, skip to my in-house human cow comment.

  5. “It’s very doubtful but there is clear evidence that…” Signature significance for someone who isn’t thinking before they type. I’m not going to take insults from someone capable of writing that…

    You seem to be criticizing the formal structure of the sentence, rather than the content. The structure of the sentence is sound however. The complete thought was:

    “Is it going to cure his cancer? It’s very doubtful[,] but there is clear evidence that breastmilk has a plethora of health benefits.”

    “It is very doubtful” answers the previous clause (cancer), while “clear evidence” addresses the second (health benefits). At most, it was missing the indicated comma, which is hardly signature significance for sloppy thinking. There is room to criticize plenty of other parts of the comment, such as the understatement of probability (“very doubtful” versus “vanishingly small”), but the formal structure of this particular sentence was sound.

    (I don’t know why this struck me enough to respond…. :-/)

    • See my answer to Jeff. I think the misunderstanding is excusable if you read it like L did, which was “Is it going to cure his cancer? There is clear evidence that breast milk has a plethora of health benefits but the evidence/ those benefits are very doubtful,” which is self contradictory. If the sentence is meant as you and Jeff read it—and it probably is—what does the clear evidence of health benefits have to do with whether the milk will cure cancer, since that is “very doubtful”? Either way, it’s an inarticulate argument.

  6. And I just have to ask: Sexual intercourse also has “clear” salutary health effects, though it is doubtful that it does anything to cure cancer. So if an elderly man’s daughter is the only one who will have sex with him because he believes that it might help is cancer,and the sex is “non-sexual” in motive…would Taffy defend that? Based on her logic in the argument above, why wouldn’t she?

  7. News Flash: Nurses don’t know any more about human social behavior or family interactions or standards …. or sex, for that matter … than sea turtles or celebrities or Turkish towels. But they are well trained in sounding authoritative and sticking to it, regardless of rational thought.

  8. The Cassandran Vision

    Mission Statement from the Smithsonian website:

    Valuing World Cultures

    As a steward and ambassador of cultural connections, with a presence in some 100 countries and expertise and collections that encompass the globe, we will build bridges of mutual respect, and present the diversity of world cultures and the joy of creativity with accuracy, insight, and reverence.

    Understanding the American Experience

    America is an increasingly diverse society that shares a history, ideals, and an indomitable, innovative spirit. We will use our resources across disciplines to explore what it means to be an American and how the disparate experiences of individual groups strengthen the whole, and to share our story with people of all nations.

    Understanding is a curious word. In fact it is laden with ideology. To understand something — America in this case — requires interpretation. But interpretation is highly infused with ideological values.

    The essence of the mistaken notion that ‘diversity is strength’ and ‘our strength’ must be foregrounded as an essential, an incontestable, fact and truth of ‘the American experience’.

    Actually, and more truthfully, an increasingly diverse society by definition does not share ‘history, ideals’ nor is necessarily ‘indomitable’ in respect to innovation or in any other way.

    These are then highly charged ideologically-driven mis-truths. Once again: The Americanopolis explains itself. This is not the anomaly coming from outside, this is not the dissident version, this is rather a description of the ‘tenets of Americanism’ as it has come to be defined through a deliberate ‘transvaluation of values’ in the Postwar.

    It would require, and it does require, a sort of Communist ideology and a powerful intervening state, and a state that dominates the education-system, to be able to carry forward the Grand Plan of America and of this Americanopolis.

    Along with that general plan come all the other strange and associated — parallel — goings-on.

    Where there is cultural strength and genuine identity, it is necessary to break these down with intrusions of false-identity, or identity mediated by state actors and deep ideology.

    One could perform a rather cynical re-write here: “We will use our resources across disciplines to explore what it means to be an American and how the disparate experiences of individual groups strengthen the whole, and to share our story with people of all nations”.

    Here, let’s give it a shot:

    “We will use all forms of expression and communication to indoctrinate people into specific ways of seeing what it means to ‘be American’. This will be implied to be what is needed and good for the whole world. A globalization of Americanism. This will be an active, participatory indoctrination not un-similar to Maoist cultural revolution techniques. You will participate in it and you will identify your ego and your person with it, and defend it like a *junkyard dog* if it is questioned. One specific ‘vision’ will in fact be high-lighted while any version that runs counter to that will be vilified or simply not represented and excluded. We will elaborately pretend that our ideological activity is ‘productive’ and results in ‘good’ when in fact it is directly the opposite because in accepting a false-ideology, forced on people, people have to deny their own identity, their own common sense, and the Nation has to deny or remold its own identity in order to allow the neo-Communist system to function. This is the *world* that was constructed in the Postwar. We will shareour perverse vision of America and a distorted, distorting, culture and diversity destroying Americanism by the dissemination of it to all corners of the globe, and anyone that remains closed to it or sets up barriers against its intrusion we will define as ‘enemy’.

    Could it have been different? I suppose so. Will it be different. Doubtful. What I have written indicates where the machinery tends.

  9. 1. I know that the approval/disapproval numbers are basically meaningless, and I know that poll numbers are notoriously wrong…. But I think that Trump supporters can and probably should be looking at these with and breathe a sigh of relief.

    This isn’t true of every poll, obviously, but anecdotally I’ve noticed that the difference between pols and results can be explained with a modified application of the Bradley Effect. That is, some people, moderates, centrists, fiscal conservatives, people with family values… are ashamed of supporting Trump in light of all his… well… Trumpishness, but they’ll still vote for him because in their view he’s better than the alternative. But they still feel shame, so when the pollster calls, and even sometimes when taking online surveys, people will lie and say they won’t support Trump, even though they will, because they’re afraid of what the pollster will think of them.

    In almost every major election for the last 20 years, the amount of Right-leaning support has been understated in polls, and I can’t tell if it’s entirely a Bradley problem, or if there’s enough selection bias problems that the polls are purposefully collecting bad data, but the trend is the trend.

    • HT
      His numbers are rising because the left is going farther and farther left. He could do or say nothing further and if the 4 continue their push toward their authoritarian rule and confiscation policies his numbers will continue to climb.

      I do not discount that many feel that Trmpishness is undesireable but the progressive left has not just ratcheted up the labeling of individuals racists they have put the practice on steroids casting all whites who challenge their ideology as a racist.

      Give me a person who will not melt under the onslaught of progressive slander and character assasination to push back on this tidal wave bullshit who has the eloquence and diplomacy of a statesman and then I will consider other options. This includes members of the other party but they are even more spineless because they fear the accusation of being called a racist more than conservatives. Pelosi proved that when she did nothing when AOC strongly implicated her as a racist. The last time she was Speaker going against her meant winding up on insignificant committees with an office in the basement. Now the 4 are on some of the most high profile and important committees which is unusual for 1st termers.

      • I have no shame saying I support Trump. Why should anyone feel shame when it is obvious that his goals are to promote the country as a whole not just certain tribes or institutional systems.

        • Hear! Hear! I too refuse to feel any obligatory shame for thinking Trump’s giving the left what they deserve and have brought upon themselves. As Chris has so eloquently asserted, Trump is a purgative. Good for him.

            • Hear! Hear! I too refuse to feel any obligatory shame for thinking Trump’s giving the left what they deserve and have brought upon themselves. As Chris has so eloquently asserted, Trump is a purgative. Good for him.

              I mean no disrespect to the opinions of OB but there is something celebratory in what he writes. I think this is a bad mistake. First, it is the American Conservatives who have contributed, mightily, to the present situation of America. In my writing I try to bring this out and explain how it is that the ‘system’ — economic, industrial, global, cultural — has created what we now live in. It was co-created by both the Left and the Right. Now, many American Conservatives are genuinely offended that what was put in motion through their own complicity has risen up to bite them. And they blame ‘the Left’ for this. This is a self-deceptive trick. It is a projection of guilt and responsibility onto an easily-located other.

              Trump is a wildcard. One cannot be sure 1) what he is doing and 2) what he might do next. No one seems to have a very clear idea about the machinations of America. That is, most don’t really see nor understand America because they see some imago of what they want to see, not what it really is. Patriotic projection. Or their own ego-self projected into ‘America’. So, can these people really be trusted to see accurately? To predict? To interpret? My sense is no, they cannot. It is a case of the blind man running his fingers over the hide of an elephant. They guess, they do not know. Who knows? Who can say? Well, the dissident Right has a great deal to say about this.

              The numbers — ‘demography is destiny’ — is on ‘their’ side: the rising demographic of America that is now asserting itself. True, there is resistance now, but it is not the right sort of resistance. Why? Because those who resist do not see. It is a circular problem. But any celebration must be tempered.

              Trump is not necessarily my friend, nor ‘our’ friend. He is a politician who is playing a demagogic game, and demagogy is always a sign that next around the corner is coming tyranny. That is one observation.

              But the essential problem, the essential process in my view that America is now suffering and living is ‘dispossession’. I make reference therefore to The Dispossessed Majority. That is a book where the author *sees* (and explains). But no Conservative is allowed to see nor think in those terms.

              Trump as a ‘purgative’? Oh? And what is being purged?

              This is a simple analysis that places confidence in what may turn out to be a false hope. He may win the next election. I admit I hope that he does. But he cannot stop the demographic wheel from turning. And they have other plans.

              I suggest — patiently — that only when the real facts are seen and understood could any counter-proposition present itself. I am not sure that Trump is such a counter-proposition.

            • From an article in American Renaissance by Robert Hampton:

              Democrats are in a civil war. Young, non-white radicals want socialism, impeachment, and open borders. The mostly-white old guard wants to keep the status quo and America’s borders. This fissure exploded over a border bill last month and has not faded. Race hangs over the fight, with each side accusing the other of racism.

              The young radicals have more support from the media, and their message is echoed by several Democrat presidential candidates. The most prominent radicals—four non-white women known as “The Squad”—are New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, and Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley. They noisily opposed the border security bill and started the fight within the Democrat Party.

              […]

              The dispute is not over one bill; it’s about the future of the party. The radicals want the party openly to push non-white interests. The leaders want to do the same, but in a more gradual way that does not alienate white voters. They know that abolishing borders, ending immigration enforcement, or openly giving white wealth to non-whites is political suicide—at least for now.

              The radicals say this is inhumane and possibly racist. They want to abolish ICE and scrap many immigration laws. They also want a Green New Deal, which would upend the economy and funnel even more aid to non-whites. It’s supposed to save the environment, but would impose racial quotas on businesses, give more public services to non-whites, and guarantee employment for everyone.

              The Democrats’ Racial Civil War

      • This is simultaneously a tragic misreading of what I wrote and functionally delusional.

        First off, my point was that regardless of where the polling actually says Trump is at, applying the Bradley effect probably means that Trump’s real voter share is higher than what we’re being told. I have no idea under God where your comment even comes from except to attribute the same raw-nerve cluster of exposed feelings that Trump normally operates under to the people really eager to carry water for him.

        Because, frankly,

        “Give me a person who will not melt under the onslaught of progressive slander and character assasination to push back on this tidal wave bullshit who has the eloquence and diplomacy of a statesman and then I will consider other options.”

        Is deranged. I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you weren’t trying to say that Trump is eloquent, and you were just looking for a more eloquent version of Trump…. And I know that 2016 *feels* like it was a million years ago, but Ted Cruz basically embodied what you were looking for, without a whole lot of the things we think are awful about Trump. Failing Cruz, there were 17 candidates up on that stage, and I could list probably five or six that I thought could have done the job, could have done the job well, and done it without capitulating to crazy.

        • I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you weren’t trying to say that Trump is eloquent, and you were just looking for a more eloquent version of Trump…. And I know that 2016 *feels* like it was a million years ago, but Ted Cruz basically embodied what you were looking for, without a whole lot of the things we think are awful about Trump. Failing Cruz, there were 17 candidates up on that stage, and I could list probably five or six that I thought could have done the job, could have done the job well, and done it without capitulating to crazy.

          1. Eloquent, no. Articulate, no. Within the range of rhetorical competence I believe any elected official from Class President up must posses, no. Effective in visceral communication? Yes, somehow. Scott Adams has been making this point for years.
          2. I agree completely with the rest. The problem is, none of those better candidates would have won, especially Cruz, who has the charisma of a scrub brush. And I have come to believe that the Democratic Party has become an existential threat to the US and democracy. Trump is a human, very ugly, dirty, accidentally placed thumb in the hole in the dike. Pulling it out is very risky.

          • And I have come to believe that the Democratic Party has become an existential threat to the US and democracy.

            It may seem this was a reaction to the 2016 election. The Democratic rank-and-file feel betrayed by their institutional leadership, so they threw their support to fringe fanatics with their fringe fanatic ideologies, similar to to how the masses threw their support in favor of the Nazis or ISIS.

            But there is evidence that this radicalization predated Trump, and in fact, electing Donald Trump was in response to this radicalization.

            https://www.vox.com/2019/3/22/18259865/great-awokening-white-liberals-race-polling-trump-2020

            “I don’t think it’s just a reaction to events,” Schaffner says. Rather, “even prior to Ferguson, people take cues from elites,” and Democratic elites were beginning to signal to the rank and file that they should take systemic racism concerns more seriously.

            It is this Great Awokening that needs to be resisted.

      • His numbers are rising because the left is going farther and farther left. He could do or say nothing further and if the 4 continue their push toward their authoritarian rule and confiscation policies his numbers will continue to climb.

        Matthew Yglesias called this the Great Awokening.

        https://www.vox.com/2019/3/22/18259865/great-awokening-white-liberals-race-polling-trump-2020

        The timing of this change suggests that the Ferguson protests were a key flashpoint in changing thinking about the discrimination issue. But Brian Schaffner, a Tufts University political scientist, says the beginnings of the shift were visible even during Barack Obama’s first term.

        “I don’t think it’s just a reaction to events,” Schaffner says. Rather, “even prior to Ferguson, people take cues from elites,” and Democratic elites were beginning to signal to the rank and file that they should take systemic racism concerns more seriously.

        I wonder if President Obama could be accurately blamed for this Great Awokening.

  10. 1. You don’t want to become what you despise. Still, I understand the impulse. I’ve often had it myself.

    2. Here’s my statement to the “Breast feeding should be free” crowd — If you don’t want a fat, naked, hirsute man sitting next to you on an aircraft adjusting his package at random, cover your damn boobs when you breastfeed.

    And that’s exactly equivalent – if nudity is okay for you, it’s okay for the fat, hirsute man with the itchy crotch. If you want to be immodest, don’t complain if someone else decides to do so as well. If you redefine decency downward, be prepared to reap the whirlwind.

    3. Well, since half our entire government wants us to be indoctrinated into communism, it’s hard to be surprised.

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