Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/8/2019: Hating Hate By Hating The Hateful Haters

Good morning.

Are you nuts? I’m not. Yet.

1. You want deranged? This is deranged. MSNBC put analyst Frank Figliuzzi on the air to explain the Nazi symbolism at the White House.  Figliuzzi is a former FBI assistant—think about that as you read this—and he has been given media credibility of late because he had  predicted that white supremacist violence was potentially imminent due to President Trump’s rhetoric. Of course, I predicted months ago that the relentless divisive rhetoric from “the resistance” would get someone killed soon, and nobody’s calling me to blather on TV…and I’m not insane, like this guy.

Figliuzzi alerted MSNBC World about the sinister numerical connection between neo-Naziism and the Trump administration’s decision to fly flags at half-mast until August 8 in honor of the victims of the Dayton and El Paso shootings.

“If we don’t understand how they think, we’ll never understand how to counter them,” he said. “The President said that we will fly our flags at half mast, until August 8. That’s 8/8. Now, I’m not going to imply that he did this deliberately, but I am using it as an example of the ignorance of the adversary that’s being demonstrated by the White House. The numbers 88 are very significant in neo-Nazi and white supremacy movement. Why? Because the letter ‘H’ is the eighth letter of the alphabet, and to them the numbers 8-8 together stand for ‘Heil Hitler.’ So we’re going to be raising the flag back up at dusk on 8/8. No one is thinking about this.”

Once again, this calls for Sidney Wang...

The reason that nobody is thinking about this, you idiot, is that it is deranged. How crazy can “the resistance” get and not start a stampede to the President, in reflex revulsion to the lies, the disrespect, the paranoia, the smears and the hysteria? The Times this week was musing about why Trump’s approval ratings are rising even as the mainstream media has been proclaiming that he’s a Nazi racist and responsible for every shooting in America.

To ask the question is to answer it.

(I just realized my piano is a Nazi…)

2. THIS is how we get fake news. The Washington Post correction below runs over 500 words, and was so long it carried over to a second page. It relates to a feature by Korsha Wilson called, “Black families once lived off their southern farmland. Their descendants are struggling to hold onto it”:

Corrections: A previous version of this article contained many errors and omitted context and allegations important to understanding two families’ stories. This version has been updated.

• The first name of Emanuel Freeman Sr. was misspelled.

• Contrary to what was reported in the initial article, Freeman Sr.’s grandson, Johnny, did not refuse to move off a Halifax, Va., sidewalk for a white woman; he was talking to her, which drew the ire of some white locals, including the Ku Klux Klan. When a crowd gathered at the Freeman home where Johnny fled, gunfire was exchanged, and one family member’s home was set ablaze.

• The 2017 U.S. Agricultural Census compared farmland owned and operated, not simply owned, by white and black farmers.

• The number of children Freeman had with his second wife, Rebecca, was eight, not 10.

• Ownership of Freeman’s property was not transferred to heirs when Rebecca died. In fact, he used a trust before he died to divide his property among his heirs.

• The partition sale of the Freeman estate was in 2016, not 2018, and it included 360 acres of the original 1,000, not 30 acres of the original 99.

• The story omitted key details that affect understanding of ownership of the land. Melinda J.G. Hyman says “Jr.” and “Sr.” were left off the names of father and son on documents, and the land was mistakenly combined under Rebecca’s name, meaning some descendants did not receive proper ownership. After requesting a summary of the property, Hyman says, she found her great-aunt, Pinkie Freeman Logan, was the rightful heir to hundreds of acres, but they were not properly transferred to her. In 2016, Hyman says, 360 acres of the original 1,000 were auctioned off after a lengthy court battle, a decision she says she and some other family members dispute.

• The article omitted Hyman’s statement that actions by law firm Bagwell & Bagwell constitute apparent conflicts of interest and omitted firm owner George H. Bagwell’s response denying that allegation.

• A description by agricultural lawyer Jillian Hishaw of laws governing who inherits property when a landowner dies was a reference to the laws in most states, not more than 20 states. She was also generally describing these laws, not referring to Virginia law.

• A study the article said compared the prevalence of estate planning by older white and older black Americans was published in the Journal of Palliative Medicine, not the National Library of Medicine, and was about possession of advance health directives, not estate planning.

• Tashi Terry said, “Welcome to Belle Terry Lane,” not “Welcome to Belle Terry Farm.” The property is named Terry Farm.

• Aubrey Terry did not buy 170 acres with his siblings in 1963; his parents bought the 150-acre property in 1961.

• The eldest Terry brother died in 2011, not 2015.

• The article omitted Tashi Terry’s account of some incidents that led to a lawsuit seeking a partition sale of her family’s farm and her allegations against Bagwell & Bagwell, which the firm denies.

• A law proposed to protect heirs from losing land in partition sales is called the Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act, not the Partition of Heirs Property Act. “Tenants in common” are not solely defined as those living on a property; they are all those who own a share in the property. The act would not require heirs living on a property to come to an agreement before it can be sold, but would instead provide several other protections.

All this wasn’t necessary, really. All that needed to be said was that the Post received a stealth slavery reparations propaganda piece by an African American freelance journalist, so they didn’t bother to check it, vet it, edit it responsibly or generally ensure that it wasn’t misinforming readers, or maybe it just gave the thing a pass because it conveyed a greater truth.  Or something.

Other than the correction itself, the Post is refusing to elaborate on how this happened. The fact that it could happen at all, however, speaks volumes.

3. Reason #6,324 why baseball is superior than football.  A recently published study indicates that Major League Baseball players live longer than athletes from other sports and American males in general. Football, meanwhile, kills its players.

4. Totalitarian creep. No, I don’t think I’m being paranoid any more...Quentin Tarantino is being attacked far and wide in the media and by pundits because his latest movie, “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood,” is insufficiently “woke,” specifically on matters of women and feminism. For the record, I think Tarantino is a jerk; he’s also a genius and a masterful director and writer, though one who sometimes swings and misses—but then, so do the Coen brothers, Spielberg, and Scorcese. What is becoming apparent, however, is that the attacks on Tarantino’s unique, cynical, violent and admittedly perverse view of humanity are designed to send a threatening message to artists and the public at large: failure to conform with progressive norms will not be tolerated now and in the future. Drama and entertainment must help enforce virtuous conformity, and inculcate the masses with the right beliefs and ideology. Directors like Tarantino who are more comfortable with and skilled at telling stories with primarily male characters, or who habitually use female characters in submissive, subordinate or stereotypical roles, must be shamed, punished and forced to conform.

Thus Anna Purna Kambhampaty and Elijah Wolfson of TIME counted every line in “Once Upon A Time…” as well as his other nine feature length films, and concluded that

The data show clearly that men have gotten the majority of dialogue in Tarantino’s films. In part that’s because most of the director’s films have male leads as well as a majority-male cast. But even Tarantino films with female leads and more female characters tend to give more dialogue to men: in Kill Bill: Volume 2, for example, the share of lines going to male actors was 17.5 percentage points higher than those given to women; in Jackie Brown, it’s a startling 39.8 percentage points higher.

Bulletin: I-DON’TCARE.

But this is the diversity mentality: to the progressive directors who would remake our culture, art is simply a means to an ideological end. Red China and the Soviet Union understood this—it also explains why Putin once said that bootleg Beatles albums helped bring down Communism. Now the increasingly doctrinaire and militant Left is insisting that art, like Tarantino films, that does not advance acceptable images of the Left’s component oppressed tribes must be  brought into line.

This approach is hardly new: 40 years ago, I had to fight to produce and direct a production of “Twelve Angry Men” at Georgetown Law Center because a women’s rights groups protested that a play with only men was per se sexist. Now, however, this attitude is widespread, if not quite mainstream, and it’s not just about women.

The objective is to indoctrinate the public. It is soft totalitarianism on the march. Because Tarantino is a jerk, he rejects this pressure with a sneer. Nicer artists, like Spielberg, do not and will not.  They become wilful collaborators with the enemies of real diversity, the intellectual kind.

Topic for another day and another post: what does it tell us when jerks like Tarantino and Donald Trump emerge as the most steadfast defenders of personal and intellectual freedoms?


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