Noonish Ethics Round-Up, 2/19/2020: That Other Day That Will Live In Infamy…


1. On this day in 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, empowering the Army to issue orders emptying parts of California, Oregon, Washington and Arizona of immigrants from Japan, who were precluded from U.S. citizenship by law, and nisei, their children, who were U.S. citizens by birth. After the order, which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court including future liberal icon William O. Douglas, the Japanese-Americans  were first warehoused at “assembly centers,” which could be racetrack barns or on fairgrounds, then shipped to ten detendtion camps in Western states and Arkansas. Armed guards and barbed wire, plus morning roll call were part of the degrading and punitive experience.

It is fair to say this treatment was substantially rooted in racism, for there was no mass incarceration of U.S. residents with ties to Germany or Italy. Once the U.S. appeared to be on the way to victory along with its Allies in December 1944, the Executive Order was  rescinded. By then the Army was enlisting Japanese American soldiers to fight in Africa and Europe. President Harry Truman told the all Japanese-America 442nd Regimental Combat Team: “You fought not only the enemy, but you fought prejudice—and you have won.”

California is now preparing to formally apologize to the families of those interned.State Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) introduced a resolution that will formally apologize for California’s “failure to support and defend the civil rights” of Japanese Americans during that period,” and it is expected to pass today.

It’s naked grandstanding and virtue signaling, of course. The federal government apologized for the unconstitutional imprisonment and granted financial redress to survivors with the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, and the Supreme Court overruled its decision  upholding internment in 2018.

2. I don’t understand how this can happen, indeed, keeps happening. At The Lodge at Cactus in Las Vegas, Nevada, two uniformed Las Vegas police officers were denied a meal by a restaurant’s bartender last week.When they entered the establishment following their late night shifts, the Lodge’s bartender shook his head “no” and when the officers asked if they could take a seat and order food, he replied, “We don’t serve you guys here anymore.”

Who do you think he’s supporting in the upcoming Nevada caucuses?

After the incident was publicized, the restaurant apologized and said that the bartender was on indefinite suspension and facing termination. Well, of course. But what kind of warped world view, upbringing and education would disable that particular ethics alarm?

3. Why is that “freedom of speech” thingy so illusive for some people? In Kentucky, atheist Bennie Hart drove around in a car with a license plate reading, “I Am God.” for 12 years without legal interference, being struck by lightning or turned into a pillar of salt. Then he moved to Northern Kentucky, and his choice of vanity plate—you have to admit, declaring yourself God is real vanity—was rejected by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

The governing agency ruled that the message was contrary to its rule against “vulgar or obscene” phrases. So Hart sued,with the support of the ACLU and the Freedom from Religion Foundation. A federal judge ruled in his favor,  and the Commonwealth of Kentucky must pay his legal fees, all  $150,000 of them.

Good. The message was silly, or defiant, or blasphemous, but the state can’t enforce prohibitions on blasphemy, and his message was obviously not vulgar or obscene. It takes fanatics like Hart who are willing to make a stink over government intrusions on the freedom of speech, even freedom of silly speech, to protect our civil rights from dying the death of a thousand cuts.

4. And this is OK because…what, because a Democrat did it? Senator Chris Murphy, one of the most enthusiastic Trump impeachment huns in the Democratic Congress–Collusion, you know?—- confirmed that he privately met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif without State Department knowledge or approval in Munich last week.  The Federalist had initially reported the meeting, but Murphy’s staff had refused to deny or confirm it. Murphy’s attempted justifications for his actions were of the huminahumina variety. He admitted that he “cannot conduct diplomacy on behalf of the whole of the U.S. government, and I don’t pretend to be in a position to do so. But if Trump isn’t going to talk to Iran, then someone should….“A lack of dialogue leaves nations guessing about their enemy’s intentions, and guessing wrong can lead to catastrophic mistakes.”

Interesting. In 2017, this same Rep. Murphy demanded an investigation into then-National Security Adviser Mike Flynn because he had a phone call with a counterpart in Russia. “Any effort to undermine our nation’s foreign policy – even during a transition period – may be illegal and must be taken seriously,” Murphy said.

Two years earlier, when President Obama was negotiating his dubious nuclear deal with Iran,  Senator Tom Cotton and 46 GOP Denators sent an open letter to the Islamic Republic of Iran about how treaties work. Murphy called the letter “unprecedented…undermining the authority of the president.” Obama’s Secretary of State John Kerry claimed to be in “utter disbelief” when asked about the letter. Then, when trump was in office, Kerry met with  Zarif  to try to ‘salvage’ Obama’s Iran deal. This was in direct opposition to the position of the position of the  Trump administration.

I hate to keep pointing this out, but here we have another example of a news story of importance that is barely being reported to the public.

5. The Trump pardons. I see my Facebook friends are going bananas over the President’s latest grants of clemency and pardons. Here’s the complete list and the white House justification for them.

As we have discussed here before, the position on Ethics Alarms is that the Presidents pardon power is vastly under-used, and since it is by definition an expression of the ethical values of mercy, compassion and forgiveness, I am reluctant to criticize however a President chooses to apply it. Progressives who have been arguing against confinement for non-violent offenses are ethically estopped from complaining about any of Trump’s pardons, since none of the m were convicted of violence crimes.

I do think, however, that some of are were intentional in-your-face pardons to irritate Democrats, and that is not an ethical motivation.


16 thoughts on “Noonish Ethics Round-Up, 2/19/2020: That Other Day That Will Live In Infamy…

  1. 2. . “[W]hat kind of warped world view, upbringing and education would disable that particular ethics alarm?”

    Hmm. Let’s see. I’m thinking, I’m thinking. The bartender is: a registered Democrat? a fan of The Squad? a member in good standing of, or sympathizer with, BLM? simply reads/watches any outlet of the mainstream media? attended any American high school, college or university? or, for that matter, grade school or junior high school?

    • I find it funny how these people don’t seem to consider immediate consequences. Let’s say this guy’s boss has the same political views. Does this employee really think that his boss is willing to put the reputation of his business, and possibly forgo future revenue due to a tarnished reputation because of some idiot bartender? I don’t think one has to finish high school to know how such a scenario would go down. And this isn’t even the first time something like this happens.

  2. “…some of are were..” should probably be “…some of [them] were…”

    On the pardons, since I broadly support sentencing reform, I tentatively approve of reducing sentences for non-violent offenders and financial crimes, but I do think political corruption is sometimes handled a little too lightly. Blagovich in particular bothers me.

  3. 5. On dumpster fire that is Twitter the argument was being made that it was only white men pardoned. That was quickly countered with facts. I kept reading the phrase, “white Hispanics”. Yuck. That poor group is pulled in what ever direction the left finds convenient.

          • Sure, but you are probably completely biased and likely have not looked into the case. There is enough substantial controversy about the entire incident to draw the conviction into question. Plus he is now an old man. My first *political interest* was the FBI wars on the reservations. Ugly history.

          • I cannot imagine that if you had reviewed the case and determined that there were many irregularities in it (thus resulting in a wrongful conviction) that you would put the issue way down on your list because of mere dislike of the man or his politics. So I can only assume that you have reviewed the case and determined that it was a fair sentence and Peltier is not worthy of mercy.

            I suspect that the reason he cannot be given clemency is because the FBI and the federal police establishment will not allow it or would resent the clemency and cause problems. Peltier is in a sort of political bind as a result. Some of the first accounts that I read about *the American scene* began with the ‘FBI wars against the American Indian Movement’ on the reservations. If there is such a thing as ‘injustice’ it seems there is hardly a clearer instance than that of these FBI wars on the reservations. But as a result I also understand that those *wars* could not ever be described as unjust by the establishment (or what else should I call it?)

            In the end: I simply do not believe anymore in justice. Your blog has helped me to see this and understand it in greater depth. When it comes to large (and huge) systems of power and systems where power is managed, justice cannot even be considered an object. Only a fool thinks in such terms.

  4. At Westminster Magistrates’ Court, Assange’s barrister, Edward Fitzgerald, referred to a witness statement by former Republican U.S. Representative Dana Rohrabacher who visited Assange in 2017, saying he had been sent by the president to offer a pardon.

    The pardon would come on the condition that Assange say the Russians were not involved in the email leak that damaged Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2016 against Trump, Rohrabacher’s statement said.

    — Reuters.

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