Mid-Day Ethics Mitigations, 9/8/2020: Flip-Flops, Trust, China, And Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah [Corrected]

1. Stipulated: President Trump contradicts himself, misrepresents facts and exaggerates routinely. But how can Biden supporters use that as their rationalization? Biden and Kamala Harris repeatedly promised to ban fracking during the primaries; now, campaigning in Pennsylvania where fracking means jobs and business, both are suddenly pro-fracking.

On August 13, Biden said that he would call for a nationwide face mask mandate. “Every single American should be wearing a mask when they’re outside for the next three months, at a minimum,” Biden said . “Let’s institute a mask mandate nationwide starting immediately, and we will save lives.” Kamala Harris, like Biden a lawyer, agreed. “That’s what real leadership looks like,” Harris said. “We just witnessed real leadership. Which is Joe Biden said that as a nation, we should all be wearing a mask for the next three months, because it will save lives.”

Biden reiterated his vow in his acceptance speech on the final night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention. “We’ll have a national mandate to wear a mask — not as a burden, but to protect each other,” Biden said on August 20. “It’s a patriotic duty.” Of course, any second year law student and probably some astute college freshmen could have told the Democratic ticket that the government can’t require citizens to wear anything, and that the two were talking Constitutional nonsense aimed at the Bill of Rights-challenged members of the Democratic base, which is most of it.

Then over the weekend,  Biden admitted that his mask edict would probably be unconstitutional. “Here’s the deal, the federal government…there’s a constitutional issue whether the federal government could issue such a mandate, I don’t think constitutionally they could, so I wouldn’t issue a mandate,” Biden said.

Didn’t he and Harris already know this? If not why not; in fact, why the HELL not? Why wasn’t the news media “factchecking” Biden when he made a manifestly impossible pledge?

There is no advantage or ethical superiority in saying things that are untrue some of the time as opposed to doing it more often. Any politician who shows a lack of integrity, whose words can’t be relied upon and who changes his supposed views depending on what audience is listening to him or her is untrustworthy, and untrustworthy is untrustworthy. You are either worthy, or you’re not. Two instances like the fracking and mask reversals are enough to know Biden and Harris are not candidates who mean what they say. (You should have figured that out already, though.)

And, of course, sometimes if they DO mean what they say, it’s disturbing.

2. If you can’t trust Disney to have admirable values, what company can you trust? “Mulan,” Disney’s live-action remake of the 1998 animated film (see, rather than come up with original ideas for movies, Disney is now making live action versions of its hit animated films)  includes in the credits four Chinese Communist Party propaganda departments in the region of Xinjiang, and the Public Security Bureau of the city of Turpan in the same region, both facilitating crimes against humanity. Xinjiang, a region in northwest China, is where some of the world’s worst human rights abuses are happening today. The Washington Post notes,

“More than a million Muslims in Xinjiang, mostly of the Uighur minority, have been imprisoned in concentration camps. Some have been released. Countless numbers have died. Forced sterilization campaigns have caused the birth rate in Xinjiang to plummet roughly 24 percent in 2019 — and “imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group” fits within the legally recognized definition of genocide. Disney, in other words, worked with regions where genocide is occurring, and thanked government departments that are helping to carry it out.”

But China is a huge international market for Disney products and films, so like Google, and like the National Basketball Association (and others), Disney is willing to abandon its  values for profit.

Disney is now sucking up to China, which was angry at Walt’s Kingdom because it had distributed “Kundun” in 1997, a film by Martin Scorcese about the Dalai Lama. In retaliation, Beijing restricted the studio’s ability to have projects in China.  ‘We made a stupid mistake in releasing “Kundun,”‘ hen-CEO of Disney Michael Eisner told Premier Zhu Rongji in October 1998. “Here I want to apologize, and in the future we should prevent this sort of thing, which insults our friends, from happening.”

Mustn’t upset a brutal dictatorship and human rights violator when there’s money to be made!

3. Now to defend Disney, while Walt was in charge, regarding “Song of the South”...that same article ends with this:

“In 1946, Disney released “Song of the South,” which glorified life on a plantation in painfully racist terms. Rightfully ashamed, Disney later pulled the film — it’s now difficult to find a copy. “Mulan” is arguably Disney’s most problematic movie since then…”

I’m sick of this narrative. Isaac Stone Fish, the author of the article, obviously doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and I guarantee that he’s never seen the movie he’s denigrating here. I did see “Song of the South, twice in fact. It takes place after the Civil War and after slavery. We see black workers and sharecroppers, but there’s nothing in the film that “glorifies” plantation life, nor slavery, of course, since the film occurs after slavery was abolished. Apparently there is not enough in the film to make that clear to some people. Well, I understood it when I was 10.

It’s a children’s movie, and as a child seeing it, I never thought for a second that it was about race. It did “glorify” the genius of Joel Chandler Harris, the creator of the Br’er Rabbit tales, and that was a good thing: now that the film has been “cancelled,” the  writer has essentially vanished from our culture. [Correction note: The first version of this post incorrectly stated that Harris was black. Wrong. I have believed he was black for my whole life.  Thanks to Willem Reese for the correction.]

It has been so long now since the film has been available that one would think it’s an animated version of “Birth of a Nation.” It’s not. Disney announced that it was pulling all references to “Song of the South” after the death of George Floyd, because as anyone can see, George Floyd’s death was so obviously the fault of the movie. or something. No, Disney was just kicking the film and the hard work of dead artists for cheap virtue-signaling.

It’s a period  piece, reflecting the confused view of race in a nation in transition, and there are some wince-worthy moments, but I suspect that if the film was ever shown intact, the reaction of reasonable viewers not seeking reasons to be outraged would be, “Really? That’s it? That’s the vile, monstrous piece of racist art that has been banned all these years? We’ve been misled!”

Yes, yes we have.

 

13 thoughts on “Mid-Day Ethics Mitigations, 9/8/2020: Flip-Flops, Trust, China, And Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah [Corrected]

  1. “In 1946, Disney released “Song of the South,” which glorified life on a plantation in painfully racist terms. Rightfully ashamed, Disney later pulled the film — it’s now difficult to find a copy. “Mulan” is arguably Disney’s most problematic movie since then…”

    Bull. Shit.

    Peter Pan. 100%. Not even close.

    I rest my case.

      • Last week I made a comment regarding the CHRM (The Museum of bitching and Moaning), highlighting that once funded, the planning committee had a *hell* of a time deciding how much floorspace would go to which atrocity as the curators tried to totem pole human suffering and fight the biases and interests of shareholders. That comment was born of the same issue: The author is a correspondent on Asian issues. Of course he thinks the Asian thing is “the most x since y”, it’s damn near his job to.

    • Not seeing the problem. The Indian would eat the bodies of their fallen enemies so that they could insult them one last time after death by defecating them onto the ground. They come off looking pretty good in Peter Pan. Maybe they should shove some arrow shafts up some urethras or start fires on a captive’s belly for verisimilitude.

  2. Well, %$#@$%*&^!!

    I just posted this, then our printer ran out of YELLOW ink, and my wife, under a deadline, went nuts, I had to drive to Staples, and then finished after the Typo fairy left a man note, and there were all these stupid typos. Fixed.

    If I could only live in a cave…

  3. Then over the weekend, Biden admitted that his mask edict would probably be unconstitutional. “Here’s the deal, the federal government…there’s a constitutional issue whether the federal government could issue such a mandate, I don’t think constitutionally they could, so I wouldn’t issue a mandate,” Biden said.

    And therein lies the rub regarding the limitations of federal power regarding COVID-19.

    For the strategy of flattening the curve in COVID-19 is controlling individual private behavior.

    Contrast with federal policy regarding foodborne illness. The feds can certainly regulate slauighterhouses and stuff that sell meat on the commercial market, or mandate that vegetables sold on the wholesale market be washed properly. Individual private behavior is not regulated with respect to mitigating the prevalence of foodborne illness.

    Not so with COVID-19. Shutting down restaurants is not for the purpose of, say, preventing transmission of COVID-19 via food or drink, but between customers.

    Federal authority to control individual, private behavior is exceedingly constrained under our federal system.

    True, the feds could almost certainly require wearing a mask when entering a federal office building, or order their troops to wear masks.

    But there is no support for a general mask mandate.

  4. Having never seen “Song of the South”, we found a VHS copy on sale at the gift shop of Jefferson Davis’ plantation in Biloxi.

    The movie is, in and of itself, benign. As mentioned, Uncle Remus may have been a former slave, but he’s not a slave in the film. By not allowing the film to be released, Disney is permitting its film to be misrepresented since few own bootleg copies to be able to prove the critics wrong.

    What will happen when publishers stop producing copies of “Huckleberry Finn”, e-books distributors stop making it accessible and bookstores stop selling it? As supplies in private collections dwindle, there will be fewer and fewer people able to prove that Jim wasn’t Huck’s slave and that Huck wasn’t a taskmaster on the order of Simon Legree.

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