1. While I’m thinking about Republican Senators (as in the previous post)... A new Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll indicates that a majority of Iowans,though only a third of Iowa Republicans, say they hope U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) decides not to seek reelection in 2022. For Democrats, this may be another example of having the right opinion for the wrong reasons: they might just think with Grassley out of the way, they have a better chance of replacing him with a Democrat. But the man is 87 years old. It was unethical for him to run for re-election the last time, in 2016. Is Grassley really going to tell voters that he expects to be fully alert, competent, healthy and alive until he’s 93?
Grassley needs to watch videos of Sen. Strom Thurmond in his waning years. This is an ethics test for him, and it shouldn’t be a difficult one.
2. Update: Yesterday I told a friend, ethicist and Georgetown Law Center grad about the Sandra Sellers mess, and his immediately reaction was, “So they fired her for telling the truth?” Yet many law school alums signed the petition to have her canned for “racism.”
If they don’t know that being admitted with lower credentials means that any group—including the children of big donors— will tend to settle at the bottom of the class, then a lot of Georgetown Law Center grads are either not as smart as they need to be to practice law competently, or not honest enough to practice law ethically.
3. Allan J. McDonald, Ethics Hero. Several readers (and that friend I talked to yesterday) have reminded me that McDonald, who died on March 6, deserves a mention here. He was a Morton Thiokol rocket scientist who refused to sign off on the launch of the Challenger. The company was pressured by NASA to do so despite warnings from several scientists and engineers that the unusual cold on launch day made the flight unacceptably risky. Protocol required the senior engineer to sign off on the launch butMcDonald refused,so his supervisor signed for him. The Challenger exploded 72 seconds after its launch, killing all of the Shuttle crew.
After the disaster, McDonald was present at a closed session of the commission appointed by President Reagan to investigate the catastrophe. When he heard testimony by a NASA official that he considered to constitute a cover-up, McDonald raised his hand and said, ‘I think this presidential commission should know that Morton Thiokol was so concerned, we recommended not launching below 53 degrees.”
McDonald was demoted at Morton Thiokol because of that, but reinstated after Congress threatened to end the company’s federal contracts if he was not returned to his job.
Most of the obituaries called McDonald a whistle-blower. Blowing the whistle after a crime or disaster has occurred is better than being part of the cover-up, but he and the other engineers who were certain that the launch was too dangerous to proceed had an ethical obligation to stop it, not just to say “See? I was right!” afterwards.
4. Here. once again, is why I think political cartooning is just bad punditry in pictures:
The cartoon is foolish, incoherent, and gratuitously inflammatory without making a clear or useful point. Ann Althouse, being her contrarian self and straining to do so, writes,
“It’s important to be able to make fun of public figures. Markle is actively using accusations of racism to fend off criticism. This might work, for her and for many others, if the fear of these accusations is too intense. In that light, Charlie Hebdo is doing us a service, taking the heat, and — if you think about it the right way — contributing to racial progress.”
To which I respond,
- It’s not important if you can’t do it better than that. Is the cartoon comparing the Duchess’s plight with the death of George Floyd, or making fun of Meg’s victim-mongering? What’s fun about ambiguity?
- How does a French satire magazine do “us” a service?
- I have no idea what Althouse thinks she’s arguing by saying that a cartoon like that is “contributing to racial progress.”
5. And speaking of The Great Stupid in regard to Oprah’s interview of the breakaway Royals, there is this head-blower. People have used screen shots of Oprah’s reactions during the interview as memes to illustrate reactions on social media. Like this one:
The Slow Factory Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to environmental justice and protecting human rights, announced that for white people to use an Oprah meme was “digital blackface,” writing,
“Since the #MeghanandHarry interview on Oprah, we’ve been seeing a lot of digital blackface infractions with a few of Oprah’s reaction gifs and images going viral, but that doesn’t mean you should be using them….
Digital blackface definition: An online phenomenon where white and non-Black people share gifs and photos of Black folks to express emotion or reaction to anything happening on the internet. While seemingly harmless, the problem with digital blackface is that it often reinforces negative stereotypes about Black folks such as they’re aggressive, loud, sassy, and simply here for your consumption and entertainment. It is another way people try and co-opt Black identity and culture without any of the day-to-day realities of being Black.
It was not long ago that white performers would paint their face black as a form of entertainment for the masses, often playing with the idea that Black folks are primitive and violent, and hyper-sexualizing Black women. The way that white and non-Black folks engage in digital blackface feels too reminiscent of these old shows.
Actually, this is useful information. We now know that the Slow Factory Foundation is run by race-obsessed, anti-white bigoted hysterics whose views on anything should be suspect, since they are so biased they can’t think straight. If you give them money, they might just make the bills into little paper airplanes, or eat them.