Saturday Ethics End Notes, 4/3/2021: “Let it be written, let it be done!”

You can’t blame me for featuring this ethics landmark today: On April 3, 1948, President Truman signed the Economic Assistance Act, commonly known as the Marshall Plan, which authorizing the a program to help the nations of a war-torn Europe to rebuild. The effort was designed to stabilize Europe economically and politically so that the Soviet Union would not be able to spread communism further. U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall gave the plan its name with a speech at Harvard University on June 5 of the previous year. He proposed that the European states meet to agree on a program for economic recovery, and that the U.S. would would help fund it. The same month Britain and France invited European nations to send representatives to Paris to follow-through with Marshall’s formula. The USSR, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland declined the invitation. The resulting Committee of European Economic Cooperation eventually presented its plan to Congress, which authorized the “Marshall Plan” on April 2, 1948. The next day, it was signed into law.

  1. It’s that time again! The Cecil B. DeMille classic “The Ten Commandments” airs at 7 p.m. tonight on ABC. I recommend renting it for a few bucks on Amazon Prime: commercials now add a full hour to the movie, which is already one of the longest U.S. films ever made. I watch the 1956 jaw-dropper at least once every year. No movie ever blew my mind like that one did when I saw it as a child, and, I noted with amazement last week when I watched it again, certain scenes still blow my mind now, like the Exodus, easily the greatest crowd scene that ever had been or ever will be. My top ethics notes:
  • The screenplay’s direct condemnation of slavery in Moses’ early speech is remarkable for the period, and gutsy for the most expensive movie ever made (to that point) that needed big audiences from the old Confederate states during the middle of a growing civil rights movement.
  • Like Ted Williams’ home run in his last at bat, DeMille bet everything on his biggest challenge at the end of his career when he had already made Hollywood history and was a living legend….and he succeeded. I admit, I’m a sucker for that. The movie killed him, essentially: CB suffered a heart attack while directing the huge scene where Moses leads the Jews out of Egypt, and never recovered. I’m sure he’d say it was still worth it.
  • As a director, I have learned that the greatest and most frightening challenge is trying to top yourself. I admire the artists who attempt it, and especially those who succeed. DeMille had already made a silent movie version of the story that stood as the top-grossing film of all time until his own talkies broke its record.
  • I cannot think of a better example of the ethical principle that if you are going to do something that matters, do it right and don’t cut corners. Like David O. Selznick’s “Gone With The Wind,” TTC is filled with astounding grace notes and details that are the mark of a perfectionist. On this week’s viewing, I noticed for the first time that when we see Egyptian princess Nefertiri primping in a mirror, her image is dark and indistinct. That’s because glass mirrors were unknown in ancient Egypt: the mirror is polished metal.
  • The 1957 Oscars , which largely snubbed De Mille’s masterpiece, show how bias makes you stupid, and how little the movie community understands its own medium. “The Ten Commandments” was the movie of the year and everyone knew it: it was the top grossing film and had scenes that were immediately recognizable as likely to become legendary (like the parting of the Red Sea.) But most of the Oscars, including Best Picture, went to “Around the World in 80 Days,” the over-stuffed “spectacular”—unwatchable now— made by industry darling Mike Todd. DeMille didn’t even rate a Best Director nomination. He was considered a conservative pariah and a dinosaur, and the “new Hollywood” wouldn’t bring itself to recognize an old pro doing his best work.

2. And now, speaking for the arrogant, biased, not as smart as they think they are people who lie to you daily, Lester Holt! At the 45th Edward R. Murrow Symposium at Washington State University, Holt received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, presumably because they had to find a black journalist to give the thing to. Among his comments, which generally proved the stunning lack of self-awareness of himself and his industry, he said, .

Number one, I think it has become clear that fairness is overrated. Whoa, before you go out and tweet that headline, let me explain a bit. The idea that we should always give sides equal weight and merit does not reflect the world we find ourselves in. That the sun sets in the West is a fact. Any contrary view does not deserve our time or attention. I know that recent events assure that you won’t have to look far to find more current and relevant examples. I think you get my point. Decisions to give unsupported arguments equal time are not a dereliction of journalistic responsibility or some kind of agenda. It’s just the opposite.

That the sun sets in the West is irrelevant to the issue of “sides” or “fairness.” That Holt would have to use this analogy demonstrates his problem and that of most journalists: these people aren’t smart enough to be able to decide for us what “fair” coverage is, or what the “right” side of a controversy is. Thus they should simply report facts and events without editorializing or spinning—that job  is clearly already hard enough to occupy their full attention.

3. I am deeply conflicted...President Trump is calling for a boycott of Major League Baseball, Coke and Delta, all unethically engaging in efforts to interfere with the democratic process in Georgia by economic extortion. I hate boycotts; they are unethical. But corporations have to realize that caving to the Left’s favorite Machiavellian tactic is an existential threat to the nation, and they must learn to resist the path of least resistance by being taught that there will be equally unpleasant consequences if they do.

I am seriously considering launching a non-partisan boycott of the All-Star Game I think I know how to do it.

4. You know, “fair,’ like Lester Holt says...CNN’s chief political correspondent Dana Bash said yesterday on the air regarding rumors about Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), “If you could see my text messages from some of his current and former colleagues, I actually can’t repeat what some of them say on morning television…It’s because he has not made himself popular with most of his colleagues…We’re talking about people who he has antagonized in the name of being … as beholden and as loyal to the former president, Donald Trump, as possible. In the name of being on conservative media, being on Fox News. Being the darling of that.”

Yes, and we’re talking about Bash alluding to material that she refuses to read in public or attribute while sliming the Congressman on the air. What a vicious hack. If you won’t read it or say who wrote it, then it is unethical to characterize it to the public. Obviously.

Holt, in his speech (#2),  bemoaned the loss of public trust in journalism institutions. It’s because people like Bash are running them.

5. And finally, Public Censor And Woke Narrative Defender Facebook…quickly took down self-described “follower of Farrakhan” Noah Green’s profile page immediately after media identified him as the attacker who was shot dead after driving into U.S. Capitol Police officers and going after them with a knife. This, of course, made it difficult to examine what led up to the attack, except through the dubious filters of people like Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee, who said in a press conference yesterday “that the attack did not appear terrorism-related.” Contee emphasized that officials would “continue to investigate to see if there’s some type of nexus along those lines.” What could that nexus be?

The Daily Wire reported after quicly reading Green’s page before it was pulled:

Long posts detailed Green’s life struggles and religious views, which include his belief that Farrakhan is Jesus. “I am currently now unemployed after I left my job partly due to afflictions, but ultimately, in search of a spiritual journey,” he wrote in part.

“I haven’t had much to lean on in the past few months,” Green continued. “I’ve been faced with fear, hunger, loss of wealth, and diminution of fruit. My faith is one of the only things that has been able to carry me through these times and my faith is centered on the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan as Jesus, the Messiah, the final divine reminder in our midst.”

Green went on to describe Farrakhan as his “spiritual father,” without whose guidance he would have “been unable to continue.”

He signed his post as Noah X.

In another post, Green encouraged his readers to study the Book of Revelation regarding signs of the end times. “[S]tudy who the beast is, study who the anti-Christ is, study who the false prophet is, and study the created images during these times.”

“The Minister is here to save me and the rest of humanity, even it means facing death,” Green continued. “Be willing to deny yourself and follow him, pick up your cross.”

Meanwhile, the Syrian mass-shooter in Boulder has largely vanished from the news (all that matters is what gun he used, apparently), while the sex-addict who shot up massage parlors is still being held out by the news media as proof of a wave of anti-Asian hate.

Facebook explained why it deleted the page, saying

 “After this horrific event, our thoughts are with the Capitol Police and their loved ones. We have designated the incident under our Dangerous Individuals and Organizations policy, which means we have removed the suspect’s accounts from Facebook and Instagram, and are removing any content that praises, supports, or represents the attack or the suspect. We are in contact with law enforcement as they conduct their investigation…

Facebook also said it does not allow anyone, living or dead, to maintain a presence on the platform “if they are a mass murderer or if they attempt mass murder…We consider an attempted mass murder to be one where an individual uses a weapon or vehicle to attempt mass harm in a public space or against more than one person.”

Excuse me, but who the hell is Facebook to decide what the public is allowed to read, know or consider? And not to be a stickler, but no one is a “mass murderer” until there has been an official finding that so states. There hasn’t been. Facebook is making that official determination more difficult.

15 thoughts on “Saturday Ethics End Notes, 4/3/2021: “Let it be written, let it be done!”

  1. 2. “Thus they should simply report facts and events without editorializing or spinning—that job is clearly already hard enough to occupy their full attention.” Hahahahaha. Upcracking me you are, comradski.

    Lester Holt is no more a journalist than I am. He’s a news READER. All he does is read the scripts prepared for him by his production staff. He’s no more a journalist that Joe Biden is a sitting president. (Joe’s just Ron Klain’s sock puppet.)

  2. 1) I watch this most every year also. I’m recording it tonight so I can watch it tomorrow and fast forward through the commercials.

    The evil that men should turn their brothers into beasts of burden, to be stripped of spirit, and hope, and strength – only because they are of another race, another creed. If there is a god, he did not mean this to be so.
    – Moses

    • Wow that is horrifyingly unbiblical! Those of another race, another creed are exactly who The LORD lays down laws, through Moses, for enslaving.

      • Not sure where you get that idea. When the Lord specifically commanded the Israelites to strike against their enemies, they typically did not take slaves (though I’ll grant wholesale slaughter wasn’t pleasant either). Otherwise Leviticus 19:33-34 gives the command to be nice to strangers. Exodus 21 gives the rules for “servants”, but it’s talking about Hebrew servants specifically, who would’ve been criminals, debtors, or the children of debtors.

  3. I still remember seeing both “The Ten Commandments” and “Around the World in Eighty Days” in the theater as a five year old. Not sure why my parents (or more likely my maiden aunt) thought it was necessary for me to see either, although of course “Commandments” was good Catholic Old Testament stuff. And they were both in Technicolor(R), which was a big deal. “Around the World” was boring and incomprehensible. What was the point? I always confused it with “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” which was similarly baroque with it’s weird 19th Century equipage and involved great distances, not that I know to this day how far a league is.

    • Nautical League: 3.45234 miles (I can never remember, either) A lot of (most?) people don’t know that either, and assume it refers to the depth (which would be impossible) of the submarine, but it’s referencing the distance traveled during the adventure. I loved that movie…mainly because of the Nautilus. Verne is now rightly considered part of steampunk canon, and his books are pretty decent reading for a literate kid, even now (my son plowed through them).

      I think you and I are of a similar age. I remember my mother liking the theme song for “World”, but don’t think I was taken to see it. I do remember TTC, but was old enough to make sense of that…and knew the story already ;-). The earliest movie I remember seeing outside of TV was what had to have been the original US release of Godzilla…at a drive-in…back seat, footie pajamas..could duck down when the monster was on scene. That’s maybe part of what warped me.

      • Steam punk is the word for the Nautilus. Which was confusing insofar as the USS Nautilus was the first nuclear powered submarine actually in service in the 1950s and also the model for the little plastic baking soda subs we used to play with in the bath tub. One thing leads inexorably to another, Wim.

  4. The only thing that was vaguely interesting about “Around The World In Eighty Days” was the final scene where you were held in suspense about whether the protagonist would make it in time to his club. On the other hand, Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Edward G. Robinson and the special effects made “The Ten Commandents” one of those special memories of my childhood.

  5. 3. We ceased purchasing any Coca-Cola products three weeks ago, when it was reported here that Coke’s General Counsel was advising racial quotas for the law firms with which it does business. Coke telling it’s employees to act “less white” in training sessions is just stupid and pretty racist in its own right, but racial quotes are completely racist and completely illegal, and not tolerable to me. I think Martin Luther King would be appalled by those statements.

    I cannot in good conscience support them. My wife is trying to get me to finish the last couple Cokes we have (“we’ve already spent the money”, she says), but I’m having a hard time even doing that. I’ve been an exclusive Coke drinker for since I was 10 (or so), but until they come out with a public reversal, I won’t drink it, nor will I purchase any Coke-owned product.

    It’s not a cancel-type thing…as soon as they reverse the policy, I’ll happily spin the top on a Coke. But while they act like racists, I won’t.

  6. #2: If Trump said the sun sets in the west, NBC’s “fact-checkers” would certainly advise us that the sun doesn’t actually set, rather the earth rotates towards the east causing the sun to disappear from view for a time. Anyway, I thought the directive from old Joe was to choose truth over facts.

    #5: If the killer had been a pale follower of an Aryan group leader, we would now see him being referred to prominently and often as a….say it with me… “Wh.te Nat….list” ! Is there any doubt?

  7. Re: the Marshall Plan: Unlike Germany, Vietnam, North Korea, Cuba and Iran have had the ill-advised idea of either defeating the United States or fighting it to a draw. Think of where Vietnam would be today had it simply LOST to the United States. Dumb.

    • The “idea of either defeating the United States or fighting it to a draw” wasn’t ill advised in 1812-14. In fact, it worked out OK and even had a serendipitous side effect: British troops hadn’t nearly all been disbanded in the usual way immediately after Napoleon was beaten in 1814, so some of those troops were arriving back in Europe in time for the Waterloo Campaign. And, of course, others who fought the U.S.A. when attacked were well advised to do so, as they could have no confidence that appeasement would be a good approach that time.

      Also: by chance, I’m recording “The Ten Commandments” on TV right now.

    • Wasn’t this (declaring war on the US and then surrendering for the benefit of a “Marshall Plan”) the general plot of “The Mouse that Roared”? A small insignificant country, or principality, needs funds for something and with no tax base, they hatch such a plan. I may have been in high school at the time, so my memory of events surrounding this is somewhat foggy.

  8. I, too, watched “The Ten Commandments” for the umpteenth time. However, for the first time noticed that the babby set adrift down the Nile was Charlton Heston’s real-life son! Now I wonder what happens to the babe in real life!
    BTW, my wife who grew up in Orange County was very much part of her high school theater group, (circa 1972-76). She tells the story of taking an elective about cinema and NO ONE in the class knew who Cecil B. DeMille was. I guess that was the beginning of the end for American education.

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