It really is amazing: I have already read three references today to George Floyd’s death as a cultural watershed in the U.S. society’s recognition of racial injustice, yet there remains not a single piece of evidence or a logical argument that Floyd’s death had any relationship to his race whatsoever. This was a manufactured narrative that the news media deliberately advanced in flagrant defiance of the facts. I have challenged more indignant progressives than I can count to justify treating Floyd’s death as anything but negligence and brutality by a local cop who should never have been allowed to keep his badge. All they can come up with is that the officer was white, and Floyd was black—in other words, presumed racism based on skin color, which is itself racism, or that the episode had a positive impact, justifying treating it as something it was not. That, of course, is an “ends justifies the means” rationalization.
The ugly episode is a lesson, not in “racial reconciliation,” but in how events can be manipulated for political gain—in this case, involving violent protests and virtual societal extortion— if there is no trustworthy news source to keep the public informed.
Today is also the anniversary of another ethics low in U.S. history. It was on this date in 1861 that President Lincoln suspended the right of habeas corpus so he could keep a Maryland state legislator locked up on the charge of hindering Union troops.
SCOTUS Chief Justice Taney issued a ruling stating that President Lincoln did not have the authority to suspend habeas corpus, but Lincoln, channeling his inner Andrew Jackson, just defied the Court. Five years later, another Supreme Court case held that only Congress could suspend habeas corpus.
1. The Confederate Statuary Ethics Train Wreck misses its biggest target. Good. The giant images of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson carved into Stone Mountain as Confederate nostalgia’s answer to Mount Rushmore have survived the latest effort to tear them down. The Confederate flags at the base of Georgia’s Stone Mountain, placed there by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, will be removed, and new exhibits will offer a more thorough history of the park, including the role the Ku Klux Klan and resistance to desegregation played in its creation. Also good. The thing is a pro-Confederacy monument to be sure, a defiant one, but it also is a piece of history that should be seen, debated and thought about.
Many dedicated historical censors are upset that the mountain art will not be blown up any time soon. arguing that racist anger, not a desire to honor the South’s heroes, inspired the monument’s creation. OK, and so what? It is a vivid historical relic. Fall River’s Joe Aronoski, 82, told the New York Times after touring Stone Mountain, “It’s American history. It shouldn’t be destroyed. What are you going to do? Make-believe the Civil War didn’t happen?”
Well yes, that’s the general idea behind statue-toppling: make believe any events that make some people “uncomfortable” didn’t happen.
2. When ethics alarms don’t ring...At Bartram Trail High School in St. Johns County, Florida, some time traveling yearbook supervisor from the 1950s decided it was necessary to digitally alter 80 photos of female students to make them more “modest.” No pictures of male students, including one of the swim team in which the boys wore Speedo bathing suits, were similarly altered. Here are two examples:
Parents and students are understandably upset. “[The school] needs to recognize that it’s making girls feel ashamed of their bodies,” one angry parent said. The district superintendent answered in part, “[T]here has never been an intent to embarrass or shame any student for the clothes that they wear. Unfortunately, we are learning a valuable lesson in the importance of process and understanding that the intent is not always the result.”
Translation: “Our schools are run by morons. Oopsie!” If administrators and teachers don’t understand those things without inflicting a stupid botch like this, then they shouldn’t be trusted with educating students.
3. Ethical Quote of the Day: Sean Lennon, musician, son of John and Yoko, via Twitter:
“When I grew up New York truly felt like a melting pot. It wasn’t perfect, but ppl did not self segregate along tribal lines to the degree that I am seeing today. There is something wrong with the strategy and direction we have chosen, in academia, in politics, and elsewhere. It’s not working. And to be clear I am not blaming all of the bad things we are seeing in culture today on political correctness. Yes we inherited a problematic history (yada yada) and I think PC culture has achieved some good and some progress for society. I am simply saying we should check our strategy if we are not getting the results we intended. I don’t know what the solution is, but I suspect that over sensitizing ppl to arbitrary characteristics like skin colour may be doing more harm than good. I know very well that the idea of being ‘colour blind’ is out of fashion, that MLK’s vision of character over skin colour is considered to be naive. But that vision surely made our society better. I’m not sure the modern vision of ‘race consciousness’ is making things better.”
4. Jaw-dropping Unethical Quote of the Day: NYT op-ed writer Paul Krugman. He writes at the beginning of this piece of shameless gaslighting:
“America’s democratic experiment may well be nearing its end. That’s not hyperbole; it’s obvious to anyone following the political scene. Republicans might take power legitimately; they might win through pervasive voter suppression; G.O.P. legislators might simply refuse to certify Democratic electoral votes and declare Donald Trump or his political heir the winner. However it plays out, the G.O.P. will try to ensure a permanent lock on power and do all it can to suppress dissent.”
It amazes me that even Krugman would write that. His beloved Democrats refused to accept Donald Trump as a legitimate President for four years. They impeached him twice simply because they had the votes to do it. They launched a two year investigation of a false allegation of “collusion” to undermine him. They used false accusations to try to sabotage a Supreme Court nominee, while advocating Supreme Court packing to ensure that their attacks on the First, Second, and Fourth Amendments, among others, and the Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution; do not get struck down. They explicitly oppose the rule of law in such matters as illegal immigration and in encouraging Black Lives Matters rioting; they are pushing for race preferences in employment, education, and law enforcement; they are promoting Critical Race Theory that paint the United States as a malign culture. Their high-handed and in some cases illegal imposing of loose mail-in voting procedures ensured the widespread public distrust in the 2020 election. They have delegated content-based censorship to their Big Tech allies and the complicit news media to manipulate what the public is allowed to read and hear.
And he says that the GOP is an existential threat to democracy!