Monday Mid-Day Ethics: “It’s A Grand Old Flag!” Edition

And if the American flag triggers anyone…

Betsy Ross flag

…they can, as George Washington used to say, “bite me.”

It was George, according to legend, that asked Philidelphia seamstress Betsy Ross to make the first American Flag with stars on a blue field along with red and white stripes. Historians have been unable to conclusively prove or disprove this story, but if ever there was a case where “print the legend” was appropriate, this would be it. The design wasn’t George’s: the Continental Congress adopted a resolution during the Revolutionary War stating that “the flag of the United States be thirteen alternate stripes red and white” and that “the Union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.” Each new state accepted into into the United States after independence got its own stripe and star, but it quickly became clear that this plane would end up with a flag having either very thin stripes or being longer than it was wide. In 1818, Congress enacted a law stipulating that the 13 original stripes be restored and that only stars be added to represent new states. (Good idea.) It was on June 14, 1877 when the first Flag Day observance was held to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the adoption of the Stars and Stripes. The flag was flown from all public buildings across the country. In 1949 Congress officially designated June 14 as Flag Day, a national day of observance.

1. “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!” Are you sick of reading that? Not as sick as I am of having reason to write it, I bet. Researchers analyzed reporting from major TV networks and newspapers during the first 60 days of the five most recent Presidencies. They found that only 19% of Biden coverage was negative. When you consider almost all of the less than enthusiastic coverage had to come from Fox News, one has to conclude that ABC, NBC and CBS was nearly 100% positive. Meanwhile,, 62% of stories on former President Donald Trump were negative.

“Why have journalists stopped being adversarial to Biden?” the Washington Examiner asks without giggling (though a newspaper can’t literally giggle)….

“Biden is the least accessible president in a century, serving 64 days before holding a press conference. “Does that matter?” a USA Today headline shrugged. When Biden finally spoke, reporters didn’t inquire about the COVID-19 pandemic, instead asking “time-wasting questions,” noted journalism think tank Poynter.While Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki holds regular briefings, she rarely gets grilled. When Dr. Anthony Fauci’s trove of concerning emails was made public, no reporter asked about it. If interrogated, Psaki deflects and says she’ll “circle back.” Or she offers mind-numbing non-sequiturs, such as when the stock market faced a crisis due to the GameStop fiasco. “Well, I’m also happy to repeat that we have the first female treasury secretary,” Psaki smirked.”

My Facebook friends think Psaki is wonderful.

2. They better take this case...SCOTUS today put off a decision about whether it will hear an appeal claiming that Harvard discriminates against Asian American applicants, in a case that could, and should, finally seal the death warrant for affirmative action. There shouldn’t be any question about the hyper-political Biden DOJ’s position; maybe the Justices want to see if they can come of with a genuine argument for rejecting qualified Asian-American applicants in order to allow less promising blacks and Hispanics go to Harvard despite inferior credentials. Sometimes the Court likes to spread out its controversial cases, and it is already taking an abortion case and a gun rights case.

I don’t think Harvard has a constitutional leg to stand on.

3. It would be nice if you couldn’t guess the race of deranged op-eds like this one. Eric Deggins, NPR’s TV critic, wrote an absurd article criticizing Hollywood activist Tom Hanks, of all people, after the latter authored a guest essay for The New York Times calling for more widespread teaching about the Tulsa Race Massacre. I wrote a post on Ethics Alarms with a similar message. But Deggins thinks that Hanks needs to do penance because “his work — so often focused on the achievements of virtuous white, male Americans – may have made it tougher for tales about atrocities such as Tulsa to find similar space.”

Huh? I didn’t realize that there was only room for a finite number of stories to be told in movies? Is this a call for affirmative action in what noteworthy history can be portrayed on screen? It seems so. Deggins writes,

“After many years of speaking out about race and media in America, I know the toughest thing for some white Americans — especially those who consider themselves advocates against racism — is to admit how they were personally and specifically connected to the elevation of white culture over other cultures.”

Admit? Majorities have their own cultures, and those cultures dominate the nations, institutions and organization that they control. And that is natural, sensible, and there is nothing whatsoever wrong with that. The United States culture is one of its great strengths, and all cultures are not equal. There should be no guilt attached to creating a successful culture. Deggin continues,

“[Hanks} is a baby boomer star who has built a sizable part of his career on stories about American white men “doing the right thing”…. He’s not alone. Superstar director Steven Spielberg has a similar pedigree (notwithstanding occasional projects such as The Color Purple and Amistad)…These stories of white Americans smashing the Nazi war machine or riding rockets into space are important. But they often leave out how Black soldiers returned home from fighting in World War II to find they weren’t allowed to use the GI Bill to secure home loans in certain neighborhoods or were cheated out of claiming benefits at all. They don’t describe how Black people were excluded from participating in space missions as astronauts early in America’s space program.”

Yes, that’s because those movies were about something else, and what they were about was plenty. How would the plight of aspiring black astronauts be shoehorned into “Apollo 13” without making the movie incoherent? Deggin then rebuts his own point:

“As the book and film Hidden Figures notes, even brilliant Black and female mathematicians faced discrimination in the space program during the 1950s and 1960s. If given better opportunities, perhaps they could have helped us get to the moon sooner, by putting our best minds on the problem, regardless of race.”

Yup, that’s what THAT movie was about, and the point was made well and dramatically. Does every movie have to include flagellation by guilt-ridden white artists about the obstancles gased by blacks in America? Deggins’ answer is, incredibly, yes!

With a crippling bias like that, I don’t know what anyone would trust him as a TV critic.

14 thoughts on “Monday Mid-Day Ethics: “It’s A Grand Old Flag!” Edition

  1. ALERT: I apologize in advance for any typos. I got called away in an emergency just as this was ready to post except for the final proof-read. I’ll fix the problems when I can get back to it.

  2. “How would the plight of aspiring black astronauts be shoehorned into “Apollo 13” without making the movie incoherent?”

    You can’t unless you either A) want to confuse your audience as to what your film is about or B) want to make your film into something it’s not.

    Last year, I read the excellent 2017 book “The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women” by Kate Moore. It described the lives of the young women who worked with radium painting dials on glow-in-the-dark watches during the 1920s and beyond, not realizing they were poisoning themselves. This is an important story that has been overlooked for decades, a good example of why standards now exist for worker safety and employer accountability.

    In 2020, a film was released with a screenplay inspired by the book. It certainly wasn’t adapted. The real-life girls were replaced with two fictional composites as sisters, the activists who befriended them are Communists (there are literally signs promoting Communism in the films-within-a-film that pop up randomly during the movie making it out as if Communism is only about improving worker conditions) and there are African-American characters shoehorned in with the Communists as filmmakers and photographers. One of the girls gets thrown in jail with a female black activist who makes sure to tell her about the Tulsa Massacre in a scene that’s apparently supposed to make this working-class girl trying to keep her sister from dying into a woke Leftist flapper…or something.

    Thus, the story repeatedly tries to keep us from being too invested in these lower-class white girls just trying to make a living and support their families fighting against nearly impossible odds to find out what’s going wrong with their bodies and getting their employer to acknowledge and help them. It repeatedly distracts us by reminding us how these girls aren’t the only ones suffering and shame on us if we think their problems are something we should prioritize caring about.

    Consequently, you end up not caring about any of them because you can’t stop resenting being hammered with too many messages.

    • That movie sure sounds like a car wreck extraordinaire.

      As a kid I had a watch with little dabs of radium on the hands and the numbers that glowed in the dark. Maybe it will kill me. Life’s a mystery.

      • Unless you ingested it, it’s unlikely. The girls were poisoned because they used dainty little paintbrushes that had to be formed into a tiny tip with which to paint the numbers on the dials. There were limited ways in which to make the tip: the one that was found to be the quickest and most efficient was to dip the paintbrush in the water, then twist it into a tip on the corner of your mouth and and then paint. Since they were paid by the dial, this was the method most used, but it caused them to get radium poisoning on and in their mouths which manifested itself first as dental problems.

  3. Sadly, if Hanks got involved in the sorts of projects Deggins wants, he would still probably complain that Hanks is stealing the spotlight, even though Hanks (like Scarlett Johannsen in the transgender movie fiasco) would be the one to draw in viewers.

    Same with Spielberg. If he directs the movie about the Tulsa Massacre, for example, will there be complaints that he should let a black director direct the project? I hardly expect him to give up the Director chair; that’s HIS role.

    By contrast, you have George Lucas’s company handing Red Tails over to a black director.

    There is almost no winning here.

    -Jut

  4. From the This Should Come As No Surprise files:

    Flag Day’s Origin Is From A Small Town In WESconsin

    “United States Flag Day was first formally observed in Waubeka. On June 14, 1885, Stony Hill School teacher and Waubeka-native Bernard J. Cigrand instructed his students to write essays about what the flag of the United States meant to them to commemorate the Continental Congress’s 1777 adoption of the flag as a national symbol. It was the first formal observance of Flag Day.”

    Waubeka (Waw BEE ka) is now unincorporated and a Fredonia, WI mailing address. Residents (one a client) are dutifully proud, and the main street (Memorial Drive) probably has more U.S. flags per sf than any other place in the known Universe; today it does leastways.

    As Paul Harvey sez…

  5. “Does every movie have to include flagellation by guilt-ridden white artists about the obstacles faced by blacks in America?”

    The beatings will continue until morale improves. This is what is meant by “having a conversation” and “a reckoning.” It means there’s a new sheriff in town, and boy is he pissed.

    • As I have often said, to ask that question is to answer it. 50 some odd years ago was the time of black Americans demanding to be treated equally when they were not. 20 years ago it was about winning hearts and minds. Today, it’s about taking over. Although they can’t take over the way they did in South Africa, because they are not the majority, they can dominate the major urban centers, and that’s almost as good. It’s actually pretty close to taking over anyway, because those major cities but they do not dominate, are mostly governed by woke liberals. When you control the major urban centers, you control the major entertainment venues, the public art, the ports, and every place that’s newsworthy. You can condition the building of new housing or the opening of new businesses on them hiring your people or housing your people at a reduced rate. You can flood the entertainment venues with social justice warrior plays and musicals and new compositions. You can stuff the museums with art old and new that pushes the social justice narrative, and make sure none of the classical art sees the light of day. You can make sure nobody interferes with the easy and smooth movement of illegal immigrants into this country. You can also flood the news with stories about your latest initiative for lifting up whatever the favorite population is, making white people pay their fair share, and so on. Not to mention the fact that you can turn the public street into your private billboard, until everyone is raising a fist and saying black lives matter.

      It would not surprise me, and it does not surprise me, that there are some proposals out there now for a new version of the American flag. Obviously it was not unveiled yesterday, it hasn’t yet taken root, but I think that day is coming. Some would represent relatively modest change, like changing the blue in the field of stars to black, to symbolize black lives matter. Others would represent more radical change, like also swapping out the white stripes for green and changing the stars to yellow. The idea is that the United States no longer has anything to be proud about, and has to face up to the fact that it is on stolen land and built on the backs of slave labor, so it needs a flag that reminds it of that shame everyday. The scary thing is, I could see a bill like that reaching Biden’s desk. We are just a nation of shame that needs to face that shame everyday, and reform in sackcloth and ashes.

    • In 30 years, all these hypothetical movies shoehorning black characters as helpless oppressed beings will be considered evidence of systematic racism in the entertainment industry.

  6. Can you believe they never made a movie about a returning soldier’s struggle to get a secured mortgage under the GI bill? Think of the drama! Did I fill out the form correctly? Has the mail come yet today? The suspense!

  7. I had always assumed Tom Hanks was, in fact, a white male. Will his early TV role as a faux transgender help or hurt his status? Does he need to be cast in blackface as Anne Boleyn?

    This is all very confusing; I need a scorecard.

  8. …they can, as George Washington used to say, “bite me.”

    You’d better believe I’m a-gonna print THAT legend!

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