Friday Ethics Wrap-Up, 6/25/21: Little Bighorn Edition

On June 25, 1876, Sioux and Cheyenne forces led by Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull wiped out the U.S. Army troops of Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer in the Battle of the Little Bighorn near southern Montana’s Little Bighorn River. Custer had been asking for such a fate for sure: he had long been crippled by hubris, ambition and arrogance, despite other compensating positive leadership traits and one extremely important success, which I’ll write about again in about a week. The U.S. Army had also firmly established themselves as the bad guys in this true life Western. After gold was discovered in South Dakota’s Black Hills, in the previous year, the U.S. Army ignored previous treaty agreements and invaded the region. Custer and some 200 men blundered into the Little Bighorn Valley where his battalion was overcome by 3,000 angry warriors. Custer and every last one of his soldier had been killed within an hour. The Battle of the Little Bighorn, better known as “Custer’s Last Stand,” was the most decisive Native American victory and the worst U.S. Army defeat in the long Plains Indian War. It was a classic Pyrrhic victory, of course. Custer was elevated to undeserved martyr status, and the U.S. Government redoubled its efforts against Native Americans. Within five years, almost all of the Lakota Sioux and Cheyenne were confined to reservations.

It took a while for history, popular culture and public opinion to catch up with reality regarding Custer. More than 20 movies and too many television shows to count portrayed him as a hero right into the Sixties. Among the actors who played the doomed and dashing cavalry leader: Ronald Reagan, Errol Flynn, Leslie Neilson, Robert Shaw, and Sheb Wooley, who sang the hit ’50’s ditty “Purple People Eater.” The tide turned against Custer for good after some critical biographies and when Richard Mulligan played him as preening idiot in the dark Western satire “Little Big Man” in 1970.

There was cosmic justice for Custer, if not for the Indians he persecuted.

1. Perhaps the greatest IIPTDXTTNMIAFB we will ever see! I really jumped the gun earlier this month when I marked a ridiculous lie out of the mouth of President Biden as an “IIPTDXTTNMIAFB for the ages.” ( The initials stand for “Imagine if President Trump did X that the news media is accepting from Biden.”“Imagine if President Trump did X that the news media is accepting from Biden.”) That doesn’t come within miles of Biden’s extemporaneous tough guy blather during his recent “all of the recent increase in crime in Democrat-run cities is caused by guns” speech, when he began with a historical gaffe, saying that a citizen couldn’t buy a cannon in Revolutionary times (citizens could buy cannons and did well into the 20th Century—the crazy publisher of the Los Angeles Times had one mounted on the hood of his car) and then really jumping the responsible Potus shark with this:

“Those who say the blood of lib- — “the blood of patriots,” you know, and all the stuff about how we’re going to have to move against the government. Well, the tree of liberty is not watered with the blood of patriots. What’s happened is that there have never been — if you wanted or if you think you need to have weapons to take on the government, you need F-15s and maybe some nuclear weapons.”

This has been discussed a bit today in the Open Forum, so I will just add that if Trump had said anything like this, Democrats and the news media would be screaming that he was psychologically unfit to be President, and that the 25th Amendment should be put into action immediately. But Trump never said anything that crazy or threatening. In addition to the statement being bellicose and offensive, it also evinces that understanding of the Second Amendment of the average 14-year-old. The Second Amendment like the rest of the Bill of Rights, was created to ensure that the Federal government knew its place, and also knew that like the colonies, American citizens would not surrender their liberties without a fight. The Founders never thought local groups of armed citizens could prevail in combat against the full resources of the Federal government, even in a world without AR-15s, nukes, and tanks. But they knew that the prospect of substantial numbers of armed citizens would deter government tyranny, assuming sane leadership. For example, an attempt to go houise to house confiscating guns would be unacceptably bloody and risk turning a majority of the public against the government.

Even though the news media is already trying to memory-hole Joe’s stupid threat, it is destined to haunt him, and should.

2. I guess this is IIPTDXTTNMIAFB Day. The President also said this: “It’s awful hard as well to get Latinx vaccinated… Why? They’re worried they’ll be vaccinated and deported.” What does this mean? That Biden thinks all Hispanics are illegal immigrants? That he thinks all Hispanics are stupid, and don’t know that if they were born here or immigrated legally they can’t be deported? Isn’t this offensive stereotyping at its worst? Isn’t “get them vaccinated” demeaning? And Latinx is a made-up woke name that isn’t used or liked in the Hispanic community.

What an idiot.

3. And this is worse, because it has serious consequences...My New York Times today led with a crowing headline that President Biden had cut a bi-partisan deal with “moderate” Republican Senators to allow a trillion dollar plus infrastructure bill go forward. I was even going to write about how such a compromises was ethical and responsible, even though it would add to the dangerous national debt; this is a bill that came due decades ago, and putting it off cannot be justified. Then I learned that Biden had given a second news conference a couple of hours later in which he reneged on the deal he had just announced, saying that even if Congress passes the compromise infrastructure bill, he would refuse to sign it unless it also passed the Democrats’ “human infrastructure” pork-filled bill that all Republicans oppose. Both bills, Biden said, have to come to his desk at the same time for him to sign them.

This is known as a “bait and switch,’ or perhaps “double cross” is more accurate. First, the President celebrated bipartisanship, and then, citing a plan devised by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, reneged on what he claimed to have agreed to. This effectively kills the deal: Republicans are justifiably enraged. It also will make any future compromises or bipartisanship more difficult if not impossible.

4. Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 22 years in prison, which would be fine with me if he had been convicted in a fair trial by an unbiased jury. But he wasn’t. We will see if the justice system has the integrity to follow the law even when it rescues a symbolic cultural villain.

5. And a baseball ethics note, just to get the sour taste of everything above out of my mouth...For the first time in the franchise’s history, a Boston Red Sox pitcher was removed from a game in the midst of a no-hitter last night. Nick Pivetta had held the Tampa Bay Rays hitless through 6 2/3 innings, but manager Alex “The Sign-Stealer” Cora took him out anyway, robbing Puvetta of the chance at a career highlight and a slice of immortality: a no-hitte gets a pitcher’s name listed in the Hall of Fame. In fact, it was the responsible move by Cora: Pivetta had thrown 100 pitches and was the deepest he had been in a game in more than two years. Tampa Bay also had a runner on second in a 0-0 game that was for first place in the AL East. For Pivetta to get his no-hitter would have taken 130 pitches at least, which is considered risky to a pitcher’s health these days. But before they counted pitches, as late as the Seventies, a chance at a no-hitter would never be ended by a manager. The individual accomplishment was considered more important than the game itself. Huge player contracts changed the equation for both pitchers and teams: blowing out an arm for a single game became universally regarded as a bad exchange.

The Rays fans gave Pivetta a standing ovation. Good for them. The Red Sox lost on a wild pitch in the 9th inning, 1-0.

18 thoughts on “Friday Ethics Wrap-Up, 6/25/21: Little Bighorn Edition

  1. 5. Four Chicago Cub pitchers combined to throw a no-hitter against the Dodgers last night. It was the seventh no-hitter of the 2021 season, which ties the record for most no-hitters in a major league season.

    Because of strictly enforced pitch- and inning-counts in the minor leagues, I think that most serious pitching prospects now get pulled from a minor league start before they’ve yielded a hit. Tyler Glasnow threw six and seven hitless innings in consecutive Triple A starts, but was removed from both games.

  2. I have meant to make the observation for some time, but had no occasion.

    This post forced my hand.

    Custer’s Last Stand is a metaphor. It was a terrible defeat for the US Government.

    Are you upset at Custer’s defeat?

    Are you gladdened by his defeat?

    To quote Alice Cooper: “I love what the Indians did to Custer.”

    Here is my cognitive dissonance: the South May have had a reason to secede.

    The attack on Fort Sumter was ill-advised and could not be ignored by Lincoln.

    Lee was a noble figure. He was a patriot, but his allegiance was tried. Like many, he chose the hard way on principle (Thomas Becket, Thomas More).

    He lost. But Lee, like Grant, understood the value of reconciliation. The great bargain of the Civil War is that, when it was all over, the opposing sides could and would respect the other side.

    It is almost like any sporting event you will see.

    And, the Left has shot all over that.

    Lee is a traitor.

    The South is horrible.

    The basis of the Civil War was a defense of slavery.

    Anything but an unequivocal condemnation of the South is an endorsement of White Supremacy.

    This was not our lesson growing up.

    We learned that, after the Civil War, the states went on as equals. They buried the hatchet at Appomattox (figuratively, whether it worked well, or not).

    What is my point in this extensive digression.

    I have no beef (sort of) with Lee. He was noble, and honorable.

    I have little beef with Custer.

    I hace little to no beef with Crazy Horse, or Sitting Bull. Like Lee, they are part of the American story.

    But, if you have a problem with Lee, how can you not gave a problem with those who attacked Custer? The Left will lionize Native Americans, celebrate the defeat of Custer, and condemn Lee.

    By all rights, if you condemn Lee, you should condemn Sitting Bull. If you recognize that Sitting Bull is a part of our American Legacy, you should give Lee the same (or, even greater) consideration.

    But, if you take delight in Custer’s defeat, and take delight in Lee’s defeat, are you a traitor, or just a hypocrite?

    This is the question to be put to all the sanctimonious assholes who hate Lee and “love what the Indians did to Custer.”


    • I am being a bit obtuse today. I am not sure i follow your logic. The Left would argue Lee is a villain because he fought for the South, which wouldn’t capitulate on slavery. Therefore, Lee should be cancelled.

      Custer, likewise, was a villain because “First Nations” good and Custer wanted to continue theft of First Nations property to benefit a white rule steeped in white supremacy and structural racism, ultimately leading to St. George the Floyd’s sacrifice for social justice (. . . or something . . .).

      So, I don’t follow . . . . ?

      • johnburger2013,

        You are far too intelligent to understand my point.

        The current Woke mindset is “Lee is a traitor for making war on the United States.”

        They should take an equally rigid position with respect to Sitting Bull.

        On the other hand, I think it is appropriate to acknowledge all of the participants in the American Story. No one is a true villain in the story (except those damn loyalists…they better stay up there in Canadia or there is going to be trouble). Yeah, there are lots of bad things that have happened, but the tendency of the Left to see all things in black and white terms only serves to inflame the anger of people who are not that bright to begin with. They do not need encouragement. Because, if we want to continue to demonize the South, we should have just let them go in the first place.

        Bottom line is: Grant and Lee were far more wise when it came to moving forward than current leaders on the Left.


    • For the record, I don’t love Lee, but he is an important American figure who deserves his memorials, though some may have been erected for the wrong reasons. I don’t love what the Indians did to Custer and his men, but they had just provocation and it was self-defense. Is there anyone who condemns Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse today? They were tragic heroes.

      • Tragic heroes? Sort of, the same way the Last Samurai were and perhaps the way Lee and company were. They were fighting for a way of life whose time had come and gone, against ultimately insurmountable odds. Both also met tragic fates, Sitting Bull was killed by tribal police during a skirmish and Crazy Horse was bayoneted by an American soldier when he tried to escape custody. If you want to pick an American Indian real tragic hero, I’d go with Chief Joseph Thunder-Rolling-Over-the-Mountain of the Nez Perce, for his passionate resistance to unfair treatment, but, ultimately his wise surrender when he saw things could only end one way (although some of that may be puffery and legend). Custer was no hero either that day, he had committed several major errors that led to the defeat becoming a total wipeout. He also didn’t cut a dashing figure that day, wearing buckskins (the uniforms didn’t stand up well to the campaigning) and having cut his (prematurely balding on top) long hair short, not wanting to be a target for scalping if things went south.

        1. Not even close. They sold a working cannon on “Pawn Stars” recently, and there are historical groups with working TANKS. I know, I’ve seen them. Biden is an idiot, but we knew that already. As I said once, he’s one-third your fading grandfather, harmless but not able to be trusted with anything important, one-third your creepy uncle, who tried to pull your sister’s shorts down, then played it down and said it was all in good fun, and one-third the washed-up, punch-drunk boxer who sits at the bar, drinks himself into a stupor, and boasts how he can still beat anyone’s ass. THIS is the guy we gave access to the BUTTON to?

        2. More of the same. Unfortunately, though, it looks like Latinx is here to stay, as the woke white people decide what’s acceptable for their poor ignorant brown brothers and sisters.

        3. He was probably hoping to force the GOP to either vote for the pork barrel bill, or blame them when the deal collapsed. Each day the chances of Congress flipping next year go higher and higher, and each day I shake my head at the ineptness of this administration.

        4. I am certain the chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court has issued a memo to his colleagues and the entire appellate bench, consisting of four words: “the Chauvin verdict STANDS.” The thought is that this country needs to heal now, and it can’t heal if this is overturned. Yeah, it sucks for Chauvin, who was never going to get a fair trial. Too bad, sometimes it also sucks to be a homicidal bully.

        5. Whoops. But, being from northern NJ, I do not like the Sox.

  3. Bits and pieces:
    There is still a Custer State Park; it’s quite nice (camped there). Probably survives because it’s a state park in S.D., and maybe because it’s close to (so offset by) the Gigantic Carving of Crazy Horse.

    The Lakota don’t like to be called “Sioux” (That’s a true thing, not a phonetic joke.)

    As far as federal law is concerned, you can still purchase and posses a cannon (with no background check…it’s a black powder muzzle-loader). You can also buy a Gatling gun with only a normal background check, like a rifle, as long as it’s a hand-cranked type, not motor-driven. Been trying to get a son/son-in-law or two to go halfsies or thirdsies on one of these:

  4. Custer’s demise and Biden’s statements on the 2nd Amendment are related. The Sioux and Cheyenne civilians were able to successfully defend themselves against the US military because they had SUPERIOR weapons. The Indians had significant numbers of Henry and new Winchester repeating rifles while Custer’s forces had single shot trap-door Springfields. Not only that, but the Springfields had a nasty habit of not ejecting their cartridges (many of the soldier’s knives had the tips broken off trying to pry the spent cartridge from their rifle in their last moments).

    People can still own cannon without even a background check (if it is black powder), and they are quite affordable. People own tanks. There is almost no weapon in the world that is illegal in the US with the right permit. Money is the factor. If you are Elon Musk, you can own tanks, grenades, and rocket launchers. Our most restrictive gun control laws were enacted to keep weapons out of the hands of poor people. The NFA sought to keep machine guns out of the hands of the ‘rabble’ and the 1968 Gun Control Act sought to limit the ability of Blacks to buy firearms.

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