Saturday Afternoon Ethics Breezes, 8/14/2021: Weenies, Suckers And Fools

1. Ethics Quote of the Week? I’d say it’s rebel progressive and former Rolling Stone pundit Matt Taibbi in “The Vanishing Legacy of Barack Obama.” (Of course, Obama’s real legacy, toxic racial division in America, hasn’t vanished at all, more’s the pity.) Taibbi writes,

“Obama was set up to be the greatest of American heroes, but proved to be a common swindler and one of the great political liars of all time — he fooled us all. Moreover, his remarkably vacuous post-presidency is proving true everything Trump said in 2016 about the grasping Washington politicians whose only motives are personal enrichment, and who’d do anything, even attend his wedding, for a buck. Trump’s point was that he, Trump, was already swinishly rich, while politicians have only one thing to sell to get the upper class status they crave: us. Obama did that. He sold us out, and it’s time to start talking about the role he played in bringing about the hopeless cynical mess that is modern America.”

Were Matt and his fellow progressives really fooled that badly? Wow. Times Queen of Snark Maureeen Down, like Matt writing about Obama’s deliberately offensive birthday bash, what Taibbi calls his “Fuck it moment,” writes,

“The party crystallized the caricature of the Democratic Party that Joe Biden had to fight against in order to get elected. It was as far from Flint and Scranton as you can imagine: an orgy of the 1 percent — private jets, Martha’s Vineyard, limousine liberals and Hollywood whoring — complete with a meat-free menu. The disinvitados, as one referred to them, were in four camps: Some didn’t care; some pretended they didn’t care; some were annoyed; and some were deeply hurt, especially loyal former staffers who felt they had contributed more to the Obama legacy than the likes of George Clooney, John Legend and Don Cheadle.”

2. In Detroit, another weenie…On June 1, Detroit unveiled artwork, sponsored by the Detroit Institute of Arts, that depicts police officers bowing their heads and clasping hands in front of an American flag. Can’t have that! Critics condemn the mural as “badly timed”—you know, we’re supposed to be demonizing police, not honoring them— and “pro-police when … public discussion should be about police aggression.” Many want it removed. Following in the squishy, cowardly, principle-free footsteps of so many weenies before her, Nicole Macdonald, the artist who created the piece, instantly sided with its foes. “I absolutely regret making the mural,” she said adding that it should be taken down if it causes “anguish for residents” of the Detroit area. “The DIA’s number one priority should be serving the people in the city who are predominantly Black; instead, it represents those tenets of power that are historically racist.”

Give the money paid to you by the museum back, Nicole, and we’ll talk.

Dale Dwojakowski, chief of police of Sterling Heights, said, “I can’t think of anything more fitting after what happened in this country last year. The mural represents police officers doing their job protecting the community that loves their police department.” Loves? Sherina Rodriguez Sharpe, a Detroit-based artist, said in contrast that it represented “painting a mural over a history of colonization and violence.” Xaviera Simmons, another artist who has donated artworks to the museum, told reporters, “We are talking about abolishing police and they are fortifying their relationship with police.” Simmons said she would decline future donation requests from the museum until she saw it assess “its own history of wealth, whiteness and disenfranchisement.”

There is no good reason for police officers to risk their lives for a community that abuses them like this. There is also no reason for white Americans to regard such racist sentiments as anything less than a declaration of hate.

3. Perfect. Everybody’s unethical. First, House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy said that if Republicans took the House in 2022,”‘I want you to watch Nancy Pelosi hand me that gavel, it will be hard not to hit her with it.” So Pelosi’s office called the stupid comment a threat of violence. NY Rep. Hakeem Jeffries attacked McCarthy for making a joke about violence against women. Rep. Eric Swalwell said McCarthy was a potential violent assailant who should resign.

Next, on his HBO show, Bill Maher attempted to show he was a non partisan critic (Too late!) by pointing out that “two weeks ago, Nancy Pelosi called Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy a moron.”

In terms of ethics, everyone I just mentioned is a moron. Contrary to Maher’s warped sense of ethics (“Do unto others as they did to you”), Pelosi’s disrespect and incivility don’t justify McCarthy’s crude comment. And, as Maher correctly complained, it was obvious that as dumb as it was, McCarthy’s line wasn’t an actual threat nor plausibly related to violence against women, so Pelosi and her henchmen were grandstanding.

4. You know, I don’t think colleges and universities get this “free speech” thingy. The University of Iowa, for example, ordered professors to only talk to students about face masks and vaccinations in course-related discussions about health:

Screen Shot Iowa

Oddly, the same schools that do things like this see no problem with professors using their “pwer differential” to require political and ideological conformity.

University of Iowa professors protested the guidelines online, arguing that they infringed on their academic freedom and free speech rights. Robert Shibley, executive director of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, said that the restrictions are “too broad to be consonant with academic freedom.” There is simply “no constitutional basis for a public university to restrict professors from expressing quote-unquote value judgments in explaining why they made the choices they did about masks or vaccination, whether for or against,” Shibley said. “Nor may Iowa prevent them from opining as private citizens or academics on matters of public policy. Value judgments motivate a great deal of human decision-making, and the ability to thoroughly discuss and debate the merits of such decisions is a hallmark of liberal education and free speech more generally.”

Keith Whittington, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics in the Department of Politics at Princeton University and who chairs the Academic Freedom Alliance said on Twitter that the University of Iowa’s provost “has decreed that professors shall not share their personal value judgments about vaccines and masks in the classroom. That’s an academic freedom problem and potentially a First Amendment problem.”

Iowa removed the requirement from its website Thursday, stating “revisions in progress.” [Pointer: Curmie]

6 thoughts on “Saturday Afternoon Ethics Breezes, 8/14/2021: Weenies, Suckers And Fools

    • In my book, well-to-do presidents, the Bushes, the Roosevelts, Kennedy, LBJ, Trump, are preferable insofar as they do not need to make a fortune. They already have one. There’s something to nobless oblige. We’ve had too many grifters of late: the Clintons, the Obamas and now the Bidens (again) and Ron Klain and Kamala Harris, Can you imagine how much dough the Clintons might still be scooping up during a second (fourth?) term?

      I always found it amusing how massive but futile an effort the media made to paint Trump as making lots of money off being president. He probably could have made a lot more producing and starring in a television show, never mind running his other businesses (whatever they are and to whatever extent they are, or are not profitable).

      • “Can you imagine how much dough the Clintons might still be scooping up during a second (fourth?) term?”

        Don’t worry about the Clintons. They just got another Haiti earthquake to exploit, so they should be solvent for a while longer…

  1. Methinks McCarthy is a bit premature regarding potential Speakership. If the R’s take the House in 2022 then we need a real leader in that role: McCarthy has proven he is not it. If someone like Jim Jordan is sidelined for a Washington brown noser we can look forward to more debt and will continue being outwitted by the authoritarian left.

  2. 1. Was Matt and his fellow progressives really fooled that badly? Wow.

    Fooled themselves, more likely. They saw Obama through exactly the same lens as most liberals do; a black man running the government for the first time. They never saw him as an American or a person, but as an avatar for their imagined messiah, a Leftist minority wet dream imbued with a talent for communication, a progressive mindset, and the flexible moral principles they so admire. At least Tabbi recognizes, if embarrassingly belatedly, that Obama was just another politician with a talent for race huckstering.

    2. There is no good reason for police officers to risk their lives for a community that abuses them like this.

    Correct, and sooner or later, they won’t.

    3. Why is it so hard for people to just be minimally polite these days? Whether we want them to or not, politicians serve as an example of behavior towards a person with whom we disagree politically. The examples being set by people like McCarthy, Pelosi and Jeffries are truly loathsome. The worst part is, one of them is almost certain to be Speaker of the House, probably in and out of power over the next decade or so.

    I’m thinking the old 1980’s pop standard “The Future’s So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades” no longer applies to the Speakership.

    4. Creeping authoritarianism driven by “progressive” ideals. More and more, I am coming to appreciate Nietzche:

    “Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.