Let’s Take An Ethics Inventory of Today’s New York Times, Shall We?


During the 1930s, President Roosevelt and New York Mayor La Guardia frequently read the morning newspaper to radio audiences. Convicted Watergate conspirator E. Gordon Liddy managed to have a popular conservative radio talk show for years that mostly consisted of his reading articles from the newspaper. Today’s Times had many statements that made the ethics mines in my head explode repeatedly, so I feel compelled to share:

  • Headline: “Cities Reverse On Police Cuts As Crime Rises.” My reaction: “Morons.” What did the “defund the police” activists think would happen? This goes beyond incompetence to criminal incompetence.
  • This front page story contained one botch after another. The black superintendent of schools reacted to the George Floyd episode by sending a message to the parents of all 7,700 students in the district in which she labeled “a reality check” her conclusion that “Racism is alive in our country, our state, in Queen Anne’s County, and our schools.” Here’s a reality check that I am pledged to note every time anyone uses the Floyd death to show racism by police, the law, or the United States in general: there was and is no evidence that the episode involved racism. There is every reason to believe that Derek Chauvin would have treated a white perp who behaved like Floyd in exactly the same brutal manner. That a school superintendent would leap to the conclusion she did marks her as uncritical and irresponsible, governed by confirmation bias bias, and unqualified to lead a school district. As usual, the Times report never mentions that Floyd’s death was not am incident of racism except to those who wanted it to be, presumed it to be, or dishonestly used it for political gain. There are other unethical statements in the story, like”The debate has sometimes focused on K-12 curriculums after conservative activists began branding a range of topics including history lessons and diversity initiatives as “critical race theory,” an academic framework that views racism as ingrained in law and other modern institutions. The term is now often deployed to attack any discussion of race and racism in American classrooms — pitting educators who feel obligated to teach the realities of racism against predominantly white parents and politicians who believe that schools are forcing white children to feel ashamed of their race and country.” This is pro-critical race theory propaganda. Many non-conservative parents object to this indoctrination trend, and many black parents as well. It is an especially ironic statement in the context of an article about how one educator falsely interpreted a non-racial incident a proof of racism. How can such educators teach “the realities of racism” when they are biased and using false information? They can’t.

  • “Biden Formally Recognizes Indigenous People’s Day” Remember. Joe Biden promised that he wouldn’t be divisive! I have no strong objection to a “Indigenous Peoples’ Day,” but Humorist Stan Freeberg wrote a  satirical song in the Sixties called “Take an Indian to Lunch This Week” (Sample lyric: “We know everyone can be…as American as we!”) that aptly recognizes what’s so tome deaf about it. Europeans took the country, but it’s okay: Native Americans get their own “day,” and an apology from Joe Biden. Not only is this grandstanding and virtue signalling, using “Indigenous Peoples’ Day,” to cancel out Columbus Day takes sides. There are good reasons to honor native American and Christopher Columbus (warts and all); the two honors do not have to be made adversarial. Nonetheless, the President (or his puppeteers) have deliberately framed them as if they are, pitting Native_Americans against Italian-Americans, and those who recognize important contributions to world history against those who topple statues in pursuit of “presentism” and woke historical airbrushing.
  • From a Business section article headlined, “YouTube’s Ban on Misinformation”: “But for a selection of high-stakes issues that could lead to real world harm, internet companies may need restrictive rules….on rare occasions that might mean sacrificing the ability to immediately say absolutely anything online in order to protect us all.”  In a sub-headline that the online version omits, we are told, “Restrictive rules are less about censorship than about thwarting real word harm.” (They are about censorship.)
  • The headline of this op-ed was its own head-blast, but there were more kabooms inside:All Women Should Support Abortion Rights.” This is outrageous group stereotyping, in the same category as Hillary flack Madeleine Albright ordering all women to vote for Clinton because she had two X chromosomes and Biden telling a crowd that if they didn’t vote Democrat, they weren’t really black. Here’s my favorite: “I asked Jules Gill-Peterson, a history professor at Johns Hopkins University … about the connection between these issues. “Anti-abortion and anti-trans legislation are products of the same political coalition, using the same scripts and tactics,” she wrote me. “In both cases, we see the protection of a fantasized imperiled child justifying heavy-handed police state policies that restrict actual women and children’s rights and bodily autonomy. The language of protection, so highly moralized,” she continued, “is the perfect alibi for rationalizing widespread harm.” Fanticized imperiled child! Unborn children don’t really exist: they’re figments of the imagination!” The last paragraph is another: “Surely those rights include the right to make our own choices about our own bodies. Surely those rights include the profound, and simple, gift of being allowed to live our lives in peace.” A card-carrying progressive writes this as the government is trying to force citizens to have foreign substances injected into their bodies. Why wouldn’t the obvious contradiction occur to her? The right to make your own choices about your own bodies does not include the right to make choices about other human beings’ bodies by ending their lives—oh, wait, I forgot: those bodies are fantasy, according to the expert she quotes approvingly. And the fact that her last sentence, “Surely those rights include the profound, and simple, gift of being allowed to live our lives in peace” might apply to the profound and simple right to be given a chance to live by being born didn’t occur to the writer, Jennifer Boylan, at all. Amazing.
  • Finally, the ridiculous Charles Blow had these quotes in his column: 1) “The handling of Haitian immigrants was a particular blight on the administration, and the images of officers cracking their reins like whips will be hard to erase from memory.” The horse-riding agents were not “cracking reins like whips.” This lie, though Biden has repeated it, has been thoroughly, decisively, disproven. 2) “The Senate parliamentarian has advised Democrats against including a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and other undocumented immigrants in their spending bill. It is not clear if Senate Democrats will try to get around the parliamentarian’s nonbinding ruling, but 92 legal scholars have called on them to do just that.” The parliamentarian is a non-partisan position designed to force Congress to stick to its own rules. Progressives no longer believe in rules when they satnd in the way of ideology. Blow’s appeal to the authority of another mob of partisan and unethical professors is classic. 3) “Then there is the massive, widespread assault on voting rights rolling out across the country, what some have rightly referred to as Jim Crow 2.0. As the Brennan Center for Justice put it earlier this month, “In an unprecedented year so far for voting legislation, 19 states have enacted 33 laws that will make it harder for Americans to vote.” Tote up the deceit, misrepresentation and deliberate bias in those sentences when you have time.

I’m too tired, and I have brains to mop up.

10 thoughts on “Let’s Take An Ethics Inventory of Today’s New York Times, Shall We?

      • NPR told me years ago the Hopis and Mongols/Tibetans/Chinese share the same cosmography, so it has to be true. I think we ALL came from India and China, d_d. Aryans are from northern India, of course. Do you suppose Hitler was ever informed of that?

        • Actually, Aryans are not from northern India, they went to northern India (among many other places), as part of late prehistoric waves of migrations, infiltrations and invasions. Being prehistoric made the evidence for them less direct than for more recent ones, but it’s still there if people care to look.

          Similarly, Chinese et al came from much further north, bringing northern adapted physiques with them. However, that sort of thing is not a mere prehistoric thing but a continuing one. It never really stopped, though it was somewhat flash frozen by European colonialism (which helped Khmer culture survive). It’s still going on in Burma (Myanmar) right now; Chinese from Yunnan are coming in even as Karens and coastal denizens continue to be pushed back by other Burmese.

  1. I love Stan Freeberg’s “United States of America”. I still sing “Round, Round World” to myself. I love quoting, “You’re so skittish, who could possibly care what you do? / The Un-British Activities Committee, that’s who!” And “Did you really eat the horses? / I didn’t, they did. Enlisted men.”

  2. The only honest abortion arguments are from people like Peter Singer who actually takes pro-choice logic to its inevitable conclusion.

    Most of the arguments for the pro-choice side would justify killing newborns. A distinction I heard recently is that personhood is about status, not specific properties. Otherwise, it’s conceivable that a fully grown, adult person who suffers from severe mental disability wouldn’t be considered a person. I don’t know what the legislative solution is, but the moral arguments against abortion are conclusive, in my opinion.

  3. I just looked at some old pictures my dad dug up. One shows my great great grandparents back in Italy, my great great grandfather Nunziato and his wife. They were working people who Italy was beginning to have no time for in the wake of the unification, and so people like them were encouraged to immigrate to the United States where they might actually be some use for the unskilled.

    Another showed my great-grandparents. Only one of them, my great grandfather Santo “Sam” could read or write in any language when they got here. The ocean was a lot more formidable barrier back then, there was no flying home once a year or Skyping with your old friends and family. They had no choice but to learn the language, try to fit in as best they could, and build a life from scratch. No one pitied them or gave the money or benefits simply because they had come here from someplace else. In fact, the people that were already here looked down upon the Italians and considered them to be less than the Anglo or German Americans who were here already.

    My great-grandfather built a life selling hay, feed, ice, and coal. It was a tough life, but they managed. My grandfather built a business selling and delivering coal and later oil in south Bergen and east Essex counties, mostly the Italian enclaves of Nutley and Belleville. My father, after two generations, was the the first to be born an American citizen, the first to go to college, the first to be an officer in the military, and the first to accomplish a lot of other things. So, now we’re four generations in and I am the first in my family too go to law school, pass the bar, and be an attorney. A lot of hard work went into all of this, and no one helped us, no one pitied us, no one treated us like we needed a hand up.

    Let me also throw this out, in case you didn’t know it, and I’m betting most of you don’t, because it’s not well publicized: I mentioned that we were looked down on by a lot of the Anglo Americans who were already here. In 1892, as we approached the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America, or whatever you want to call it, a police commissioner was murdered in the City of New Orleans. Since the new immigrant Italian Americans were easy targets, they were blamed for the murder. Several were charged, however, the cases failed to make due to insufficient evidence. The locals decided they would take justice into their own hands and lynched 11 Italian Americans. Although ultimately many more African Americans were lynched, this was the largest single lynching ever in the United States. Italy was outraged and almost declared war on the United States. Although that sounds like a joke now, it was no joke then when you consider that, 6 years later, when the Spanish-American War erupted, the entire United States Army contained fewer than 30,000 officers and men, while the Spanish had about 80,000 soldiers just in Cuba. Although the United States was capable of fielding a huge army come wartime, in peacetime it did not maintain a very big force.

    President Benjamin Harrison proclaimed the first Columbus Day that year partly as a diplomatic effort to calm this brewing international crisis and send a message to the italian-americans that they were not worthless, did matter, and were not at the mercy of the established. Columbus was of course the most famous historic person with any kind of Italian background who everyone would recognize, since everything that is America starts with him.
    The holiday does not actually become a national holiday until Italian-American publisher Generoso Pope successfully lobbies FDR in the 1930s to make it one. FDR did so, although as much for the prosaic reason that he was going to need the Italian-American vote as anything else. It was on Columbus Day 1942 that he lifted the band on Italian Americans joining the war effort in World War II and said we had passed the test as citizens. The Italian Americans then became the single largest ethnic group to volunteer for the war effort, and who knows how many names on war memorials come from among that number.

    The lily white Anglo Americans and wasps wanted to wipe us off the calendar once with the Leif Erikson story, because supposedly Columbus wasn’t first, but really because they couldn’t stand the fact that they now had to share this country with a bunch of dark-haired, dark-eyed Catholic Southern Europeans. Now the woke want to wipe us off the calendar supposedly because Columbus was a bad guy, but really because they want to drive yet another wedge into American society by creating an additional competing holiday and declaring the original holiday privileged, like privilege is the ultimate accusation that makes the target like a Victorian era certain be scolded by his social better, “yes sir, no sir, won’t happen again, sir.”

    Privilege? Is it privileged to bust your ass for two, three, and four generations to achieve success? Is it privileged to be looked down on like a second class citizen and to have it be considered okay for you to be targeted for violence? Is it privileged to be cut out of the existential struggle for your adopted and in many cases birth country because those who are not you don’t trust you? Well? If it’s not all right to do any of those things, then why is it now okay to declare us as bad as those who did these very things to us? I don’t think there is a workable answer to that, because in the end the question of what or who do we celebrate today isn’t about what 15th century explorers did or whether America was better off undiscovered for the great but checkered history of how this country came to be. It is about using one group as voting pawns until it becomes less convenient to use them and then turning favor to another group of voting pawns to maintain power. Actually, there was one Italian who would have praised this as masterful. His name was Machiavelli.

    BTW, of course these cities behaved moronically. The idea of trashing the police was never a good one, yet they took it and ran with it. That it ended in the logical place should come as no surprise. Charles Blow isn’t even worth talking about anymore.

    • I enjoy the historical information many of your posts have. The family history you describe shows why the term “white” is not particularly useful as a way to summarize an individual’s history or experiences in this country. It’s also a hopeful story: just like there is much less (negligible?) discrimination against Italian-Americans today, I can see over just the last several decades a radical reduction in discrimination against African Americans (at least that is expressed openly — I believe most of the reduction is real).

      I overheard my step-daughter (Vietnamese) speaking with her boyfriend (who describes himself as half black and half Italian) about how they are seeing more mixed race couples and imagining a future where everyone is so mixed up that it wont be possible to tell what “race” any one is. Maybe this is what it will take for MLK’s dream to be realized.

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