Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/12/2021: Thanks, Columbus!

Columbus 2

This is the real Columbus Day: After sailing across the Atlantic Ocean, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus saw a Bahamian island on October 12, 1492. He believed he had reached East Asia: Chris was right about the world being round, but it was bigger than he thought. His expedition went ashore and claimed the land for Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain, the sponsors of his attempt to find a western ocean route to to the far East. Columbus changed the route of history, science and culture, with incalculable effects long and short term, good and bad. He also was directly responsible for brutal treatment of Native Americans, because he was a product of the 15th Century. We honor historical figures for their positive achievements, and if they are positive and important enough, the personal and public evils such figures might have also had on their ledgers are secondary. That is as it should be: the alternative is to honor no one at all, and to make history a parade of villains….

…although I would be hard pressed to find anything negative to say about the amazing Desmond Doss, who became the first Conscientious Objector to be awarded the Medal of Honor on this date in 1945. Ethics Alarms told his astounding story here, in 2017; so did the film “Hacksaw Ridge.” I still have a hard time believing it.

1. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! (#1): Here is the Washington Post, deliberately promoting statue toppling with a handy-dandy guide. This is the kind of thing that made me stop subscribing to my hometown paper. It does not explain why I subscribe to the Times, which just raised its rates to 90 bucks a month.


2. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! (#2): From Sunday’s “Reliable Sources” on CNN (That’s the hangout of absurdly unreliable Brian Stelter, who pretends to opine on journalism ethics while having none of his own):

Once respectable liberal journalist James Fallows, now employed by the extreme left-wing “Atlantic”: “The struggle for us all in the media is if we keep pointing out that one side of the political divide is actually instigating these things, defying subpoenas, trying to renege on the debt, holding up State Department appointments, et cetera, we are conscious of seeming shrill, we’re conscious of seeming unbalanced, we’re conscious of seeming to take a side. And so it’s something about our culture, we need to figure out how we can give out a narrative of the actual realities recognizing how this is at odds with our conventions.”

Oh, no! Seeming to take a side when they are taking sides? Seeming to be shrill when they are shrill? “Actual realities,” meaning “our biased views, represented as irrefutable truth to accomplish our agendas”? Whatever shall good journalists do? Wow. [Pointer: Steve-O-in NJ]

3. Oh hell, let’s do another one. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! (#3): Fearmongering? What fearmongering? The Boston Globe helpfully offered images that show “what Boston landmarks will look like underwater depending on the climate choices we make.” Science! Actual realities!

4. And speaking of historical icons with a frightening dark side....The 1994 PBS documentary “America and the Holocaust: Deceit and Indifference” revealed disturbing facts about the degree to which a President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s State Department deliberately blocked imperiled Jews in Europe from finding refuge in the United States by blocking information, creating red tape obstruction, and forging an ant-Semitic policy with FDR’s full knowledge (but “plausible deniability). It was not until FDR’s own Treasury Department (under Henry Morgenthau, a Jew in the President’s inner circle) threatened to blow the whistle on the bigots at State that Roosevelt reluctantly created an agency to rescue Jewish refugees. About 20 minutes from my home is the huge FDR memorial. This part of his legacy is never mentioned, just as his illegal internment of Japanese-American citizens, and his agreement to hand over Eastern Europe to Communist domination. after the war. But Roosevelt may have saved the nation from collapse during the Depression, and the world itself from Nazi domination. That’s justification enough for recognition in the nation’s Capital, I think.

5. The rest of the story: Jon Gruden is out. Three days ago Ethics Alarms discussed the leaked, and old, email of NFL coach Jon Gruden, in which he attacked an African American union leader using the size of his lips. My conclusion: “Gruden’s excuse marks him as dumb and a liar who can’t keep his dishonest excuses straight. “I wasn’t making a racist comment when I said his lips looked like black inflated tires, I just use ‘rubber lips’ to mean liar, but…but.. I don’t believe he’s a liar either!” is the epitome of trying to dig one’s way out of a hole….I think Gruden is toast, and deserves to be.” And now we learn that Gruden has resigned, as in “Quit or be fired.” Ethics Alarms has flagged Gruden as an ethics villain before, but his team and the NFL did nothing, because pro football is an ethics desert. However, once more emails were leaked, Gruden’s prejudices and ugliness became untenable:

“Gruden’s departure came after a New York Times report that NFL officials, as part of a separate workplace misconduct investigation that did not directly involve him, found that Gruden had casually and frequently unleashed misogynistic and homophobic language over several years to denigrate people around the game and to mock some of the league’s momentous changes. He denounced the emergence of women as referees, the drafting of a gay player and the tolerance of players protesting during the playing of the national anthem, according to emails reviewed by The Times.”

Gruden also…

“… called the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, a “faggot” and a “clueless anti football pussy” and said that Goodell should not have pressured Jeff Fisher, then the coach of the Rams, to draft “queers,”

…criticized Goodell and the league for trying to reduce concussions and said that Eric Reid, a player who had demonstrated during the playing of the national anthem, should be fired

… had used an expletive to refer to Goodell and that he did so because he disapproved of Goodell’s emphasis on safety, which he believed was scaring parents into steering their sons away from football.

…exchanged emails with Allen and other men that included photos of women wearing only bikini bottoms, including one photo of two Washington team cheerleaders

…criticized … as then-Vice President Joe Biden, whom Gruden called a ‘nervous clueless pussy.’

…..mocked Caitlyn Jenner,

Note how the accounts make no distinction between Gruden’s opinions that reflect badly on the NFL and those that are just politically incorrect but should not make him any less trustworthy as a coach at all. President Biden could be fairly, if not civilly, described as ‘nervous clueless pussy”; these were private emails after all. Exchanging sex-related emails with friends is not an unethical activity. he is 100% right that player political demonstrations on the field should not be tolerated. [Pointer: Pennagain]

UPDATE: We now know where the leaked emails came from.

6. Finally, here’s the quote of the day, from Supreme court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes (Pointer: Tom Fuller):

“If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought – not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.” United States v. Schwimmer, 279 U.S. 644 (1929) (Holmes, J., dissenting)

9 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/12/2021: Thanks, Columbus!

  1. 3. Oh hell, let’s do another one…. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! (#3): Fearmongering? What fearmongering? The Boston Globe helpfully offered images that show “what Boston landmarks will look like underwater depending on the climate choices we make.” Science! Actual realities!

    Since this is on topic, I’ll share it…

    A couple of excerpts…

    “The climate change predictions are endless and when the predictions based on that “settled science” don’t come true, they just shrug their shoulders and drag the goalposts further down the road; how convenient it is to be a politically correct science propagandist that no one is supposed to question.”

    “This is all “settled science” folks and if you don’t believe every damn word of it you’re a science denier heretic and a political outcast from the hive mind of “right” thinkers, you might as well be wearing the Star of David on your lapel because you’re an idiot “wrong” thinker and have earned your public scorn and persecution.”

    “Who the hell do all these “scientists” think they are making claims and basically stating that they’re accurately predicting exactly what Mother Nature’s climate is going to do in the next 5, 10, 30, 50, 100, 1000, etc years and predicting what exactly the resulting apocalyptic changes are going to be across the planet?”

    What Part of “Settled Science” Don’t You Understand!

  2. “the alternative is to honor no one at all, and to make history a parade of villains….”

    Bingo. I’ve said again and again that the left wants a monopoly on honor. They want a history where almost everyone is a villain with the exception of a very few virtuous feminists (Hypatia, Gloria Steinem), pacifists (Jeanette Rankin, Gandhi), activists (MLK, Malcolm X), and martyrs (George Floyd) preferably of color. Violence is always wrong, except when done against slavery (Nat Turner, John Brown), and maaaaaybe against colonialism (Patrice Lumumba, maybe Michael Collins, although that was white on white and is suspect). They also want a history where anyone on the left always acted from the most pure motives, while anyone not on the left always had far more prosaic reasons for whatever they did.

  3. 5. So Jon Gruden’s a savage. Cue Gomer Pyle: “Surprise, surprise, surprise!” Guys who coach a savage game are savages. Let’s pretend they’re Renaissance men, shall we? Good luck with that. In high school I thought the guys who played football were crazy to do so. Now I know it was playing full pads football from seventh grade on the MADE them crazy. Good football coaches are either psychos or hire psychos to do the dirty work of coaching a savage game. They’re cynical, greedy bastards at best. Psychos at worst.

  4. #1 $90?! That is ridiculous. You might want to read their article through an archive service, or something. Or tell them you’ll cancel and get a better monthly rate, see what the WaPo rate is and let them compete.
    #3 I skimmed through the article. They really half assed it. The before and after slide Google Earth pictures were really lame. I’ll believe these guys for real when Downtown Boston real estate prices drop, on account of it being uninhabitable and what not. Not going to hold my breath.
    There was also a Globe article on Mass & Cass , the local drug epicenter. Now that was depressing! I like how the narrative in that article is that these people are wronged by society and the city needs to give them things and space and etc.

  5. $90 per month for the New York Times is about $100 more than it’s worth… I pay less than that for each of my utility bills, and I dare say that electricity and water are a helluva lot more valuable than the shabby journalism of the NYT. No wonder that industry is in its death throes.

  6. He also was directly responsible for brutal treatment of Native Americans, because he was a product of the 15th Century.

    I would love a list of primary sources which at least established probable cause that he or his people mistreated the natives of the places he visited.

    • If you want to quibble about direct vs.indirect responsibility, I’ll yield that point. The mains one is that the tribe that greeted Columbus was wiped out within two decades of his arrival. From the Smithsonian Magazine:

      “in short order, Columbus established the first American colony at La Isabela, on the north coast of Hispaniola, in 1494. After a brief period of coexistence, relations between the newcomers and natives deteriorated. Spaniards removed men from villages to work in gold mines and colonial plantations. This kept the Taíno from planting the crops that had fed them for centuries. They began to starve; many thousands fell prey to smallpox, measles and other European diseases for which they had no immunity; some committed suicide to avoid subjugation; hundreds fell in fighting with the Spaniards, while untold numbers fled to remote regions beyond colonial control….By 1514, barely two decades after first contact, an official survey showed that 40 percent of Spanish men had taken Indian wives. The unofficial number is undoubtedly higher. “Very few Indians were left after 50 years,” said Ricardo Alegría, a Puerto Rican historian and anthropologist… “Their culture was interrupted by disease, marriage with Spanish and Africans, and so forth, but the main reason the Indians were exterminated as a group was sickness,” he told me. He ran through the figures from his native island: “By 1519, a third of the aboriginal population had died because of smallpox. You find documents very soon after that, in the 1530s, in which the question came from Spain to the governor. ‘How many Indians are there? Who are the chiefs?’ The answer was none. They are gone.”

      The bottom line: if Columbus hadn’t landed there, this would not have happened the way it did.

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