Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/5/2022: Part I, A Special “I Sure Hope You’re Not Watching The Olympics” Edition

In 1936, human rights activists unsuccessfully argued for the U.S. to boycott the Berlin Summer Olympics to protest the Nazis’ ongoing persecution of German Jews. However, foreshadowing the “Holocaust? What Holocaust?” stance that preceded the U.S. entry into World War II, FDR gave Adolf the propaganda bonanza he sought, and no, Jesse Owens couldn’t spoil it. Now the Biden Administration is similarly engaged in contrived ignorance regarding China, which is making Hitler’s Olympic Games look like Oktoberfest. All right, there’s a “diplomatic boycott,” but that’s meaningless since spectators are mostly banned anyway. This tweet is apt:

The main reason we are there, as many have pointed out, is to accommodate the giant broadcasting companies and corporate sponsors who view the Games as a money-making opportunity. It’s a dilemma: my refusal to watch a second of the Games prevents me from knowing who to boycott. But then no ethicist, or anyone who cares about ethics, should watch the Olympics wherever they are being held. We know they are corrupt; they no longer celebrate “amateurism,” and U.S. athletes continue to use them to insult their own country, which paid to let them compete.

Nancy Pelosi got the Games off to a rousingly unethical start—wait—can one behave unethically regarding Olympics in China? Isn’t this a case where Bizarro World ethics apply, which hold that in a Bizarro World culture, normal ethics often don’t work, and may be futile? It’s unethical to be ethical in a place like China! That seems to be the Speaker’s position.  the Pelosi said, “‘’”

“I would say to our athletes, ‘You are there to compete.’ Do not risk incurring the anger of the Chinese government, because they are ruthless. I know there is a temptation on the part of some to speak out while they are there. I respect that, but I also worry about what the Chinese government might do.”

If they are so ruthless, why is the United States participating in their Olympic Games? The U.S. Olympic Committee always muzzles, or tries, our athletes, but Pelosi is a high government official telling Americans to shut up because it may make a totalitarian government angry. If I were competing, Pelosi’s statement alone would be enough to make me speak up. We shall see if any of our athletes have the courage to speak up for real human rights abuses when they know the nation they are criticizing, unlike their own, might take serious action against them.

My guess: no.

In response, Joy Behar, the reigning moron on “The View,” stepped up in the absence of Whoopi and reached new idiotic heights, defending Pelosi with this:

“She’s being maternal I think. You know Nancy is momala. You know she’s always like ‘I think about the children. It’s for the children.’ She cares about the kids. That’s her.”

The New York Times clearly has its marching orders.  Right around the time the opening ceremonies were starting in Beijing, the Times published an article highlighting the upside of China’s totalitarian response to the pandemic—yes, it was even tougher than in Michigan. The strict lockdowns and other acts of state coercion  have been a major success, the article told readers. (Not like the wimpy, mildly Constitution abusing measures those conservatives are whining about!) China’s strategy, it says, shows what a society can do when it makes the prevention of “Covid” its “No. 1 priority.”

Really? And how would the Times know that? The Times knows dictatorship is successful with viruses because China says it has one of the lowest pandemic death rates in the entire world, though the story notes that the Chinese data “can be suspect.” Ya think??? Never mind: China has “almost certainly” done better than the democracies, even if the official numbers are “artificially low.” No kidding: China has reported 3 deaths per million from COVID, compared with almost 2,700 in the United States. Do you believe that? Does anyone? The Times doesn’t believe it, and still is publishing this bootlicking junk.“China’s success at controlling Covid had turned into a public relations triumph for the regime,” write reporters David Leonhardt and Ian Prasad Philbrick. “President Xi Jinping uses China’s management of the virus to bolster his global campaign for influence, arguing that China’s system of government works better than Western democracies do.” True, the Times concedes, China’s containment measures have “disrupt[ed] daily life even more than in other countries,” especially the silly ones that value “individual rights,” where citizens are allowed to “disagree vehemently” about government policy.

Does the Times think it might be appropriate to mention where the WUHAN virus came from? Nah. The regime’s brilliant management of the contagion just happened not to kick in until China had infected the world, resulting in the deaths of millions and inspiring the U.S. to wreck its education, commerce, economy and society. The Times does, however, concede that China’s containment measures have “disrupt[ed] daily life even more than in other countries,” especially the ones that value “individual rights,” such as the United States, where citizens are allowed to “disagree vehemently” about government policy.

NBC, which is broadcasting the Games, is parroting the mandated Chinese talking points as well. “Today Show” co-anchor Savannah Guthrie declined to point out the cynical nature of the choice of a supposedly Uyghur athlete from Xinjiang province to light the Olympic torch.

“This moment is quite provocative. It’s a statement from the Chinese president Xi Jinping,” said Guthrie. “It is an in-your-face response to those Western nations, including the U.S., who have called this Chinese treatment of [Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang] genocide and diplomatically boycotted these games.”

“It has to be said that the Chinese government emphatically denies all of this,” NBC commentators said later. “They say that accusations of genocide are the lie of the century.” But it isn’t a lie at all.

Over the past ten years, as documents have been leaked to the press and more Uyghur activists have escaped the country. Beginning in 2014, China has persecuted the Muslim ethnic group, forced then to intermarry with other non-Muslim populations, and worked to dilute their presence and power.the government. China has subjected hundreds of thousands of Turkic Muslim women to forcible IUD insertions, sterilizations and abortions. The Uyghur center of Xinjiang contains  just 1.8 percent of China’s population, yet in 2018, it accounted for 80 percent of all IUD insertions in the country.

In 2017, China began building detention centers, euphemistically described by Chinese government officials as reeducation camps. Uyghurs are arrested and placed in these camps for praying, attending religious weddings, or visiting a mosque. The camps have held between one and three million in total, making them the largest mass internment of an ethnic-religious minority since World War II.

Given this context, the torch-lighter is at best a traitor to her people, and at worst a fake. How would we remember a Jewish athlete who lit Hitler’s Games’ torch in 1936? The China Olympics are like a nostalgia trip back to Munich.  Oddly, NBC did not choose to inform its viewers of any of this.

After all, you never know “what the Chinese government might do.”

18 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/5/2022: Part I, A Special “I Sure Hope You’re Not Watching The Olympics” Edition

  1. Agh! We have lost all fortitude and rationale. I actually had a longer comment but I’m too disgusted to say more. We must be entertained, regardless of the source or the cost to our fellow man. Shameful.

  2. New commenter here. The last thing I enjoyed watching at the Olympics was the 2012 London Opening Ceremony. Concerning Covid data from China, whenever I’d check Worldometer or other places publishing such data, I always mentally put China above any other nation’s rates of infection, death, etc.

  3. The Uyghur that lit the Torch is probably already dead, along with his entire family, and I bet momala Pelosi couldn’t care less.

    Yeah, my wife and I discussed before opening ceremonies if we would watch any of the Olympic Games. The answer was an easy-as-pie “no”. And it’s a shame because there are a bunch of events in the winter games that I thoroughly enjoy.

  4. I don’t think you read the New York Times story, at least not after you let your heartbeat go down. In fact it mentions the “terrible consequences” of China’s lockdowns in some regions. So the Times style is sometimes, yes, the old-style “”on the one hand, on the other hand.” But I thought that’s what the woke crowd, not you, were supposed to be upset about journalism these days.

    • I read it. It still used fake stats and complimented China for an achievement that can’t be confirmed while criticizing the US. You really are a sucker for the Times’ two-step. It’s target reader!

  5. I’m not remotely their target reader if by that you mean straight liberal politics, and thanks for insulting one of your readers. I can tell that you read things too fast and miss the nuance when you get too excited.

    Also the NYT had an excellent recent story about CNN with the important point that Jeff Zucker’s affair was almost certainly not the real reason he was forced out. Most importantly, the reader comments to that story revealed that many people, yes including liberals, have long gotten sick of cable “news,” all of it, as a genre and realize they have to go elsewhere to be informed.

    As I’ve now stated several times, and it would be nice if you took this input seriously, the New York Times is sui generis and there is much to be gained by not just automatically lumping it in with your other mainstream media hobbyhorses, as you did in this case.

    • What’s funny about this theme of yours is that you know, since I’ve mentioned it repeatedly, that I subscribe to the Times and, as of right now, still pay the absurd expense of having it delivered, because is IS sui generis, and in many, many ways does indispensable work, investigations and journalism. That does not mean that I have to accept their intended deception that it is not a consistently manipulative and dishonest propaganda organ for Democrats and the left, that wins over readers who desperately want the paper to be what it claims to be.

      I did not intend that label for you as an insult, but rather as a splash of reality in the face, in the hopes of prompting awareness. (We’re all gullible now and then.) I wish I could trust the Times too.

      I don’t know, maybe that particular ethics alarm was dulled by your persistent patronizing tone. I do not get angry, nor am I “excited” when I write posts, and I always read to the end, because burying the lede, or key information, or, as in the Olympics piece, “balance” someone like you can point to when trying to make the case that a Times article isn’t what it is adn what it was designed to be, is part of the “two-step” I alluded to.

  6. “Patronizing tone,” nice. As we’ve discussed privately, Jack, we have here what I call the “Liberal on The Five / Conservative on The View Problem.” That is, the lone representative of the non-prevailing viewpoint is held to a higher rhetorical standard than all the others. On your blog, anyone can engage in ridiculous Hitler analogies and other low-rent discussion tactics provided you AGREE WITH THEIR OPINION. And by “opinion” I mean, like everything else these days, their political opinion.

    It’s also interesting that you’re making the case that the New York Times should not be balanced but tilt from the top of every story in YOUR direction. This is the kind of argument I actually associate with woke liberals, who these days cannot bear any countervailing opinion or even terms of the argument because they’re so ‘”religious” about their politics. My view is that people can read a balanced story – and the very revealing comments which you need to take the time to open up – and come out more knowledgeable than before. You don’t want to be just like the intolerant woke, do you?

    My friend, a few weeks ago you reported that people you know are concerned that Ethics Alarms is an echo chamber. I know what I see, and I waded in to help. It’s up to you to decide what to do. This place is called “Ethics Alarms,” not One-Sided Political Blog #603,472, and it’s very valuable when it’s on top of its game, not racing in a panic to denounce a half-digested report before it’s been examined carefully and calmly. Again, I hope this helps.

    • “Patronizing tone,” nice.

      Patronizing tone, TRUE. What else would you call, “I can tell that you read things too fast and miss the nuance when you get too excited”? What you can “tell” isn’t accurate, and I do not miss the nuance that alleged superior minds like yours imagine because I get all “het up.” I don’t, and the Times acting exactly as the Times usually does won’t raise my blood pressure at all.

      “That is, the lone representative of the non-prevailing viewpoint is held to a higher rhetorical standard than all the others.”

      Hardly. And the prevailing viewpoint that the Times is over-all a propaganda merchant that buys credibility with the occasional forays into legitimate journalism that have you gaga for some strange reason is one that has been endorsed by the Times staff, more than once, most notably when they forced out the editorial editor for publishing Tom Cotton’s op-ed, while the ridiculous Charles Blow (and others) continued to be promoted on the same pages. As I pointed out with the Ruddigore Fallacy remark, the Times can’t diminish the harm of its persistent bias and fake news—skipping the harassment accusation against Biden, not covering Hunter’s laptop, burying stories like Hunter paying for Joe’s home renovations with his dubiously acquired money, relating badly sourced “proof” of Trump collusion, etc, etc, ETC, by doing hit pieces on CNN, low hanging fruit if there ever was any.

      “It’s also interesting that you’re making the case that the New York Times should not be balanced but tilt from the top of every story in YOUR direction.”

      Again, that’s attributing to me what I do not believe and never have written. I want facts from the Times, that’s all. By “balance” I mean that it should not favor any partisan position. It doesn’t believe that. It believes in advocacy journalism, which is an oxymoron. I do not have a partisan position: this site isn’t about politics, it’s about ethics analysis. Appropriately, I favor honest, trustworthy, ethical, courageous leadership, and I don’t care where it comes from. I expect the same kinds of dubious statements that came from the last President to be treated by a trustworthy news source EXACTLY like similarly dubious statements coming from this President. During the Bush administration, Republicans had among the worst, most unethical political leaders on all levels that I had ever seen, and I pointed it out repeatedly. Since Trump’s election, Democrats have been engaged in one of the worst and lengthy assaults on democracy since the Civil War. It’s an ethics issue—the same conduct by Republicans would be equally objectionable. The Times, overwhelmingly, has supported it and enabled it. Citing the various stories that don’t follow that agenda to make the case that this is no longer true is, giving you the benefit of the doubt, naive. (Bill Maher is trying the same con.)

      It is not a one-sided political blog, and I resent the statement that it is. People want to ignore what conflicts with their world view, so any consistent framework of analysis will eventually attract unbalanced support. On Facebook, I offered the open letter from a GULC student seeking signatures from alumni to protest the outrageous treatment of Illya Shapiro. Not one GULC grad (there are many) even commented on the letter, “liked” the post, or signed the letter. That doesn’t mean my FB page is an “echo chanber.” It means that the biased GULC grads lacked the guts to do the right thing, and also lacked any persuasive arguments to explain their opposition. So I’m supposed to bury the correct analysis to attract more of their participation?

      The same applies here. mly. Again, I hope this helps.

    • Using up time I will wish I spent better when I am on my deathbed, I looked for your alleged “risiculous Hitler analogies.” All I can figure is that you think calling Bog Lies Big Lies when that’s exactly what they are, and are used for political weaponry is “ridiculous.” Hitler didn’t invent the Big Lie tactic, but he used it well, and it has been employed by (primarily) one side of the aisle in the US to an obscene degree. “Systmic racism” is a Big Lie. The 1619 Project is a Big Lie. Saying that the 1/6 riot was “an insurrection” is an ongoing Big Lie. Claiming that voter ID’s, limited Mail-in ballots and banning ballot harvesting is “Jim Crow” is a Big Lie. Claiming Trump is a “threat to Democracy” is a Big Lie; so was saying, as Biden did repeatedly, that Trump was responsible for hundred of thousands of deaths by Wuhan. Saying that enforcing laws is racist is a Big Lie. How many more do you want? There are lots. Trump saying he won the election would be a Big Lie if he didn’t believe iT; I’ll give Stacey Abrams the same pass for the same baseless claim. Trump saying the election was foxed or “stolen” is not a Big Lie, because it’s an arguable contention. The most notable Big Lies of the last decade were probably Harry Reid’s lie about Mitt Romney not paying taxes, and the “Obama isn’t a citizen” smear.

      I do find this particular unsupported sideswipe amusing, since you excused Susan Sarandon comparing a police funeral to fascist gathering as “a mistake.”

  7. The last time the issue of the New York Times came up, right in the middle of that 2- or 3-day period, the lead story of the ENTIRE SUNDAY NEW YORK TIMES was a deeply reported piece blasting the Democratic Party for hypocrisy on campaign finance. Yet you and your speechifying regular commenters ignored it.

    I bet many people see what I see but are afraid to say so for fear of exactly the response I just got. I’ve tried to help. Up to you. See you, man.

  8. I meant your COMMENTERS resorting *explicitly* to Hitler, Goebbels, all that lazy stuff, as Steve Witherspoon did recently in some long speech about something. Godwin’s Law. Reductio ad Hitlerum. But all fine provided you agree with the underlying political point. Come on.

    I did not whatsoever excuse Susan Sarandon’s tweet, even as a mistake. I said she probably didn’t realize it was a funeral for a murdered cop or maybe both of them, and disagree with your 100% trashing of her apology.

    You read and react too fast. I’m sorry, Jack, but there’s no question about it.

    • I was also talking about commenters’ Hitler references, and understood that that was your point as well. “Godwin’s Law” is usually misstated. It holds, tongue in cheek, that the longer the discussion on the web, the more likely a Nazi comparison becomes, and with long enough discussions, it is a certainty. But that has nothing to do with the validity and use of legitimate analogies with Hitler and The Third Reich. It is the most vivid historical example of many phenomenon—mass cultural corruption, cowardice among professionals, journalists bolstering an unethical regime, criminalizing politics, mandated ideological conformity, failure to oppose persecution of groups that one doesn’t belong to.

  9. An important corollary to Godwin’s law is that whoever invokes Hitler (and I consider invoking Goebbels essentially the same thing) loses the argument, although whether Miles Godwin accepts this corollary has appeared to vary over time.

    Nikki Fried, a Democrat in Florida who wants to be governor, has recently said that Ron DeSantis is just like Hitler. Yeah, that makes sense.

    Personally I think that a lot of woke policy and politics is ridiculous, but it is absolutely not anything remotely “like Hitler,” and I think this supposedly sophisticated blog about ethics can do better than a lazy and cliche descent into the “Big Lie,” which telegraphs rigid partisanship and nuclearizing every issue rather than ongoing analysis and proportion. Also, breaking news: Politicians lie. Small “L.” I’d deal with it.

    • Does anything in Godwin’s Law say that correctly calling a tactic that is exactly what Hitler/Goebbels did exactly what Hitler/Goebbels did is counter-productive? Because, if accurate, it is a legitimate point. A typical lie isn’t a Big Lie.A Big Lie is particularly vicious and damning statement that assigns a terrible characteristic or blame on an individual or a group on a grand scale without any justification specifically to get the slur into common public awareness. Using the Big Lie is itself signature significance of ruthless and unethical character. “It did not have sex with that woman” is a lie, and a bad lie, but not a Big Lie. “Donald Trump is a racist” is a Big Lie. “Hillary is involved in a child molestation cult” is a Big Lie. “The Biden Administration’s polices are working” is a lie, but not a Big Lie.

      Blurring useful distinctions and using fake “Laws” made up by web wags to hamstring discourse are not legitimate criticism, AF. I know you can do better.

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