April 11 has a relevant leadership and ethics history lesson for today’s times, and it is also a nice segue from the previous post involving a mega-jerk. For this, in 1951, is the date where President Harry Truman fired General Douglas MacArthur from command of the U.S. forces in Korea.
After MacArthur had assured the President that pushing into North Korea would not bring Red China into the Korean conflict, hundreds of thousands of Chinese troops rushed into the North and battled American troops, driving them back into South Korea. MacArthur reacted by demandingpermission to bomb Communist China and use Nationalist Chinese forces from Taiwan against the it. President Truman, finding himself unimpressed with MacArthur’s wisdom and not wanting to expand the so-called “police action” further, flatly refused. MacArthur then engaged in a public lobbying campaign, openly challenging Truman’s decision as well as the traditional civilian command of the U.S. military. Finally, in one of the many gutsy (if not necessarily correct) decisions that marked his tenure in the White House, President Truman fired the popular MacArthur and replaced him with Gen. Matthew Ridgway. Harry told the nation in a televised address, “I believe that we must try to limit the war to Korea for these vital reasons: To make sure that the precious lives of our fighting men are not wasted; to see that the security of our country and the free world is not needlessly jeopardized; and to prevent a third world war.” General MacArthur was fired, he added, “so that there would be no doubt or confusion as to the real purpose and aim of our policy.”
Truman stuck to his metaphorical guns, even as MacArthur returned to the United States to a hero’s welcome, parades, and declarations from politicians and others designed to undermine Truman’s authority and popularity, which was already on life support. MacArthur was invited to speak before Congress, and gave his maudlin “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away” speech. (You could trigger my old soldier father into a rant by just mentioning MacArthur.) Surprising many, MacArthur did “fade away.”
1. In ethics zugzwang, Texas blinks. One of the central ethics conflicts in the abortion problem is that a life is a life, and if it is unethically, morally and illegally ending a life to abort an unborn child, it is difficult to justify treating the mother differently from a doctor or anyone else. Gocha Allen Ramirez, a district attorney in Texas, exploded heads all over the state and nation by filing murder charges against Lizelle Herrera, who allegedly committed a “self-induced abortion.” Yesterday he backed down, dropping them. “In reviewing applicable Texas law, it is clear that Ms. Herrera cannot and should not be prosecuted for the allegation against her,” Ramirez, the DA for Starr, Jim Hogg, and Duval counties, said in a press release.
2. Anne Applebuam update: the prominent progressive pundit, historian and writer Anne Applebaum’s dismissive answer to a student’s question about Hunter Biden’s laptop and the news media’s disinformation campaign to bury it made her an instant symbol of American journalism’s bias and hypocrisy last week, as she airily declared the laptop irrelevant and “uninteresting.” The student who asked that question during the University of Chicago/ Atlantic “Disinformation and the Erosion Of Democracy” conference, Daniel Schmidt, has followed up with a slam-dunk of Applebaum in this article, where he reminds us,
Back when the Hunter Files were a live crisis for the Biden camp, Applebaum published a lengthy essay in The Atlantic that aimed to discredit the reporter who broke the laptop story. So if she doesn’t find the story interesting, why did she—along with the entirety of the corporate media apparatus—dedicate so much time and effort to trying to legitimate censorship of the Post’s reporting?
Applebaum’s haughtiness perfectly encapsulates why so many Americans are distrustful of the corporate outlets that claim to defend truth against “post-truth” disinformation. Figures like Applebaum don’t actually seem to care about disinformation. They just use the word as a tool to advance their own class and political interests.
3. And a Brian Stelter update! Stelter was the other Democratic propagandist who was humiliated by a direct student questioner at the “Disinformation” conference, but he was back to his usual unethical journalism practices yesterday. CNN is all in as it misinforms (or disinforms? ) viewers about the common sense Florida Parental Rights Law, so naturally Stelter devoted much of his show, “Reliable Sources,” to defending Disney’s bizarre public opposition to it. His guest, Abigail Disney, the granddaughter of co-founder Roy Disney, spun a wild conspiracy theory to explain the controversy surrounding her family’s company:
[T]here are huge funders of the right-wing movement that like to remain quiet and they gather in meetings and they make decisions about what’s the message that’s resonating, what’s the message that’s not. We can’t pretend that’s not happening. And so this attack against Disney was so timed and rolled out so strategically that it was really hard for me to imagine that it didn’t come from a series of decisions that got made in the background.”
Did Stelter ask her to justify this claim? No, of course not. Did she offer any evidence that clandestine meetings had spawned criticism of the company? No. Did Stelter point out that the “timing” of criticism was oddly connected to a Disney producer being recorded saying that her team was implementing a “not-at-all-secret gay agenda” and was regularly “adding queerness” to children’s programming? No. Is withholding material facts about a controversy “disinformation”?
4. Great. So now we can’t tell whether our friends and family members really believe what they are arguing, or they are just being paid to promote a position. Politico reports that some Democratic strategists are pushing a tactic called “paid relational organizing.” That means that Democrats pay people to talk to their friends and family about politics, and try to get them to vote the way the people writing their checks want. So remember, if a friend, neighbor or family member whom you never knew to talk much about politics before starts telling you what a great job Biden is doing and how Republicans are a threat to democracy, ask him or her flat out if they are being paid. Also tell them that if they are, whether or not they admit it, you will find out, and you will not have any dealings with them again.
5. Boycotting a reunion that nobody came to anyway…last week my law school class had a major reunion, which I made clear to whomever asked I would avoid because of Georgetown Law Center’s revolting viewpoint discrimination and breach of academic freedom over the past several years. In fact, here’s a quote from an essay from three days ago:
Students at three recent college events threatened violence against conservative speakers, along with the student groups that invited them to speak on campus.
This may be commonplace today, but what makes this hostility so much more shocking is that it occurred at colleges once considered eminent law schools: Georgetown University Law Center, Hastings College of Law at the University of California, and Yale Law School.
I have some measure of notoriety in my GULC class, but my principled boycott was largely unnoticed: only six alums from my class of over 500 showed up.