Saturday Afternoon Ethics Clouds, 4/16/2022: A Sign, A Painting, A List And A Petard

It seems like Jackie Robinson Day received more publicity and commentary than usual yesterday, which was appropriate, and besides, Robinson deserves it. In fact, I would support a national holiday honoring him. I watched, again, the 2017 film “42” last night in Robinson’s honor. At the same time I was watching that film, TCM was showing “The Jackie Robinson Story,” a remarkable independent film made in 1950 while Robinson was still playing. Amazingly, Jackie played himself, a very brave thing to do. There were no black male stars in 1950 who could have sold the film to white audiences, and Robinson recognized how important his journey was to tell, so he agreed to play himself. Sure, he’s a bit stiff, but Robinson doesn’t embarrass himself at all. Like so many old movies and plays, “The Jackie Robinson Story” is a window on a different era and how racially divided America was. (Of course, according to the antiracism, “1619,” BLM cult, nothing has changed.)

Back to “42”: I had forgotten its classic entry into the “print the legend” sweepstakes, which I wrote about here.

Finally, I have a bone to pick with Joe Castiglione, Boston’s Red Sox play-by-play broadcaster for the past 40 years, and as astute a student of the game as one could find. While I was listening to the Sox play the Twins in Fenway yesterday (Boston lost), Joe called Jackie Robinson “the most important player in baseball history.” That description is understandable hyperbole on a day honoring Robinson, but it’s wrong. Jackie Robinson is the most important baseball player in American history, but Babe Ruth has to be acknowledged as the most important player in baseball history. Not to diminish Robinson’s achievements in any way, but if he had not existed, another black player, like the great Larry Doby, who was the first black man to play in the American League a year after Robinson, would have broken the color line. However, there were no other Babe Ruths, and without him, it’s very possible baseball wouldn’t exist today.

Reckless hyperbole can cause confusion and long-term misconceptions.

1. Hey! That obnoxious “Black Lives Matter” sign that has stood in front of my neighbor’s house for two years (along with a suit of armor, for some reason) is gone! I hope the various Ethics Alarms posts about BLM’s scams I left with the knight influenced her decision….

2. I call this “rationalizing theft.” The 1912 artwork, “Self-Portrait,” by the Russian avant-garde painter Pyotr Konchalovsky, is owned by Petr Aven, a director of one of Russia’s largest banks. That makes him, in the parlance of the day, an “oligarch.” He loaned it to an art show in Paris where it was viewed by over a million people. Now France has announced it is keeping the painting indefinitely, because…let me try to get this straight…the Ukrainian invasion that he has no control over justifies not returning a valuable art work that he loaned in good faith.

3. Attention should be paid. Mimi Reinhard, an Austrian Jew who was being held in a Nazi labor camp near Krakow, Poland, during World War II when she given an office job by Oscar Schindler, died last week. She was 107. Mrs. Reinhard, who never learned to type beyond using two fingers, literally typed “Schindler’s list,” the over a thousand names of Jews (including her own) presented to Nazi officials, resulting in them being sent to a Schindler munitions factory in the area of Czechoslovakia then known as the Sudetenland instead of sent to the gas chambers.

4. Shut up, your honor! Senior U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton of Washington, D.C. decided to take a gratuitous swipe at former President Trump after a jury convicted an accused one of the Jan. 6 rioters who said he thought that he was acting on Trump’s orders. (Well, it’s a defense strategy anyway.) According to ABC News, Walton said: “I think our democracy is in trouble because, unfortunately, we have charlatans like our former president, who doesn’t, in my view, really care about democracy but only about power. And as a result of that, it’s tearing this country apart.”

Judicial ethics require judges to keep such opinions to themselves. He should be reprimanded for that outburst: I see his comments violating at least three of the five Canons. [Pointer: ABA Journal]

5. “Hoist with their own petard” watch! The San Francisco Chronicle reported last week that four U.S. senators, including three Democrats, three former Feinstein staffers and a California Democratic member of Congress revealed that Sen, Diane Feinstein she can no longer fulfill her job duties without her staff doing much of the work. She is reportedly confused and her memory is declining rapidly. On her worst days, they said under the shroud of anonymity, Feinstein does not seem to fully recognize even longtime colleagues.

Feinstein is 88, and will be over 90 at the end of her term, whether she is a bad off as the whistle-blowers claim, or she can still function adequately, it was irresponsible for her to run for another term, irresponsible for Democrats to allow her to do so, and irresponsible and stupid for Democrats to vote for her. She’s the oldest Senator, but not by much: seven are over 80, including Mitch McConnell and Bernie Sanders.

I am amazed that Democrats would dare raise the issue of age-related mental decline in their elected officials when Joe Biden is President.

5 thoughts on “Saturday Afternoon Ethics Clouds, 4/16/2022: A Sign, A Painting, A List And A Petard

  1. 5. My state’s elder Senator – Chuck Grassley – is 80+ (83 maybe?), but still seems to have command of his faculties. How much longer I can write that remains to be seen. That knowledge aside, Senators – and all public officials, really – should be able to recognize when their abilities are declining and gracefully step aside before it becomes a burden to their staffs and constituencies. I’m not necessarily in favor of any kind of restrictive age or term limits on service, but they are elected to serve the public…in the case of Senator Feinstein, her entire state. When their responsibility to serve is hindered by age and declining mental acuity, the right thing to do is retire or resign.

    In addition, it is the responsibility of those she serves (the people of California) to be aware enough to recognize that she may not be capable any longer and either ask her to step down so the Governor can appoint a stand-in, or simply “primary” her out of the field.

    One of the tragedies is that politics has so much diminished being about service and become more about power that it becomes very difficult to walk away, regardless of mental capacity.

    • There seems to be a theme for elected Democrats which translates into infallibility. No matter whether it’s allegations of sexual misconduct or mental faculties, Democrats stick with their incumbents.
      Even though Feinstein’s seat would go to a Democrat, if she (& other Democrats) do not step aside willingly, the party refuses to run a challenger in primaries, even if it means putting power into the hands of a Republican challenger in the general election.
      Feinstein is just the tip of this iceberg. Maxine Waters, 83. Leahy 82, Clyburn 81, Pelosi 82… Grassley at 88 is an outlier in the Republican Party, but he seems to still be aware and capable, but I think his best days are behind him.

  2. Jack, my apologies for filling up your spam, but I tried a few times to post a comment under this post and it didn’t work. If you happen to come across them and can post the most recent one (since it has some corrections), I would appreciate it very much.


  3. #2: …and the French have also, whether they realize it or not, damaged ALL MUSEUMS EVERYWHERE by making otherwise well-meaning private art collectors think twice about loaning their private property for public display. Now and forevermore fewer people will be able to view works of art.

    Nice going, France! You may have irreversibly damaged the cause of Art and the part it plays in civilization, but . . . we now know you don’t approve of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.


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