Independence Day Ethics Fireworks, July 4, 2022…But First, A Song! [Corrected]

There is actually a lot to celebrate and remember on July 4th. It was on this date in 1776, of course, that the delegates began signing the final version of Mr. Jefferson’s document. Also, perhaps the two most crucial Founders, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.  Both men were desperately ill, and clearly held on with the intention of passing on the day that means to much to them. The fifth President, James Monroe, also died on the Fourth, in 1831.

On July 4,1827, New York officially banned slavery. The same day Monroe died, My Country, ‘Tis of Thee was first performed at an Independence Day celebration in Boston. In my elementary school (Parmenter School, in Arlington, Mass.) that was the patriotic song we learned first and sang most often. I was shocked to learn, years later, that it was really “God Save the Queen” with different lyrics.

In 1863 on the Fourth, the Siege of Vicksburg ended with a Confederate surrender. Combined with the Union victory at Gettysburg the day before, the news of Grant’s triumph rescued the North from despair, and probably saved Lincoln’s presidency.

1919’s Independence Day saw Congress approve the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the right to vote. The amendment was sent to the states for ratification, and ratify it they did.

All in all, a good day.

1. And yet we have come to this…

Michael Kelly, the Atlantic Monthly’s editor-at-large and a superb conservative Washington Post opinion columnist who died while covering the Iraq War, was a relentless critic of Bill Clinton’s ethics in the White House and once wrote that Clinton benefited from having so many scandals that the average voter couldn’t remember them all. In the case of Biden and the Democrats, it is the similar benefit of his administration doing so much damage that many of the worst effects will bedim memories by November 2024. Take, for example, the campaign of fearmongering over the Wuhan virus that made so many American phobic and eager to abuse their children in the interests of “safety.”

2. “Is we getting dummer?”

But it wasn’t just the illiterate backdrop. During that interview in New Orleans, Kamala said that the overturning of Roe v. Wade was a repeat of the U.S. government’s history of “trying to claim ownership over human bodies.” Smart abortion fans should know enough not to make an abortion-slavery analogy: it’s poor advocacy. Slavery depended on dual myths that black slaves weren’t human beings, but merely the property of their owners, and the rights of slave-owners to their property—living bodies but somehow not quite human enough to matter— were the only legitimate concerns of the government in the slavery controversy. It is exactly the same dishonest argument that has sustained the “pro-choice” movement for decades.

3. I keep forgetting to mention this: “Friends” creator Marta Kauffman told the Los Angeles Times that she’s so “embarrassed” by the lack of diversity on her successful and popular NBC sitcom that she’s donating $4 million to create the Marta F. Kauffman ‘78 Professorship in African and African American Studies at Brandeis University. Kauffman said she suddenly realized that she had unwittingly contributed to “systemic racism” after the 2020 murder of George Floyd….you know, because the death of a petty criminal in the process of overdosing on illegal drugs and resisting arrest is so obviously related to a sitcom about the adventures of six white yuppies. The new edict is that a story that involves the lives of white people with white friends in white neighborhoods who do not regularly  come in contact with non-whites is racist. Tyler Perry plays, TV shows and movies, however, which are about black families and friends who seldom have any interaction with the largest demographic group in the U.S,, are swell, because they give audiences a chance to enjoy entertainment about “people who look like me.”


4. Let’s play “Political Correctness Scrabble”! The owners of “Scrabble” (Hasbro in North America and Mattel (in the rest of the world, including Australia )have banned over 400 words players are no longer allowed to use because they are considered slurs or otherwise “offensive.” Over 200 words in the dictionary—the traditional test of whether a Scrabble entry is legal–are now forbidden. The movement to censor Scrabble began, or course, in the U.S. Mattel followed the leader, saying that the censorship would make the game more “inclusive.”

Yes, of course it’s just virtue-signaling, and many players are furious. Competitive Scrabble player Jonathan Maitland wrote an op-ed saying that the injection of “diversity” and political correctness concerns into the game were ruining it for everyone. “It’s hard to find anyone in the Scrabble community in favor of the ban,” he wrote. “That doesn’t mean that we approve of any of the banned words, mind you. Among them are some vile racial slurs. But the words can’t be un-invented…And playing them in a private word game is very different from using them in any other context.”

Mattel’s global head of games, Ray Adler, actually thought this was a persuasive defense:

 We looked at everything we were doing as a company and opportunities to be more culturally relevant. I’ve heard the argument that these are just words, but we believe they have meaning….Can you imagine any other game where you can score points and win by using a racial epithet? It’s long overdue.

Let’s see: in order,

  • Who says a board game has to be “culturally relevant”? It has to be fun and challenging. See: chess.
  • All words have meanings. That’s what makes them words.
  • Yes, you fool, there are many word games where one can score using obscene or denigrating words, because they are used as just collections of letters.
  • “Long overdue” isn’t an argument when you haven’t given anything but political correctness blather to explain why it is necessary at all.

5. Well, you know: HarvardA new Harvard-Harris poll claims that Donald Trump is the most “popular” political figure in the country. Here’s the list:

Worthless, except to give Trump something to boast about. As I read it, the polls shows that Trump is not favored by more people than he is favored by—how can that translate into being regarded as “popular”? Who are the slugs who never heard of Trump…or Biden?And where is Obama? He’s certainly a political figure. What is Putin doing in there?




21 thoughts on “Independence Day Ethics Fireworks, July 4, 2022…But First, A Song! [Corrected]

  1. #5. Putin is in the poll to make Biden, Clinton, Harris, and Pelosi look good by comparison.
    I believe Trump’s and Biden’s 7% colors in the graph correspond to “No Opinion” not “Never heard of”.

  2. Tullahoma Campaign also wrapped up the day before. With Vicksburg being a major move in the west, Gettysburg in the east – Rosecrans’ victory in the middle opened up Union access to the area around Chattanooga. That Rosecrans didn’t follow up spectacularly doesn’t mean the Tullahoma Campaign wasn’t as valuable.

  3. With regards to your 7% of people who don’t know who Trump or Biden are, it’s worth noting the 4% Lizardman Constant: basically, on the Slate Star Codex blog, Scott Alexander estimated that around 4% of any given poll will be people who are not paying attention to the question and get confused, people who are upset to be cornered into taking a poll, and people who aren’t taking the poll seriously. This can lead to small but silly results, like 4% of people believing that shapeshifting lizardmen run the government, or around 5% of Obama voters believing that Obama is the antichrist. I’d imagine most — if not all — of that 7% who don’t recognize the last two presidents are the Lizardman Constant.

    (Full explanation of the effect here:

  4. Every name on the list except Ron DeSantis has a significantly higher combined unfavorable rating that combined favorable rating. That may be the only value in this poll, if there is one.

  5. Re 2
    If I remember correctly, Ross started dating a black woman on the show. I did not watch it enough to remember all the names so forgive me for not identifying the character’s name. Given that there were 6 original yuppies and we added the new love interest who was black that means black main characters at some point were about 14+% . Seems representative enough.

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