Interesting issues, dead traffic yesterday…just thought I’d mention it…
I’d like to propose this date, September 18, as National Incompetence Day. On this date in 1962, preening slug of a Union army commander General George B. McClellan blew a golden opportunity to end the Civil War early, and for the usual reasons: he over-estimated the size of the enemy, and, some have concluded, he just didn’t like to fight. The Battle of Antietam had ended the day before after the bloodiest day of fighting ever to occur on North American soil. Lee’s forces were exhausted and depleted; McClellan’s army had just welcomed fresh troops. McClellan had an estimated three times as many soldiers as Lee after the battle, a stalemate, and was in a perfect position to wipe out the Confederate forces and end the war. But, as usual, he stalled. Certain that Lee had many times the men he actually had, (or having conveniently himself so he could rationalize not continuing the battle) the Union commander allowed the Rebels to retreat from Sharpsburg, Maryland, and head back to the safety of Virginia unmolested, as Lincoln fumed. It was a real chance to deliver a knockout blow and end the Civil War quickly, but George didn’t believe in knockout blows. He specialized in training armies to deliver theoretical knockout blows. To be fair, the training came in useful when a general with guts and ability finally got McClellan’s job: Ulysses S. Grant.
Incompetence isn’t as sexy a breach of ethics as, say, disloyalty or dishonesty, but it probably does more damage than either. McClellan is as perfect a symbol of the often destructive influence it has has on U.S. history as I can think of. Like so many of his ilk, the tendency to screw up didn’t impede the general’s career as thoroughly or quickly as it should have. Amazingly, Lincoln put him in charge of the Union Army twice and the Democratic Party nominated him for President. Fortunately, the party has learned not to try to put total incompetents in charge of the government in the ensuing years…
1. Speaking of ethics incompetence…Faced with having to recognize an LGBTQ student group until its appeal of a lower court ruling worked its way through the courts, Yeshiva University announced last week that it was suspending all undergraduate club activities, punishing everyone in order to get away with discrimination. The issue is, again, religious freedom: Yeshiva’s claim that the New York civil rights laws don’t apply is shaky because the university is incorporated as an educational institution and not a religious one.
A lawyer for the banned student group,Y.U. Pride Alliance, called the move by Yeshiva “a throwback to 50 years ago when the city of Jackson, Mississippi, closed all public swimming pools rather than comply with court orders to desegregate.” That seems like a fair comparison. The Times story is here.
I don’t see how an educational institution can declare that certain interests and ideas are unwelcome on campus and still claim to support academic inquiry and freedom, as any legitimate university must. Would courts require a Jewish institution like Yeshiva to allow a Nazi club on campus? Interesting hypothetical—but why would Nazi’s enroll at Yeshiva?
2. On a related topic: Oh shut up, Ken! Celebrated documentarian Ken Burns told CNN anchor John Berman that Gov Ron DeSantis relocating some illegal immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, was comparable to the Holocaust. Burns, whose recent documentary about the U.S.’ role in the Holocaust is coming out, said,
“It’s the abstraction of human life. It’s basically saying that you can use a human life that is as valuable as yours or mine … and to put it in a position of becoming a political pawn in somebody’s authoritarian game. This is coming straight out of the authoritarian playbook, this is what’s so disturbing about DeSantis is to use human beings, to weaponize beings for a political purpose, it’s like when somebody disagrees with him in Florida, like the Walt Disney Company, he punishes them.”
Like the vast majority of American historians, Burns’ has allowed bias to make him not only stupid but untrustworthy. What a fatuous, overtly partisan thing to say.
Sure, Ken, sending non-citizens who broke laws to come here to a resort beach community with their consent is exactly like Germany shipping its own law-abiding citizens to death camps in Poland. Why should anyone take your perspectives on the Holocaust (or anything else) seriously if you’re capable of making such an offensive and idiotic comparison? And for the record, Florida did not “punish” Disney for “disagreeing” with DeSantis. It dissolved an old sweetheart partnership with Disney that gave it special privileges after Disney metaphorically stabbed its partner in the back….as you would dissolve a partnership with a director who publicly called you bigoted hack.
3. What would make HBO think that this is ethical, necessary or sensible? HBO Max removed cigars from Warren Beatty’s and Paul Newman’s hands in movie poster art used on its home page promoting the films, “McCabe & Mrs. Miller”.’” and “The Life and Times of [Judge] Roy Bean.” Morons. Will the service start digitally removing joints, bongs, guns…the mind boggles.
Warren should sue for HBO Max making him look like an idiot:
4. Wait, what? I don’t understand this court ruling at all, and I don’t think it will stand up to appeal, either. Texas’ HB 20 was signed into law last year. It prohibits social media platforms with over 50 million monthly U.S. users from censoring posts based political positions and viewpoints. The Computer Communications Industry Association (CCIA) and the NetChoice organization, representing social media companies, sued, arguing that the law was unconstitutional. Amazingly, the Fifth Circuit disagreed, holding that the right to free speech didn’t include the right to censor speech, even on a privately-owned platform. The opinion is here.
5. Finally, for your reading pleasure and perusal, this op-ed in the Times: “When Diversity Isn’t the Right Kind of Diversity.” Here’s the final paragraph:
It seems odd to have to point out in 2022 that “diverse” hires can be every bit as diverse on the inside as they are on the outside. For every Ketanji Brown Jackson, you’re liable to get a Clarence Thomas. Apparently, we need constant reminders that there’s more to people than meets the eye and that in multicultural societies, an acceptance of diversity must be more than skin deep.