Morning Ethics Warm-Up. 11/11/2022: The Ethics Post To End All Ethics Posts Edition

I wonder if KFC is planning a cheesy chicken promotion for Armistice Day…that’s today, you know. On this date in 1918, the Great War, the War to End All Wars, ended when Germany signed an armistice agreement with the Allies in a railroad car outside Compiégne, France. Nine million soldiers had died and 21 million were wounded. Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, France and Great Britain each lost a million or more lives. At least five million civilians died from disease, starvation, or exposure. The war, now known as World War I, also traumatized a generation, helped spread the Spanish flu pandemic (which took 50 million or more lives), and led directly to World War II.

Yes, the War to End All Wars was substantially responsible for starting the worst war of them all.

Yet not one in a hundred—a thousand?—Americans can explain coherently what the war was all about, why the U.S. entered it, and what were the major events that defined it. It is barely mentioned in schools. There has been a WWI memorial on the D.C. Mall for decades, and it is largely ignored by tourists. Do you know what it looks like? Here it is…

Then, last year, a new one was unveiled on Pennsylvania Ave, with so little publicity that I missed it. Here it is:

Meanwhile, Armistice Day, once a holiday to mark the end of this human-made cataclysm, was eliminated, with Veteran’s Day taking its place in 1954. There’s nothing in the commemoration of Veteran’s Day that even references The Great War.

1. Who couldn’t see this coming? Two historically black churches in Jackson, Mississippi, were deliberately set ablaze on Election Day morning. There were five other suspected arson cases all seven  in the area of Jackson State University, a historically black public university. Obviously, this was the work of those racist, white supremacist Republicans, or so Democrats were quick to declare. Mississippi Democrat congressional candidate Shuwaski Young pounced, releasing a statement calling the fires acts of “terrorism,” saying, “We will not allow domestic terrorists to suppress our right to vote. I ask all Mississippians to GO VOTE regardless of this decades-old intimidation tactic to suppress our votes today. Just go VOTE.” (For him, of course) Commenters on his post chimed in about the dire threat of white supremacy.

Here’s Delvin McLaurin, the man who was arrested as the likely arsonist:

Damn those white supremacists!

2. And this, Ladies and Gentlemen, is why Saturday Night Live stinks…Some of the writers of Saturday Night Live, the iconic skit satire show that has been limping into mediocrity for years, are refusing to write for guest host Dave Chappelle, who is cleverer, braver and funnier than any of them. Chappelle dared to make fun of a taboo topic, the current transgender madness, and though a true topical satire show should mock everything, the offended writers don’t like it when something they approve of is lampooned.

SNL writer Celeste Yim  wrote on Instagram,  “I’m trans and non-binary. I use they/them pronouns. Transphobia is murder and it should be condemned.” Shut up and write, Celeste. I don’t care about your sexual quirks, and I don’t care if you call yourself Mr. Tibbs. Joking about trans silliness isn’t “transphobia” (this is the hot new equivalent of calling any criticism of black conduct “racism”), and jokes aren’t murder.

3. Ingratitude, they name is Vance. Senator-elect JD Vance, who owed a great deal of his political rise (he has no government experience) to Donald Trump’s endorsement, thanked dozens of people in his victory speech, but snubbed the ex-President. That is telling, and shows how much the pendulum has swung against Trump: all of his other favored candidates had lost or were losing. It doesn’t matter: Vance owed Trump at least a thank-you. Not giving one was cowardly and wrong.

4. And here is one more example of why I don’t trust “Not the Bee”A company is selling a Christian Ouija board to “talk directly to Jesus” says the NTB headline. No, it’s not. The product is a gag, as this unfunny promotional video should indicate to anyone who breathes through their nose:

The product’s website is similarly obvious in its facetiousness:

With other spirit boards, you have to worry about ghosts and demons haunting you and your family, but with the Holy Spirit Board, you only have a direct line to Jesus Christ himself. It’s all the fun of speaking to the dead, with none of the risk! Simply place your hands on the Magic Cross and let J.C. guide your hands to answer all of your prayers!

Let’s face it, we all pray to Jesus but sometimes the message he sends us isn’t so clear. Now, you have a fool-proof way of understanding the Lord’s will right in the palm of your hand. Try it today!

Not the Bee writes, “I’m about 98% sure the Holy Spirit Board is a gag gift created by an atheist to mock Christians.” I’m 100% sure, just as I am sure that NTB’s headline is intentionally misleading. The site is supposedly about real events that are so bizarre one might mistake them for parody (as in The Babylon Bee). This is parody, and by featuring it, NTB falsely suggested it was not—to get clicks, of course.

5. Another shoe drops. U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman of the Northern District of Texas issued another judicial opinion declaring that President Joe Biden violated the Constitution in unilaterally forgiving the debt, which was done deliberately  before the midterm election in full knowledge of how illegal it was. Judge Pittman wrote “[i]n this country, we are not ruled by an all-powerful executive with a pen and a phone.”

17 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up. 11/11/2022: The Ethics Post To End All Ethics Posts Edition

  1. #1: Remember earlier this year, when there was a spate of bomb threats against HBCUs? Well, the FBI has been investigating for over six months now, and there hasn’t been a single arrest. Now, anyone with a functioning brain cell knows that bomb threats to colleges are most likely to come from its own students, for the simple reason that, for an impulsive and none-too-bright young person, it seems like an easy way to get a reprieve from their academic responsibilities. Everyone knows this, but nobody in the media seems capable of speaking it.

  2. “I use they/them pronouns.”
    I just want to point out that Celeste used the pronoun “I” in the sentence to declare the use of “They/Them”.

    3rd person usage is not your usage so you don’t actually “use” they/them. She uses “I” and “My”. What she means to say is that she wants everyone else to use they/them to refer to her. And if anyone has a problem with how I wrote this point for a person using a traditional female name, I’m willing to compromise with the gender neutral form “it”.

    • I too have wondered why trans gendered people don’t use the plural personal pronouns when referring to “themselves,” e.g., “we” or “us?”

      • Good point! They don’t use singular verbs, so for consistency, yes, they probably should use plural first-person pronouns like “we” instead of “I”. The construction they always seem to want people to use is “They are being an annoying twat about pronouns, so I avoid interacting with them”, but if it’s referring to a single individual, it should be “They is a mentally ill attention whore that you should avoid at all costs.”

  3. If Lorne Michaels had any balls, he’d let Chappelle bring in his own crew to write for the show to replace the boycotting SNL writers. Chappelle has some very funny, high-profile comedian friends, and it would be a ratings bonanza as people tuned in to see what some genuinely funny people would do with the SNL format, rather than it being wasted as a platform for untalented wokesters to preach their politics to a diminishing like-minded audience.

  4. #3. Jack writes: “That is telling, and shows how much the pendulum has swung against Trump: all of his other favored candidates had lost or were losing. It doesn’t matter: Vance owed Trump at least a thank-you. Not giving one was cowardly and wrong.”

    I have nothing insightful to add, except to say I’m just so tired of the ever-growing lack of decency, courtesy, consideration, integrity, honesty, thoughtfulness, gratefulness, etc., in our society. The America I grew up in was nothing like it is today, and the decay and ethics rot is everywhere and is only getting worse. Yes, in the very least, a thank-you was owed.

  5. 103 years ago, the guns finally fell silent at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, ending the greatest conflict to date, known as the Great War in Europe, as World War One here. The war that was supposed to end by Christmas 1914 had dragged on for more than four years, shaken civilization to its core, and thrown down no fewer than four empires, leaving chaos in their place. It had also killed six million and badly damaged a generation.

    The world thought another war like this must not, could not ever happen again. In memory of what had happened, the allied nations proclaimed Armistice Day a year later, including the red poppy as the symbol of the fallen, the two minutes silence, and the continued hope for world peace.

    Here’s the dirty little secret, though, the allied nations, weary of war and afraid of another one, turned their back on the problems left unresolved at the end of World War One. They made a few half-hearted attempts to deal with them, like the poorly organized Allied intervention in Russia to stop Communism before it took root, which accomplished nothing. For the most part, however, they either just looked the other way or threw up their hands. Turkey mopped up what was left of the Armenians and forced Greece into a population exchange that destroyed thousands more lives, and the allies just nodded. The Soviets attempted to conquer Poland, but they found themselves thrown back by a nation not inclined to give up the freedom it had just won under the leadership of the military and political genius Josef Pilsudski. France and the UK didn’t do or say anything. Ireland erupted in violence, and the UK all too quickly concluded a peace that left it embarrassed and Ireland bankrupt. Let’s also not forget the abandonment of the Finns, the Ethiopians, and the Austrians to tyrannical aggression. The major nations were too busy trying to come up with lofty promises and ways to prevent there from ever being a war again: the Washington Naval Treaty, signed with a smile by the Japanese and promptly violated, the Locarno Treaties, which were quickly ignored, and the Kellogg-Briand Pact, which supposedly outlawed war, and is still technically in effect, but which was ignored from its inception, and actually reads like a bad joke in hindsight.

    Against all this moralizing and paralysis by fear, it made perfect sense to commemorate a holiday keeping alive the continued hope that there would somehow be a perfect peace and nothing like World War I would ever happen again.

    While the west kept hoping and praying, tyrants rose and took what they wanted. Soviet bayonets shepherded the Baltic states into the USSR. Hitler pulled Austria into Germany proper via the Anschluss. The Japanese marched into Manchuria and turned it into Manchukuo. Finally came the craven surrender at Munich, and Neville Chamberlain’s self-important proclamation that
    “My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Go home and get a nice quiet sleep.”

    Less than a year later Nazi tanks moved on Poland, and France and the UK, caught flat-footed and weak from years of putting their hopes on disarmament and diplomacy, had no choice but to take action. You know the rest.

    Armistice Day became Remembrance Sunday in the UK, in order not to interfere with wartime production, and so it has remained. In the US, WWII Navy vet Raymond Weeks, who I’m guessing most folks haven’t heard of, and who I myself hadn’t until a few moments before this writing, first conceived of the idea of expanding Armistice Day to honor all veterans, and not to focus solely on WWI as WWII wound down. He presented a petition to that effect to General Eisenhower, and the first such event was held in 1947. Representative Ed Rees, from Eisenhower’s home state of Kansas, presented the bill changing the designation and purpose of the holiday, and Eisenhower, now President and no doubt remembering Rees’ petition, signed it into law. Rees would go on to lead the celebration in his home town of Birmingham, AL, and nationally, until his death in 1985 at the age of 76. I wonder if he knew of, or was inspired by, Italian-American publisher Generoso Pope’s successful push that made Columbus Day a national holiday.

    Since then, our veterans have stopped Communist aggression in Korea, fought in Vietnam, held the line in the Cold War, freed Kuwait in the Gulf War, and intervened in the Balkans, in Lebanon, in Grenada, in Panama, and more than a few other places, all in the cause of freedom. They are still fighting in the War on Terror, even though the tyrannies of Saddam Hussein and the evil of Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and now Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi are long since history, thanks to their efforts. Every one of them put his life on the line for this nation, the cause of freedom, and the hope that a few more people in this world would be able to live in a just peace, and every one of them, from the only three men who held or ever will hold the rank of General of the Armies or Admiral of the Fleets all the way down to the soldier, sailor, marine, airman, or guardsman who just took his oath at 18 yesterday, is worthy of this nation’s honor.

    A very few talk sometimes about “reclaiming” Armistice Day as a day of hope and prayer for peace and reflection on just how bad war is. I can only say that is at best misplaced idealism given the history and really doesn’t make sense. It makes sense that we Americans, in the wake of WW2, shortly after the draw that was Korea (although the aggressors wound up with less territory than they’d had at the beginning), and with the Cold War looming on the horizon, finally came to the realization that world peace wasn’t coming any time soon, and it wasn’t coming any time not so soon either. However, we had a huge number of veterans, including still a fair amount from WWI and even a few who’d served in both world wars, who had given their all to preserve freedom from tyranny. All of them, not just those who battled in the trenches of France, deserved to be remembered, and it makes sense to remember them on the day concluding the United States’ first major international war fought for the freedom of others.

    Peace? Peace is like romantic love, often idealized, mostly hope and memories, often pursued long after it becomes clear it isn’t going to be achieved, and often coming at too high a price for too small of a return. The peace of disgrace, the peace of oppression, the peace of the grave, none of these are preferable. It’s our veterans who keep the rest of us from ending up in those gray wastes masquerading as peace.
    This probably makes me sound like President Trump, but, God bless the veterans who served, God bless the veterans who are serving now, and God bless America! Happy Veterans Day!

    • Another excellent personalized history, Steve. Thank you. I hope you have been compiling all your supermini essays by lesson (or trigger), rather than theme or chronology, and are considering publishing at some point.

      My father was a WWI buff due to his father’s misunderstanding of what happened when – for reasons of (false) pride – my grandfather had deluded himself that the French started the war and that Austria (then Austro-Hungary) was on the side of the angels, the Allies, even after the news came through – post-war – that the Austrian village he’d be born in had been entirely destroyed, reportedly by its own troops first ravishing the crops for food and then stripping it of all able-bodied men for use as cannon-fodder. Granddad was otherwise sane, but he retained his childhood visions of a beautiful, indeed, a democratic Austria through WWII to his death in 1953. (No one ever tried to tell him what happened at Auschwitz – two of his distant relatives died there – nor where it was located. I was raised on granddad’s myths sharply contrasting with my dad’s narrative accompanying an album of fading brown photos one of his patient’s had willed to him of his soldiering days with the famously incompetent Italian army in the South Tyrol. At that point, the Italian politics and troop movements with Austro-Hungary between I and II conflated in my dad’s mind as well, to the point where I couldn’t tell which was which and I gave up until many years later.

      I’m still filling however many of the ignored and forgotten blanks of the first half of the 20th Century- I just celebrated Armistice Day. Thanks for the puzzle pieces.

  6. #4: I’m not understanding your complaint about Not the Bee, though I’ve known of the site, but never visited it before now. There, I don’t see that they claim to exclusively cover “… real events that are so bizarre one might mistake them for parody.” (That would be pretty subjective, anyway.) They do note that they cover “…the week’s craziest news, videos and memes.”, and many of their brief pieces do center on odd stories, but they also cover general interest news (though often with humor/sarcasm). Today, they had articles on Veteran’s day, the death of comedian Gallagher, inflation, etc.

    In any case, the Jesus Ouija Board is a real product, bizarre enough that some might not believe it actually exists if they were just told about it, or just saw the promotional video, so seems to fit the bill.

    What am I missing here?

    • Well, the site’s title, for one. The “Bee” being referenced is, as you know, “The Babylon Bee,” a satire site, and a good one. The product is not, in fact, a Christian Ouija board to “talk directly to Jesus.” That’s a false characterization. The product is a gag Ouija Board that mocks Christianity—that is, it is satire itself. The headline, however, states that the board purports to be a genuine spirit pipeline to Jesus—which it obviously does not, hence the “wink” in the obnoxious video. The headline is clickbait.

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