1. I have some ethics observations on this thing that was sent out to white parents in the Highland Park area of Texas by a Black Lives Matter-affiliated group:
Here they are:
As long as white individuals hesitate to push back on BLM’s outrageous assertions and demands, the group will continue to grow more audacious and arrogant
The logic of this demand can only make sense to someone who has no concept of right, wrong, and fairness. “We want you to handicap your own children in order to clear the way for our children, who can’t compete and who shouldn’t have to work especially hard to overcome obstacles that you and your children are not responsible for placing in their path.”
The screed is an excellent example of how the concept of equal opportunity has been warped into “equity,” meaning not just equality of results, which life never guarantees, but punitive measures to ensure advantages of favored groups over those that are disfavored, aka whites and males.
The extension of the argument in the letter would require athletes fortunate to have advantages of strength, speed, and skill to pledge not to compete against those not so “privileged” as to be born with these advantages, and job applicants of superior talent, intelligence and character to refuse to place themselves in a position where they would be chosen for a job over less fortunate job-seekers.
America’s greatest trial lawyer, Clarence Darrow, defended guilty criminals in part because he believed that it was cruel and unjust to punish citizens who committed crimes, even violent ones. Darrow, a pioneering progressive, lectured, debated and wrote that people committed crimes because of conditions beyond their control: bad parents, stupidity, mental illness, no education, poverty. Since those who committed crimes literally couldn’t stop themselves, punishment was revenge without reason. Sending someone to jail, far from advancing civilized conduct, not only destroys the life of the perpetrator but also creates a false sense of accomplishment, ignoring the socioeconomic “root causes” of crime. Nobody born free, the lawyer fervently held, should lose his or her liberty because of bad genes or bad luck.
It was and is a batty theory, and until very recently, one wouldn’t find anyone advocating it who wasn’t lying, ignorant, or a criminal himself. No longer. Today Darrow’s worst idea is running amuck in several big cities in the grip of woke Democratic government, and where it stops, nobody knows.
Take New York City…please.
The Big Rotten Apple has decided not to prosecute “quality of life” offenses, from littering to public urination to jumping subway turnstiles, with the predictable result that the quality of life for law abiding New Yorkers has cratered. Last summer, the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice crowed that “the number of New Yorkers held in New York City jails had shrunk by 27% in 10 weeks, bringing the city’s incarcerated population down to the lowest level since 1946.Wow! Isn’t that great? Of course, by some coincidence, murders and shootings were rising more quickly than ever before.
Breakfast Cure, an Oregon company, was attacked on social media by Asian Americans and the Woke Mob of culturally-appropriating congee, a traditional Asian rice porridge. The company sold its version of the dish in pre-packaged meals, and asserted that they were yummy. The problem is that the company was run by…a white woman.
How dare a white woman’s company claim to make a version of congee to fit the ” modern palate” and “improve” a recipe beloved by Asian cultures for centuries? So, as we have come to expect. company exec Karen Taylor begged for forgiveness:
“Recently, we fell short of supporting and honoring the Asian American community and for that, we are deeply sorry. We take full responsibility for any language on our website or in our marketing and have taken immediate steps to remedy that and educate ourselves, revising our mission to not just creating delicious breakfast meals, but becoming a better ally for the AAPI community.“
Recently I have been pondering whether Donald Trump, in the parlance of philosopher Isaiah Berlin in his famous essay “The Hedgehog and the Fox”, is a hedgehog, one who, in words of the Greek poet Archilochus, “knows one big thing,”or a fox, which knows many things. The thrust of the essay (and a later book) is that history teaches that the hedgehogs tend to prevail over the foxes.
“Despite decades of indoctrination to the contrary, most Americans are proud of their country and do not believe it has been a force for evil in the world. They recognize that capitalism has been responsible for the much of the nation’s success, and they do not want to emulate the European nanny states. Most Americans also regard the office of the Presidency as an inherently good institution. The Four Horsewomen of the Apocalypse, as the President now calls them, do not believe these things, and by clearly opposing a group that is deep, deep in negative territory on the scale, the President is certain to derive a net benefit. Although I have heard the Stage 5 Trump Deranged argue that he does not love his country and does not have its best interests at heart, that is an unsupportable position fueled by dislike alone. Nobody becomes President who isn’t a patriot, and no President wants to go down in history as a bad one. Now the entire Democratic Party is tying itself to these four repulsive, anti-American extremists, which is the equivalent of the party tying itself to an anchor on the [Cognitive Dissonance] Scale.”
For the record, I’m still not completely convinced that Trump isn’t a fox in spiny clothing.
Now the “Fox or Hedgehog?” game has emerged again in an essay by Lance Morrow in The Wall Street Journal. He attributes Critical Race Theory to hedgehogian reasoning. The One Big Thing: slavery was bad. He writes in part,
The Florida Supreme Court recently voted to prohibit the approval of continuing legal education credits for any CLE program with diversity “quotas.” This was a broadside at the ABA, which in 2017 approved a Diversity & Inclusion CLE Policy that requires all its sponsored or co-sponsored CLE programs with three or more panelists, including the moderator, to have at least one member of a a “diverse group.” Programs with five to eight panelists must have at least two diverse members and programs with nine or more panelists must have at least three diverse members. This will supposedly help accomplish the ABA’s Goal III , which aims to eliminate bias and enhance diversity in the profession.
There is a disconnect here, since the only purpose of continuing legal education is to do as good a job as possible keeping lawyers abreast of the law and developments in their profession. Does the skin color, gender, ethnicity or other characteristics of the CLE instructors and trainers advance that purpose in any way? I don’t see how, and neither did the court, which wrote in part,
There aren’t a lot of competitive black swimmers, for a number of reasons, but wouldn’t you think that authorities in the swimming field would have some sensitivity to their special needs when the situation presents itself? I would, or did, and is often the case, I was wrong.
A women’s swim cap designed for African-American hair, called the Soul Cap (above), is meant to accommodate the thicker, curlier hair of black women to provide a better fit and protect hair from chlorine. Ahead of the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo which begin later this month, the International Swimming Federation (FINA) banned the use of the cap, ruling that “athletes competing at the international events never used, neither require to use, caps of such size and configuration,” and that the Soul Cap does not follow “the natural form of the head.” This is, of course, ridiculous, since the number of black women who have competed in swimming events in the Olympics can be counted on the fingers of one hand, so of course the caps break with tradition and common use. Whatever their bone-headed logic, how could the FINA hacks not figure out that such a ruling would appear tone deaf at best and racist at worst, especially in the middle of the George Floyd Freakout?
After the completely predictable (and fair) backlash, now the body says that it is “currently reviewing the situation with regards to ‘Soul Cap’ and similar products, understanding the importance of inclusivity and representation.”
There have never been any allegations that the caps confer any competitive advantage. This is how people with dead ethics alarms fuel claims of “systemic racism.”
1. The President gets a cheap shot...Commenting on Joe Biden’s generally hysterical speech about “voter suppression,” “Bonchie” writes on the conservative blog Red State,
“Of note here is that Biden is channeling Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels by using the phrase “big lie” to disparage Republicans who have concerns about the 2020 election. Yet, despite the phrase’s murderous, anti-Semitic past, the president seems to have no problem saying it repeatedly. In doing so, he echoed CNN’s Jake Tapper and others who have also been fond of the phrase.”
There is nothing wrong with using the phrase or the description. The device was championed by both Goebbels and Hitler, and is an accurate description of a propaganda tactic, an unethical but powerful one, used by both the Right and the Left. Whether the description is used fairly in any particular case is a separate issue. “Big Lies” is a very accurate description of the assault by the “resistance”/Democratic Party/mainstream media against Donald Trump—can you think of a better one?—which is why Ethics Alarms used it here and elsewhere.
What would be fair to note is that Biden has often been an eager employer of Goebbels’ favorite trick himself…as noted in this post.
2. Does anyone understand why Democrats are trying to downplay the current Cuban protests against the Communist government? This makes no sense to me. Thousands of anti-regime protesters took to the streets across the island over the weekend, waving American flags and chanting “Freedom!” and anti-government slogans. Cuba has been a repressive Communist regime since Fidel Castro pulled his bait and switch with the U.S. in 1959, but the most extreme elements in the Democratic Party, the proto-Marxists, have always thrown Cuba metaphorical kisses, like Michael Moore. Barack Obama reversed decades of U.S. policy by opening relations with Cuba without requiring any human rights concessions in return. One would think an outbreak of democracy on the island would be viewed as a good thing, but Biden’s paid liar, Jen Psaki, absurdly explained that the reason for the protests was “concern about rising COVID cases, deaths, and medicine shortages” rather than political oppression.
While Republicans have immediately announced their support for the Cuban people, Reps. Bobby Rush (D., Ill.), Steve Cohen (D., Tenn.), Barbara Lee (D., Calif.), Gwen Moore (D., Wis.) and the more 70 members of Congress, including “The Squad,” of course, signed a letter asking Biden to lift Trump sanctions Cuba in March. They have not had any comment on the demonstrations so far.
1. Black Lives Matter…This is truly a date that will live in ethics infamy, or should: on July 13, 2013, the acquittal of George Zimmerman, accused of murdering Trayvon Martin in 2012, prompted Oakland, California resident Alicia Garza to post a message on Facebook containing the phrase “Black lives matter.” Garza said she felt “a deep sense of grief” after Zimmerman was acquitted (as he should have been and had to be based on the evidence.) She said she was further saddened that many people to blamed the victim, Martin, and not the “disease” of racism.
As has marked the soon to emerge Black Lives Matter movement, facts didn’t matter to Garza. Martin was the aggressor, and was the only one of the two parties involved who made race-related comments prior to the confrontation. Zimmerman shot Martin in self-defense, and the prosecution’s own investigator testified to that fact. Never mind: Patrice Cullors, a Los Angeles community organizer and friend of Garza’s, read her post and replied with the first instance of #BlackLivesMatter, which quickly “went viral.” Garza, Cullors and fellow activist Opal Tometi built a network of community organizers and racial justice activists using the clever but misleading name Black Lives Matter, and the phrase and the hashtag were used by grassroots activists and protests all across the country, many of them based on false narratives implying racism where no evidence of it existed, as in the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, George Floyd and others. It is now a powerful and profitable, if intellectually dishonest and divisive, force in American culture and politics. The damage the movement has already done is incalculable; the damage it will do is frighteningly uncertain.
I note that in the description of the movement on the allegedly objective History.com is that it is “simple and clear in its demand for Black dignity.” That’s laughable (but then, historians) since the name is anything but clear, and deliberately so. It stands as a false accusation against American society and non-black citizens that black lives do not matter to the rest of the population except the woke, and thus has spurred the attack on the nation’s legitimacy by purveyors of Critical Race Theory and the “1619 Project.” The seemingly benign slogan deftly avoids contradiction and makes dissent perilous (“What, you don’t think black lives matter, you racist?“) while being used to justify Marxism, censorship, reparations, race-based hiring, promotions and benefits, and other discriminatory activities and policies.
2. In a related July 13 note, this was also the date, in 2015, when Sandra Bland was found hanged in her cell. Bland’s name is also among those used as a BLM rallying cry, and like so many of the others, that is based on a presumption of racism and other facts unproven. On July 10, 2015, Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia pulled over 28-year-old Bland, an African American, for failing to signal a lane change. She refused to cooperate; he was unprofessional. The officer arrested her and took her to a nearby jail. Several days later, she was found dead, and an autopsy concluded she had hanged herself with a plastic bag.
Of course, Bland’s family and friends suspected that the official report of her suicide was a cover-up, because police are racists. But Bland was a police confrontation waiting to happen. She considered herself a Black Lives Matter activist, writing in one social media post, “In the news that we’ve seen as of late, you could stand there, surrender to the cops, and still be killed.” That’s ironic, because if she had just accepted the minor traffic stop without fighting with the officer, she might be alive today. Bland had at least ten previous traffic-related encounters with police in Illinois and Texas; she had been charged five times for driving without insurance, four times for speeding, and once each for driving while intoxicated and drug possession. Her last conviction was for shoplifting, and she owed $7,579 in unpaid fines at the time of her death. Encina was fired, and Bland’s family received the obligatory wrongful death settlement, in this case almost $2 million.
1. Incompetent Elected Official of the Month: Guess who! Yes, of course it is VP Kamala Harris, and this would be a stand-alone post if I hadn’t begun the day with another Kamala story. You may have heard about this one, if you don’t depend on mainstream media.
The Vice President suggested during an interview at the end of last week with BET News that voter ID laws will make it unacceptably difficult for rural voters who do not live near Kinko’s or OfficeMax to cast ballots. “In some people’s mind, that means you’re going to have to Xerox or photocopy your ID to send it in to prove who you are. Well, there are a whole lot of people, especially people who live in rural communities, who don’t — there’s no Kinkos, there’s no OfficeMax near them,” she warned. “Of course people have to prove who they are, but not in a way that makes it almost impossible for them to prove who they are.”
Naturally the interviewer, the historically unobjective Soledad O’Brien, who was the worst talking head at CNN before the whole network went to Journalism Hell, just smiled and nodded as if Harris had said that the world was round. Elsewhere, Kamala’s idiotic statement got the reaction it deserved. Harris had managed to insult rural America and show her own ignorance in one single gaffe. Kinkos hasn’t existed for several years; it’s called FedEx Office now. Wrote PJ Media’s Bryan Preston, his tongue piercing his cheek,
“Rural Americans have access to these things called ‘smartphones,’ which they can use to scan and send their IDs if they need to. They also have access to these things called ‘scanners,’ ‘printers, and these amazing devices that can scan, print, and even digitally transmit information wirelessly. It’s like magic, really. Rural Americans also have this amazing communications tech called ’email.’ They also have various means of getting their information from where it is to where it needs to be — in physical form! There’s even a whole government service dedicated to moving physical pieces of paper and even packages from place to place called the ‘U.S. Postal Service.’ We truly live in an age of miracle and wonder.”
One Tweeter writes, “She’s so misinformed and so ridiculous. It’s absurd.” Yes, It’s that trademark Harris smug laziness, all right. If she is going to keep up the dishonest Democratic talking point that voter ID is racist and a means of “voter suppression,” it would be prudent to check some facts. Harris doesn’t do that very often. The episode was reminiscent of President Bush the Elder expressing amazement at a grocery store checkout scanner, causing widespread mockery in the media over how out of touch he was. Yet I can’t find any mention of Harris’s telling botch outside of the “conservative media.” Gee, why is that? When poor Dan Quayle was VP, the fact that he misspelled “potato” was news for a week. Harris shows that she thinks of rural America as a primitive wasteland, and it isn’t newsworthy at the Times, Washington Post, CNN, CBS and the rest.
Alexander Hamilton died on this date in 1804, in a bizarre episode in U.S. history with profound ethical and political implications. There Aaron Burr fatally shot dead the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury and essential political thinker in an illegal duel at Weehawken, New Jersey. It was, of course, unethical to break the law, especially for these two men, who qualified as national leaders. Hamilton’s son had died defending his father’s honor in 1801 at the exact same spot (What was Alexander thinking?)
According to Hamilton’s “second,” Hamilton deliberately fired his weapon into the air rather than at Burr, a gentlemanly gesture and also a profoundly stupid one, if Hamilton believed half the things he had said and written about Burr’s character for years. This was why they were dueling, after all. Burr’s second claimed that Hamilton fired at Burr and missed, and the more I’ve thought abut this, the more I’ve come to believe that this is the more likely scenario. Hamilton was anything but naive, reckless or stupid. Yes, he was a crack shot, but anyone can miss. Even if the gesture of “throwing away his shot” as “Hamilton” puts it, would have impressed some adversaries and been seen as a display of mercy and an offer of reconciliation, it made no sense at all with this adversary. Moreover, Hamilton considered Burr a threat to the nation—he was right about that—why wouldn’t he shoot him? Whatever really happened, Burr, who had the second shot, killed Hamilton with a ball that went through his stomach into his spine. Hamilton died the next day.
This ended Burr’s political career: Would killing Burr have ended Hamilton’s? Probably, but Burr was the one who had issued the challenge. Maybe Hamilton would have been excused by the public. Maybe he would have ultimately become President; all the Founders of his magnitude except Ben Franklin did. For good or ill, Alexander Hamilton would have been a strong and probably transformative leader. But if he hadn’t died at Weehawken, it’s unlikely that we would have “Hamilton” the musical….
1. Baseball, hotdogs, and a bystander hero. Dr. Willie Ross, the father of Washington Nationals pitcher Joe Ross, saved the life of a choking fan midway through yesterday 10-4 Giants win over Washington at Oracle Park in San Francisco. Ross saw that a female spectator was choking, and when Ross came over to her seat to check on her, she couldn’t talk. Ross helped dislodge two pieces of a hot dog by using the Heimlich maneuver, then reached into her throat to take out the third and final piece. The woman, who is a nurse, could breath and speak at last. Ross received a standing ovation from nearby fans.