Before it is too far back in the rear view mirror, I must mention yesterday’s place among ethically momentous dates for both good and ill.
Most significantly, the ill comes to mind: it was on August 28 in 1955—the same date represented in “Back to the Future” as a time of innocence and naivete—that Emmett Till, a Black teen , was abducted from his uncle’s home in Money, Mississippi, by two white men after a white woman told her husband that he had whistled at her and brushed against her. The boy was brutally murdered, and his death has remained an iconic symbol of Jim Crow and American racism to this day. Also on the dark side of ethics, in 1968, police and anti-war demonstrators battled on the 28th in the streets of Chicago as the Democratic National Convention nominated Hubert H. Humphrey for President despite a popular upheaval seeking a peace-seeking alternative to the Lyndon Johnson administration. In my assessment, that rioting was far, far more threatening to the U.S.’s confidence in the health of its democracy than the antics of the middle-aged clowns who swarmed over the Capitol on January 6, 2020. Less earth-shattering but still the culmination of an ethics train wreck, on yesterday’s date in 1996 the 15-year marriage of Britain’s Prince Charles and Princess Diana officially ended. The ethics lesson is how important it is for leaders and admired role models to live up to the best standards of conduct, and when they don’t, the institutions they represent suffer, sometimes irreparably.
There is at least one shining ethics milestone to salvage August 28: in 1963, more than 200,000 people heard the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. deliver his “I Have a Dream” speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., which includes the perplexing statement his followers today want to wish away: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
1. Wait; corporal punishment is still allowed in public schools? Tell me again: why do we have a Department of Education? About 70,000 public schoolchildren were abused with corporal punishment in the 2017-18 school year, which is the most recent year for which federal data is available. Nearly 4,000 schools reported using corporal punishment during that school year, and as children head back to classrooms, some teachers are dusting off their paddles. So I guess there were some positive aspects to remote schooling.
No wonder school boards assumed that parents would be supine in the face of critical race theory and transsexual propaganda, if they allow teachers to beat their children.
2. For today’s depressing example of the quality of reason, rhetoric and argument employed by high elected officials, I give you…Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont! Asked by ABC “This Week” anchor George Stephanopoulos about complaints that Biden’s $300 billion giveaway to students owing payment on their student loans, Sanders’ replied, “I don’t hear any of these Republicans squawking when we give massive tax breaks to billionaires!” Yeah, and they don’t complain about the designated hitter, either!