Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! You’re Cancelled, You Racist.

Suess birthday

Today is Dr. Theodore Geisel’s birthday. Better known to the world as Dr. Seuss, the author and illustrator of such classic children’s books as “The Cat in the Hat,” “Horton Hears A Who,” and my personal favorite, “Fox in Socks” because it drives my wife crazy, was born this day in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1904. Geisel, who used his middle name and his mother’s maiden name as his nom de plume, wrote 48 books (even some for adults). His work has now sold over 200 million copies and been translated into multiple languages. His style of verse and illustrating have been imitated and parodied countless times. Jesse Jackson even read “Green Eggs and Ham” on Saturday Night Live.

Nobody ever thought of Dr. Seuss books as “racist” until recent fads, events , cancel culture and The Great Stupid washed over the land. Well, OK, not “nobody.” Ethics Alarms had a post about the Seuss Museum in Springfield cutting a piece out of a Dr. Seuss mural because three prominent children’s authors who had been invited to attend the Children’s Literature Festival at the Museum threatened to boycott the event on the theory that the mural, painted to replicate a scene from Dr. Seuss’s first book “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,”  was, they claimed, offensive. It had, said one of the grandstanding hysterics, a “jarring image” of a man with slanted eyes and a coolie’s hat using chopsticks to eat rice, because, apparently, Chinese people never wore such hats, don’t use chopsticks and hate rice. I wrote, while awarding the museum an Ethics Dunce designation (I’m thinking about adding a “Weenie of the Week”…what do you think?):

There is nothing racially jarring about Geisel’s painting of a “Chinaman” except to someone already looking for offense. Dr. Seuss’ drawings can be fairly termed cartoons. The definition of a cartoon is “a simple drawing showing the features of its subjects in a humorously exaggerated way.”  What are these juvenile children book authors asserting…that all cartoons are racially insensitive? That only cartoon of non-whites are offensive?…Normal Americans, meanwhile, understand the cartoon art form, recognize that features are exaggerated, and thus do not take drawings like those by Dr. Seuss (or Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons) as literal or malicious.

Well, silly me. I thought this was just a one-off moment of woke insanity: I have since learned that the Woke never sleep. In the post, I referenced “The Simpsons” and the fact that nobody had called for the elimination of Apu. Apu has since been cancelled as “racially insensitive.” The show also decreed that white voice actors can no longer portray black characters, so Dr. Hibbard has a new sound. Presumably “The Simpsons” will eventually seek a low IQ hick to voice “Cletis the Slack-Jawed Yokel” and a socially awkward MIT PhD. to do the voice of Prof. Frink.

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Ethics Heroes Of The Great Stupid: University Of Texas Alumni Donors

Back in October of last year, this Ethics Warm-up related the truly ridiculous story of how the University of Texas’s school song, and a beloved Texas folk song as well, was being called “racist,” and some of the schools football players were calling for it to be “cancelled.” University President Jay Hartzell reacted with Authentic Frontier Gibberish: who knows what he was saying? He outlined steps UT would take to “recruit, attract, retain and support Black students,” while his statement said that he preferred to “acknowledge and teach about all aspects of the origins of ‘The Eyes of Texas’ as we continue to sing it moving forward with a redefined vision that unites our community.” What he should have said was that there is nothing whatsoever racist about the song, and his university was not going to be bullied and race-baited into changing revered school traditions just so social justice warriors and woke mobs can add another notch to their metaphorical belts.

You see, the claim that the song has “racist undertones” is simply false. You will search for them in the lyrics fruitlessly:

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Ethics Hero: Bluefield (Va.) College President David Olive

Bluefield

The players for Bluefield College’s basketball team had done “a Kaepernick” several times prior to their games in January and February, and after being warned by school officials that this conduct was against school policy and would be punished in the future, the team stayed in the locker room during the playing of the National Anthem in the next game. But on February 9, the Bluefield players decided to defy the college and kneel during the anthem. College President David Olive informed the team’s coach, that “there would be consequences.” There were. He suspended the entire team for the next game, thus forfeiting the contest.

Good. That is exactly what he should have done.

The students were warned, and decided to test the resolve of the college in their arrogant wokeness. Now they know that not everyone backs down.

The players then proceeded to demonstrate the deficits of the American educational system, including, sadly, Bluefield. They argued a double standard, because a pro-Trump rally held near the campus showed that some protests (you know, white protests!) are acceptable to the school, but not theirs. “So it’s OK for everyone to have a Trump rally with Confederate flags, but it’s not OK for us to kneel for our people who’ve fallen,” said one player who has been speaking for the team.

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In Which I Am Admonished For A Slur, And Am Unapologetic

Former US senator John Edwards speaks 30

An episode today raised echos of a couple of Ethics Alarms topics this week, such as incivility and the use of uncomplimentary words.

Today’s presentation of the musical legal ethics seminar “Ethics Rock 2021” began with my partner Mike Messer singing “Ethics Man,” a parody of Billy Joel’s classic “Piano Man.” It was about the tenth version of that wonderfully adaptable song that I have written. This was today’s chorus (it’s usually a sing-along, but not on Zoom):

Sing us the Rules, you’re the ethics man!
Sing us the Rules today!
We’re stuck in an ethics dilemma here
And it’s your job to show us the way!

I had returned an old verse to this installment because I felt the issue of character and the fitness to practice law was an especially relevant topic. The verse was first written shortly after the John Edwards scandal was exposed.. Edwards, as you may know, never faced any professional discipline from the North Carolina bar despite what I have been told were thousands of complaints, though none were related to his legal practice…

Now John, he was running for President
While running around on his wife
And he fathered a daughter and lied like a rotter
Constructing the scam of his life.
But some lawyers say, “Hey, all that’s personal!
He isn’t unworthy of trust!
Like that guy with the huge student loan he owes
So his bar application’s a bust.”

The last part was a reference to Robert Bowman, a hard-working, honorable law grad denied membership in the New York bar for years because his student loan debt had ballooned due to no fault of his own. (He was eventually admitted.) Bowman was found to lack the character to practice law, while Edwards was (and is) still officially a lawyer in “good standing.” This is a sore point for me; I have said many times that I wouldn’t trust Edwards to mail my water bill, and for the profession to assert that he has the “moral character” to practice law is not just a double standard but a ridiculous one.

Somewhere in my riff on Edwards versus Bowman I used the term “scumbag” to describe the former Senator, and quickly got a message from one of the participants claiming that it was “inappropriate” to refer to Edwards with that slur.

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/24/2021: The Sarcasm Edition

First appearance in 2021 of my favorite Ethics Warm-Up intro. Maybe that’s why 2021 ethics has gotten off to such a rotten start…

In addition to its significance in the siege of the Alamo, yesterday’s date of February 24 has other important ethics markers, perhaps some more important than Travis’s iconic letter. Perhaps the most impact on U.S. history was this date in 1803, when Chief Justice John Marshall (no relation that has been shown to my satisfaction) handed down the landmark decision in William Marbury v. James Madison, Secretary of State of the United States, establishing the legal principle of judicial revie. That’s what gives the Supreme Court the authority to limit Congressional power by declaring legislation unconstitutional. I doubt very much that the United States would still exist as a free republic had not that case been decided as it was, yet the result was probably dictated more by partisan politics than philosophy.

Marshall, in his majority opinion, declared that acts of Congress in conflict with the Constitution are not valid law and therefore are non-binding on the courts, and that the judiciary’s first responsibility is always to uphold the Constitution. And if two laws conflict, Marshall wrote, SCOTUS has the responsibility of deciding which law applies in any given case. Periodically members of Congress, pundits and even academics have criticized the decision, but there can be little doubt that had Marshall not led the Court to make this stand, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights would have been quickly shredded.

This is particularly relevant now, when the Democrats in Congress have signaled that they want government authorities to decree what is factual and what is “disinformation,” while they also seek to weaken Second Amendment rights. Incidentally, there is a prominent statue of Marshall at the Supreme Court, and a recast in John Marshall Park, near Judiciary Square, also in D.C. Another recast is in Philadelphia. Marshall owned hundreds of slaves, which is entirely irrelevant to his essential influence on our government and values. Clearly, many, perhaps most, of the college students in the U.S. would prefer that a non-slave owner had headed the Court, even if it resulted in a nation that slipped into allowing the virtual slavery of all citizens to a national government that “knew what was best.”

1. Oh, sure. Why not? We all know that committees are so effective at leadership. A letter signed by three dozen House Democrats urge Joe Biden to relinquish full control over the country’s nuclear weapons in favor of a committee of legislators. “…Vesting one person with this authority entails real risks,” states the letter, inspired by Rep. Jimmy Panetta of California. “Past presidents have threatened to attack other countries with nuclear weapons or exhibited behavior that caused other officials to express concern about the president’s judgment.While any president would presumably consult with advisors before ordering a nuclear attack, there is no requirement to do so,” the letter adds. “The military is obligated to carry out the order if they assess it is legal under the laws of war. Under the current posture of U.S. nuclear forces, that attack would happen in minutes.”

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George Washington’s Birthday Ethics Warm-Up, 2/22/21: Happy Birthday, George! We’re Sorry Your Country Has Become Populated With So Many Ignorant, Ungrateful Fools…

portrait_of_george_washington

If there is any American whose birthday should be a national holiday, it is George Washington, born this day in 1732 in Westmoreland County, Virginia, the first of six children of Augustine and Mary Ball Washington. If I have to tell you the reasons he was “the essential man” in American history, well, I guess you’re the product of our current public school system, a recent college graduate, a Democrat, a Black Lives Matter enthusiast, or something. There is no rational excuse for every American, yes, even African-Americans, to not be grateful for this day. Martin Luther King is now the only individual to have a national holiday dedicated to his honor, while Washington’s memory was dumped into a hodge-podge of lesser figures including Franklin Pierce, William Henry Harrison and now, Donald Trump. King is worthy of his day, but to honor King over Washington is as good an example of “putting the cart before the horse” as one could find. Shame on us. True, George is not lacking honors, with the capital city named for him, a towering monument, cities and towns in many states, Mt. Rushmore, and his image on both the most-used bill and coin. Nonetheless he earned all of it, and this date should be a holiday.

On The Ethics Alarms home page, you will see to your right a link to the list of ethical habits some historians believe made Washington the remarkably trustworthy and ethical man he was, ultimately leading his fellow Founders to choose him, and not one the many more brilliant, learned and accomplished among them, to take on the crucial challenge of creating the American Presidency. Directed to do so by his father, young Washington copied out by hand and committed to memory a list called “110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation.”  It was  based on a document compiled by French Jesuits in 1595; neither the authors nor the English translator and adapter are known today. The elder Washington was following the teachings of Aristotle—another Dead White Man whom most Americans alive today couldn’t tell you Jack S-word about— who held that principles and values began as being externally imposed by authority (morals) and eventually became internalized as character. As I wrote when I first posted them here,

The theory certainly worked with George Washington. Those ethics alarms installed by his father stayed in working order throughout his life. It was said that Washington was known to quote the rules when appropriate, and never forgot them. They did not teach him to be a gifted leader he became, but they helped to make him a trustworthy one.

Would that readers would access that list more often. And politicians. And lawyers. And educators…

1. How ignorant and ungrateful? THIS ignorant and ungrateful

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The New Racism, Now Available At Cornell…Oops! Never Mind! Racism? What Racism?

Cornell racism

How brazen are our indoctrination institutions as they attempt to enshrine the new racism as an American norm? This brazen: Cornell launched a segregated rock-climbing course excluding white students, described as a class will provide a “high degree of individual attention” focusing on “BIPOC individuals and groups in rock climbing.” Campus Reform confronted school authorities about the discriminatory and facially illegal course description, and the school quickly backed down, pulled the description, changing it to one stating that the class is “open to all” students who are “interested in learning rock climbing with this special focus.”

Wow. Cornell must be really certain that all of its students have been thoroughly woked if it took an outside conservative website to get the school to reverse itself. Or perhaps they were confident that any Cornell student who had the perception, intelligence and integrity to flag this outrage would know that he or she risked being driven off campus by an angry mob, not that this would be a bad thing. I would not stay in a college run by administrators who openly discriminate like that, and it wouldn’t matter what group they were discriminating against.

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Ethics Hero: Jodi Shaw

Jody Shaw

Instead of apologizing, instead of prostrating herself and her principles to remains in good graces within an oppressive culture, Jodi Shaw sounded an alarm instead. Now she needs our support, but more than that, she must be seen as a role model for anyone else, of any political stripe or ideological tilt, who believes in the values the United States was founded to nurture.

Shaw has courage. Courage is what is desperately needed, and as has been written here too often already, it is what has so far been lacking.

I first wrote about Shaw, then a Smith College administrator, last December. Shaw, had criticized the college’s critical race theory-based “sensitivity training” required of all staff members and posted her own YouTube videos on the issue. The president of Smith College, Kathleen McCartney, issued a formal statement against Shaw that said in part:

This past week, an employee of the college posted a personal video to express their concerns about the college’s programming to promote racial justice….This employee does not speak for the college or any part of the college. Further, we believe the video mischaracterizes the college’s important, ongoing efforts to build a more equitable and inclusive living, learning and working environment.

You should know that the employee has not violated any college policies by sharing their personal views on a personal channel. The National Labor Relations Act protects employees who engage in concerted activities, including speech, with respect to workplace conditions. All members of any workplace, including Smith College, have the freedom to criticize the policies and practices of their employer.

Nevertheless, I am writing to affirm that the President’s Cabinet and I believe we have a moral responsibility to promote racial justice, equity and inclusion at Smith College. To the people of color in our community, please know our commitment is steadfast. And especially to our students of color, please know we are here for you always.

I learned about the latest chapter in Shaw’s ordeal from another Ethics Hero, Bari Weiss. who resigned as the staff editor for the opinion section of the The New York Times with a searing letter revealing the cultural oppression faced by anyone on that staff who did not conform to the mandatory progressive cant. I wrote at the time, in July of last year, “Maybe Weiss’s bold and unquestionably true letter is the metaphorical slap in the face of the mainstream media that will make journalists realize that they have squandered their credibility.” Boy, I’m a gullible Pollyanna sometimes! The Times has, if anything, gotten worse, and the Left’s institutions have become, if anything, more brazen in their efforts to punish and crush dissenters. But Weiss, like other refugees from the ideological purges like Glenn Greenwald, now has a platform at substack, where you can subscribe to support the rebels. I think of it as the metaphorical hills of Greece, where my relatives waged guerilla war on the invading Nazis in WWII while trying to protect the cradle of Western thought and philosophy.

Weiss introduces Jodi and her moment of truth by writing in part,

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Midnight Ethics Terrors, 2/17/21: Trump Attacks! Fake Law! Fake News! Fake Science!

nightterrors-orig-crop

Okay, I started this at midnight, then got the night terrors, and waited until (almost) daylight to finish…

1. Who didn’t see this coming? Yesterday, Donald Trump unloaded with both metaphorical barrels on Mich McConnell as no President, former or otherwise, has ever attacked his party’s Senate leader before. McConnell asked for it, got it, and deserved it. His post impeachment trial acquittal was a foolish attempt to turn the President’s vindication into a defeat, and a pretty transparent example of the “now that the guy who was never one of us is out of power, we can strike at him with impunity” syndrome. Is McConnell really that deluded and incompetent? He must be. He apparently doesn’t understand the cognitive dissonance scale. Amazing. See, Mitch, nobody really likes you. You have the charisma of a scrub brush. As controversial as Trump is, he’s so much higher than you on the scale…

Cognitive Dissonance

… that attacking him just drags you lower still. Don’t you get that? Now Trump has double the effect. Some prime excerpts:

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Guest Column: Mathematics As Indoctrination

Racism mathematics

by Mrs. Q

[This, a comment in last Friday’s Open Forum, which followed upon Steve Witherspoon’s directing our horrified gaze to Oregon’ teaching program that seeks to undo ‘racism in mathematics.’ The links are here, the here, and here, is presented as a Guest Column, not Mrs. Q’s first.]

This reminds me of Erika Mann’s discussion of mathematics education (Völkisches Rechnen or people’s arithmetic) under Nazi rule in the 1930’s, in her book School for Barbarians. Here’s an example (page 67):

An airplane flies at the rate of 240 kilometers per hour to a place at a distance if 210 kilometers in order to drop bombs. When may it be expected to return if the dropping of bombs takes 7.5 minutes?
-From National Political Practice in Arithmetic Lessons.

A question like this may not initially point to a scholastic propaganda problem until the other questions come into play, questions like:

  • “What was Germany’s population loss due to the Versailles Treaty?” What is the load capacity of four gas bombs?”
  • ” How many people can fit into a bomb shelter?”
  • “What percentage of the German population is home to “alien” Jews?”

It suddenly becomes more clear that these questions are preparing these kids for war…and compliance with the state.

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