Ethics Quote Of The Month: The 1776 Report

1776 report

A more recently proposed remedy is called the “New Civics” (or “Action Civics”). The progressive approach to education rests on the faulty notion that knowledge concerning long-term human and social concerns is divided between “facts” (scientific data separated from judgments about right and wrong) and “values” (preferences about moral matters, such as justice, which are said to have no objective status). Most students, yearning to make the world better, find the study of “facts” boring and meaningless. The New Civics approach is to prioritize a values-oriented praxis over fact-based knowledge. As a result, New Civics uses direct community service and political action (such as protesting for gun control or lobbying for laws to address climate change) to teach students to bring change to the system itself. Under this guise, civics education becomes less about teaching civic knowledge and more about encouraging contemporary policy positions…”

—-From the section on civic education in the 33-page report of the “1776 Commission,” which was charged with stating the bedrock values and principles underlying the United States of America since its founding, and how to honor them, strengthen them, and preserve them.

The 1776 Commission’s mission was to “enable a rising generation to understand the history and principles of the founding of the United States in 1776 and to strive to form a more perfect Union.”

The Commission did a pretty good job; not perfect, by any means. It’s a big improvement over the “1619 Project,” which schools immediately began using in curriculum, though that is admittedly faint praise. Historians, who belong to a discipline that has been almost completely co-opted by progressive bias, mocked the report for, for example, suggestion that the public schools and universities teach anti-Americanism. TAnti-whie, ant-American BU professor and race-huckster Ibram X. Kendri tweeted that “this report makes it seems as if …. the demise of slavery in the United States was inevitable.”

The demise of slavery was made inevitable with the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and yes, public schools and universities are indeed indoctrinating students against America and core U.S. cultural values.

I recommend reading the full report, here.

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My Unethical Inauguration Trivia Question

Washington Inaug

Today began with an unethical Presidential trivia question from a friend, who couldn’t even wait for me to get up, and left it with Grace. The question? “What was the warmest Presidential inauguration?” His answer: Gerald Ford, who was sworn in after President Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974, and it was 89 degrees. However, the question was misleading (and knowing this guy, deliberately so), especially since it was asked on Inauguration Day, which is what we generally mean when we we refer to a President’s inauguration. Vice-Presidents who take over the job don’t get “inaugurations,” although it is technically correct to call the beginning of anything an inauguration. Have you ever heard or read about Lyndon Johnson’s swearing in on Air Force One on November 22, 1963 as his “inauguration” after President Kennedy was assassinated? Neither have I. He was “sworn in.” A Presidential Inauguration with an upper case “I” always refers to Inauguration DAY, but as my wife pointed out, you can’t tell over the phone whether a word is capitalized.

Millard Fillmore was also sworn into office during a Washington, D.C. summer, on July 10, 1850, after President Taylor expired. I can’t find any reference to the temperature, but it often tops 90 in July here. If we are discussing Inaugurations with a big I, Ronald Reagan gets credit for the warmest modern ceremony at 55 degrees for his first term , and also the modern record for the coldest January D.C. day at 7 degrees when he took his second oath.

My guess this morning, without checking, was that the warmest Inauguration record belongs to George Washington. The first inauguration ceremony was held on the balcony of Federal Hall in New York City on April 30, 1789. (It had been delayed from the original March date because such a throng was expected, and more time was needed to prepare.) Accounts say there was sunshine and a temperature of around 60 degrees for that event. (That’s another problem with my annoying friend’s “gotcha!” question: weather stats for the 19th and 18th century are often sketchy.) I think my guess is probably right, too. After George Washington, the inauguration date became March 4th where it stayed until 1937; it was changed to January 20th. If the day falls on a Sunday, the event is moved to the 21st.

Ethics Reflections, 1/19/2021: Good-Bye, Thanks, And On Behalf Of America, I’m Sorry, President Trump

Trump 2020

As I have said before, every American President is owed the thanks and gratitude of U.S. citizens. It is a hard job, a lonely job and a often killing job. Nobody takes it on without suffering and sacrificing a great deal. Nobody takes it on and accepts the massive responsibilities the job entails without wanting to do a good job for his country and fellow citizens. Those who say or think otherwise are broadcasting their ignorance, and failing their own civic responsibilities.

Donald J. Trump was a fascinating President. All 45 have been different, but he is a true outlier, in background, experience, and orientation. I was never a supporter of Trump when he ran, nor an admirer before he ran, nor an enthusiastic adherent when he was in office. As an observer, a presidential history fanatic and a student of leadership and presidential character, I found him to be infuriating, surprising, troubling, and in the end admirable in some ways.

He was also surprisingly successful, though the news media would never give him credit, and though much of what he was successful at upset progressives, to put it mildly. President Trump was unlucky, but many Presidents are; a game I used to play was naming a period in U.S. history when a great President would have failed and another when a “failed” President would have been great. Trump was ultimately defeated by a worldwide pandemic that ruined the excellent economy that his policies had largely created. I doubt that the despicable effort by the AUC to blame the extent of the pandemic on him was ultimately the reason for his defeat; American Presidents usually get the credit when things are good, and get the blame when they aren’t, regardless of the reasons. One of the Big Lies wielded by Trump’s foes was that everything was terrible when in fact things were remarkably good. The pandemic ensured that much was terrible for many months leading up to the election. Few, if any, Presidents could have been re-elected under such conditions.

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Saturday Ethics Alerts, 1/16/21: “Nevermore!” If Only…

Raven Addams

The 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, prohibiting the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors for beverage purposes,” was ratified by the requisite number of states on this date in, 1919. It was a great, botched, ethics experiment. Alcohol was too far embedded in the culture for too long and in too many ways, and the laws prohibiting alcohol were badly drafted and engendered public resentment and contempt. Still, as the Ken Burns documentary on the topic made clear, the damage being caused by alcohol abuse before Prohibition was permanently slowed down and reversed by the ban, though the ban itself was doomed from the start.

1. Quote of the Day: I just finished watching “We Bought A Zoo” again, and it reminded me of the quote, alluded to in the film, by the real life English man who did buy a zoo, and whose story was transferred to America in the film staring Matt Damon. Benjamin Mee said in his book (with the same title as the film) about the adventure, “You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”

He’s absolutely right, and this principle has enriched my own life too many times to count.

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Lessons In Legitimacy From The War Of The Roses

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Guest post by Steve-O-in NJ

In the year 1399 a nobleman of the House of Lancaster named Henry of Bolingbroke ousted Richard II of the house of Plantagenet, son of Edward III, from the throne of England, partly over alleged tyranny and mismanagement (possibly brought on by a personality disorder), but just as much over pride, power, and differences regarding how to govern. Henry IV’s reign was fraught with problems as the nobles battled for power and influence under an unconsolidated rule, including Henry “Hotspur” Percy’s revolt, an attempt to restore Wales’ independence by Prince Owen Glendower, even an attempt to restore Richard to the throne in something called The Epiphany revolt. After all, once someone has ousted a rightful ruler by force (or fraud or corruption), why can’t he be ousted by force?

Henry IV died at 45 due to less than wonderful health. Henry V, Prince Hal, followed his father to the throne. Though Shakespeare portrays him as a hero, and he did achieve some great feats on the battlefield, he died at 35 (previously thought to be of dysentery, but now thought of as probably heatstroke from hacking and banging in full armor in August) leaving a young and mentally infirm son to inherit the throne as Henry VI. The English nobles hadn’t forgotten the recent dynastic struggle, and there was no reason for another nobleman, named Richard of York (you need a scorecard to keep track of all these Richards and Henrys), also a cadet branch of the Plantagenet house, like the Lancasters were, not to decide to press his own claim to the throne, starting the 30-year dynastic struggle known as the Wars of the Roses, since the Lancaster symbol was a red rose and the York symbol was a white rose.

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Nancy And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Impeachment

Pelosi mask2

Here is all you need to know: Newly elected Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene announced yesterday on Twitter that she plans to file articles of impeachment against President-elect Joe Biden for abuse of power.

Of course she is. Why not? The Democrats, in their unhinged rush to do anything and everything they could think of to undermine President Trump from before he took office, have guaranteed this kind of impeachment-as-spite will be the new smear of choice by opposition parties. Ironically, this also means that impeachment as a serious tool of democracy to remove a genuinely criminal or position-abusing POTUS has been ruined. As soon as the GOP gets control of the House, which I suspect will be in two years, Republicans will begin abusing impeachment just as Democrats did for the last four years. They’ll do it for revenge, They’ll do it to get even. They’ll do it to harass the Biden Administration. They’ll do it, as Rep. Maxine Waters kept advocating, because the had a majority and they could.

The talk about Trump being impeached twice “staining his legacy” is delusional. If the contrived impeachments are such a badge of shame, why wasn’t the first one mentioned in the debates? In Democratic campaign ads? Why wasn’t it an issue at all? It didn’t show up in the polls, it didn’t cost Trump any discernible support (though the House Democrats lost seats). It’s obvious why. The impeachment was a purely partisan affair, and while Bill Clinton’s impeachment was similarly one-sided, at least there was a valid argument that he had committed one or more “high crimes.” Clinton had lied to a grand jury, and lied in a court hearing under oath, both sufficient to get a lawyer disbarred (and in fact enough to get Clinton disbarred, though he quit the Arkansas bar first.) Democrats began then to turn what was supposed to be a bi-partisan enforcement of leadership standards into a matter of protecting one’s own (as long as his poll numbers were strong, anyway.) Democrats also set the precedent of treating an impeachment as no big deal, when the party featured Bill Clinton as a ballyhooed speaker at several conventions. Bill didn’t seem embarrassed at all.

As ridiculous as the first impeachment was, the current one makes it look like a model effort. The House didn’t bother to present complete evidence or have more than a perfunctory debate. If it were governed by prosecutor ethics—and it should be, when it is preparing the equivalent of an indictment—the Democratic House majority would be sanctionable.

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Quote Ethics: Rep. Miller’s Hitler Quote

jojo

I’d call this an ethics train wreck if it wasn’t so stupid.

During a rally for the conservative Moms for America, Mary Miller, a freshman Illinois Republican member of the House, said conservatives would lose unless “we win the hearts and minds of our children. This is the battle. Hitler was right on one thing. He said, ‘Whoever has the youth has the future.’”

Responding with classic “gotcha!” verve, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said in an interview about Miller, “She’s been on this earth long enough to know that invoking the beliefs of Hitler as being right in any respect is inappropriate and wrong. It’s wrong enough that she should not be in Congress.”

Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) piled on, saying that Miller should resign and be replaced with “someone who better understands the sacrifices our brave service members made during World War II.” Illinois’ Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Miller’s comment at the rally “disgusting.” Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger called the Hitler comments “garbage.” Echoing, I’m sure, many shameless progressive pundits, Boston Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham described Miller in a column as “the first-term representative from Illinois who had quoted Hitler approvingly at a “Save the Republic” rally the day before.

Naturally, Rep. Miller had to grovel a clumsy apology:

Miller apology

What’s going on here? Stupidity, grandstanding, dishonesty, virtue signaling, oh, lots of things.

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Prelude To “The Pandemic Creates A Classic And Difficult Ethics Conflict, But The Resolution Is Clear,” Part III… Ethics Quote Of The Century: President Donald J. Trump

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“Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.”

—–President Donald J. Trump, writing on Twitter in October, after he tested positive

When everybody is attacking and insulting the President now, especially those who didn’t have the guts to do so when he wasn’t a lame duck and they were still afraid of him, this seems like a propitious time to give him due credit for an important and perceptive statement that perfectly expresses the message of the final installment of an Ethics Alarms series that began way back in May.

The sentiment the President succinctly and eloquently expressed was quintessentially American, as well as identical to what other leaders have been lauded for in the past. President Trump, in contrast, was attacked and condemned for expressing this simple truth. He “downplayed the deadly threat of the virus” said the Times. “He isn’t taking the pandemic seriously!” erupted Vogue. After all, the virus “ruined” Amanda Kloot’s life! How dare he not tell as all to be terrified, and to make all of our plans and calibrate our decisions and goals based on the assumption that doom was nigh.

Funny, I don’t recall historians condemning FDR for “downplaying” the threat of the Great Depression when he said,

I don’t recall the British accusing Winston Churchill of downplaying the threat posed by Nazi Germany while hundreds of thousands of British troops were nearly trapped an Dunkirk, and he announced to Parliament, “We will never surrender!”:

This is because the news media, tunnel-visioned health experts, and elected officials who want to make Americans dependent of the government psychologically and factually, want the nation to be fearful. They want us to surrender to the pandemic. They want us to allow it to control out lives. And for most of this year, it has.

President Trump is among the Americans I would view most unlikely to utter an ethical statement, much less a great one, but this was a great statement, essential, inspirational, and right.

I assume this is sufficient notice of what the conclusion of Part III will be.

[If you review the linked post, note that every one of the ten stipulation I laid out in May are still accurate.]

Comments Of The Day: “The Friday Ethics Alarms Open Forum” ( Forced Cultural Shifts Thread) [Corrected!]

Inquisition

This is really an Ethics Question and Answer of the Day.

Steve Witherspoon [ Notice of Correction: I erroneously attributed this to the wrong Steve, not that Steve-O-in NJ doesn’t also ask provocative questions. I apologize to Steve W, and thank Other Bill for the correction…] asked a provocative question in our last Open Forum, which is what the Ethics Alarms open forums are for:

When a large segment of a society wants to shift their culture in a very major way and in a way that has historically been widely opposed, is using propaganda and intimidation to “force” the desired cultural shift on a population ethical, in other words, when trying to shift culture does the ends justify the means?

Before answering, think about major cultural shifts in the USA’s history. A few examples of major cultural shift are when the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights and the Constitution were written or when slavery was abolished or when electricity and phone lines were wired across the USA or when automobiles began to gradually take over the streets across the USA or when airplanes became common place or when the population began to shift from print media and word of mouth as their only sources of information to radios and then to televisions or the civil rights marches in the 1960’s. There are a multitude of examples of major cultural shifts in the United States.

So…

When trying to shift culture, does the ends justify the means?

Commenter Ryan Harkins provided an excellent and thought-provoking answer:

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Ethics Alarms Ethics Check: Did Joe Biden Call Ted Cruz And Josh Hawley “Nazis”? [Revised]

Big Lie

I don’t do factchecks, I do ethics checks. Both GOP Senators Ted Cruz and and Josh Hawley have leaped on a Joe Biden attack and said that the President Elect called them “Nazis.” Many conservative pundits and websites have similarly accused Biden of the ultimate “otherizing.”

Biden did not call Cruz and Hawley Nazis.

He told reporters in Wilmington, Delaware, where Joe is God,

“They should be just flat beaten the next time they run. The American public has a real good, clear look at who they are. They’re part of the big lie.Goebbels and the great lie. You keep repeating the lie, repeating the lie.”

Because Joseph Goebbels and Adolf Hitler defined the Big Lie tactic–that’s what Biden is referring to when he says “Goebbels and the great lie”— and though they authored one of the biggest Big Lies of all time, saying that a politician or a political party is using the Big Lie tactic cannot be the equivalent of calling that politician Hitler, Goebbels, or a Nazi. The reason is that long before the two Nazi propaganda experts mastered the Big Lie, it had been used extensively for centuries, and it has been used ever since often with great effectiveness, always unethically, by parties and politicians who could not possibly be called Nazis in their beliefs, policies, values or methods. The Big Lie is now a standard political weapon. The idea is to make a public assertion that is so horrifying and outlandish that the public demands that it be denied by its target, and argued about. The genius of the Big Lie tactic is that forcing the argument itself gives the Big Lie credibility. The approach of simply ignoring Big Lies and saying by word or action, “That doesn’t even justify a rebuttal, and I won’t dignify it with one” usually doesn’t work.

I swear, the first example of this that jumped into my head was Harry Reid’s intentional slur during the 2012 Presidential campaign that Mitt Romney had paid no taxes for the previous decade. When asked about his Big Lie after the election, Reid answered, “Romney didn’t win, did he?”

The Big Lie tactic is all about the ends justifying the means.

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