Category Archives: Leadership

Ethical Quote Of The Month, And Ethical Acceptance Letter Of The Decade: The University of Chicago

acceptance_letter

This is all over the web, but as an ethics site, Ethics Alarms can hardly not join the throng.

The tragedy is that we have to regard anything in this letter as the least bit remarkable. I now eagerly await the wave criticism of the message, condemning it  as insensitive and racist.They have already started. Grand View University professor Kevin Gannon argued in a blog post,

Students ought to be challenged, even made uncomfortable, in order to learn in deep and meaningful ways. And, of course, collegiate education is where students must encounter perspectives different from their own… and that’s what this Dean and the anti-trigger-warnings, no-safe-spaces crowd are counting on-that the surface veneer of reasonableness in these admonitions to the Class of 2020 will obscure the rotten pedagogy and logical fallacies that infest this entire screed…Displaying empathy for the different experiences our students bring to the classroom is not a threat to our academic freedom. Allowing for a diversity of perspectives to flourish, even when that diversity might challenge the very structure of our course and its material, is not a threat but an opportunity.

Slate calls the letter “strange” and notes..

[T]he letter’s author, John Ellison, betrays a common misunderstanding of “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces”—both of which exist for the exact purpose of “building a campus that welcomes people of all backgrounds.” Trigger warnings are not intended to shield students from controversial material; they’re intended to warn students about disturbing content so that they won’t be shocked by it.

You know, like what happens in real life: we get an early warning before anything happens that might upset or “shock” us. Ellison understands perfectly: trigger warnings and safe spaces are part of a strategy to marginzlize individuals, groups and ideas by stigmatizing them as “controversial,” “disturbing,” and “shocking.”

I’ll also be watching to see if the university administrators will stand behind their bold words.

Maybe this will serve as a splash of ice water in the faces of Dean Ellison’s spineless and feckless colleagues around the country, like those in the University of Missouri, whose capitulation to campus race-baiters and grievance bullies has cost the school over 2,000 students. It may also be the final gasp of truly liberal higher education in the U.S.

We shall see….

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Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Leadership, U.S. Society

Whose Lie Was More Newsworthy, Olympic Swimmer Ryan Lochte’s Regarding His Imaginary Mugging In Rio, Or The Obama Administration’s Regarding Paying Ransom To Iran? [UPDATED]

U.S. President Barack Obama answers a question as he and Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong hold a joint news conference at the White House in Washington, U.S. August 2, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

News Item #1:

The story that Ryan Lochte told four days ago was frightening and detailed, the Olympic gold medalist recalling a late-night robbery and a pistol pressed against his head. On Thursday, Brazilian authorities presented evidence they say contradicts that account and could turn what at first had been a deeply embarrassing incident for the Summer Games’ host country into a different kind of international incident.

The head of Rio de Janeiro’s civil police, Fernando Veloso, said the version of the events told by Lochte and three U.S. swimming teammates was fabricated. The athletes, he said, damaged a gas station bathroom early Sunday morning and were involved in a confrontation with armed security before paying about $50 to resolve the matter.

“We can confirm that there was no robbery as they described, and they were not victims as they presented themselves,” Veloso told a packed news conference, alleging the athletes had given “a fantastical version of events.”

News Item #2:

The State Department conceded for the first time on Thursday that it delayed making a $400 million payment to Iran for several hours in January “to retain maximum leverage” and ensure that three American prisoners were released the same day.

For months the Obama administration had maintained that the payment was part of a settlement over an old dispute and did not amount to a “ransom” for the release of the Americans. Instead, administration officials said, it was the first installment of the $1.7 billion that the United States intends to pay Iran to reimburse it for military equipment it bought before the Iranian revolution that the United States never delivered.

But at a briefing on Thursday, John Kirby, the State Department spokesman, said the United States “took advantage of the leverage” it felt it had that weekend in mid-January to obtain the release of the hostages and “to make sure they got out safely and efficiently.”

There is little doubt as to which of the two lies the U.S. public is being informed about most thoroughly today: It’s #1. After all, Ryan Lochte is a reality TV star, and a celebrity, and an athlete, and this is the Olympics! Up close and personal! Bread! Circuses!

The second story? Meh.What’s the big deal? So the Obama Administration paid ransom for hostages, endangering U.S. citizens all over the world, and repeatedly lied to the press and the public about it over the past two week, issuing unequivocal denials that the 400 million dollar payment and the hostage release were related in any way. So what?

On CNN this morning, the stupid, stupid, stupid story about how a group of boorish Olympic athletes (‘USA! USA!”) peed on the walls of a Rio bathroom and made up a robbery —at gun point!—story to cover up their vandalism was the subject of a full panel discussion. If the Obama version of Iran-Contra was covered at all, it wasn’t in the hour I saw.

Google News search, “Ryan Lochte”…nearly 10 million results.

Google News search, “Iran ransom”…about 220,000 results. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Sports, This Will Help Elect Donald Trump, U.S. Society

Ethics Heroes: The Nixon Foundation And The Richard Nixon Presidential Library

Pop Quiz: Who is missing from this picture from the dedication of the Nixon Library in 1990, and why?

Pop Quiz: Who is missing from this picture from the dedication of the Nixon Library in 1990, and why?

I can’t stand the Kennedy Library in Boston, with all its triumphal, sentimental hagiography of both Jack and Bobby. A presidential library will naturally try to put the best spin on the accomplishments, failures, and character deficits of its subject, but it has an obligation to history too. I once was determined to visit all of the libraries, but after the first few I decided that these structures were more like the pyramids than fair and enlightening representations of the men they honored.

The worst in this respect, as you might guess, was the infamous Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, California, which opened 26 years ago.The Watergate exhibit, approved by Nixon himself, painted Nixon as an innocent and heroic victim brought down by the media  and his sinister foes. This was certainly Nixon’s view, but it has no relationship to reality. So convinced was Congress that the Richard Nixon Presidential Library would display the same lack of ethics as its namesake that it passed a law in 1974 requiring his presidential records to be stored with the National Archives and out of the library’s control, where they might be altered or “lost.”

Nixon’s library entered the official presidential library system under the auspices of the National Archives in 2007, and to finally make it more than the presidential library equivalent of  Fantasyland, the Nixon Foundation ordered the old Watergate exhibit to be overhauled. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Government & Politics, History, Leadership

Comment Of The Day: “Sarcasm-Tainted Observations On The Milwaukee Riots”

Milwaukee rioting

Chris Marschner, a grandmaster of the Ethics Alarms Comment of the Day feature, issued another deserving one with his thoughts on the Milwaukee riots. It is a highlight of the threads generated by this topic, but there are many other highlights amid the 90+ comments, including an Alamo-like stand against overwhelming odds (and logic) by that prolific, embattled, and adamant EA progressive, deery. The whole discussion is well worth reading. Deery also authored the comment that inspired Chris’s response below.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, “Sarcasm-Tainted Observations On The Milwaukee Riots”:

For the life of me I cannot see how any rational human being can justify rioting and the looting businesses because they feel they are owed something for being “oppressed”. What the hell did the gas station or auto parts store do to them? Does that case of Cheezits being carried out of the store address all of your complaints, or is it just a partial down payment on a never ending invoice for the injustice you perceive? Sorry I have no sympathy for anyone who had myriad opportunities to become educated in a manner that would permit them to read, write, perform arithmetic calculations, and just plain think.

No amount of funding can overcome community apathy. Especially, when apathy is the root cause of the need for funding in the first place. The community needs to recognize that if it wants things to be different then it needs to come to grips with the idea that they must take on the lion’s share of the work to enjoy a better life; it cannot be bestowed upon them. It must pool its own resources first before it requests resources from others. It must demonstrate that it is committed to being responsible for the work of changing the situation. Any one who thinks jobs and opportunities will simply emerge with more government spending in areas that suggest crime is rampant needs his/her head examined. No amount of tax abatement will overcome the cost of rebuilding a business that has been burned to the ground. It should be noted that the police did not spray paint tags all over other people’s buildings. It’s not urban art, it’s vandalism. The police did not create the need for security grates over the glass windows of shops. The police did not throw litter all over the street and dump furniture and tires wherever they pleased. More importantly, within the BCPD, the officers charged with various felonies while on the force were predominantly non-white so it not always a racial issue.

I grew up in Baltimore City. I lived there from 1956-1989. I went to Balto. City public schools (BCPS). I went to Woodbourne Jr. High and graduated from Northern High in 1974. Both schools were integrated and each had its share of bad actors be they white or black. In those days black parents wanted to keep their kids away from the “element”. I don’t think that is the case today. Today we celebrate the gangsta persona.

I was neither a star pupil nor a bad student. What I did learn from my father was that college was not something I could ask for help with and no school counselor ever suggested that I consider college. I saw the battles my older brother went through to get him to fill out the financial information on the financial aid applications. My father hated to disclose his income. Perhaps it was because he felt inferior to what others made or maybe he just did not like the idea of getting government assistance. I don’t know. I just learned not to ask about college. To this day I don’t remember either parent talking to me about college except for when I was in 8th grade and I could not pass the foreign language class which was required for college prep.

I did not go to college immediately after high school. Ironically, both my parents were Baltimore City Public School teachers for much of their lives. My mother who taught English was known as that white honky bitch at Northern Parkway Junior High. That’s what the parents called her when she called them to discuss a student’s lack of progress. She got called that a lot. I saw the tears of frustration.

Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Family, Finance, Government & Politics, Leadership, Race, U.S. Society

The Pitzer College “POC Only” Roommate Wanted Ad [UPDATED]

"Now THAT's not racism. Why do you honkies have so much trouble understanding this?"

“Now THAT’s not racism. Why do you murderous honkies have so much trouble understanding this?”

A roommate-wanted notice posted on Facebook by a Pitzer College student has turned into yet another racial controversy. The student, along with two Pomona College students,  were seeking a fourth to join them in an off-campus house. The notice included “POC only” –person of color only—and this got them immediately called out as racists by some other students.

The ad is not racist. The text reflects a bias, as in “preference,” but that isn’t necessarily racism. Everyone has freedom of association in this country, or should. Human beings are more comfortable with those whom they perceive as being more like them. There is nothing wrong with that, but even if there is, it is human nature. There is nothing to be done about it, and there shouldn’t be anything done about it other than to help each other understand that tribalism is divisive and  a pre-programmed bias that we should fight, because getting past it makes us better neighbors, members of society and human beings.

Still, I don’t want to live with someone who doesn’t want to live with me, but who is going to accept me into a living situation based on a feeling of obligation. A house seeking someone else to share the rent isn’t a public accommodation, and there is no ethical principle demanding that the roommates can’t or shouldn’t specify the kind of individual they think would best complete the group. What if the other three are all white, and are seeking someone different from them to make the house more diverse? Is it equally offensive if the ad sought an athlete, or someone overweight (who wouldn’t make the three hefty roomies feel unattractive), or a good student, or an actor, or someone with a good sense of humor? Why? Such requirements are not a per se indication of anything but personal preferences, and personal preferences aren’t racism.

Is the “POC only” addendum unethical? Technically, it fails Kant’s “what if everybody does it?” test,  for if everybody did it, white students would have nowhere to live. There you have an example of where Kant’s Rule of Universality is worth musing about but often isn’t applicable. Some conduct is ethical despite Kant because the idea that it would become universal is too ridiculous. I want to live with a baseball fan. I don’t want to live with someone who is going to be listening to punk rock. If three roommates can look for a female fourth, or a gay fourth, or a Spanish-speaking fourth—and they can without nicking any ethics principles at all—then they can insist on racial or ethnic qualifications too.

Is it better ethics to be accepting of all equally? Sure it is. But not exhibiting exemplary ethics isn’t unethical. Again, it’s just human.

There is more to the story however. When some students commented on Facebook that the notice was racist, the replies from the students posting it and others expanded the controversy.

The Claremont Independent, a student paper that covers all five of the Claremont colleges (as well as two graduate schools), of which Pitzer is a member, published some of the comments, and they show the anti-white animus and double standards now roiling race relations in the U.S. Continue reading

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Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Facebook, Government & Politics, Leadership, Race, This Will Help Elect Donald Trump, U.S. Society

Sarcasm-Tainted Observations On The Milwaukee Riots

Milwaukee riots

From CNN:

Angry crowds took to the streets in Milwaukee on Saturday night to protest the shooting death of an armed man by a police officer hours earlier.
Protesters burned several stores and threw rocks at police in the city’s north side, leaving one officer injured. Smoke and orange flames filled the night sky. The incident started Saturday afternoon when two officers stopped two people who were in a car in the north side, according to the Milwaukee Police Department.

Shortly after, both car occupants fled on foot as officers pursued them, police said. During the chase, an officer shot one of the two — a 23-year-old man who was armed with a handgun, according to authorities. “He (officer) ordered that individual to drop his gun, the individual did not drop his gun,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said. “He had the gun with him and the officer fired several times.”

The man died at the scene. It’s unclear whether the second occupant of the car is in police custody.

First Observation: The dead man, the armed suspect, the man whose death was the spark for the violence, was African-American. CNN’s report doesn’t mention that at all! Why? Is the information unimportant? In fact, it is the most important feature of the incident. It pains me to say it, but riots don’t happen when white citizens are shot by police, whether the victim was armed or not. CNN’s coverage is political correctness and cowardice, not journalism. A critical fact was omitted because it is unwelcome, not because it is superfluous.

This is news manipulation and misrepresentation by omission. This is unethical journalism.

“This is CNN.” Continue reading

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Comment Of The Day: “Wait, I’m Confused: I Thought Racial Segregation Was BAD….”

america-flag-damaged

I have been writing for some time that the most disappointing and damaging failure of Barack Obama’s leadership has been the marked deterioration in racial trust, respect and communication during his administration. I raised the alarm regarding trends that began making themselves evident during the 2008 campaign, before Obama was elected. The use of race-baiting to silence political adversaries and critics. The shift of the news media, in its efforts to get the first black President elected, pound on racial fault lines while openly dismissing John McCain, a decent man, as old and white, and therefore irrelevant. Obama’s close ties to the racist Rev. Wright, and his self-evidently disingenuous denials that his “spiritual advisor’s” bigotry had any effect on his own views about America raised additional suspicions. After Obama’s election, his overtly and intentionally racialist Justice Department repeatedly signaled that racial neutrality was not a goal, with predictable resentment following from many white citizens, as it should have. The tactic of tarring his critics as motivated by racism continued, with the tea party, conservatives and Republicans being routinely compared to racists for levels of critical rhetoric that were neither excessive nor undeserved.

Then came Obama’s disastrous comments on the Trayvon Martin killing, as he chose to take sides as an angry family, race hucksters and an irresponsible press claimed that white men with guns were stalking and hunting down young black men and “children” like Trayvon because they were black. Obama, who had run for election on the promise of healing divisions, had through his leadership incompetence—no, I do not believe he intended to tear the nation apart along racial lines–sent race relations hurtling backward. So much societal carnage has resulted, including the cataclysmic candidacy of Donald Trump, the rise of Black Lives Matter,  and a frightening explosion of anti-white racism and advocacy for segregation on college campuses. That this has happened during Obama’s Presidency, of all Presidents, is nothing less than a tragedy.

Naturally, the liberal mainstream media adamantly refuses to confront this, even after manifestly absurd statements by Obama that he believes race-relations have improved. Conservative critics, for their part, have no credibility on the topic, since they are presumed to be blind to Obama’s virtues. They are also too gleeful about the President’s failure; for example, conservative pundit Glenn Reynolds posts this old tweet routinely…

exjon_racial_healing_12-17-15

…it’s mordantly amusing in its irony, but still not funny. Again, this is tragic.

Many readers here, including African Americans and Obama supporters, vehemently object to my assessment, which is undeniable on the facts and impossible to rebut. After a recent post, “Wait, I’m Confused: I Thought Racial Segregation Was BAD….”,  about black activists demanding campus spaces that are “safe” from whites while enabling, guilt-racked white administrators give such racist arguments legitimacy that would never be tolerated were the colors reversed, commenter Zoltar Speaks! authored this Comment of the Day in response to a protest by another veteran reader.

Here it is:

I’ve heard some of my nearly life-long black friends opinions shift in dramatic ways that I never would have expected, and it’s all happened since Obama was elected President. The change in attitude and rhetoric has been absolutely astounding. I think I’ve had no less than a dozen of my black friends unfriend me on Facebook for reasons that they never would have 10-15 years ago, and some others have just ceased to communicate. Some of these people have been friends from 25 to nearly 50 years – yup long before Facebook and computers when people had real face-to-face conversations and shared our lives offline. I still consider these people to be my friends and I miss their company, but some of them have built impenetrable walls between us and gone to a very dark place – racism is a very, very dark place.

Continue reading

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Filed under Comment of the Day, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Race, U.S. Society