The President’s “National Garden of American Heroes” Is A Guaranteed Flop. Doesn’t Anyone Do Any Research Any More?

“So today, under the authority vested in me as President of the United States, I am announcing the creation of a new monument to the giants of our past. I am signing an executive order to establish the National [Garden] of American Heroes, a vast outdoor park that will feature the statues of the greatest Americans to ever live.”

President Donald J. Trump, in his otherwise superb July 3, 2020 Mt Rushmore speech.

Ugh. I winced when I read those words, and I’m sure I was not alone. Did the President just come up with that hare-brained idea on the spot? I hope so. I hope his staff is better than  to endorse or, worse, support such a terrible, half-baked idea. It is incompetent and irresponsible, and guaranteed to be divisive. Here are three unsolvable problems:

I. The project exposed itself as ill-planned and poorly conceived immediately. The initial list of “great Americans” looked as if it had been assembled by throwing darts at a poster, with someone coming in later to try to make politically correct additions. Here is the (incomprehensible) list, in alphabetical order:

• John Adams
• Susan B. Anthony
• Clara Barton
• Daniel Boone
• Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain
• Henry Clay
• Davy Crockett
• Frederick Douglass
• Amelia Earhart
• Benjamin Franklin
• Ulysses S. Grant
• Billy Graham
• Alexander Hamilton
• Thomas Jefferson
• Martin Luther King, Jr.
• Abraham Lincoln
• Douglas MacArthur
• Dolley Madison
• James Madison
• Christa McAuliffe
• Audie Murphy
• George S. Patton, Jr.
• Ronald Reagan
• Jackie Robinson
• Betsy Ross
• Elvis Presley [2]
• Antonin Scalia
• Frank Sinatra
• Harriet Beecher Stowe
• Harriet Tubman
• Booker T. Washington
• George Washington
• Orville and Wilbur Wright

To only mention some of the choices that make no sense: How can the first group include Douglas MacArthur, who was justly fired for insubordination by President Truman, rather than Dwight Eisenhower, who coordinated the victory over Hitler in Europe, or his boss, General George Marshall? Why would Dolly Madison make the cut, while two far more important First Ladies, Abigail Adams and Eleanor Roosevelt, be omitted? I am an admirer of Davy Crockett, but he didn’t do much of anything except create the model for media-hyped celebrities and manage to get himself killed at the Alamo. There are, oh, I’d say several hundred more substantial “great Americans,” including almost every President, than Davy. If there is going to be an inventors on the list, why only the Wright Brothers? Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Steve Jobs and Alexander Graham Bell all were of equal importance.  Henry Clay’s naive compromises on slavery really did enable the slave trade. He’s a better choice than John C. Calhoun, but less deserving than Daniel Webster. Frank Sinatra? FRANK SINATRA? Ol’ mobbed-up Blue Eyes, leaving off Bing Crosby and Elvis, to name just two equally important pop singers? I’d have Sam Cooke, Buddy Holly, and Chuck Berry planted in the Garden before the likes of Sinatra. Meanwhile, why singers but no songwriters? Where’s Irving Berlin? Rodgers and Hammerstein? The Gershwins?  Hank Williams? Why singers but no dancers? Continue reading

The Disgraceful OAN T-Shirt Affair: Oklahoma State Joins The Madness

(I decided that on a Sunday morning you need a break from the “Madness! Madness!” clip, since I could justify including that one with almost every post of late.)

The Mike Gundy “scandal” at Oklahama State—he’s the football coach who is paid more than any professor—anwers the question of whether there’s a weird variation on “The Naked Teacher Principle” called “The White Big Time College Football Coach Who Wears a T-Shirt With The Name of a Conservative TV Channel Principle.” The answer appears to be “There is, but there shouldn’t be.”

This Bizarro World plot started unfolding a couple of weeks ago. I apology for missing it. I think college football is an ethical blot on higher education; I was happily unaware of what OAN stood for (One America Network), and I pay no attention to the words on T-shirts, including my own. This, however, as the George Floyd Freakout and The Great Grovel go, was  epic.

I all began when someone posted this picture of Oklahoma State’s  football head coach Mike Gundy (That’s the coach on the right) during a fishing outing with his sons.

Gundy was wearing the dreaded OAN T-shirt. Nobody knows how long he wore it or why: some days I end up donning a particular T-shirt  on it happened to be the easiest one to pick up off the floor. OAN, in case you’re as out of touch as I am, is a Fox News competitor for the conservative-tilted news market. It has been an enthusiastic promoter of President Trump, so naturally he likes it, he really likes it! Some of the network’s talking heads have also been critical of Black Lives Matter, especially lately.

Thus it was that when Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard, an African-American the Heisman Trophy contender, who was the nation’s leading rusher last season,  saw that photo on social media, he retweeted it with an exclamation of outrage:

Continue reading

Independence Day With Ethics Alarms 3…Ethics Fireworks (and Duds)!

1. Gaslighting! Seth Abramson is an American professor, attorney, author, and political columnist whom I have been mercifully unaware of previously. In response to last night’s inspiring speech by the President (inspiring unless you’re in favor of gutting U.S. culture and rights), he tweeted,

Someone please explain to Seth that if you don’t pay better attention than that to what’s going on, you are ethically obligated to shut the hell up.

2. I have to mention this because it’s embarrasses Harvard. Claira Janover, who graduated in May from the once-respectable university with a degree in government and psychology, saw a  short clip she posted on Tik Tok where she threatened to stab anyone who had  “the nerve, the sheer entitled caucasity to say ‘all lives matter'” go viral.

“I’ma stab you,” the Connecticut native says on the clip, zooming in close on her face. “I’ma stab you, and while you’re struggling and bleeding out, I’ma show you my paper cut and say, ‘My cut matters too,’” she added.

Oh, I get it! She’s making an analogy between someone saying “All Lives Matter” as a retort to “Black Lives Matter,” saying killing non-black people isn’t an issue because black people being killed is to white people being killed  like a stabbing is to a paper cut! Or something like that. It’s not a very good analogy. No, it wasn’t a “a true threat,” either. It was just an ugly and obnoxious video that signaled that she is irresponsible and intolerant of other points of view. This impugned the judgment of her new employers, the international accounting and consulting firm Deloitte, and they canned her. Of course they did. She should have known that would happen.

I would have fired her just for saying “Ima stab you.” Corporations don’t tend to pay huge fees to people who say, “Ima” anything.

Rather than being accountable, Janover has decided to play the victim, claiming Trump supporters are at fault for her fate, and attacking her ex-employer.

“I’m sorry, Deloitte, that you can’t see, ” she said, “that you were cowardice [sic] enough to fight somebody who’s going to make an indelible change in the world and is going to have an impact.” If she keeps this up, she may successfully ensure that nobody hires her, and though she will no doubt claim otherwise, it will have nothing to do with racism.

Good job, Harvard! Continue reading

Independence Day With Ethics Alarms 1… Ethics Quote Of The Month: President Donald Trump

“It is time for our politicians to summon the bravery and determination of our American ancestors. It is time. It is time to plant our flag and to protect the greatest of this nation for citizens of every race in every city in every part of this glorious land. For the sake of our honor, for the sake of our children, for the sake of our union, we must protect and preserve our history, our heritage, and our great heroes. Here tonight before the eyes of our forefathers, Americans declare again, as we did 244 years ago, that we will not be tyrannized, we will not be demeaned, and we will not be intimidated by bad, evil people. It will not happen.”

President Donald J Trump, speaking at Mt. Rushmore last night, and aggressively defending the United States of America, its Founders, its history and culture.

Bravo.

Last night’s speech, a ringing assertion of American greatness and a defiant condemnation of those who would topple it, despite the inevitable Trump flourishes of exaggeration, hyperbole, and deliberate provocation, was exactly what was needed, called for, and had to be said. It was inspiring, or should have been: I wonder about anyone who could read the transcript and not be stirred. I would ask, “What happened to you?” We also now know why it was appropriate to give that speech by Mt. Rushmore. The President extolled and defended our heroes, and devoted a section of the speech to each of the Presidents on the mountain, including, as CNN said last night to its damnation, “two slaveholders.”

There are about ten passages in the speech that I could have highlighted. I picked that one because it reminded me of this speech by a fictional President in a movie I detest, “Independence Day.” I would not be surprised to learn the speechwriter had that model in mind:

“President Whitmore” is talking about space aliens trying to destroys us. The mobs of America-haters who are attacking our core values and culture remind me of the aliens in “Invasion of the Body-Snatchers,” taking over the minds and bodies of one rational citizens, and terrorizing those who won’t submit to their “conversion.” Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Let’s Have An Open Forum!”

I have not read all of the contributions to last night’s Open Forum (my Zoom presentation went fine, by the way; I hate it), but I was pointed to this comment, by Humble Talent, by many, and they were right. Heck, it earned the honor just by the sentence, “I feel like more and more, we find ourselves an army of hammers in search of nails.”

Here is Humble Talent’s Comment of the Day on honesty, politics, and the state of things, from “Let’s Have An Open Forum!“:

“If everyone woke up one day and found themselves unable to lie, the Soviet Union would fall by noon.”

—-Unknown (Although I always attributed it to Solzhenitsyn, if anyone knows who said this, I’d appreciate the assist)

I feel like more and more, we find ourselves an army of hammers in search of nails. Every problem, every emergency, every poorly worded tweet, is taken as an opportunity to circle the wagons and hammer down hard on prior positions in what can only be described as a masturbatory exercise of a scale never before seen.

One of the great lessons in my young life was that even when people have essentially the same access to information, different people will put that information through different filters, and can come up with *wildly* different takes from that information… They aren’t *necessarily* being dishonest, they could merely be wrong, or biased, or stupid… Never discount stupid… And it’s important to treat those arguments as if they were genuine statements of belief and no matter how wrong, biased, or stupid the argument might be, if the point is to convince someone to listen to you, then you have to approach the conversation with a basic respect for the other person, and not immediately blast their argument. I’m not always good at that. It’s a personal flaw.

I’ve realized that my argumentation has shifted, and I don’t know if it’s a function of the weariness I feel towards political gamesmanship right now, or if it’s just the right response to the kind of arguments I’m facing, but I find myself more often than not repeating what someone has just said to me, while paraphrasing it for clarity or removing euphemisms and asking “Do you really believe that?” Continue reading

My Ethics Conflict: Woodrow Wilson’s Name Should Have Been Removed At Princeton Long Ago, But Erasing It Now Opens The Floodgates, Part II: The Case For Expunging Wilson [Corrected]

Woodrow Wilson’s name should have never been put on

Yet President Wilson ended up being honored by having his name plastered on buildings, schools and bridges (like here in Washington, D.C) more than most Presidents, in part because influential Democratic historians, notably Kennedy family flack Arthur Schlesinger Jr., pushed the false narrative that he was a great idealist and a great leader. This required burying Wilson’s well-documented record as a racist, though the rest of his record wasn’t great either.

In Part I, I gave the official Ethics Alarms argument for not tearing down honors to Wilson now that Black Lives Matters and its allies are in full Soviet/Maoist cultural bulldozing mode. When Wilson is gone, I see little stopping the mob from tearing down Franklin D. Roosevelt memorials next, to name just one example of where this slippery slope leads.

Despite leading our nation through an existential depression and World War II, FDR had his own black marks regarding racism and discrimination, arguably as many as Wilson. In  1916, a document was discovered  showing that  Roosevelt, as Wilson’s Deputy Secretary of the Navy, personally signed an order segregating bathrooms in the Navy Department. As President, FDR wouldn’t allow his black and white White House servants to eat together.  Everyone knows (or should) that he imprisoned about 70,000 American citizens because they were Japanese, and just last year, “The Jews Should Keep Quiet: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise and the Holocaust” revealed  archival evidence of FDR’s callous and bigoted treatment of European Jews prior to and during the Holocaust.  Franklin Roosevelt was a racist and an anti-Semite. When we get into retroactively dishonoring Presidents virtually all of them are at risk.

However, there are persuasive arguments that Wilson is a special case. Continue reading

Afternoon Ethics Alarms, 6/26/2020: Ethics Zoom!

This, as some of you might recall, is the logo for the old PBS kids series, the lively cast members of which are now middle-aged and arthritic. I don’t like to think about it…

I just did a dry run of an upcoming Zoom CLE conference, and other than the fact that I look like hell, I was impressed. If there’s any enthusiasm among readers, I am think hard about holding weekly ethics symposium using the technology. I can accommodate up to a hundred participants, and the time is unlimited (though their patience surely will be.) Let me know if you’re interested!

1. I’m used to cynical, but…The Democrats voting to not even debate the GOP Senate police reform bill was so openly partisan. The party didn’t went to pass anything that would give Republicans credit for addressing the police issue, and they are counting on Pelosi’s House Bill to be rejected by the Senate so they can have another election issue to energize their base. Mark Thiessen writes,

“What Democrats should be apologizing for was their shameful vote on the Senate floor Wednesday to kill Scott’s legislation — and with it any chance of passing police reform this year. Democrats knew exactly what they were doing. As Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), one of three members of the Democratic caucus who voted to advance the Scott bill, explained, “voting against it will end the discussion of this subject in the Senate for the foreseeable future, and leave us with nothing to show for all the energy and passion that has brought this issue to the forefront of public consciousness.””

To be fair, this is “do something” legislation that will not significantly reduce incidents of police misconduct toward blacks or whites. Situations like the Atlanta shooting, mysterious shootings like the traffic shot death of 25-year-old Hannah Fizer, who was white, and falsely reported shootings (“Hands up! Don’t shoot!”) will still occur, because of the nature of police work—unless police simply stop policing out of fear. I suspect that’s what will happen, and many more Americans will die under those conditions.

To date, ten unarmed black men have been killed by police this year.

2. Some call them the “1619”riots. This is the woman the New York Times allowed to lead its inflammatory and false slavery project:

On November 21, 1995, Nikole Hannah-Jones wrote a letter to the editor of the Notre Dame University student newspaper, The Observer,to condemn a November 9, 1995 op-ed. She wrote in part,

“What responsible editor would print an article that applauds and dignifies the white race’s rape, plunder, and genocide of a whole race of people? I find it hard to believe that any member of the white race can have the audacity and hypocrisy to call any other culture savage. The white race is the biggest murderer, rapist, pillager, and thief of the modern world. Europeans have colonized and destroyed the indigenous populations of every continent of this planet. They have committed genocide against cultures that have never offended them in their greed and insatiable desire to control and dominate every non-white culture. Christopher Columbus and those like him were no different [than] Hitler. The crimes they committed were unnecessarily cruel and can only be described as acts of the devil…Africans had been to the Americas long before Columbus or any Europeans….It was not enough for whites to come to the Americas and learn, they looked upon the native people as inferior and a people to be annihilated. Their lasting monument was the destruction and enslavement of two races of people. Using Christianity as their excuse, the white race denied the native people their humanity.”

Bias? Racism? “Hate speech?” People are being fired, “canceled” and shunned in every segment of society for far less bigoted comments that are also older….but those victims of the new “Terror” are all white. The position at Ethics Alarms is that ancient excesses of rhetoric, including offensive jokes, should not be used to discredit anyone, but also that the leaders of the cancel culture should be held to their own rules. Continue reading

Stipulated: The Emancipation Statue Represents White Supremacy. It Still Has To be Protected.

Facts don’t matter to a mob. This is why indulging mobs–ever and at all—is foolish and dangerous. It is also why the current push to remove the Emancipation Statue, also known as the Freedman’s Memorial, has to be resisted, and successfully.

I know a slippery slope when I see one; I think I’ve established that since I saw this particular slippery slope  being greased five years ago. I saw that it would slide right into the Founders and an attempt to separate the United States from its origins and the brave and brilliant patriots who risked everything to attempt this experiment in liberty.

If any statute of Lincoln is allowed to satisfy the mob’s lust for vengeance and power, any memorials and honors to Jefferson and Washington are doomed, including the Washington Monument. As with the less violent and more dignified—but no less dangerous— mobs that destroyed lives and reputations during the Red Scare and McCarthy  era, politically motivated mobs like the Black Lives Matter-catalyzed demonstrators will treat each victory as a green light for escalation. It is astounding that so many supposedly educated people in government, academia, business and the arts have somehow forgotten this fact in their rush to grovel and submit, hoping, as Winston Churchill observed of appeasers, that the crocodile would eat them last.

The attack on America escalated when NFL players began “taking a knee” during the playing of the National Anthem, one of the main symbols of our nation and its values. The players and their spiritual leader, Colin Kaepernick, made incoherent efforts to explain why their disrespect during the Anthem wasn’t aimed at the melody, but at the nation it—well, the racism that—well, they never could manage to explain their logic. That’s because the protest was really aimed at the United States itself. Continue reading

Today’s George Floyd Freakout Disgrace: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 The triggering event:

The museum’s powerful chairman of European paintings, Keith Christiansen, who has worked at the Met for 53 years, posted this image on Instagram. It depicts .

Christiansen also wrote,

“Alexandre Lenoir battling the revolutionary zealots bent on destroying the royal tombs in Saint Denis. How many great works of art have been lost to the desire to rid ourselves of a past of which we don’t approve. And how grateful we are to people like Lenoir, who realized that their value — both artistic and historical — extended beyond a defining moment of social and political upheaval and change.”

The statement was entirely appropriate and true.

But as we know, Facts Don’t Matter.

The response:

The post was quickly attacked  in a tweet by the advocacy group of arts workers, Art + Museum Transparency: “Dear @metmuseum, one of your most powerful curators suggested that it’s a shame we’re trying to ‘rid ourselves of a past of which we don’t approve’ by removing monuments — and, worse, making a dog whistle of an equation of #BLM activists with ‘revolutionary zealots.’ This is not OK.”

Responses to the tweet were similarly critical.

The reality:

  • Removing monuments is cultural suicide, and paves the road to historical ignorance.
  • BLM activists are “revolutionary zealots,” and denying it, or trying to punish those with the honesty and integrity to say so, won’t alter that fact.

Here is how Hawk Newsome, the president of Greater New York Black Lives Matter, described the movement in an interview with Martha MacCallum on Fox News, as reported by the NY Post:

“If this country doesn’t give us what we want, then we will burn down this system and replace it. All right? And I could be speaking figuratively. I could be speaking literally. It’s a matter of interpretation… Let’s be very real…. What is this country rewarding? What behavior is it listening to? Obviously not marching. But when people get aggressive and they escalate their protests, cops get fired, Republican politicians talking about police reform… Wow, it’s interesting that you would [ask what Black Lives Matter hoped to achieve through violence] because this country is built upon violence. What was the American Revolution? What’s our diplomacy across the globe? We go in and we blow up countries and we replace their leaders with leaders who we like. So for any American to accuse us of being violent is extremely hypocritical….. I think you should be applauding me, seeing how you guys are huge supporters of the Second Amendment….. But it seems to be the hypocrisy of America that when black people start talking about arming themselves and defending themselves, [that] talk is ‘violent.’ But when white people grab assault rifles and go to our nation’s, their state capitals, it’s all good… I just want black liberation, and black sovereignty. By any means necessary.”

Funny, that sure sounds like revolutionary zealotry to me. Continue reading

Is This The Most Incompetent Statement From The President Yet? I’m Trying Hard to Think Of A Worse One…

Just a little too hard on the facepalm…

Today President Trump tweeted,

“Cases are going up in the U.S. because we are testing far more than any other country, and ever expanding. With smaller testing we would show fewer cases!”

Now, this could be a joke. It should be a joke, because the statement is per se idiotic. Cases are doing whatever they are doing regardless of whether they are identified or not. Not knowing about a case of a virus infection, or a thousand cases, because we aren’t testing enough to find them, doesn’t make the cases disappear. This is so obvious, and the opposite assertion so ridiculous, that one almost has to believe that Trump’s  tweet is a joke. After all, the logical extension of that tweet would be that the pandemic could be eliminated if we ceased testing. He can’t possibly think that.

Right? RIGHT?

RIGHT???

Continue reading