A Critical Race Theory Primer

Guest post by JP

(From an Ethics Alarms Open Forum)

A while ago I told you all about my opportunity to run for the school board. I didn’t win (not even close). The incumbent and a teacher at the local university were the winners. I (and another conservative candidate) decided that we were going to do our civic duty and attend the meetings anyway (they are open to the public). We learned that the next one was going to have someone there proposing CRT for our school system. This worried me and the other woman a lot, so we decided to prepare a rebuttal.

CRT (Critical Race Theory) is a ideology that asserts that at its core the United States is a fundamentally racist country. This means that all aspects and institutions such as our system of government, our laws, our economy, and equal protection are built upon protecting white supremacy and keeping down black people and minorities. However, CRT does not limit itself to only white supremacy; it also seeks to protect people from so called white institutions such as capitalism and patriarchy, and the nuclear family.

The idea of CRT is not new, going back at least 40 years. It is typically attributed to two CRT scholars, Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic. Theirwork is built upon a twisted definition of racism that isn’t what the average person would understand. Most people understand racism to be prejudice against a particular person or group of individuals based on skin color (or perhaps even culture). Going back to their book, “Critical Race Theory: An Introduction,” Stefancic and Delgado argue there is no objective way to define racism, essentially arguing that it is whatever the everyday experience is for a person of color in this country. This leads us to our first two big problems with CRT: Interest convergence and  lived experience. Continue reading

Not Science, Not Journalism, But Advocacy, And Bad Advocacy At That: Res Ipsa Loquitur And The New York Times’ “The Science of Climate Change Explained”

Climate change propaganda

Last month, the New York Times devoted an entire section of its weekly “Science Times” section to an extensive brief for climate change and the policies to undo it, reverse it, mitigate stop it—choose your favorite words. Like virtually everything the Times does now, this was political advocacy, cleverly (cough!) placed in a section that expressly denies its bias and politics. Many things were notable about the section nonetheless; for example, it was written in a style that would be more appropriate for fourth graders, telling us how dumb the Times and their political allies think the public is, and not even the general public, but the portion of the public that reads the New York Times. Furthermore, the piece signals repeatedly its failure by promising more than it can deliver. It begins by promising “facts, evidence, and proof,” but much of what the Times’ reporter, Julia Rosen, calls “proof” is nothing of the kind, and what she calls evidence is subject to other interpretations. She makes it clear on the way that she has made up her mind, calling anyone who questions her conclusions “denialists.” Because she is in the throes of confirmation bias, she can write something like this without either ethics alarms or logic alarms sounding:

“There’s no denying that scientists love a good, old-fashioned argument. But when it comes to climate change, there is virtually no debate: Numerous studies have found that more than 90 percent of scientists who study Earth’s climate agree that the planet is warming and that humans are the primary cause. Most major scientific bodies, from NASA to the World Meteorological Organization, endorse this view. That’s an astounding level of consensus given the contrarian, competitive nature of the scientific enterprise, where questions like what killed the dinosaurs remain bitterly contested.”

But science isn’t determined by a popular vote. The number of scientific questions through the centuries that the majority of scientists had spectacularly wrong and the minority of contrarians had right are too numerous to list. Nor is it an “astounding” level of consensus in a field now overwhelmingly weighted on one side of the political spectrum, in a topic in which dissenters are intimidated, denigrated, and punished academically, professionally, and financially. We are also treated to irrelevancies like this by Rosen: “[Frank] Luntz, the Republican pollster, has also reversed his position on climate change and now advises politicians on how to motivate climate action.”

Oh! A pollster now supports climate change! That certainly settles the issue. Wasn’t this supposed to be about science?

Read the whole piece, which is begging for a thorough fisking. It would be a useful classroom project in critical thinking, if schools taught critical thinking any more. The last section, however, “What will it cost to do something about climate change, versus doing nothing?” is the smoking gun. All of the certainly and “proof” Rosen promises evaporates in desperate double talk, intentional vagaries and contradictions. For example,

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Who Is Surprised To Hear That “Propaganda Causes People To Grossly Overstate Police Killings of Blacks”?

Who? Well, probably your friends on social media who think you’re a racist because you point out that Black Lives Matter is spreading lies and hate.

I read with interest this feature yesterday in my New York Times: “Few Charges, Fewer Convictions: The Chauvin Trial and the History of Police Violence.”

It covered two full pages—you know, it was important—and was pure propaganda: deliberately misleading, contoured to make a political argument under the guise of news analysis. I classify the reporters, Aidan Gardiner and Rebecca Halleck, as ethics villains, along with whatever editor gave a green light to publish this deliberate deceit.

It begins,

For many observers, the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged in George Floyd’s death, has felt like the culmination of years of outrage and grief over police killings of Black people in America. Video of the arrest that led to Mr. Floyd’s death inspired demonstrations that touched every corner of the country last summer, with protesters demanding justice for Mr. Floyd.

The Times reviewed dozens of similar cases in which encounters between Black people and police ended fatally. Though many cases prompted public outrage, that did not always translate to criminal indictments. In some cases, police officers were shown to have responded lawfully. In others, charges were dropped or plea agreements were reached. Some have resulted in civil settlements. But very few have resulted in convictions at trial.

These cases offer valuable points of comparison about what issues — video evidence, drug use, whether the person who died was armed — proved decisive in each outcome and what consequences, if any, officers faced. Even as the trial has unfolded, several events, including the killing of Daunte Wright just a few miles from Minneapolis, have provided a grim reminder that Mr. Floyd’s death is one in a decades-long history of fatal encounters.

Then we get a list of cases where blacks died as a result of police action. The facts of the cases are summarized briefly, often leaving out important facts. We are told, for example, the Eric Garner was “confronted” by police but not that he resisted arrest, nor that he weighed over 300 pounds. The Times reporters don’t deem it significant that Mike Brown tried to take away the officer’s gun, or that he was shot while charging the cop. In the case of Tamir Rice, the Cleveland 12-year-old shot while playing with a realistic toy gun that had its red tip removed, the article says that “a 911 caller reported seeing a person with a gun but said that it was ‘probably fake’ and that the person was ‘probably a juvenile,'” but does not add the crucial detail that these statements were not relayed to the officer.

I know most of the cases mentioned in the piece; for those I do not, I assume that I am being similarly misled. The Times isn’t reporting or doing legitimate analysis; this is advocacy, and unethical advocacy. Facts that would undermine the political agenda of the reporters, and by extension, the Times, are omitted. That is lying by omission.

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The New Fascists Among Us, Part II: The American Medical Association

The tweet above is the smoking gun that proves the attitude toward freedom of thought, opinion and expression in the American Medical Association, a group that most Americans believe is dedicated to the area of expertise of its members: health and medicine. The tell-tale words of the fascist are right there: “harmful podcast and tweet,” because words that challenge the required orthodoxy must not be allowed, and “We are taking steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again,” meaning intimidation, punishment, indoctrination, and censorship. These are the tools of those who fear free speech, and who demand compliance with mandated beliefs.

Once the damning tweet was exposed by, among others, Campus Reform, the American Medical Association took it down. There is no reason to do this unless the group realizes that it reveals too much. This tweet, however remains:

That tweet exposes the AMA for what it is: a political ally of an ambitious rights-repressive regime, and an organization that is abusing its perceived authority and the public trust. As with a similar recent proclamation by the CDC, firearms and the Second Amendment are not the proper concern of the AMA. Using the power of a collective professional organization to lobby publicly or privately for restrictions on American rights unrelated to medicine is an abuse of power and a misrepresentation. (The American Bar Association, and many, many others, engage in the same insidious mission creep. It is why I refuse to belong to the ABA.)

In past posts on this topic, I have noted that if my doctor started questioning me about whether there is a firearm in my home (there is), I would a) end the discussion, b) leave the office and c) find a new doctor, just as I would if he quizzed me about how fast I drove or what kind of dog I owned. Physicians are authoritarian by nature, and I suppose it is to be expected that they would gravitate toward totalitarian government and its methods. Expected, I say, but not tolerated or excused, at least by me.

Nobody else should tolerate or excuse it either.

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If A Saturday Ethics Warm-Up Posts And Nobody Reads It….3/27/2021

Tree falls

Ah, Saturday! When about 12 people seem to be interested in ethics….when traffic falls off to a trickle here after noon…when it’s even more discouraging posting now than before the post 2020 election crash…when I get to read websites with hordes of visitors post about issues I posted on here days ago….when writing the blog seems even more futile and pointless that it usually does.

1 Here’s some good news…at least one Hollywood star knows her limitations. Aging sex-symbol and “Avengers” star Scarlett Johansson is apparently secure enough, brave enough or dumb enough to tell her colleagues, as they need to be told, “Shut up and act.” She said in interview with “The Gentlewoman,” a British magazine,

“I don’t think actors have obligations to have a public role in society Some people want to, but the idea that you’re obligated to because you’re in the public eye is unfair. You didn’t choose to be a politician, you’re an actor. Your job is to reflect our experience to ourselves; your job is to be a mirror for an audience, to be able to have an empathetic experience through art. That is what your job is. Whatever my political views are, all that stuff, I feel most successful when people can sit in a theater or at home and disappear into a story or a performance and see pieces of themselves, or are able to connect with themselves through this experience of watching this performance or story or interaction between actors or whatever it is. And they’re affected by it and they’re thinking about it, and they feel something. You know? They have an emotional reaction to it – good, bad, uncomfortable, validating, whatever.That’s my job. The other stuff is not my job.”

Thank-you. What she neglected to say was that shooting off their generally under-informed mouths about political matters actively undermines their jobs, thanks to the power of cognitive dissonance. For example, I literally cannot stand watching any film with Alec Baldwin or Robert De Niro in it at at this point. Their characterizations, no matter how well performed, are drowned out by their obnoxious public declarations.

2. As the Star-Tribune attempts to intimidate the Chauvin trial jurors.…the home town paper for the trial published this detailed set of profiles of the jurors, leaving all the cues necessary to doxx them. This just creates one more obstacle to a fair trial. The judge was asleep at the switch in handing out gag orders: with at least one potential juror dismissed because she was afraid of community reaction to a “not guilty” verdict, it was reversible error to allows this much information about the jury to get to the news media, which we know is both rooting for a guilty verdict and doing all it can think of to facilitate one.

The most recent Associated Press report on the case, like most mainstream media stories relating to Floyd, never mentions Floyd’s drugged-out condition, nor his Wuhan virus infection. He was killed by the knee of a racist white cop, and the only question in the trial is whether that racist cop will get the conviction he deserves. This is how most Americans understand the case.

Does the news media want riots?

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up I Expected Not To Get Posted In The Morning, 3/26/2021: “Ouch!” Edition

Dentist

Therein lies a tale

I arrived at the appointed time for my triple tooth extraction to be told that I would be required to pay the entire cost of my surgery on the spot, and the amount was a cool $4000. This, despite the fact that I had been told (by the doctor) that I could wait before deciding on the various treatment options, and having not received clear (to me, at least) information that the office took no general medical coverage at all, just dental insurance, and my dental insurance was not among the blessed. (Raising the related issue of why my dentist would refer me to an oral surgeon who did not accept the insurance that the dentist did, without alerting me in advance. “We tried to call you,” the snotty desk staff said. Really? I had no messages on my home or office lines. “We only call our patients on their cell phones,” I was told. Then why do you ask for the other numbers? If you have essential information to convey, and you can’t reach a patient by cell, why wouldn’t you try the other contact options? Where on the form does it say that the only number you will use is the cell phone? I only included the cell number because it was asked for: I use cell phones when traveling, period, and during the lockdown it is usually uncharged. If I am going to be expected to hand over 4 grand on the spot, I need to be told, and the information I provided gave an easy means to tell me. What I suspect is that the 20-somethings behind the desk, living on their smart phones themselves, would never dream that anyone wouldn’t do the same. It wasn’t a policy, it was an unwarranted and incompetent assumption.

I informed the staff that its conduct was unethical and unprofessional, and that its attitude was arrogant and obnoxious. Then I walked out. I don’t care if the next oral surgeon costs as much or more: I don’t trust people who treat me like this. Screw ’em.

1. It’s a banner day in the history of “the ends justifies the means” medical ethics! On this date in 1953, American medical researcher Dr. Jonas Salk announced on national radio that he had successfully tested a vaccine against poliomyelitis, the virus that causes polio. Salk had conducted the first human trials of his vaccine on former polio patients, on himself, and his family. The general consensus among ethicists is that self-experimentation is ethical: as one scholarly paper put it, “Organizational uncertainty over the ethical and regulatory status of self-experimentation, and resulting fear of consequences is unjustified and may be blocking a route to human experiments that practicing scientists widely consider appropriate, and which historical precedent has shown is valuable.” But using one’s family as guinea pigs? Unethical, absolutely. The researcher, in this case Salk, has undue influence over such subjects, and consent cannot be said to be voluntary.

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And, As Night Follows Day, Academia Joins The False “Anti-Asian” Hate Narrative

Atlanta spa

Of course it has. The Axis of Unethical Conduct, which I have described as the three groups (“the resistance,” Democrats, and the news media) actively using lies, intimidation and suppression to advance a progressive agenda, really includes three more members: the educational establishment, Big Tech, and the social media platforms.

For now, let’s focus on the eggheads.

Harvard, which has lost my respect completely, sent a message to students and faculty that read,

“Many of us woke up yesterday to the horrific news of the vicious and deadly attack in Atlanta, the latest in a wave of increasing violence targeting the Asian, Asian-American, and Pacific Islander community … This violence has a history. From Chinese Exclusion to the nativist rhetoric amplified during the pandemic, anti-Asian hostility has deep roots in American culture.”

This is, in a word, crap. That master of academic anti-white race-baiting crap, Prof. Ibram Kendi tweeted: “Locking arms with Asian Americans facing this lethal wave of anti-Asian terror. Their struggle is my struggle. Our struggle is against racism and White Supremacist domestic terror.”

These are supposed to be scholars, searching for, teaching and revealing truth. There is no “wave.” Whites do not commit the majority of so-called “hate crimes” against Asians, blacks do, and out of proportion with their numbers in the population. There are no figures showing a significant increase in attacks on Asian-Americans in 2020. There are not many attacks on Asian-Americans anyway, now or earlier. A 50% increase in San Francisco, for example from 2019 – 2020 sent the number of actual crimes soaring from 6 to 9.

You know: a wave,

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Ethics Verdicts: The Georgetown Law Professor’s Comments Were Careless But Not “Reprehensible,” And The Law Center Dean’s Statement Implying Her Comments Showed “Systemic Racism” Is Reprehensible…And False

This, I would remind you, is why the emphasis of the first Ethics Alarms post on this mess involving my former employer and alma mater was that GULC adjunct professor Sandra Sellers was culpable for the inevitable results of her unintentionally public candor for incompetently broadcasting her private observations over an online conferencing platform. I predicted that she was a goner once the school’s black student organization saw a grandstanding opportunity (and if it wrecks a lawyer’s reputation and career–so what? After all, she’s just another racist white bitch…), and I was right, in part because I know what the Law Center has become in recent years.

I also predicted a groveling apology from Sellers rather than the ringing defense of her observations that might have been helpful in both clarifying her comments and exposing the Law Center’s spectacular embrace of Rationalization #64, “It Isn’t What It is.” Poor, weak, technologically inept–but not wrong!–Sellers sent the Washington Post a copy of her grovel, which could have been drafted by a computer. She apologized for the “hurtful and misdirected remarks,” carefully chosen words indeed. Her remarks were “misdirected” because they were intended only for another professor, not the universe, and they were “hurtful” because they created a student relations crisis for Georgetown—which it has thoroughly botched. Sellers also said in the letter

“I would never do anything to intentionally hurt my students or Georgetown Law and wish I could take back my words. Regardless of my intent, I have done irreparable harm and I am truly sorry for this.”

Well, I give her some credit for declining to say that she didn’t mean what she said, or that what she said was untrue. Some. In essence she apologized for what I had written was the problem with her statement: it was careless to let it be witnessed by people who would—mostly deliberately— misinterpret it. Her carefully composed non-apology was clever, but it doesn’t help. The school’s statement, through GULC second-in-command Dean Trainor, was despicable—unfair and cowardly. It called the episode indicative of “structural issues of racism” (Translation: Sellers is a racist) and “explicit and implicit bias.”

Yes, a dean of a major law school declared on behalf of that law school that accurate observations involving student education are racist, presumably because they don’t advance a convenient but false progressive narrative. He also suspended the law professor Sellers was talking to because he didn’t meet his “bystander responsibility” and confront her over her non-racist statement as if it were racist.

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When Ethics Fails, The Law Steps In, And Often Makes An Ass Of Itself…

Greg-Abbott

There is no excuse for this:

Abbott tweet

Well, let me clarify that a bit. Anger, frustration, outrage at the open attack on democracy and a level playing field in the marketplace of ideas are all legitimate reasons for someone to default to “there ought to be a law!,” but there is no excuse for elected officials like Abbott and Texas legislators displaying such ignorance of the Bill of Rights.

Stipulated: what Big Tech and the social media platforms are doing right now, deliberately and brazenly attempting to slam their fists down on the scales of democracy to make it as difficult as possible to communicate opinions, news and other expression that our rising woke dictators find inconvenient, is a genuine threat to the nation’s values and existence. However, those same values will be weakened if laws mandating companies to be fair and ethical undermine the First Amendment. As the giddy AUC and my Trump Deranged Facebook friends immediately reply to any criticism of the growing censorship of conservatives and especially President Trump, a private company has a nearly absolute right to decide who has access to its free services. As the social justice crusaders don’t say, but prove every time they make this kneejerk observation, they are thrilled to see their fellow citizens muzzled this way, since it advances their own interests. Big Tech and the social media companies have the right, but it is not right for them to abuse it this way when they have so much control over public debate and information.

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The 1776 Report: Addendum

Declaration

I noted the rapid memory-holing of the Trump Administration’s 1776 Commission’s report yesterday. Then I read this article about the report by the New York Times’ “culture reporter’ whose beat is intellectual life and “the world of ideas.” It is a useful barometer of the biases the Times’ staff has against core American values as well as the Left’s thinly-veiled contempt for much of what our culture is built upon. It also reveals the paper’s assumption about its readership’s biases.

Right at the start, the article thinks it is smearing the report and its authors by asserting “its claims derive from arguments that have long circulated on the right.” Ooooh, “the right.” THOSE demons and troglodytes. In truth, most of the “ideas” have represented majority historical and philosophical thought in the U.S. until the ascent of race conflict as the defining feature of the nation became the cant of the increasingly anti-American educational establishment.

Here are some of the report’s conclusions that the Times mocks:

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