Afternoon Ethics Delights, 4/6/2021:

The U.S. entered The Great War on this date in 1917, surely among the most disastrous decisions the nation has ever made. Unfortunately, almost all of the debate over whether we “should” have gotten involved in the seemingly pointless quarrel among the European powers is polluted by hindsight bias, consequentialism, and a disregard for moral luck. Yes, it’s true that The Great War led to a far worse one, and that Germany winning what became World War I probably would have kept Adolf Hitler painting houses. But that’s cheating: we can only assess the legitimacy of the U.S. entering the war on the basis of what was known at the time.

1. Baseball uniform ethics. Oh yeah, this makes a lot of sense. The Boston Red Sox uniforms have been red, white and blue for almost a century—perfect for the team’s annual Patriot’s Day game, which occurs in the morning so the crowd can watch the end of the Boston Marathon. Only Massachusetts, Maine and Connecticut celebrate Patriot’s Day, when Paul Revere (and his two friend) rode to warn the Boston suburbs that the British were coming in 1775.

Well, Nike is now pulling baseball’s strings (there is evidence that the company that employs Colin Kaepernick as a spokesperson helped push MLB into punishing Atlanta for Joe Biden’s made-up racist voting law claims), and part of its deal with the sport is that it will design new uniforms for many of the teams. Here are the uniforms the company thinks the Boston Red Sox should wear to celebrate Patriots Day, since those old colors just reflect the flag of the racist nation founded on the backs of slaves:

They look like eggs.

And of course, no red socks.

2. The rest of the story! Remember this post, about San Francisco’s lunatic school board declaring that one-third of the city’s school names, including those honoring Washington, Jefferson,  Lincoln, James Madison and both Roosevelts , Presidents Monroe, McKinley, Herbert Hoover and James Garfield; John Muir, the naturalist and author; James Russell Lowell, abolitionist poet and editor; Paul Revere,  Robert Louis Stevenson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow,  Daniel Webster, and current California Senator and former city mayor Diane Feinstein must be replaced so as not to honor individuals who were, in the words of an over-acting character in “The Birds”,

Rendering the equivalent of Tippy Hedren’s slap to these idiots has been, well, just about everybody, from historians, scholars, parents, anyone with an IQ above freezing, and even San Francisco’s reliably woke mayor. Implementing the re-naming was also expected to embroil the city in litigation. So now, the school board, after pausing its grand cancellation project, is expected to overturn its decision after wasting a lot of time and money, and making the city appear even more absurd than it usually does, which is quite an achievement.

You would think that someone on the school board would have been sufficiently smart, competent, responsible grounded in reality to predict the fate of such a mass historical airbrushing. Nope!

This isn’t called The Great Stupid for nothing, you know.

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Ethics Exclamation Points, 3/16/21: Duh! Whoa! Yay! Gag! Asshole!

1 Duh! The competition for most incompetent host on CNN continues to be neck and neck, with Chris Cuomo, Brian Stelter and Don Lemon threatening a photo finish. Lemon rounded the turn and made up some ground by visiting “The View” (Lemon coming to the idiot-infested ABC uninformed opinion fest is the very definition of “carrying coals to Newcastle”) and, when asked to respond to the Vatican’s announcement that Roman Catholic priests cannot extend a sacramental blessing to same-sex unions, set a new high for egomania and presumptuousness. Lemon answered in part,

“I think that the Catholic Church and many other churches really need to reexamine themselves and their teachings because that is not what God is about. God is not about hindering people or even judging people… do what the Bible and what Jesus actually said, if you believe in Jesus, and that is to love your fellow man and judge not lest ye be not judged.”

Gee, thanks Don for answering the question that theologians have been debating for centuries: “What is God about?” And nice mangling of that quote, though even if you got it right, it still doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t make judgments about people. The New Testament passage carrying that message (Matthew 7:1) holds the we should be prepared to be judged by the same standards we use to judge others. In several other places the Bible specifically instructs us to “judge,” and God repeatedly reserves the right to judge human beings, so to say He “isn’t about judging” is an eccentric interpretation at best. Meanwhile, the Ten Commandments, like all laws, are about “hindering people.” Lemon isn’t competent to discuss politics; who cares what he thinks about theology?

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The U.S. Military Defends The Nation Against…TUCKER CARLSON???

Carlson Military

Last week, Fox News rock star Tucker Carlson launched into criticism of the U.S. military for, in his terms, prioritizing “diversity” over its mission. He said in part,

“So we’ve got new hairstyles and new maternity flight suits, pregnant women are going to fight our wars.It’s a mockery of the U.S. military. While China’s military becomes more masculine as it assembles the world’s largest Navy, our military needs to become more feminine, whatever feminine means anymore because men and women no longer exist. The bottom line is it’s out of control. And the Pentagon’s going along with this. This is a mockery of the U.S. Military and its core mission which is winning wars.”

The ethical issue here does not require debating Carlson’s point, but for the record, the mission is what matters, not who performs it or what group they “identify” with. If the nation would be best defended by an all-female armed forces, then all-female armed forces is what we should have. If all-trans would do the trick, great; I’m on board. If clinical schizophrenics were found to be the best soldiers, draft them all, I say, and make sanity a disqualifying feature for volunteers. Prioritizing demographics over efficiency and effectiveness is incompetent and irresponsible, and while the U.S. can survive incompetence in all other aspects of our government, and does, we cannot tolerate it in the military.

But I digress. The ethical issue here is that someone at the Pentagon (or <cough> elsewhere) told the military to attack Carlson, a civilian commentator giving his opinion, for his criticism.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ethics Quote Of The Month: Colonel William Travis

Victory or Death

“”To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World—Fellow Citizens & compatriots— I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna — I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man — The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken — I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the walls — I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch — The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country —Victory or Death.

Col. William Barrett Travis, Commander of the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, on February 24, 1836, as his make-shift fort with its couple hundred volunteers were surrounded by the army of General Santa Ana, and a siege was inevitable.

Travis sent out several appeals for assistance and reinforcement that day, but this one has been enshrined as one of the iconic letters in American history. When the Texas revolution began in 1835, Travis, a failed lawyer, businessman and husband—he had abandoned his wife and unborn child in Alabama to escape his debts and start a new life in the Mexican territory—had became a lieutenant-colonel in the revolutionary army and was given command of troops in the recently captured city of San Antonio de Bexar (now San Antonio). On February 23, 1836, a large Mexican force commanded by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana arrived in the town. Travis and his troops barricaded themselves in an abandoned mission repurposed as a fort, the Alamo, where they were  joined by a volunteer force led by Texas land speculator and adventurer Jim Bowie. Later, another, smaller group of volunteers organized by former Congressman and self-made legend Davy Crockett joined them.

Before Travis’s fevered and desperate letter-writing, the Mexican dictator had demanded the fort’s unconditional surrender, promising no quarter if the defenders refused. As his letter said, Travis answered with a cannon shot.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

This is an especially important time for Americans to remember the Alamo.


Ethics Quote Of The Week: Christopher Bedford

nationalguard

“None of this matters to the leaders in Washington: Not walling themselves from the public they serve, nor spreading even more fear and distrust among their supporters than already existed. What matters is that the Democrats and the troops be seen as the only things standing between America and a Ku Klux MAGA apocalypse.”

Christopher Bedford, National Review editor, in his essay, The Occupation Of Washington Is Pure Panic Porn — And You Are The Target

I don’t usually like to devote an Ethics Alarms post to quoting another writer’s work, but Mr. Bedford has expressed what I would have so perfectly that I’ll make an exception. Please go to the National Review and read the whole thing, but note these points:

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Ethics Cleansing, 1/27/2021: I’m Afraid This Edition Exceeds The Limit For Disturbing Stories…

Horrible text message

As a prelude, I don’t know why some commenters are arguing that the 1876 William Belknap impeachment trial is a valid precedent for trying a private citizen no longer in office on a charge that has no other purpose but to remove that individual from his or her federal office. It’s just a bad argument, which is why Belknap has only been raised by desperate anti-Trump zealots. As I pointed out in the comments, an unconstitutional act doesn’t change the Constitution. There have been many, many unconstitutional actions by our government that were allowed to occur in the past (President Jackson’s defiance of the U.S. Supreme Court to forec the Trail of Tears is an especially egregious one.\); they still can’t be cited as proof that the actions were Constitutional, or precedent for violating the Constitution again. Balknap, who had resigned as Grant’s Secretary of War just as he was about to be impeached by the House, submitted to the Senate’s unconstitutional trial. I have always assumed this was because he was certain that he would be acquitted, so he could later claim innocence. (He was incredibly guilty.) Since he was acquitted, there was no occasion to challenge the trial, the issue being moot.

The entire system was in chaos in 1876; if the Belknap trial is binding precedent that a private citizen can be tried by the Senate to remove him from office when he isn’t in that office, why not make the same claim about the unconstitutional deal between Republicans and Democrats to install the loser of the 1876 Presidential election (Hayes) in the White House in exchange for removing federal troops from the former Confederate states?

1. An example of ethical trolling, I think:

Ironic Tweet

Miller is getting all sorts of outraged responses from critics online who seem to have missed the critical fact that he was just quoting Maxine Waters’ call for harassment of Trump administration officials. Normally I regard deliberate posting of positions one doesn’t believe as unethical unless the poster makes the sarcasm or irony obvious. This one is obvious, unless the reader wasn’t paying attention to how irresponsible and vicious Democrats were in the past four years, and if the such a reader was that ignorant, he shouldn’t be involved in the discussion at all.

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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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Comment Of The Day: “From The Law Vs. Ethics Files: This Controversy Has Everything—Fine Art, Nazis, Lawsuits, Sheep…”

hitler-art

Genie Baskir, who has commented on Ethics Alarms since 2011 and averages about two entries a year, makes her latest comment count: it’s an unusually tough and moving Comment of the Day, on the post, From The Law Vs. Ethics Files: This Controversy Has Everything—Fine Art, Nazis, Lawsuits, Sheep…:

Everything was stolen from Leone and her own children and grandchildren. The painting represents the hole in her life and that of her descendants whether obvious or not. The University of Oklahoma’s insistence on keeping the spoils of Holocaust looting represents the continued suffering of every victim of massacre and mass murder since WWII. Overcoming this trauma does not absolve offspring collaborators of their offenses and, let me make this clear, the University of Oklahoma is an offspring collaborator. It knows that Leone Meyer was in the subordinate position in this negotiation and now it wants to continue it descendant collaboration in mass murder and looting because it thinks it can just like the first Nazis held their collective victims’ feet to the fire 80 years ago.

The majority of Holocaust survivors are dead now but their children know and remember the hole in their collective lives as they are collateral victims themselves. We know and remember. Leone Meyer knows and remembers.

My own mother died not ever knowing what happened to her parents and brother. Both of my parents were sole survivors of large extended families. Imagine having no grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins or any close blood relations. Imagine being a child processing that everyone of immediate consequence has been murdered. I claim no uniqueness. Massacres and the resulting survivors are still a common occurrence. What’s missing is the empathy and compassion of those who have not that knowledge.

When my mother, aged 15, returned to her home after walking across Poland in late 1944 the next door neighbor, stunned that she survived, reported that the home had been looted by all of the neighbors. He then returned to her a doll and her movie star picture albums. The neighbor then told her to get out of town or she would be murdered by her other neighbors who were complicit in the disappearance of the Jewish families.

The back of the returned movie star pictures had my mother’s mother’s handwriting on them. This handwriting is the only extant evidence that Augusta Pecenik Fischer ever lived at all. Lucky for me that no one is fighting me for these artifacts.

If possession is 9/10ths of the law and the painting is still in France then let France continue to atone for its own collaboration in mass murder. Who will enforce the Oklahoma District Judge’s Order anyway? Who does he or she think they are? After everything that has happened to us, we are afraid of a contempt order from a Judge with no enforcement ability anyway? This Judge is another offspring collaborator if he or she thinks those of us with knowledge care about the ruling.

The burden is on those of us with the knowledge of such tragedy and trauma to try and relieve the suffering of those who are continuing victims. The Judaicide of the 20th century is unique only in that its surviving victims had the strength and wherewithal to demand wholeness in the aftermath. No one was ever made whole but the ability to continue the struggle was rejuvenating as was the ability to start again with new families and offspring and new wealth.

Anyone who knew my mother in the United States without knowing what happened to her would never have guessed what was taken from her when she was just a little girl. Her suffering was never an exterior mien burdening all who met her. She channeled her efforts at wholeness into amassing her own impressive wealth and living well as her revenge. Leone Meyer is struggling for wholeness as represented by this great work of art and she is already the winner.

Offspring collaborators like the University of Oklahoma are empty vessels of opportunity mixed with ignorance and hatred for their moral obligations. We must pray for them to realize the errors of their ways.

From The Law Vs. Ethics Files: This Controversy Has Everything—Fine Art, Nazis, Lawsuits, Sheep…

stolen painting

The painting above is “La Bergère,” or “Shepherdess Bringing in Sheep,” by Camille Pissarro, a renowned French Impressionist. The 1886 painting, like so many other priceless works of art, was stolen by the Nazis in 1941, when they looted the French bank where the Jewish family who owned, the Meyers, it had placed the painting for safe-keeping. Dr. Léone Meyer, whose mother, grandmother, uncle and brother died in Auschwitz, searched for her family heirloom ever since the end of World War II. Finally, in 2012, she traced the painting to the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma.

In 2016, she negotiated a compromise to trade the painting back and forth between the university and a French museum, but the controversy was re-opened when Dr. Meyer decided that she wants the painting permanently dispalyed in France. Now the courts are involved, on two continents. A judicial tribunal in Paris is deciding whether to block the work from being shipped out of France, and ordered Dr. Meyer and the university to meet with mediators. A federal judge in Oklahoma, meanwhile, has threatened to hold Dr. Meyer in contempt if she continued to pursue litigation in France. A trial is scheduled for January 19 in Paris to hear Dr. Meyer’s arguments for keeping the work there, and a second hearing is set for March on whether to prohibit the painting’s trip back to where the the wind comes sweeping down the plain.

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