Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/28/20: Happy Birthday, Woodrow Wilson!

2020 end

As 2020 staggers to a conclusion, Ethics Alarms wants to express its gratitude to the core of devoted Alarmist commentators who kept the dialogue going during what is always an annual cratering of blog traffic. I appreciate it. I also appreciated the many kind holiday wishes, in what has been a muted Christmas for the Marshalls for a number of reasons I won’t bore you with.

In case you were among the missing, I draw your attention to…

…among other hopefully edifying and entertaining posts.

1. After signalling otherwise or perhaps just trolling, President Trump signed the truly awful pandemic relief and omnibus spending bill, really sending the national debt into orbit. One theory is that doing so was necessary to avoid a Democratic sweep of the two Senate seats up for grabs in Georgia. I will file the event as one more car on the Wuhan Virus Ethics Train Wreck, and one that will do more damage in the long run than most of them.

2. In Nevada, Gabrielle Clark filed a federal lawsuit against her son’s charter school last week for refusing to let him opt out of a mandatory class that promotes anti-white racism. It claims that Democracy Prep at the Agassi Campus forced William Clark “to make professions about his racial, sexual, gender and religious identities in verbal class exercises and in graded, written homework assignments,” creating a hostile environment, and subjecting he son’s statements ” to the scrutiny, interrogation and derogatory labeling of students, teachers and school administrators,” who are “still are coercing him to accept and affirm politicized and discriminatory principles and statements that he cannot in conscience affirm.” The lawsuit includes nearly 150 pages of exhibits documenting the curriculum in the graduation requirement “Sociology of Change,” which promotes intersectionality and critical race theory, in breach of what was promised when the Clark’s first sent their son to the school.

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Sunday Ethics Decorations, 12/20/20: I’m Sorry, This Stuff Is All Depressing

1. So it’s come to this...the #1 post on Ethics Alarms over the last 365 days is this one, which has been up for less than a month. The bulk of it isn’t even my work. I guess I should be writing a poetry review blog.

2. From the “What were they thinking?” files: David Werking, a Michigan man who was temporarily living in his parents’ home after a divorce, sued them for destroying his pornography collection of videos and magazines worth an estimated $29,000. US district judge Paul Maloney ruled that his parents had no right to throw out his collection. “There is no question that the destroyed property was David’s property,” Maloney said. “Defendants repeatedly admitted that they destroyed the property.”

Werking’s parents said they had a right, as his landlords, to toss out his collection. Where they got taht crackpot idea, I do not know. I would consider the lawyer who took their case unethical, and sanctionably so. Not many cases breach legal ethics Rule 3.1 prohibiting frivolous litigation, but this seems like one to me.

“Defendants do not cite to any statute or caselaw to support their assertion that landlords can destroy property that they dislike,” the judge said. I’m not surprised, since there are none.

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Saturday Morning Ethics: Christmas Countdown Edition

The story of that Christmas classic, Bing’s last holiday hit and also the last popular Christmas song that references its religious origins, is here.

I almost called this post the Clinton Impeachment Anniversary Edition, but decided to be more upbeat. It was on this date that William Jefferson Clinton became the second U.S. President to be impeached. Like the first, the unfortunate Andrew Johnson, Clinton was acquitted in the Senate. Also like Johnson, Clinton was impeached for genuine reasons consistent with the Constitution’s requirements. The next impeachment—did you notice how Democrats never mentioned it during the 2020 campaign?—-was very different: the Democratic House just decided it wanted to impeach President Trump and contrived an excuse to do it after three years of searching.

As veteran readers here know, it was the near complete absence of ethical analysis from the news media during Monica Madness and the mountain of rationalizations and obfuscations employed by Clinton’s defenders that prompted me to launch The Ethics Scoreboard, which in due course led to Ethics Alarms.

1. A bar exam ethics train wreck in California. The ABA Journal reports that more than 3,000 law school grads who sat for the State Bar of California’s remote October exam had their proctoring videos flagged for review, and dozens report receiving violation notices from the agency’s office of admissions. The issues flagged appear to be largely technology-based, and many claim they had no indication of a problem until they received violation notices. The flagging will create serious problems for those involved. A Chapter 6 Notice, as it is called, allows an applicant to respond in writing before any finding is made. If there is a determination that a test-taker violated procedures, bar actions could include warnings, a score of zero for the flagged sessions or the entire exam and negative marks on character and fitness evaluations, endangering the applicant’s prospects of receiving a license.

An individual can challenge the office’s determination and request an administrative hearing, and an unfavorable outcome can be appealed with the Committee of Bar Examiners and the California Supreme Court. However, those applicants’ October bar exam scores will be in limbo while hearings and appeals are resolved, and they will not be able to take the February 2021 exam when determinations of previous scores are pending.

The violations cited include examinees’ eyes being intermittently out of view of their webcams, audio not working; and test-takers not being present behind their computers during the exam. In other words, this is another disaster created by pandemic hysteria and technology unsuited to the challenge of providing an adequate alternative to in-person activity.

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Tolerating The New Racism

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How long will it be before fair social critics, principled elected officials and ethical Americans firmly and decisively say “enough”?

Freed from the restraints of common sense, fear of hypocrisy and language by the George Floyd Freakout as well as the resulting Black Lives Matter Great Terror, writers, educators and politicians are openly engaging in racist speech and assertions without, apparently, fear of condemnation. After all, it is easy to tar any critics as racists themselves, because the new, acceptable racism is targeting whites. They think being characterized as monsters, murderers and habitual oppressors by virtue of the color of their skin is cruel and dehumanizing, the fools! Don’t they know it’s true?

I reached my limit regarding this Orwellian farce even before the ugly death in Minnesota of a career criminal from a likely drug overdose was exploited to justify riots, property destruction and the demonization (or intimidation) of anyone who couldn’t claim to be “of color.” Surely others unjustly vilified are reaching their limits as well. I hope so. History’s record of what happend to groups that meekly accept denigration and blame-casting in the vain hope that it will all “blow over” is not encouraging.

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“White Lives Matter” Is Racist, Black Lives Matter Is Benign” You Say? Prove It.

I know this is “It’s okay to be white” all over again, but its still amazing that anyone can argue that “Black Lives Matter” is a benign motto, but that clever line, “All Lives Matter” or now, “White Lives Matter” is a racist expression and look at themselves in the mirror afterwards and not blush.

Someone painted “White Lives Matter” on Kent State University’s “front-campus rock,” where students traditionally paint graffiti. It was immediately condemned as a “direct threat” to black students. Kent State President Todd Diacon issued a statement claiming  the incident (together with some recent police-involved deaths of blacks, most of which have not been credibly attributed to racism)  “serve as glaring evidence that this university and our country need to do better when addressing racism and violence against Black Americans.” He also said the university would establish an Anti-Racism Task Force which will “explore all facets of racism at Kent State.” Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Day: Samuel Kronen

“As defined by bestselling author Ibram X Kendi, anti-racism involves supporting policies and ideas that level racial disparities of outcome, while racism refers to any explanation of disparity that points toward black responsibility rather than white racism. This redefinition of racism from identifiable prejudice to disparity of outcomes represents the expansion of a propriety into what Antonio Gramsci calls a cultural hegemony: a power construct that cuts reality down to size and squashes any voice that questions its moral authority. While suggesting that black Americans bear some responsibility for their own outcomes was once considered merely in poor taste, it is now considered racist and therefore utterly beyond the pale in progressive circles.…If we are truly concerned with remedying the tragedy of racism and taking steps toward a society that views our racial identities as insignificant, we need to let the past be past. We can accept the reality of historical racism without creating an identity out of it that keeps us eternally suspicious of each other. We cannot change our past, but we can change how we make sense of it as we move towards an increasingly multi-ethnic future.”

—Samuel Kronen, in an essay titled, “Modern Anti-Racism Is a Historical Overcorrection.” Continue reading

Ingratitude, Racism And Statue Toppling At The Asian Art Museum

I’ll begin with the ethics conclusion, and show how we get there.

If your organization, institution, or nation owes its existence to an individual that hindsight-wielding critics want to erase, your choice is to tell them to get lost while continuing to officially recognize the debt such organization, institution, or nation  owes to that individual, or to dissolve the entity. Recognizing in some form the fact that a founder has blemishes on his or her past may be justified and practical. Continuing to benefit from that founder’s actions while metaphorically kicking him or her in the teeth, however, is unethical and, in fact, despicable.

Thus we arrive at the current controversy at the Asian Art Museum  in San Francisco. The focus of the mess is the bust of Adrian Brundage you see above. Brundage is most remembered as the long-time (twenty years) President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and most reviled for his decision not to cancel the Munich Games in 1972 after the terrorist attack on the Israeli team in 1972. (I agreed with him then, incidentally, and still believe that he was correct, and courageous, in his decision.) Brundage also, however, created the Asian Art Museum, which is the centerpiece of San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza, and which Brundage gave to the city in 1966 to house his fabulous personal collection of approximately 8,000 art pieces.

The New York Times story about the emerging controversy at the museum begins, “For 48 years, visitors to this city’s Asian Art Museum have had to pass the bust of Avery Brundage.” That’s right, they “had” to pass that bust because what they were coming to see belonged to Avery Brundage, the museum’s collection was his gift, and it was and is appropriate for that to be respected and acknowledged.

Given an opportunity by the zeitgeist of the George Floyd Freakout, however, the museum’s director and chief executive, Jay Xu, announced to a meeting of the board and commissioners in June that he was having Brundage’s bust  removed. There are two reasons given in the article. One is that Brundage was accused of being a Nazi sympathizer and anti-Semitic (with the decision not to stop the 1972 Olympics being cited as a prime piece of evidence for the latter), and that the museum he created “presents Asian art from a mostly white perspective.”

As for the last complaint, I will characterize it this way: it’s racism, pure and straight.

The George Floyd Freakout is being used to justify a national effort to “Get whitey,” and this disgusting outbreak of anti-white hatred (that so many white Americans are accepting with the meek submission and hollowed out character of post rats-in-his-face Winston Smith) will not end until sufficient numbers of the rational label it what it is: opportunistic hate and racism.

The museum presents Asian art from a “mostly white perspective”  because the museum’s collection was originally created by a  collector of Asian Art who was white. That does not justify an indictment of the collection, and if an Asian-American wants to establish a museum that reflects Asian art from a mostly Asian-American  perspective—not an Asian perspective now, be consistent, you racists!—then that Asian-American is welcome to spend millions on his or her own collection,  give it to the city, and see if anybody wants to see it. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Gary Garrels

The carnage of the George Floyd Terror, aka George Floyd Freakout, aka George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck, claimed another victim yesterday, and Ethics Alarms is designating him the Ethics Dunce. We really need a new category for people like Gary Gerrels, the now ex-senior curator of painting and sculpture at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). Placed in a position where he could take a strong  position against unhinged woke bullying, when every element of common sense, integrity, fairness and reality was aligned in his favor, he prostrated himself to the mob. “Ethics Coward,” perhaps? “Ethics Weenie”? “Ethics Fool”? “Useful Ethics Idiot”?

Garrels  triggered the process of his cancellation by concluding a presentation on how to diversify the museum’s holdings by saying, “don’t worry, we will definitely still continue to collect white artists.” In a ZOOM meeting of museum employees, Garrels  voiced a similar position, saying  that the museum could not avoid collecting the work of white men, which he described as “reverse discrimination.” Shortly thereafter employees created and began signing an online petition demanding that he leave the museum.
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The Ethics Mess That Is U.S. Race Relations, Chapter IV: Prof. Henry Louis Gates Has Learned Nothing

A recent interview in the New York Times Magazine reminded me once again of what an arrogant, race-baiting, self-deluded and toxic presence Harvard Prof. Henry Louis Gates is on the American society landscape. It was Professor Gates, you will recall, who provoked a  racial incident with a white Cambridge , Massachusetts police officer who was investigating a report that an African American male  had broken into Gates’ home. The  African American male was Gates himself, who had returned from a trip to find his door jammed, and jimmied his own front door.  When Cambridge  police Sgt. James Crowley arrived at Gates’ abode to investigate a 911 call that said that two African American men had broken into the house,  Gates answered the door and immediately accused the officer of racially profiling him. He eventually flashed his Harvard ID, then demanded the officers name and ID number as well. The officer asked him to come outside for that information, and Gates came out onto his porch, again accused him of racial bias, shouted over his words and insulted him. The officer, who was a trainer in the area of avoiding racial prejudice, asked the professor to calm down Gates continued to shout, and a crowd was  gathering. After warning Gates that he was disturbing the peace, and would be arrested if he didn’t go inside—Gates kept saying it was his porch and he’d stay outside if he chose to—Crowley took the Harvard professor into custody.

Charges were quickly dropped, but Barack Obama, in a pattern that continued throughout his Presidency, weighed in on an event he know little about, and pronounced the white officer the villain of the  episode. (Gates was a friend of the President’s, and, of course, the African American.) Obama was properly criticized for his knee-jerk reaction by many, including me. (My multiple articles about this mess are still trapped on the old Ethics Scoreboard, currently off line because the hosting company messed up.) Embarrassed, as he deserved to be, Obama pulled a transparent public relations stunt of inviting the white cop and the black scholar to the White House for a so-called “beer summit.”

In a word, “Yecchh.” Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month: University Of Virginia Student “Aunty Ezine”

The full quote is heard in the video above.

What student “Auntie Ezine” said—that’s her Twitter handle; her real name is unknown so far—was this:

“If y’all didn’t know this is the [Multicultural Student Center], and frankly there’s just too many white people in here, and this is a space for people of color. So just be really cognizant of the space that you’re taking up. Because it does make some of us [people of color] uncomfortable when we see too many white people in here. It’s only been open for four days, and frankly there’s the whole university for a lot of y’all to be at, and there’s very few spaces for us. So keep that in mind. Thank-you.”

You can hear the scattered cheering on the video.

Observations: Continue reading