You know, Saturdays were a lot more fun when I watched cartoons in the morning …
1. More on the divisive Red Sox visit to the White House, as all the blacks and Hispanic-Americans—but one—boycotted the honor. Kyle Smith at the National Review has some spot-on observations. Some samples:
Naturally the media blamed the target of this calculated mass protest. “Did Donald Trump honor the Red Sox or the ‘White’ Sox?” asks columnist Edward Montini in the Arizona Republic, adding, “Trying to pretend that President Donald Trump has not caused a widening racial and ethnic divide means not believing what you can hear with your own ears and see — clearly — with your own eyes.” MSNBC guest and former Joe Biden chief of staff Ron Klain said, “I bet [Trump] was happy today that he was able to say that the white players were here and players of color weren’t. That’s the kind of division he fosters deliberately.”
Isn’t Klein’s statement obviously the blathering of an asshole? How far gone do you have to be to buy that? More from Kyle…
[L] et’s call this what it is: Top athletes, especially top athletes of color, are insulting the President of the United States. They have every right to do this, but let’s at least get the direction of the animosity right. Trump doesn’t invite just white athletes to the White House. The racial resentment in these ceremonies is being flung at him, not by him. The athletes, not the president, are racializing these ceremonies….These feel-good photo-ops for jocks are nonpartisan. Everyone used to understand this. Participating in a White House ceremony does not constitute an endorsement of a president, much less agreement with all of his policies. Before the Trump era, only a handful of athletes had ever been conspicuous no-shows at White House events to honor them, and most of them hastened to clarify that they had non-political reasons for missing the events. These days everything must be scrutinized for political content. Dave Zirin of The Nation is assailing Tiger Woods for accepting a Presidential Medal of Freedom from Trump, saying it amounted to “to kiss[ing] Trump’s ring.
Read it all, but really: who’s being an asshole here? It isn’t Trump.
2. Let’s give credit to conservative pundit Ben Shapiro for openly admitting that he behaved like jerk, but he really did behave like a jerk. Shapiro was a guest on the BBC to discuss his new book, New York Times best-seller “The Right Side of History: How Reason and Moral Purpose Made the West Great,.” Apparently he was expecting the kind of soft-ball, pandering interview from host Andrew Neil that he criticizes U.S. journalists for serving up to progressives and Democrats. Uh, no.
After greeting one another (the interview was conducted from London via satellite) Neil asked Shapiro whether he believed Georgia’s new abortion law was a return to the “dark ages.”
Rather than answering the question, Shapiro attacked the questioner, saying, “OK, a couple of things. Are you [an] objective journalist or an opinion journalist?”
1. Keep being intentionally divisive, and eventually you’ll get division…I trace the irresponsible efforts to divide the nation and unravel the bonds of society to the 2000 election, and the false partisan claims that Bush’s was a “stolen Presidency.” Divisive rhetoric became an 8-year strategy of the Obama Administration, with blacks, Hispanics, illegal immigrants, Muslims, LGTB citizens and women being accorded special status as victims and groups in need of special consideration, while whites, men, straight citizens, wealthy citizens, Christians, and, naturally, conservatives and Republicans were consistently demonized and marginalized. Critics of the first black President were racists, critics of illegal immigration were xenophobes, critics of Hillary Clinton were sexist, and opponents of gay marriage were bigots. The resentment over this long-term and cynical strategy bore misshapen fruit in the election of Donald Trump, and now, says a Zogby Analytics survey, 39 percent of the country support states breaking away from the national government and country, with 42% of Democrats, who have continued to escalate the divisiveness by refusing to accept the election of President Trump as legitimate, leading the way.
This was where we were headed in 2000, and those who have been reading the Ethics Scoreboard and Ethics Alarms since then know I said so as forcibly as I knew how. Now we are at a point where one party’s leaders are calling for members of the opposing party’s administration to be harassed in public, an attitude that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.
In the latest example , Attorney General Jeff Sessions visited Houston last week and dines at two Mexican restaurants. The general manager of one of them posted on Facebook, “We had the honor to serve Mr. Jeff Sessions, Attorney General of the United States. Thank you for allowing us to serve you.” The post attracted such an angry reaction that it had to be taken down. [Pointer: Neil Dorr]
2. Of course! Why else would anyone not love Nancy Pelosi? The news media and its various pundits is deeply complicit in the unraveling of the bonds holding American together, as exemplified by the Washington Post’s jaw-dropping column claiming that Republican opposition to Democratic House leader Pelosi is entirely based on misogyny and sexism—you know, the same reasons I didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton. Paul Waldman wrote,
“Can we stop treating this lie seriously once and for all? We all know what’s really going on. The Republican attack on Pelosi is about conservative identity politics, full stop. It’s partly the same kind of ugly misogyny that has driven conservatives for years, and that comes out whenever the prospect of a woman wielding genuine power rears its head. Women who display ambition are judged harshly, particularly by conservatives; it’s no accident that Bernie Sanders, whose policy ideas are much more opposed to conservatism than Pelosi’s, inspires nothing like the venomous loathing on the right that Pelosi and Hillary Clinton do.”
Oddly, I have found many reasons despite her gender to regard Nancy Pelosi as an unethical menace, and I haven’t come close to covering all of them. Continue reading →
“Merry Christmas to the world’s 2.5 billion Christians. And to the remaining 5 billion people, including Muslims Atheists Hindus Buddhists Animists & Jews, Happy Monday.”
What would justify a public figure tweeting that kind of arrogant, hostile, belittling message at his fellow citizens on Christmas Eve?
This was one of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s tweets yesterday. I’m sure the nation’s most prominent and least deserving pop intellectual assumed that his many Twitter followers who hang on every word of revealed wisdom he utters would appreciate his giving Christmas the metaphorical back of his hand, which only means this asshole has a lot of asshole followers.
Why do this? It is not as if there is any delusion among Christmas revelers that “billions” of others in the world do not have the pleasure of celebrating the world’s most inclusive and ethical cultural holiday. Tyson’s intent was not to inform, it was to diminish, using a version of the Golden Rationalization: “Everybody does it;” in this case, “More people do it, so what you do instead isn’t as great as you think it is.”
Asshole. Tyson doesn’t have to observe Christmas, and he doesn’t have to absorb the wisdom that Scrooge learned so traumatically, he need not acknowledge an annual ritual in which we are all encouraged to embrace love, peace, generosity, ethics, respect, charity, empathy, selflessness and hope for at least a day, opening the possibility that the enlightenment may last longer, and even a lifetime, as it did for Ebeneezer. If he had any decency or common courtesy, however, he wouldn’t try to spoil the holiday for anyone else not so blighted. As Richard Fernandez wrote yesterday, deftly exposing the flaw in fatuous efforts among various sad enclaves of progressives more concerned with triggering some offense with a “Merry Christmas!’ than with the health of society itself, it is helpful to understand
“…Christmas as playing a role analogous to the fictional baseball field in the movie Field of Dreams: not a place or day but a reverie. To paraphrase the famous speech to Ray, when people come to Christmas, …”it’ll be as they’d dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick, they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. … It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again.” But Christmas has marked the time. Marked the time because, as C.S. Lewis once adventured, Christmas is not an idealized memory of childhood but of something glimpsed in childhood.
“These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshipers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.”
…The effort to erase Christmas will probably fail for no other reason than that it meets a human need that a mechanical bureaucratic day off cannot fulfill. Humanity needs a time to mark the growth and change in the family, an occasion to renew hopes and put aside fears and a chance to remember something we once knew: that everything’s going to be alright in the end. It really will.
Let’s clear the runway; flights are being delayed…
1 Please, somebody do me a favor and read Fattymoon’s Medium piece on why he doesn’t comment here any more. Let me know what it says. I don’t know if it’s another “I hate Jack” web piece, but I have feelings too, and miles to go before I sleep. He should have posted it here, and assuming it is as quirky and thoughtful as many of Fatty’s posts were, I might have made it a Comment of the Day. Posting it elsewhere without a heads up is a Golden Rule breach.
2. Jamelle Bouie’s racialist demagoguery in Slate is an ongoing embarrassment to the once readable web-mag, and in a recent exchange on Twitter, he showed that he’s not too quick on the uptake either. Tweeting about the planned hit job on the President plotted by Rep. Wilson and an angry, grieving anti-Trump Gold Star wife. Bouie wrote,
“Trump and the White House have an unmistakable pattern of going after prominent black women.”
Quick! Hands: who believes that if the Democratic Representative who accused the President of being insulting on his condolence call had been a white male, Trump would have behaved any different? Anybody? This is Bouie personified: he will engage in race-baiting no matter how forced, unfair and absurd it is.
I’m not a Ben Shapiro fan, but the conservative pundit knows a hanging curveball in his wheelhouse when he sees one. He responded,
“Yes, McCain, Hillary, Barack Obama, Cruz, Jeb!, Rosie O’Donnell, Kim Jung Un are all black women”
And he didn’t even mention Bob Corker!
Exposed, owned, embarrassed and squashed, a wiser, smarter progressive would know enough to shut up and allow his idiocy to be gently wiped from cultural memory by the sands of time…like in about ten minutes. But no, Bouie shoots back,
“Nice. A retweet from Honest Conservative Ben “The genocide of Native people’s was Actually Good” Shapiro”
YES! A perfect example of a real, genuine, ad hominem attack, the kind that says, “I have no rebuttal for your devastating argument, so I’m just going to say that you’re personally horrible, so your arguments don’t count.” I’ve gotten so sick of explaining to commenters that their accusations of ad hominem are mistaken and ignorant that I put a warning in the Comments guidelines. “Your argument is idiotic, so I think you are an idiot” is not ad hominem (not nice, but not ad hominem). “You’re an idiot, so your argument must be idiotic” is ad hominem. Now I have a perfect example–from an editor at Slate! (If you think ad hominem is logical, then you are unqualified to be an editor, even if you aren’t a race-baiting anti-white bigot.)
Not surprisingly, Shapiro knocked this one out of the park too, tweeting,
“Thanks for the ad hominem non sequitur, guy who says every Trump voter is an evil racist”
3. If there was any doubt that John McCain’s recent escalation of his anti-Trump, burr-under-the-saddle, “I’m going to make you rue the day your denigrated my prisoner-of-war heroism” campaign is personal and motivated by revenge, his gratuitous swipe at the President’s deferment from the draft almost 50 years ago should eliminate it. That is personal, it is a cheap shot, it is intentionally disrespectful, and it is deliberately throwing raw meat to the President’s enemies.
It is also a Golden Rule breach: how would McCain react if Trump referenced the Keating Five scandal just to impugn McCain?
A lame duck who may well be dying, McCain has apparently decided that he can misbehave, settle scores, and undermine his party’s President with impunity. Somebody should tell him that he is dismantling his own reputation and legacy in the process, revealing himself as petty, vindictive, and willing to place his own vendetta over national interests and his duty as a U.S. Senator.
4. While we are mentioning embarrassment, it appears that the news media is not yet embarrassed by treating as substantive news the self-evident set-up and subsequent escalation of a non-incident into another manufactured anti-Trump race scandal . It should be. Imagine: yesterday all of the Sunday talking head shows gave far more time to this transparent hit-job than to the revived Russian influence allegations involving the Clintons. ABC and NBC have yet to mention that story at all; CBS, five days after it broke, gave a few seconds to it on “Face the Nation.” The excuses for this from journalists sound an awful lot like “Hey! We buried this story once; she shouldn’t have to report on it now.” FACT: As of this moment, there is more public evidence suggesting that Hillary Clinton was colluding to help the Russians than there is to suggest that President Trump did anything improper in that regard.
Back to the Rep. Frederica Wilson smear-job: The Congressional Black Caucus called for Chief of Staff John Kelly to apologize for his remarks defending the President. “We, the women of the Congressional Black Caucus, proudly stand with Congresswoman Wilson and demand that General Kelly apologize to her without delay and take responsibility for his reckless and false statements,” the female lawmakers said in a statement.
The wife of the late La David Johnson, meanwhile, has been making the rounds of talk shows. To recap: a woman who was determined to hurt Trump made sure that a Congressional Black Caucus member who had boycotted the President’s Inauguration was listening in on his condolence call, then collaborated on accusations of disrespect. When Trump denied their characterization–at best an example of likely confirmation bias if there ever was one —he was accused of racism, since both women are black. Then other members of the Caucus expanded the attack to Trump’s Chief of Staff, implying that he is racist as well.
This might have been a bit more convincing if the entire Caucus hadn’t declared their revulsion at Trump before he took office. Who believes that any criticism from this quarter is anything but cynical, political, and unfair? Meanwhile, as this was going on, esteemed CBC member Maxine Waters declared that she was going to “take out” the President, presumably not meaning that they were going on a date.
I note that even many of my Democratic, anti-Trump Facebook friends are rolling their metaphorical eyes at this one. Some of them—many, in fact— are still capable of feeling sympathy when a President is being mistreated.
5. I’ve been getting better at suppressing my head explosions, and just in time: Harvey Weinsteinhas supposedly completed rehab for his sex addiction already. What was that, less than a week? What an insult to everyone’s intelligence for Weinstein to say he was getting “help” for his “problem.” It couldn’t have been too much of a problem if it could be fixed in few days. The other side of the ethics coin is this: going into rehab has been the routine PR response whenever a Hollywood figure misbehaves. We should thank Harvey for making it clear for all time that this is often, perhaps usually, a cynical sham. Continue reading →
Conservative agitator/ campus troll Milo Yiannopoulos’s Free Speech Week in Berkeley, California was advertised as a major event, bringing some of the most Left-reviled conservative speakers and rabble-rousers together for four straight days of speeches and events on a campus that has repeatedly disgraced itself by being hostile to speech its primarily progressive denizens consider “hate speech.”
The University of California was taking elaborate measures to avoid the violence that protesters there and at other campuses have brought to appearances by many of the featured speakers. It was rumored that as much as $600,000 would be spent on security. The prospect of the rhetoric of such professional provocateurs as Yiannopoulosas, Steve Bannon and Ann Coulter, to name the best known, echoing around the school where it was least welcome promised an instant cultural touch-point, like a right-wing Woodstock, while challenging leftists and ideological censors to reveal their ugly, totalitarian sides.
But by the end of the week, many were predicting that the event was a mirage. Speakers whose names had been promoted on preliminary schedules either pulled out, denied they had been contacted or said they were never planning to go. The campus publication sponsoring Yiannopoulos’s circus, The Berkeley Patriot, never reserved indoor school venues. Yiannopoulos kept up the pretense, announcing on Instagram a planned march through campus tomorrow in protest of Berkeley’s hostility to free speech. “It’s time to reclaim free speech at UC Berkeley and send shockwaves through the American education system to every other college under liberal tyranny,” Yiannopoulos wrote.
Today, the day before the “Week” was to begin, UC Berkeley announced that ‘Free Speech Week’ was officially cancelled, saying,
“Representatives of the Berkeley Patriot student organization have informed UC Berkeley’s administration that all of the events scheduled for the coming week have been canceled. It is extremely unfortunate that this announcement was made at the last minute, even as the university was in the process of spending significant sums of money and preparing for substantial disruption of campus life in order to provide the needed security for these events.”
Now there is mass confusion, with strong indications that the event was a sham from the start. Lucian Wintrich, one of the planned speakers, e-mailed Cal spokesman Dan Mogulof this morning, to say that the event had been a set-up from the start. “It was known that they didn’t intend to actually go through with it last week, and completely decided on Wednesday,” Wintrich wrote.
“Wait, whoah, hold on a second,” replied Mogulof. “What, exactly, are you saying? What were you told by MILO Inc? Was it a set-up from the get-go?”
Wintrich replied, “Yes.”
An account of the chaos and miscommunications surrounding the event published by The Atlantic yesterday certainly made this development seem probable. Milo, as late as this afternoon, insisted that the intention was always to hold a real week of speeches. He has as much credibility as someone who makes his living creating controversies and infuriating his ideological foes deserves to have: none.
Ethics Dunce, Unethical Quote of the Month, Incompetent and Indoctrinating College Administrators of the Day(there are so many during the week)…all of these would have been fair, in light of Berkeley’s sad offer to counsel students whose delicate psyches feel bruised because a young conservative loudmouth is speaking somewhere on campus. This is presented on a web page offering solace in response to a visit by Ben Shapiro, a pretty much standard issue hard-right polemicist, less right than Bernie Sanders is left, and about as dangerous to any student’s “safety” as Peewee Herman in his prime. (Actually, I think Peewee could take him.) Yet this:
Support and counseling services for students, staff and faculty
We are deeply concerned about the impact some speakers may have on individuals’ sense of safety and belonging. No one should be made to feel threatened or harassed simply because of who they are or for what they believe. For that reason, the following support services are being offered and encouraged:
In his response to this embarrassing example of universities attempting to stifle diversity of thought, Professor Turley is being a weenie again:
Notably, the counseling is not for the violence at such speeches or disturbing messages on both sides. Rather it is the presence of speakers like Shapiro that might threaten a student’s fear for their “sense of safety and belonging.” The school insists that “No one should be made to feel threatened or harassed simply because of who they are or for what they believe.” No mention of the past protesters with signs like “F**k Free Speech” or beating those who do not share their views.
It is the sole inclusion of the speaker and not the counter-protesters or campus disruptions that concern me. It appears to reinforce the view that conservative speakers are a foreseeable threat to the sense of safety and belonging of students.
It appears to reinforce that view, professor? It does reinforce that view, and is intended to reinforce that view. As such, it is an attack on freedom of thought, speech and expression, as well as an attempt to demonize any student who would choose to hear what Shapiro has to say. The statement embodies the current anti-speech, anti-First Amendment, anti-American position spreading through academia that hate speech isn’t protected speech, and any speech that opposes progressive cant is by definition hate speech.
What Berkeley should be offering is counseling for students who justly fear that the Berkeley administration’s alliance with the repressive Left threatens the safety of democracy itself. Continue reading →
The Breitbart conservative website empire is in the process of wrecking itself through its own corruption. Good. This is an invaluable lesson in the field of organizational culture, and perhaps it will prompt other unethical organizations to reform their cultures before it is too late.
I had the good sense to abandon Breitbart as a trustworthy news source long ago, after I was burned by the site’s doctored Shirley Sherrod video. Conservatives, like liberals, often hold on to their heroes long after they have proven themselves unworthy of reverence or even respect; Andrew Breitbart was an especially unfortunate example. He created a group of websites that really delivered news the way Fox is unfairly accused of reporting. They ignored stories that impugned the honesty, integrity or reliability of conservatives, and actively sought stories that showed the worst of progressives, and often slanted those stories to mislead readers, shamelessly appealing to their confirmation bias. The corrupt culture he built, cheered by prominent conservative pundits who should have known better like Glenn Reynolds (Breitbart was “punching back twice as hard,” you see: Rationalization #2 A. Sicilian Ethics, or “They had it coming”), predictably became worse after its architect’s untimely death. Nothing showed this more vividly than Breibart’s decision to become, as resigning editor Ben Shapiro called it today, “Donald Trump’s personal Pravda.” It attacked Trump’s critics and rationalized Trump’s outrages. I dissected a particularly disgraceful example here, but there were many others.
Then came, as almost always does, a chance event that has shattered Breitbart along its rotting fault lines. Continue reading →
“The text of the First Amendment is enshrined in our Constitution, but there are certain cultural values that undergird the amendment that are critical for its protections to have actual meaning. If that culture starts to wither away, then so too will the freedom that it supports.”
Isn’t it fascinating that so many of those who are concerned about the freedom of speech being diminished by political correctness have responded by supporting a Presidential candidate who regularly abuses the right of free speech, and whose response to protesters at his own speeches is to abuse them?
The results of the Curmie Award vote are up at Curmudgeon Central, where blogger Rick Jones tracks episodes of supreme embarrassment for his profession, education. I think next year’s winner may have already arrived. It’s not that I can’t imagine worse conduct by an educator—I have a lively imagination—it’s just that the conduct California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA) professor Robert Donald Weide is an apt symbol of why U.S. higher education is no longer a solution to anything, but a tragic problem in itself. There is no reason, none, why any school shouldn’t immediately sack a faculty member who behaves like this. If the issue is tenure, then tenure needs to be abolished. Tenure should not shield campus fascists.
What did Weide do? CSULA’s branch of Young Americans for Freedom, a conservative political organization, dared to invite Ben Shapiro to give a lecture called “When Diversity Becomes a Problem” about such emerging issues as Black Lives Matter, “microaggressions,” “safe spaces,” trigger warnings and other assaults on free speech on campuses and elsewhere. Naturally, since the topic is an important and legitimate one, many at CSULA are attacking the event and arguing it should be blocked by the university, citing trigger warnings, safe spaces, microaggressions, and, of course, the ever-useful censorship concept of “hate speech.”
Perhaps here is as good a place as any to note that I wouldn’t cross the street to listen to Ben Shapiro, and wouldn’t do so even before his website, Breitbart, decided to shill for Donald Trump. That, however, doesn’t alter the fact that he is every bit as worthy of a campus speaking gig as Lena Dunham, Bernie Sanders, Sean Penn, or the Pope. Continue reading →
Ethics Alarms commenter Chris Marschner again scores a Comment of the Day regarding the subtext of my recent post about Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis, whose stunning abuse of government power to punish a citizen’s free speech was ignored while destroying NBA team owner Donald Sterling, because he privately articulated offensive views to a vengeful girlfriend, became a media obsession and a national rallying point.
Before I get to Chris’s excellent comment, however, I should bring us up to date on the Donald Sterling Ethics Train Wreck, which has proceeded as I feared it would:Continue reading →