A Lesson In Ultimate Utilitarianism: Israel’s Nazi Hit Man

Israeli special agent, Otto Skorzeny. No, I’m not kidding.

There are few better examples of how extreme versions of “the ends justifies the means” can be adopted as an ethical course than the strange, and oddly under-publicized, story of Otto Skorzeny.

Do you know the tale? I didn’t, until today. This is a good day to consider it, being the anniversary of the date Hitler’s minions invaded Czechoslovakia.

 Skorzeny was born in Vienna in June 1908. He joined Austria’s branch of the Nazi Party in 1931 when he was 23. He worshipped Hitler. When the Nazi army invaded Poland in 1939, Skorzeny left his construction firm and volunteered  for the  SS Panzer division that served as Hitler’s personal bodyguard force. He took part in battles in Russia and Poland, and was probably involved in exterminating Jews.

In 1944, Skorzeny handpicked 150 soldiers in a plan to foil the Allies after they landed in Normandy on D-Day. Dressing his men in captured U.S. uniforms, he procured captured American tanks for  to use in attacking and confusing Allied troops from behind their own lines. This mission more than anything else earned Skorzeny two years of interrogation, imprisonment and trial after the war ended. Somehow, despite being one of Hitler’s favorite SS officers, he still managed to be acquitted in his war crime trial in 1947. The Führer had even awarded Skorzeny the army’s most prestigious medal, the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross, for leading the rescue operation that rescued Benito Mussolini from his captors.

After  Skorzeny’s acquittal, newspapers called him one of the most dangerous Nazi criminals still unpunished. Typically brazen, he capitalized on the notoriety by publishing his memoirs,  including the 1957 book “Skorzeny’s Special Missions: The Autobiography of Hitler’s Commando Ace.”

Skorzeny did not reveal in his books how he escaped from the American military authorities who held him for a year after his acquittal, perhaps saving him from more charges and another trial before the Nuremberg tribunals. The escape was rumored to have been assisted by the CIA’s predecessor agency, the OSS, which he assisted in some special operations after the war. Continue reading

Ethics Alarms To “The Ethicist”: It’s Called “The Golden Rule”—Why Is That So Hard?

I hadn’t checked in for a while on Kwame Anthony Appiah, the N.Y.U philosophy teacher and author who finally brought ethical consistency to the New York Times magazine’s advice column, “The Ethicist.” I was surprised to find him struggling to answer two family related queries that I would have assumed he could and should have answered  easily with three words: “The Golden Rule.”

The first inquirer asked in part,

Recently a mutual acquaintance who knows my friend’s husband well told me that he has been cheating on my friend on and off for years with someone who once worked with him.I know that if I reveal this information, my friend will take their child and leave her husband. Do I sit on this information and pretend the affair isn’t happening, or do I tell her?

Isn’t that an easy call? Of course she should tell her friend. The Golden Rule applies: would she want to be told if the positions were reversed? Sure she would; anyone would. Not telling her would be a betrayal of the worst kind.

Yet Appiah uses 608 words to reach that conclusion. 608! This makes a slam dunk of an ethics decision appear to be a difficult one. Oh, it’s difficult in the sense that the inquirer has to take sides in a crisis affecting a couple she and her husband are close to, and thus the repercussions as well as the process will be unpleasant, but that’s life. One of the Ethics Alarms rules is that if you can fix a problem, fix it. The Ethicist’s rabbinical musings about the decision just supplies a dangerous volume of rationalizations to temp the questioner into keeping the husband’s secret, and abetting the harm. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: The Betrayal And Ultimate Triumph Of Dorothy Seymour Wills”

The smartest –and most ethical—thing John and Paul ever did: agreeing to share credit for every song, no matter who wrote it.

On the topic of authors being reluctant or resistant to sharing authorship credits,I wrote in a replay in a comment to the post,

I have shared the authorship credits of several stage shows where I was the initiator and the creator of 75-95% or more. There are two shows, a drama and a musical, that have made substantial money without my sharing in any of it—one because I added co-authors out of respect for their non-authorship contributions, the other for which I got no credit at all despite making the alterations that made the difference between the show being a hit and a flop. My wife thinks I’m a sap and a patsy. No, I think sharing credit liberally is the right thing to do, and that generosity should be the rule, not the exception. And I will continue to do unto others what they should have done unto me, even if the others usually don’t.

Here is a different personal perspective on the issue, in mermaidmary99’s Comment of the Day on the post, “The Betrayal And Ultimate Triumph Of Dorothy Seymour Wills”:

I was a record producer in the early 1980’s. (Still am.)

In ones early 20’s it was unheard of to be a producer unless one was in the group. To be a woman in their early 20’s was shocking to most every man who would arrive to the studio to see me in charge. They often assumed my boss was coming.

The men were always respectful and helpful as I cut my teeth in those early days.

How did I get a job like that?

The label owner, who was a studio musician and had played with The Righteous Brothers and other acts, had heard 3 songs I wrote on an album (my boss chose them and was the producer) and loved them. He asked my boss who wrote them, and he said I had. (And that I assisted on production on those too) so the owner said. “have her write and produced the next record, this stuff is amazing!”

So along with my then boyfriend, I did.

Yes, later I was a mom and asked to produce for another label. (Women producers were still unheard of) and I accepted. I asked my husband to help.

I’ll never forget his reply.

He kindly declined saying. If he did, I’d not get the credit, They’d think, “Oh, she helped her husband and probably nagged for credit.”

I was hurt because I wanted him to share in it. He explained nicely again how it wouldn’t support my Dream. And he LOVED producing too .

I’ve often felt lucky he was so supportive, and reading this I realize how very fortunate I am to have had him by my side.

I’m glad this story is being told. This woman deserves credit and I can see why men would both want her to, and not. Continue reading

The Betrayal And Ultimate Triumph Of Dorothy Seymour Wills

There was an upsetting ethics story in the obituaries last week. It told the tale of the rank injustice perpetrated by a famous and much-honored researcher, historian and author on his collaborator, from whom he withheld  credit and recognition—because she was his wife.

Dorothy Seymour Mills collaborated for more than 30 years on a landmark three-volume history of baseball with her first husband, Harold Seymour. Their work, originally attributed only to him,  is regarded as the first significant scholarly account of baseball’s past.  (“No one may call himself a student of baseball history without having read these indispensable works.” John Thorn in 2010, then Major League Baseball’s official historian.)

“Baseball: The Early Years” (1960), “Baseball: The Golden Age” (1971) and “Baseball: The People’s Game” (1990) all were completed with substantial and indispensable contributions by Dorothy, who, unlike her husband, was not a baseball fan. (“You write a lot more objectively about a subject you’re not in love with,” she once observed.) She was the primary researcher, organized the projects, typed the manuscripts, prepared the indexes (ugh) and edited each book before it went to the publisher. Because of her husband’s failing health, she wrote a substantial portion of “Baseball: The People’s Game.” Yet her husband adamantly refused to give her an author’s credit. Each book bore only Harold Seymour’s name, and hers was relegated to the acknowledgments.  The first book in the trilogy, “Baseball: The Early Years,” received rave reviews.  Sports Illustrated compared Seymour to Edward Gibbon, the iconic historian who wrote “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.” Dorothy was invisible, and her husband wanted it that way. Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 9/14/2019: “You Made Me Slam You (I Didn’t Want To Do It)” Edition

Welcome!

1.  To be fair to Kerry Roberts, while we should not and cannot eliminate colleges, this is also trueFrom The American Thinker:

….Sarah Sanders made one of the best observations in recent weeks when, reflecting on the Democrats running for president, she observed, “I’m pretty sure they don’t even like America.”  She’s right.  They don’t.  For those who are wondering how the Democrats could have produced such a distinguished slate of the sanity-challenged, it is because of radical liberal control of America’s colleges and universities.  The Marxist radicals of yesterday became college professors of today, seizing ideological control of much of America….American universities are radicalizing an increasingly large share of America.  This is aided by the fact that nearly 70% of kids now go to college, where most of them are taught not to think. Every candidate on stage is convinced that the lion’s share of Democrat primary voters are radical Marxists.  Sadly, they’re all largely right, which is why any candidate who sounds remotely reasonable is running about the same percentage of voter support as you.  These candidates should know their voters, since every one of them is likely a product of America’s universities.  It is hard to overstate the damage this institution is inflicting on America but that outcome was on full display during the Democrat debate.

2.  Stipulated: Using PolitiFact as an authority in any political debate is proof that the user is either so biased he can’t recognize partisan slant when it’s right under his nose, or lying. I remember how most of the Ethics Alarms boycotters from the progressive collective, before they turned tail and ran, liked to cite the obviously manipulative fact-check service, the worst of the worst, if you don’t count Snopes. (FactCheck.org, though leftward tilting, is by far the fairest one of all, according to my magic ethics mirror on the wall…) Kudos, then, to Ted Cruz, who took the time to point out in a tweet:

“Just a reminder, when I said it, PolitiFact (a wholly-owned subsidiary of the DNC) rated ‘Beto wants to take our guns’ as FALSE,.” “Maybe they should buy one of his new t-shirts.”

You know..these:

Now I’m tempted to imitate Cruz’s tweak with my Facebook friends who indignantly protested when I described their favorite party as the champion of open borders, gun confiscation, and late-term abortion. Continue reading

Headed to The Ethics Alarms “Funny! But Unethical” Files: Ethics Dunce Christina Meador

Told by her bride-to-be sister that that she could wear “anything” as maid of honor at the wedding, Christina Meador had the brilliant inspiration to acquire a T-Rex costume and show up for the Nebraska ceremony dressed like a promotion for the next Jurassic Park sequel.

Posting the soon-to-go-viral photo on Facebook, the Maidasaurus wrote that she “regrets nothing.” Indeed, it’s a very funny scene. It was also an unethical stunt that made the event about the wacky maid of honor rather than the couple being wed. Laughs notwithstanding, the gag was a betrayal of trust.

Believe me, I am somewhat sympathetic. I was once the best man at a wedding before which the bride had dared me to show up in a chicken suit. I was tempted. I love chicken suits. Nevertheless, I decided that it would have been wrong.

The very least a wedding pair should be able to count on is for the day of their marriage to be one time, among very few in their lives, when everyone’s attention and thoughts are focused on them. Christina Meador robbed her own sister and the man she loves of that for a practical joke and 15 minutes of fame.

It was a rotten thing to do.

Monday Ethics Warm-Up, 7/29/19: Reverse Racism And Listening To Dead People

“Life is just one damn thing after another.”Will Rodgers.

1. “Dear White People.” Yes, that’s the name of what “Entertainment” calls an eagerly awaited Netflix series. The title is racist. Whites, however, are supposed to ignore constant efforts to stereotype them by skin shade, “otherize” them by designating people of non-color as “you people” (the term the NAACP erupted in outrage over when Ross Perot used it to describe their members), and generally employ the same demeaning rhetoric that if used in the other direction would be attacked as racist.

The  proposed rule appears to be that males and whites, and especially white males, should capitulate to this demeaning double standard, concur that they are twin blights on civilization, and if they do not, and find themselves driven into the arms of the national elected leader and the political party that does not accept the rigged “principles” that constitute consent to be bullied, persecuted and insulted, that means they are “white supremacists” and misogynists.

The gamble, I suppose, is that whites and men are really, really stupid and cowardly, and this divisive hypocrisy will prevail.

I could be wrong, but I think it’s a bad bet.

Post script: From the Babylon Bee: “Ilhan Omar Introduces Resolution Condemning Racism, White Men, And The Jews.”

Bingo. Continue reading