Comment Of The Day: “Ten Questions About The Lakewood High School Football Game Incident”

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Once again, as I can’t resist doing periodically, I’m publishing a dinged comment as a Comment of the Day to illustrate the kind of thinking and debating technique that goes on among the addled, biased, and ethics-free.

This one is from someone with the ironic email handle “rightwing moron” (he is, it seems, a “woke” moron) objecting to the position expressed here that schools must not take political positions and inflict them on their students, parents and football game spectators, because doing so is an abuse of position, function and power, and because those who operate schools are (theoretically) trained as educators, not public policy experts and political scientists, and have no right to engage in indoctrination.  I don’t consider that assessment to be seriously debatable, but I am eager to read intelligent, well-argued, articulate and civil attempts.

This is the first of two comments by whoever this jerk is; both violated Ethics Alarms comment standards. The second was more of the same fallacies and typical emotion-based, ignorant reasoning, so it was sent to Spam Hell. Whoever this was didn’t comprehend the essay in question at all. As is usually the case in such screeds (I get a lot of them), the writer presumes that as long as he, she or it agrees with a political view, it is proper and ethical to unilaterally hijack any activity or function to advance it.

I’ll be back briefly at the end to poke some holes, not because any readers of average intelligence won’t see what’s wrong with this mess on their own, but because I enjoy the excercise, like the way I enjoy walking on bubble wrap. I didn’t clean the rant up the way I edit respectable COTDs, because the lack of care the comment exhibits is of a piece with its quality generally.

Here is the Comment of the Day on the post, Ten Questions About The Lakewood High School Football Game Incident”:

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Ten Questions About The Lakewood High School Football Game Incident

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A football game at Lakewood High School in suburban Cleveland, Ohio, was intercepted and run into racial politics and partisan grandstanding territory when a voice over the public address system before the game declares that the school would has designated itself an “agent of change” in the battle against “systemic” racism in “society as a whole.”

After the band played the Lakewood alma mater, it then played “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the so-called “black national anthem,” in imitation of the NFL, which is featuring the song this season as part of its official grovel to Black Lives Matter. The announcer added his commentary about how racist the U.S. is, intoning,

 “Let us pause and reflect on the inequality that our nation has faced since its beginning. The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Tamir Rice among others remind us of the systemic racism that persists across so many of our nation’s institutions and society as a whole. By acknowledging, discussing, and taking action to address these inequalities, Lakewood City Schools aims to be an agent of change, not only in our community but in the world. We must all take a stand against racism. Let this be the moment when our children someday look back and say, ‘This is when we stood together for change.’”

Sources confirmed that both the school principal and the band director approved the political kick-off.

Despite receiving many complaints from parents and law enforcement over the stunt, the school reportedly will repeat its BLM-themed ritual in  future football games but will remove the names of those killed in encounters with police. Absurdly, the school will read a tribute to first responders at halftime as part of a “compromise” with law enforcement.

The new revised speech will provide context  for “ the black national anthem” explaining  how “Lift Every Voice and Sing” sets “an atmosphere of reverence for the journey of people of color, gratitude for the selfless sacrifices of their ancestors and for the inheritance of indomitability and resilience. The song recognizes these moments as important to moving forward toward hope and faith for a better future and a better America. The song is universally uplifting and speaks to every group that struggles.”

Here are some questions, rhetorical and otherwise:

1. What would you do if your child was involved in a high school sports contest and the school perverted it into a political demonstration? One father who attended the game said afterwards that he would have walked out…if it were not his son’s senior year. Yeah, those are typical priorities all right. It’s an outrage, but not important enough to teach a child that preserving standards and values is more important than a high school football game.

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“Racial Wealth Gap Persists Despite Degree, Study Says”…Now What?

The story ran as the front page lead in the New York Times more than a week ago, and was promptly ignored as the more pressing matter of criticism Donald Trump’s erudition in condemning the violence in Charlottesville obsessed the media:

“The long-term trend is shockingly clear,” said William R. Emmons, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and one of the authors of the report. “White and Asian college grads do much better than their counterparts without college, while college-grad Hispanics and blacks do much worse proportionately.”

A college degree has long been recognized as a great equalizer, a path for minorities to help bridge the economic chasm that separates them from whites. But the report, scheduled to be released on Monday, raises troubling questions about the ability of a college education to narrow the racial and ethnic wealth gap.

“Higher education alone cannot level the playing field,” the report concludes.

Great. What will level the playing field, and if the only solutions are ethically flawed, can the nation ethically accept that the playing field cannot be leveled? Is it necessary that all races achieve identical levels of success? Does the fact that a race, or an ethnic group, either exceeds or falls short of statistical parity signal that draconian measures must be undertaken by the government? Are we really committed to results based policies, or opportunity-based policies?

In the Times print version, there was a chart that labelled, among other things, Asian families as “over-represented” among wealthyl households headed by a college grad. “Over-represented” is a provocative word, suggesting that something is wrong with Asian American achieving beyond what pure statistical analysis would predict. Is it so unimaginable that the group itself may have something to do with its success—that its culture and values may allow it to be “over-represented”?

No, it isn’t unimaginable, but it is inconvenient and politically explosive. If culture and values can explain over-achievement, it will be difficult to avoid the conclusion that culture and values also play a part in under-achievement as well. The Times report (I haven’t read the whole study)  doesn’t hint at such a conclusion, while citing many other potential causes:

Researchers have repeatedly found discrimination in the job market. When two nearly identical résumés are sent out, for example, it has been documented that the candidate with a white-sounding name receives more callbacks than the applicant with a black-sounding name.

Discrimination like this and other factors contribute to the persistent and substantial pay gap between whites and minorities. Blacks, for instance, hold a disproportionate share of government jobs — a sector that has shrunk in recent years and provides fewer opportunities for big wage gains. Blacks have fewer advanced degrees, and the ones who do are more often in lower-paying fields or graduates of colleges with lesser reputations.

“Blacks and Latinos at all education levels, including college and advanced degrees, earn less than their white counterparts, which means lower lifetime earnings” and less ability to save, said John Schmitt, research director at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, who reviewed an advance copy of the report.

Blacks and Hispanics are also less likely than whites to inherit money or receive help from their parents to cover a tuition bill or a down payment on a house.

William A. Darity Jr., a professor of public policy at the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University, points out that a family headed by a black college graduate has less wealth on average than a family headed by a white high school dropout.

That last fact is especially discouraging.

The relative disinterest of the news media in the implications of the report is troubling, or perhaps I should say its disinterest in pursuing an open and honest discussion of what the implications are, and what new policies should be considered. The status quo, with historically oppressed and disadvantaged groups perpetually lagging behind and perpetually blaming white society for their persistent plight, is a recipe for chaos, generating shrill and divisive prescriptions like this one, from Chanelle Helm,  a Black Lives Matters leader in Louisville:

Some things I’m thinking about that should change (in that Southern, black grandmama voice):

1. White people, if you don’t have any descendants, will your property to a black or brown family. Preferably one that lives in generational poverty.

2. White people, if you’re inheriting property you intend to sell upon acceptance, give it to a black or brown family. You’re bound to make that money in some other white privileged way.

3. If you are a developer or realty owner of multi-family housing, build a sustainable complex in a black or brown blighted neighborhood and let black and brown people live in it for free.

4. White people, if you can afford to downsize, give up the home you own to a black or brown family. Preferably a family from generational poverty.

5. White people, if any of the people you intend to leave your property to are racists assholes, change the will, and will your property to a black or brown family. Preferably a family from generational poverty.

6. White people, re-budget your monthly so you can donate to black funds for land purchasing.

7. White people, especially white women (because this is yaw specialty — Nosey Jenny and Meddling Kathy), get a racist fired. Yaw know what the fuck they be saying. You are complicit when you ignore them. Get your boss fired cause they racist too.

8. Backing up No. 7, this should be easy but all those sheetless Klan, Nazi’s and Other lil’ dick-white men will all be returning to work. Get they ass fired. Call the police even: they look suspicious.

9. OK, backing up No. 8, if any white person at your work, or as you enter in spaces and you overhear a white person praising the actions from yesterday, first, get a pic. Get their name and more info. Hell, find out where they work — Get Them Fired. But certainly address them, and, if you need to, you got hands: use them.

10. Commit to two things: Fighting white supremacy where and how you can (this doesn’t mean taking up knitting, unless you’re making scarves for black and brown kids in need), and funding black and brown people and their work.

I read this, and find myself wondering if one of the reasons for that discouraging study’s results is the increasing influence of voices like Chanelle Helm’s.

Ten Ethics Observations On The Democratic National Convention

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1. The unrestrained cheer-leading from the news media in contrast to its week-long sneer at the Republican is so shamelessly biased that American journalism risks crippling its ability to use its giant megaphone to sabotage Trump. They might at least pretend to be fair and objective. I get it: I find it horrifying that Trump is running too. The immediate and unrestrained effort to go stop him, however, is so openly unprofessional, and shows how far the news media’s ethics have deteriorated just since 2008.

2. We could see and hear, during the course of the convention, how Donald Trump’s boorishness and propensity for ad hominem attacks and personal insults have degraded both parties and political discourse generally. And to think, in 1988, Ann Richards was criticized for her George H.W. Bush attacks at the Democratic Convention, and her famous jibe that Bush was born with a “silver foot in his mouth.” The Democrats could have taken the high road, and would have benefited, as well as done the culture a favor. Nah.

3. The most unethical aspect of the convention was the party’s tacit embrace of Black Lives Matters, while the BLM protesters outside were directing white journalists  to “stand in the back” while covering its protests, around the country police officers were facing increasing abuse, and in Baltimore, Marilyn Mosby was graphically illustrating BLM’s attack on the rule of law.

Democrats deserve to pay a high price for this, and I am confident that they will.

4. I owe Senator Eugene McCarthy an apology. I was among the many young  supporters of the rebellious anti-war Democrat who felt betrayed when McCarthy refused to address his beaten troops at the 1968 Convention. He stayed in his Chicago hotel room, angry and resentful of how the party had steam-rolled him and his movement. I thought it was cowardly and selfish. Now, after thinking ill of Clean Gene  all these years, I realize he might have been right after all. Being gracious isn’t ethical when you are required to become a symbolic pawn  to the same dark, unethical forces that you have been telling your throngs to resist and battle despite long odds. If you pull a Cruz instead of a Sanders, you look like you are trying to torpedo your own party. Better, perhaps, to do what Gene did. His integrity told him that the best response was to neither to capitulate, nor be petulant, but just to retreat to fight another day.

I’m not sure he was right, but  I’m no longer sure he was wrong.

I’m sorry, Senator. Continue reading