Tag Archives: civil rights

Ethics Hero: Bob Cousy

I was thinking of adding “Boston Celtics and pro basketball legend” to the title, but I depressed myself thinking it was necessary, which of course it is. When Bob Cousy retired, in 1962, there wasn’t a more famous NBA star alive. Now, not only is the play-making wizard who led the Boston Celtics through the beginning of their unparalleled dynasty unrecognizable to most Americans, so is the kind of basketball he played, before it was all dunking and styling by pituitary cases.

But I digress.

In the newly published book “Last Pass” by Gary Pomeranz,  Cousy, the Hall of Fame Boston Celtics captain who led the team to its first six championships, opened up about his relationship with Bill Russell, the great, enigmatic, difficult, defensive genius  who was the center on Cousy’s teams, and on many Celtics championship teams thereafter. Russell was the first back superstar in sports-crazy, perpetually racist Boston,  and as he reaches 90, Cousy is reflecting on what he did, and what he didn’t do, as the white superstar on a team whose brilliant black center was often the target of racists. In the Boston suburb of Reading, vandals once broke into Russell’s home, spray-painted racist graffiti on walls and defecated on his bed. The Cooz, as he was called, is remembered as being  ahead of his time as an NBA player in his sensitivity to race and civil rights. Still, Cousy blames himself for not having done enough, and for not having understood the depth of prejudice Russell faced as an African-American in Boston. Cousy told the historian that he wants to make amends. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Heroes, History, Race, Sports

Bill Robinson, Fred Astaire, And The Good “Blackface”

We recently came through the usual Halloween bag of “blackface” controversies, and Ethics Alarms, as it has before, tried to guide the discussion to the material distinctions that social justice warriors, who strategically deal in absolutes when seeking power through real and contrived offense, refuse to acknowledge or are intellectually incapable of doing so. The short version of the Ethics Alarms message: make-up for legitimate theatrical purposes isn’t “blackface,” isn’t “racist,” and shouldn’t be object of knee jerk condemnation based on emotion or ignorance.

Today Turner Movie Classics showed “Swing Time,” the 1936 musical that is probably the high water mark in the Ginger Rogers-Fred Astaire canon. It has the best song (“The Way You Look Tonight”), the best novelty scene (Astaire pretending to be a klutz in a dance lesson with Ginger, then shocking her and her boss—and saving her job— by showing “what a great teacher she is” by dancing, well, like Fred Astaire) and arguably two of the best dances by the two, “Never Gonna Dance” and “Waltz in Swing Time.” The film also contains a controversial “blackface” number, “Bojangles of Harlem,” in which Fred pays homage to two great black tap dancers who were teachers and inspirations for him, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and John Bubbles. Local TV stations have long been reluctant to show “Swingtime” because of guaranteed complaints that the number is racist, or, if they cut the number (which is unconscionable), complaints pour in from film and Astaire fans that they have defaced a classic out of misplaced political correctness.

If one argues that the number is “racist” because of Fred’s make-up, then one is necessarily arguing that no white performer can ever offer an admiring  salute to an African-American great by emulating him. Astaire’s choreography (by Hermes Pan) contained specific references to trademark steps and gestures by both Bubbles and Robinson, though more of the former than the latter. (Some would say, maybe even Fred, that this was because he didn’t dare set himself up to be compared to Robinson, whom many regard as the greatest tap-dancer of them all.) Blackface, as typified by minstrel shows, was a burlesque of negative black stereotypes. There isn’t a hint of this in Astaire’s number: he wears dark make-up because he is honoring two contemporary black dance stars who he knew, learned from, and respected. The make-up is the epitome of a legitimate theatrical device, and racially demeaning neither in intent nor effect. Those who see it as such are either deliberately misconstruing the number, or don’t know what they are talking about. (There is an unfortunate racially demeaning set piece that appears for a couple of seconds at the start, a large caricature of exaggerated black features. You can take the film out of 1936, but you can’t take 1936 out of the film.)

The ironic part of the effort to quarantine “Bojangles of Harlem” is that the number is one of the few reminders in our culture of who Bill Robinson was, and—here’s Jack on his “duty to remember” and cultural literacy soapbox again–he was an important figure in American theatrical, cultural and civil rights history that should be remembered.  Instead, Robinson is almost completely forgotten: I bet most of the NAACP members who get up in arms when TMC shows “Swing Time” have no idea how significant Robinson was, and the contributions he made to art and society. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, History, Popular Culture, Race, U.S. Society

Ethics Dunce: The American Bar Association

Res Ipsa Loquitur: The American Bar Association  Section on Civil Rights and Social Justice will bestow the prestigious Thurgood Marshall Award on former Obama U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder during the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago on August 4. It has been obvious for a long time, but if anyone needed any further evidence that the ABA is now a full-fledged partisan left-wing organization masquerading as an objective professional association, this is it. Holder wasn’t just a bad AG, he was a political one in what is supposed to be a non-political office. He was also racialist, and obviously so, regularly coordinating with Al Sharpton and his followers, and constructing a Civil Rights division that adopted the position that only whites could engage in civil rights violations.

Holder should have disqualified himself from any professional awards, not to mention his high office in the Obama Administration, when he gave the green light to President  Clinton’s  infamous pardon of Democratic donor Marc Rich (aka. Clinton’s quid pro quo for his ex-wife’s  fat donation to his Presidential library). In fact, it was a defining moment, and having defined himself as a partisan lackey, Holder was exactly what President Obama wanted at Justice. Holder intervened in the Trayvon Martin case to signal it as a race-related crime in the absence of any evidence, and did likewise in the Michael Brown shooting, lighting the fuse of racial distrust and community anger at police. Then he called the United States a “nation of cowards” regarding race relations. The real coward was Holder, who used his race—he was the first black Attorney General—to shield himself from the accountability and criticism his mishandling of his office deserved.

Holder was held in contempt of Congress—and allowed the captive news media to call the action “racist”—after he withheld documents and key witnesses from oversight committees looking at several scandals in which his Justice Department was complicit. Notable among them was the “Fast and Furious” fiasco in which the government allowed Mexican drug gangs to get high-powered weapons, one of which ended up killing an American. Holder actively misled Congress in testimony under oath.ore than once.  He sought significant reductions in privacy and due process protections for citizens—civil rights? Hello, ABA?— and personally announced and supported Obama’s “kill list” policy, in which the President asserted the right to kill any U.S. citizen on his sole authority without a charge or due process.  Holder let his  department apply the controversial Espionage Act of 1917 to bring twice the number of such prosecutions under the Act that had occurred under all previous Attorneys General.  He led the Obama Administration in a campaign against government whistle-blowers. Holder championed warrantless surveillance (Civil rights? Hello?). Most damning of all given the title of his upcoming award, Holder was personally involved in targeting journalists for surveillance and  was the leader of an Obama administration attack on the news media that was condemned by many public interest and media groups. Holder’s Justice Department seized phone records for reporters and editors  at three Associated Press offices as well as its office in the House of Representatives. Under oath, Holder later claimed to know nothing about any of it.

Writes Prof. Jonathan Turley, who has written many searing articles documenting Holder’s disgraceful tenure at Justice,

“Holder’s “contributions” cost civil liberties dearly in this country. If the ABA is to give him this award, it could at least spare civil libertarians and journalists the reference to civil liberties.”

_______________

Note: You can read the various Ethics Alarms documentation of Holder unethical words and conduct here.

This one is probably my favorite, from 2014.

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Filed under Character, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Rights

A Lost Ethics Movie: John Ford’s “Sergeant Rutledge”

All right: not exactly lost, but certainly almost forgotten.  Released in 1960, “Sergeant Rutledge” was a daring Western with a racial justice theme well before Jim Crow had breathed its last. The iconic film version of “To Kill A Mockingbird” was two years from being made, and master director John Ford told the story of a black “buffalo soldier” wrongly accused of raping and killing a white woman and shooting an officer. The film was the first to feature the Buffalo Soldiers, the all-black cavalry units that continued through World War II, and was the first Western to feature a black protagonist. Sergeant Rutledge, played by the perfectly cast Woody Strode. Rutledge is innocent, but because he is black and a white girl was one of the victims,  he is presumed guilty. The prosecution in his military trial has blatant racist overtones, and Ford unsparingly focuses on the indignities imposed on African Americans in the unsettled frontier culture following the Civil War. In Strode, Ford had an almost too ideal star: everything about him is perfect. He’s brave, well-respected, professional, trusted and gorgeous: Strode was a magnificent former athlete who projected virtue quiet dignity in every film appeared in. I don’t think he ever played a villain.

The movie has some problems, including a Perry Mason-style resolution that is either over-acted, badly-acted, or badly-written: I couldn’t decide. It was also a flop, perhaps because the nation was more ready for the theme two years later, perhaps because Ford’s star was fading fast by 1960, but more likely because it had no major star like Gregory Peck  (or John Wayne, who was busy making “The Alamo”) to persuade audiences take a chance on an unusual film. It is Strode’s only starring role, and Hollywood was just beginning to cast Sidney Poitier in leads—Poitier was a far more versatile actor—in 1960. The other star is Jeffrey Hunter, best remembered today for making the original pilot for “Star Trek” as “Captain Pike.” Hunter never was a box office draw, though he was a strong second lead in Ford’s “The Searchers.”

Somehow the myth has grown that this was a film in which Ford, nearing the end, was “apologizing” for his previous racially insensitivity in other films. That’s revisionism. Ford made Westerns about cowboys and the West, and both were undeniably dominated by whites, with blacks in subservient positions. It’s not insensitive to be faithful to history.  Ford was, by the standards of his time, a progressive liberal, and the kind, apparently now extinct, who could still have close friendships and working relationships with conservatives, like Ward Bond, Walter Brennan, James Stewart and John Wayne. For example, Ford memorably stared down arch-Right director Cecil B. DeMille when DeMille was trying to get the Screen Director’s Guild to install a loyalty oath. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, History, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, U.S. Society, War and the Military

Morning Warm-Up, 12/9/17: Let’s Hate The President! Edition

Good Morning!

It’s snowing in Alexandria, Virginia!

1 Obviously,racial division works. The President of the United States quite appropriately and necessarily accepted an invitation to attend the opening on the  new Mississippi Civil Rights Museum today. So many black dignitaries then announced that they would boycott the event as a result, however, that the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and the White House agreed to hold a separate private program for Trump as a compromise.

You know. Separate but equal.

The disrespect for the Presidency and democracy shown by so many black Democrats since the election, low-lighted by the Congressional Black caucus’s divisive and offensive boycott of the Inauguration has succeeded in propelling race relations in the U.S. backwards. Prime among the offenders is Rep. John Lewis, the “civil rights icon,” as he is routinely referred to in the press, an angry, bitter, hyper-partisan who sees a racism in any policy or position he doesn’t like. Lewis, Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, Rep. Bennie Thompson and Myrlie Evers-Williams, the widow of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers, were among the first to announce that they wouldn’t extend the courtesy to the elected President of the United States to stand with him to honor the civil rights movement and the heroes who laid the foundation of racial equality in our nation.

What is the alleged justifications for this insult, which only exacerbates the dangerous racial tensions in the U.S., which were recklessly manipulated for political gain by Democrats during the Obama administration?

The “racism” of unambiguously opposing illegal immigration and calling Islamic terrorism Islamic…

The President’s support for voter IDs and efforts to prevent voter fraud…

Trump’s refusal to be pressured into condemning a legal, First Amendment protected protest of the removal of Confederate statues after police allowed the protesters to be attacked by antifa thugs in a counter-demonstration. He said both sides were at fault. They were…

The President’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act, because opposing the signature botch of the first black President makes you a racist, and

The President’s public criticism of the incoherent Kaepernicking by NFL players.

None of these individually or collectively are evidence of a lack of support for civil rights or racial comity. Lewis and the rest are harming the nation and their own cause by their effort to “otherize” the President.

2. Nurturing a culture of contempt.  Newsweek decided that the death of Vice President Pence’s beloved cat Pickle justified this headline: “Mike Pence’s Pets Won’t Stop Dying” A commenter wrote,

You are a trash publication. And in a piece that ostensibly tries to represent the fact that the Pence family has lost some old, but long beloved pets, as well as tell us who the new pets are, you bury that content under a headline that is nothing short of gloating, hateful, sociopathic, and cruel…

Ah, but “the resistance” loves it, and that’s the target audience.

3. A news media double standard note. Both President Clinton and Barack Obama promised in their campaigns to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capitol. Both failed to keep their pledges. Trump made the same promise, and kept it. The overwhelming verdict by the news media and pundits: he’s a reckless fool, because if Trump does it, it must be bad. Unless you can detect another reason…

4.  Somebody tell Professor Butler. You will recall that when I explained to NPR’s Michel Martin that a woman who viewed a sexual advance as welcome decades ago could suddenly decide it wasn’t and accuse Donald trump (or Al Franken) of sexual harassment years later, my fellow panel member Georgetown Law Professor Paul Butler interjected, “Come on!”

Legendary Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue model Paulina Porizkova, whose career peaked  in the Eighties, told an interviewer that sexual harassment was such an ingrained part of the modeling business that it was viewed by the models as a “compliment.”  After all, if nobody was hitting on you, maybe you weren’t as hot as you thought you were. Some, though far from all, of the #MeToo mob’s witch hunt is based on a sanctification of “presentism,” imposing current standards on past conduct. It is not politically correct to admit it. Good for Paulina.

5. CNN Fake News Update. The arrogance of CNN in the wake of its misreporting of a story to make it appear as incriminating as possible for the Trump campaign is signature significance, and would be enlightening for the public if any mainstream media sources reported it. How ironic!

  • Behold!

That’s right. President Trump is lying again. CNN isn’t sorry it falsely told the nation that there was what sure seemed like smoking gun evidence of his collusion with the Russians, and CNN didn’t apologize. Is it fair to say ABC’s Brian Ross, who sparked a Dow Jones panic by another anti-Trump false report, should have been fired, rather than banned from reporting on anything Trump related? Gee, tough question. Should a senior reporter who can’t be trusted to report accurately and fairly on the President of the United States continue to be employed by major news organization? That’s a real puzzler!

  • And recall this, from yesterday..

Stelter’s CNN show, by the by, is called “Reliable Sources.” That Brian, the media ethics watchdog! Such a kidder!

  • The Federalist’s Molly Hemingway has “some questions for CNN to answer to restore trust between the reporters on the story, editors on the story, the news organization itself, and viewers and readers.”  If CNN was a responsible and ethical news organization, it would answer them. It won’t, of course. In fact, if CNN were ethical, it would have answered Hemingway’s questions already.

1. Did CNN ever see the email before running the story on it?

2. Does CNN believe it’s ethical to write about a document and not let readers and viewers know up front that reporters and editors haven’t seen the document?

3. If CNN didn’t see the email, who told CNN about it?

4. Why did CNN believe these sources?

5. Were they Democratic Members of Congress on the House Select Committee on Intelligence leaking information from this week’s testimony?

6. Were they staff of these members?

7. Are these sources independent or in the same office or otherwise related to each other?

8. What other stories have these individuals sourced for CNN and what dates were they published?

9. What is being done to check these stories out for inaccuracies?

10. How many of these stories related to the Russia investigation?

11. How many other stories has CNN reported where it never actually saw the documents it reported as fact?

12. Can CNN point to another big story anchored to documents that its journalists haven’t authenticated?

13. Will the reporters on this story continue to cover this beat? If so, why?

14. Which editors worked on and approved this story?

15. How will editorial processes on Russia conspiracy stories change going forward to avoid similar errors?

16. Given that the story is meaningless, as corrected, why hasn’t the story been retracted in its entirety?

17. Will CNN use these sources in the future? If so, why? If not, how can readers be sure they are not used as future sources?

18. Given the seriousness of their error and the damage they caused to the reputation of the news outlet, will CNN out the sources? If not, why not?

6. Not joking, unfortunately...On the other hand, if none of the above troubles you as a fair and patriotic American, this company will sell you this charming and inspirational ornament to crown your Christmas tree…

Each purchase comes with a priority admission to a mental heath facility.

Or should.

_________________

Pointer: Instapundit

 

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Religion and Philosophy, U.S. Society

Unethical Tweet Of The Month: “Civil Rights Activist” Danielle Muscato

“In the event of an impending head explosion, immediately place both hands, fingers spread,  firmly around your skull, applying pressure to both the top and the sides, until the pressure begins to subside…”

This could have been an Ethics Dunce, or an Unethical Quote of the Month. It was nearly a KABOOM!, if I hadn’t immediately clasped my hands, hard, over my skull when I read it, just in time to stop my brain from exploding. I also almost included it in draft post called A “This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President” Potpourri.

Upon reflection, I decided that a self-described “civil rights activist” tweeting this was so unethical, so ignorance-promoting, not to mention hateful, bigoted and sexist, that it deserved to stand alone.

An ethical,  sane, democracy and American values-supporting “lady” , confronting such a curfew, would realize that a totalitarian regime had taken over, and either join a citizen rebel army, or get the hell out of the country. Yeah, I read the thread, being a “dude,” and realized that what passes for feminism in a lot of cases is misandry and hypocrisy. Also that what passes for a “civil rights activist” is occasionally a crypt-fascist who neither understands civil rights nor supports them.

Imagine if her tweet had substituted “African-Americans” or “Muslims” for “men,” and “dudes”, and “White, law-abiding citizens” for “Ladies.”

If Muscato is to be believed, and frankly, I wouldn’t believe someone who tweets something this stupid to tell me what number comes after “3”, Danielle is often featured in or on the New York Times, Time, CNN, NPR, and Rolling Stone.

What does that tell you? Continue reading

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Ethics Dunce: The NAACP. A Really Bad One…

The NAACP, once a heroic and invaluable champion of civil rights, has apparently completed its devolution into a hyper-partisan, race-baiting collection of venal, divisive  hacks. It has been said that every cause inevitably becomes a racket, and the NAACP is now a prime and tragic example.

How do we know this? We know this because the organization has called the decision (finally) by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to command his player to stick to what they are paid for—football and only football—when they are on the playing field, and to stand for the National Anthem “a public commitment by an NFL owner to violate his players’ Constitutional right to free speech.”

This is more than merely ignorant, though if genuine the statement would be unforgivably ignorant for a civil rights organization: a civil rights organization that doesn’t know what civil rights are and what the Bill of Rights means is useless as well as without credibility.

That, however, is impossible. The NAACP has lawyers; their lawyers aren’t idiots. They know that the First Amendment has no relevance or connection to the silly NFL players’ kneeling stunt during the National Anthem. The lawyers had to have informed the NAACP leadership of this, as if that was necessary, which it almost certainly was not. The leadership has to know better than to make this junior high school level civics mistake. No, in this case the NAACP is lying. It is deliberately misinforming the people who depend on it to lead on civil rights, and who trust the organization to be able to support its position with facts and law. It is doing this to inflame passions and worsen the racial divide. What other reason could there be? Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Leadership, Race, Rights