Tag Archives: Columbus Day

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, October 10, 2017: Post-Columbus Day Edition

Good Morning.

1 The rhetoric against celebrating Columbus Day is at bottom an attack on American values and the nation itself,  making the case that the culture should bask in eternal guilt and shame for the crime of existing. It has always been thus: I heard the counter-Columbus claims when I was a kid and living in Boston, where you can’t throw a spitball without hitting an Italian or a Catholic. Then, however, there were sufficient numbers of responsible elected officials who put those ignorant and warped arguments in their place—the trash. Now, the path of least resistance reigns.

We celebrate Columbus because he brought European culture and civilization to the New World, making our nation possible. He was the butterfly flapping his wings in the Amazon, in Chaos terms: without Columbus, everything might be different. One thing that would not be different, however, is that the stone age cultures that lived in the Americas would not have prevailed, thrived and survived. Blaming Chis for the inevitable destruction of primitive cultures when more advanced and ambitious ones arrived, as they were going to with or without Columbus, is scapegoating of the worst kind.

We also celebrate Columbus because of the good and important things his first voyage symbolizes: mankind’s constant search for knowledge; the bravery of explorers; the visionary who dares to challenge conventional wisdom.

We have not, so far at least, renamed Martin Luther King Day as Victims of Adultery Day. Columbus was a man of his time, working for a brutal regime. He did many things that were wrong even by the standards of the time. Irrelevant. He opened the door  from the Old World to the New, and made the United States of America possible.

That’s worth celebrating.

2. Robert E. Lee  High School in San Antonio wins some kind of weasel award for responding to pressure to de-honor that racist slave-owner Robert E. Lee by renaming it LEE High School, with LEE being an acronym meaning Legacy of Educational Excellence High School. Pretty impressive, that: managing to be cowardly, irresponsible, and deceitful, all at once. Capitulating to the Left’s statue-toppling, historical airbrushing mania is wrong; doing so while not really doing it is worse. Keep recognizing the General, or don’t.

Who wants people like this teaching their children?

3.  ESPN  didn’t think it was necessary to suspend  anchor Jemele Hill  for tweeting that the President of the United States was a white supremacist, but when she dared to suggest that advertisers boycott NFL teams that forbade the kneeling stunt currently killing NFL  fan loyalty, ratings, ticket sales and popularity, that really crossed some lines. The network suspended Weeks after she expressed outrage at the ownership of the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins for making a “No-knee” policy for its players.

“Jemele Hill has been suspended for two weeks for a second violation of our social media guidelines,” ESPN said in a statement. “In the aftermath all employees were reminded of how individual tweets may reflect negatively on ESPN and that such actions would have consequences. Hence this decision.”

Ethics Alarms is on record as holding that Hill should have been disciplined for the anti-Trump tweet, but I sympathize with her here. She had every reason to believe that she had received special dispensation to air her progressive, resistance, Black Lives Matter advocacy using her ESPN visibility as a platform, especially after Disney’s CEO admitted that she hadn’t been disciplined because she was black.

ESPN’s standards are as incoherent as the cause of the kneeling players. They send mixed signals to employees and viewers, satisfying no one, and creating a chaotic culture undermining their own business, which is, remember, covering sports. Continue reading

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The Strange, Conflicted, Unethical Holiday We Call Columbus Day

"Yes, it seems like a catastrophe now, but some day creatures called human beings will celebrate this day..."

“Yes, it seems like a catastrophe now, but some day creatures called human beings will celebrate this moment…”

What are we celebrating on Columbus Day, and is it ethical to celebrate it?

When I was a child, I was taught that we were celebrating the life of Cristoforo Columbo, popularly known as Columbus, who was convinced, against the prevailing skeptics of the time, that the Earth was round rather than flat, and in the process of proving his thesis, made the United States of America possible by discovering the New World in 1492. Virtually none of what we were taught about Columbus was true,  so what we thought we were celebrating wasn’t really what we were celebrating. Columbus wasn’t alone in believing the world was round: by 1492, most educated people knew the flat Earth theory was dumb. He blundered into discovering the New World, and by introducing Spain into this rich, virgin and vulnerable territory, he subjected millions of people and generations of them to Spain’s destructive and venal approach to exploration, which was, in simple terms, loot without mercy. The Spanish were like locusts to the Americas; South and Central America are still paying the priced today. Surely we aren’t celebrating Columbus’s complicity in that. Continue reading

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Celebrate Columbus Day, Honor Columbus

Today is Columbus Day, not that one would know it to read the typical paper or to watch most newscasts. The Italian explorer’s reputation and legacy have been relentlessly eroded over the years by temporal chauvinists who apply spurious social and historical hindsight to justify unfair criticism of civilization’s heroes. Christopher Columbus deserves the honor this holiday bestowed on him.  He was a visionary and an explorer who, like all transformative figures, possessed the courage and imagination to challenge conventional wisdom and seek new horizons of achievement.

Holding Columbus responsible for the predation of the Spanish and the devastation of native populations that were among the unanticipated consequences of his achievement is the equivalent of blaming Steve Jobs for technology’s elimination of occupations and the fact that our children are fat and have the attention span of mayflies. And of course, anyone who believes that the Stone Age populations of the Americas would have continued to prosper in Avatar bliss without Columbus’s intrusion is ignorant of both human nature and world history. Continue reading

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