Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/12/2021: Thanks, Columbus!

Columbus 2

This is the real Columbus Day: After sailing across the Atlantic Ocean, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus saw a Bahamian island on October 12, 1492. He believed he had reached East Asia: Chris was right about the world being round, but it was bigger than he thought. His expedition went ashore and claimed the land for Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain, the sponsors of his attempt to find a western ocean route to to the far East. Columbus changed the route of history, science and culture, with incalculable effects long and short term, good and bad. He also was directly responsible for brutal treatment of Native Americans, because he was a product of the 15th Century. We honor historical figures for their positive achievements, and if they are positive and important enough, the personal and public evils such figures might have also had on their ledgers are secondary. That is as it should be: the alternative is to honor no one at all, and to make history a parade of villains….

…although I would be hard pressed to find anything negative to say about the amazing Desmond Doss, who became the first Conscientious Objector to be awarded the Medal of Honor on this date in 1945. Ethics Alarms told his astounding story here, in 2017; so did the film “Hacksaw Ridge.” I still have a hard time believing it.

1. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! (#1): Here is the Washington Post, deliberately promoting statue toppling with a handy-dandy guide. This is the kind of thing that made me stop subscribing to my hometown paper. It does not explain why I subscribe to the Times, which just raised its rates to 90 bucks a month.

wapo_list_of_columbus_statues_10-11-2021

2. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! (#2): From Sunday’s “Reliable Sources” on CNN (That’s the hangout of absurdly unreliable Brian Stelter, who pretends to opine on journalism ethics while having none of his own):

Once respectable liberal journalist James Fallows, now employed by the extreme left-wing “Atlantic”: “The struggle for us all in the media is if we keep pointing out that one side of the political divide is actually instigating these things, defying subpoenas, trying to renege on the debt, holding up State Department appointments, et cetera, we are conscious of seeming shrill, we’re conscious of seeming unbalanced, we’re conscious of seeming to take a side. And so it’s something about our culture, we need to figure out how we can give out a narrative of the actual realities recognizing how this is at odds with our conventions.”

Oh, no! Seeming to take a side when they are taking sides? Seeming to be shrill when they are shrill? “Actual realities,” meaning “our biased views, represented as irrefutable truth to accomplish our agendas”? Whatever shall good journalists do? Wow. [Pointer: Steve-O-in NJ]

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Ethics Dunce: University of Illinois Chicago John Marshall Law School

Marshall

You knew I couldn’t let this one pass.

The UIC John Marshall Law School is officially changing its name to the University of Illinois Chicago School of Law. The decision, a capitulation to the unethical mentality of the cancel culture and historical air-brushing strategy embraced by the political Left, comes after months of review by a task force. The resulting report noted, “that despite Chief Justice Marshall’s legacy as one of the nation’s most significant U.S. Supreme Court justices, the newly discovered research regarding his role as a slave trader, slave owner of hundreds of slaves, pro-slavery jurisprudence, and racist views render him a highly inappropriate namesake for the Law School.”

The most influential and important jurist in U.S, history is a highly inappropriate namesake for a law school. Got it.

John Marshall was the fourth chief justice of the Supreme Court, (1801 – 1835), and the only essential one. He authored the majority opinion in Marbury v. Madison (1803) that established judicial review, giving the Court power to declare legislative acts and executive actions unconstitutional. Without Marshall, the Constitution wouldn’t work. He took a bold and controversial step to ensure that basic rights and principles would not be wiped out by a rogue Congress or a dictatorial President. How many landmark SCOTUS decisions does the nation owe to Marshall as a result? How different would our lives be without his deft adjustment to the balance of the Branches? Would the United States of America even exist at all?

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The Reverend Robert Wright Lee Car On The Confederate Statuary Ethics Train Wreck

Fake Lee

I missed this, a case where refusing to subscribe to my local paper, The Washington Post, bit me. (I decided that if I have to get a flagrantly left-wing biased newspaper that has chosen to be a propaganda organ for the Democratic Party, I might as well get the best flagrantly left-wing biased newspaper that has chosen to be a propaganda organ for the Democratic Party and not #2.

Glenn Kessler, the Post’s “Factchecker” who tries to be objective but is so marinated in his organization’s biases that he fails as often as not, tried to save face for his employers by revealing that a man who has repeatedly represented himself as a descendant of General Robert E. Lee (On his website, Rob Lee describes himself as “a descendant of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.”) in order to justify toppling statues of the Confederate icon is, in fact, nothing of the kind. He is as much a relative of General Lee as Elizabeth Warren is a Cherokee. Nonetheless, the Post published an opinion piece on June 7, 2020, by Rev. Robert E. Lee VI titled, “Robert E. Lee is my ancestor. Take down his statue, and let his cause be lost.” The Post editor identified the author as the fourth great-nephew of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The headline, the description, and the justification for publishing the op-ed were, in order, a lie, journalism negligence, and misinformation. That was a year ago. Now Kessler decides to check the facts? Nice job, Speedy.

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Ethics Dunces: The San Francisco School Board [Corrected]

Rushmore 6

I was going to write an Ethics Dunce post about Jamie L.H. Goodall, a staff historian at the U.S. Army Center of Military History who wrote a truly stupid piece for The Washington Post headlined “The Buccaneers embody Tampa’s love of pirates. Is that a problem?” Goodall is triggered by the fact that the NFL’s now champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers carry a nickname that romanticizes pirates, who were bad people.

Of course, everyone knows pirates were (are, since there are more pirates operating now than back in the “Arrrgh!” days) bad, but they were scary and tough, see, and teams are named after scary and tough symbols, sometimes. Only people who have nothing better to do but to try to bend others to their will make the fatuous kinds of arguments Goodall does. ( “There is danger in romanticizing ruthless cutthroats…Why? Because it takes these murderous thieves who did terrible things — like locking women and children in a burning church — and makes them a symbol of freedom and adventure, erasing their wicked deeds from historical memory. These were men (and women) who willingly participated in murder, torture and the brutal enslavement of Africans and Indigenous peoples.” ) Oh yeah, we had to get the racist angle. I wonder how the good people of Pittsburgh managed to have a much-loved baseball team called “The Pirates” for more than a century without anyone, or any of their many, many proud African American and Caribbean players feeling that they were honoring raping and pillaging. Perhaps it’s because the team doesn’t and neither do “Treasure Island” and “The Pirates of Penzance (which I have performed in and directed).

The problem isn’t the Buccaneers; it’s the far too successful ongoing strategy of the oppressive Left, which seeks to keep anyone with normal sensibilities and an appreciation of history, literature, humor, whimsy and proportion constantly apologizing and retreating under a barrage of manufactured indignation and artificial moral superiority. The blunder has been that instead of responding to the power-hungry ideologues and their allies like Goodall who make these claims with the mockery and contempt they deserve, those under assault make the mistake, again and again, of saying, “Well, if it bothers you that much, okay. We’ll give you what you want. After all, it’s only a name.

But it’s not only a name. It’s a word, a street, a mascot, a flag, a logo, a book, a song, a movie, a statue, an artist, a leader, a President, a Founder, a culture, and a nation. The strategy and its purpose should have been obvious long ago, and it should have been fought against hard, right at the beginning, with all the fury and determination that goes into any other existential battle. Or a war.

As I said, I was going to write this post about Jamie L.H. Goodall, but her idiocy is already a cliche, and at this point, arguing over team names is a distraction. (Too bad, though, as I had a fun post ready explaining how almost every professional sports team name was vulnerable to woke attack.) But I realized that the recent action by San Francisco’s school board represents the metastasized end game in the totalitarian Left’s cultural bull-dozing plan.

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Monday Ethics Warm-Up, 12/14/2020: Last Week Before Getting Freaked Out Over Christmas Edition

Anxious Santa

1. American companies doing China’s censorship for a buck. The Chinese government pulled the American film “Monster Hunter” from theaters because a childish pun was deemed racist. “Look at my knees!” says an American soldier played by a Chinese-American rapper known as MC Jin as he rides in a military vehicle. “What kind of knees are these?” Then he answers his own question: “Chi-nese!”

Based on that, the movie was attacked and censored, so the line was removed, and German production company that co-produced the film (Sony is the U.S. distributor) apologized.

I am increasingly convinced that the media edict that it was racist to refer to the Wuhan-originating virus as the Wuhan virus was entirely motivated by corporate media interests in Chinese revenue. If U.S. companies won’t represent U.S. values in their dealings abroad, then the role of the U.S. as a beacon of democracy and human rights in the world is a sham.

I intend to call the pandemic the Wuhan virus forever.

2. Are absurd gay stereotypes unethical? Late night talk show host James Corden is being pilloried for his performance in Netflix’s musical The Prom. He plays an openly gay Broadway actor who describes himself as “gay as a bucket of wigs” in the Broadway musical’s film adaptation that premiered last week. I haven’t seen the film, but I know what gay stereotypes look like, from the Flaming gay director (and his even more flaming assistant) in Mel Brooks’ original “The Producers” to Martin Short’s event planner in “Father of the Bride.” The new name for this kind of performance is “gayface,” an obvious reference to blackface.

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Unethical Tweet Of The Month And Ignorant Education Administrative Decision Of The Century: The Falls Church Virginia School Board

virginia Tweet

The legacies of Thomas Jefferson, primary author of the Declaration of Independence, and George Mason, instrumental in adding the Bill of Rights to the Constitution won’t make students and staff feel safe and inspired.

They really tweeted that.

I thought I had already posted this minutes before my 6:oo PM ethics seminar via Zoom started three days ago, and somehow I didn’t. I left the post in a more or less “res ipsa loquitur” state, making no further commentary, and ending the misfired bloggery with “Anyone who needs to have what’s wrong with this explained to them doesn’t belong on an ethics blog anyway.”

That’s still true, but I can’t say the failure of the news media to cover the story can be justified on the same basis. It has been covered here locally, but not nationally. Why is that? Wouldn’t you say that the decision of a large, D.C. area school district in Virginia to rename public schools honoring prominent Founders from Virginia because their names won’t inspire students but rather make them feel “unsafe” instead is big deal? A bit alarming, mayhap? A metaphorical canary not only dying in the mine of the Land of Liberty, but a chorus of dead birds performing a production of Götterdämmerung, one might conclude?

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Final Pre-Election Ethics Notes II

Jefferson quote

That meme turned up on Facebook. Of course, progressives and the Woke think Jefferson is racist whose memory should be consigned to the ash heap of history, so no wonder they disagree.

1. Daniel Horowitz suggests that Democratic and media fearmongering about the dangers of exposure to the Wuhan virus might have had the perverse effect of scaring Democratic voters away from the polls. “While we don’t know the ballot choices of those who voted early, we do know the party registration breakdown in most states. And in nearly every critical state, Republicans are doing much better than they did in 2016 in terms of in-person early voting,” he observes. “Given that Trump won in 2016 and the electorate will only get more favorable for Republicans on Election Day itself (because the majority of Democrats vote early), this portends an outcome way out of sync with the majority of polls.”

Boy, would that be what NeverTrumper George Will likes to call “condign justice”!

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Comment Of The Day: “Oh, Look! More Baseball Ethics Dunces! This Time, It’s the Baseball Writers’ Association of America”

I have been remiss in getting up “Comments of the Day,” another consequence of my frustration adapting to the new WordPress “block” system, damn it.  I usually hand le COTD posts from my laptop, and posts requiring my concentration and composition rather than the imported wisdom of others from the Fortress of Ethics Solitude, my office.

I’m posting this follow-up comment from Here’s Johnny regarding the baseball writers’ gratuitous smear on the original commissioner of baseball based on nothing but rumor, a desire to practice “anti-racism,” without actually doing anything, and the smug assumption that History Doesn’t Matter, Gratitude Doesn’t Matter, and Honors Don’t Matter.

And the dog is licking my toes

UPDATE: Well, that was a failed experiment. When I tried to move the text from Word to WordPress, I couldn’t make the format work from the laptop, so I’m back at my PC. That was 20 more minutes of my increasingly scarce time on Earth robbed by WordPress. I’m thinking of sending them an invoice...

Here’s Here’s Johnny’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Oh, Look! More Baseball Ethics Dunces! This Time, It’s the Baseball Writers’ Association of America”:

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Oh, Look! More Baseball Ethics Dunces! This Time, It’s the Baseball Writers’ Association of America

mlb-mvp

Yesterday, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) announced that group will remove the name of Kenesaw Mountain Landis from the American League and National League Most Valuable Player plaques presented each year to the MVP winners.. Landis has been honored with having the plaques bear his name since 1944, the year of his death. He didn’t do much: he only probably saved the National Pastime at its darkest hour.

It was Landis, a famously tough and uncorruptible federal judge, whom the baseball owners turned to in 1920 in the midst of the Black Sox scandal. The scandal involving the Chicago White Sox throwing the World Series in 1919 under the influence of bribes from gamblers to some key players, including star Shoeless Joe Jackson. Even though the eight accused players were acquitted in their trial, Landis, who remained a judge for two years while serving as Commissioner, banned them all from baseball, laying down a rule that participating in efforts to corrupt the game through gambling or having knowledge of other players doing so and not acting to stop it were grounds for permanent exile. Eighteen players in all, like the infamous Hal Chase, were banned by Landis, who remained commissioner for the rest of his life.

Landis had a memorable career as a judge before coming to baseball’s rescue: in 1907, he thrilled the man who appointed him, Teddy Roosevelt when he fined Standard Oil of Indiana more than $29 million (about $800 million in 2020) for violating federal laws forbidding rebates on railroad freight tariffs.

Why, then, is Landis suddenly the victim of metaphorical statue-toppling? That was a clue: in the wake of the George Floyd Freakout and The Great Stupid, the baseball writers, which are thoroughly infested with self-righteous and semi-ignorant would-be social justice warriors like this guy, blame Landis for not “doing more” to desegregate baseball before Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey finally did the trick, three years after Landis died. In other words, he’s being punished for not seeing clearly what everyone sees almost 80 years later, and not actively fighting for a cause that neither baseball nor American society may have been ready for.

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Ethics Dunces: The District of Columbia Facilities, and Commemorative Expressions Working Group

You can’t fix stupid, as they say.

Or ignorant. Or ungrateful. Or obsessed.

In the document below, the product of The District of Columbia Facilities, and Commemorative Expressions Working Group, appointed I really don’t care when by Mayor Muriel Bowser, an arrogant and juvenile  committee recommends the “cancelling” of, among others, in our nation’s Capital, by removing all mention of their names, as well as their statues and memorials,

  • Christopher Columbus
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Francis Scott Key
  • Alexander Graham Bell
  • George Mason
  • President Andrew Jackson
  • President Thomas Jefferson
  • President James Monroe
  • President Woodrow Wilson
  • President William Henry Harrison
  • George Mason
  • President John Tyler
  • President Zachary Taylor, and, of course,

George Washington, after whom the city itself is named, and without whom the nation would not exist. Continue reading