Ethics Dunces: Jeremy Lam And The Cultural Appropriation Police

Utah high school student Keziah Daum posted a picture of herself looking lovely in a prom dress, and thanks to the warped values and cracked ethics of a young social justice warrior tweeter named Jeremy Lam, was set upon by the social media Furies.

Here is the tweet:

The tweet received 179 THOUSAND likes, and was retweeted 60 thousand times. Yes, a young woman going to her high school prom was condemned by all those strangers for liking and wearing an Asian-themed dress.

I don’t know what broken-chromosome mutation of progressive thought creates Americans like Jeremy—who is living in our culture, which is an amalgam of all cultures, but better—but the fact that he could attract such support with his divisive, segregated version of what our society should be is one more sign that the hard-Left is getting more anti-American by the hour. David French nicely puts this episode in perspective:

“Just so we’re clear, the radical progressive position is (1) America’s borders should be flung wide open to people from every culture in the world; (2) when American white people encounter people from those hundreds of different cultures, they need to stay in their lane; and (3) white people staying as white as possible will help our nation totally unify and diversity will be our strength.”

That’s about right. Kaziah Daum is the victim of racism here. Reasonably for someone unfairly thrust into the culture wars without justification or warning, she responded that she wasn’t trying to upset anyone; she just thought it was a pretty dress. The rest of  us, French suggests, need to be more assertive: Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/18/18: Sunday Potpourri

Good Morning!

1. Now THIS is a bribe…Al Hoffman Jr., a Florida-based real estate developer and a prominent Republican political donor “demanded” yesterday that the party pass legislation to restrict access to guns, and vowed not to contribute to any candidates or electioneering groups that did not support a ban on the sale of military-style firearms to civilians. “For how many years now have we been doing this — having these experiences of terrorism, mass killings — and how many years has it been that nothing’s been done?” Mr. Hoffman said in an interview. “It’s the end of the road for me.”

The only ethical GOP response is, “Bye!” Donors may not tie their support to specific legislative measures. That’s a quid pro quo. a bribe. The party should—I would prefer “must”—respond by officially and publicly telling Hoffman that its elected officials  will do what they believe is in the best interests of their constituents and the nation, and he is free to contribute to whatever he deems appropriate.

Moreover, his statement shows that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. This is yet another “Do something!” yelp.

2. Yet more anti-gun hysteria...Could there be a more nakedly emotional and irrational headline than this one in today’s Sunday Times: “Why Wasn’t My Son the Last School Shooting Victim?”(That’s the print version…the online headline is different.)

3. I may have to put “cultural appropriation” on my list of things have to flag every time it’s used…From a New York Times article about Wes Anderson’s new animated film about dogs exiled to a miserable island in the wake of “dog flu” comes this astounding cut-line:

“Critics Address The Issue Of Cultural Appropriation In ‘Isle of Dogs'”

It seems the American director’s work here is influenced by the films of iconic Japanese director Akira Kurosawa.  The Horror. Hey, what the hell business does Japan have running  professional baseball leagues? Here’s a quick poll as a warm-up for the Warm-Up:

Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: The Black Panther

The Black Panther opens today, and all signs indicate that the latest Marvel superhero film—full disclosure: I am sick to death of them all—will be the blockbuster Hollywood so desperately needs. But because this is increasingly a race-obsessed, silly place, and the New York Times is its oracle, we were told a few days a go that the popularity of a black superhero will create an ethical dilemma: Can white kids ethically wear Black Panther masks, costumes, and accoutrements? Would that be cultural appropriation? A return to blackface?

Your somewhat differently conceived Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz Of The Day query is this:

Is the Times seriously raising this issue as mind-meltingly stupid and obnoxious as I think is?

Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/1/18: Bias Makes You Stupid, But “The Big Stupid” REALLY Makes You Stupid..

Gooooooooood Morning!

1 The Big Stupid. There is a regular flow of ideas and theories from academia and politics that I categorize as “The Big Stupid”: irrational, ideologically-loaded, often dangerous assertions that are seductive to the weak-minded and easily-duped. The problem is that to keep these bad ideas from taking root, one has to actively engage in debunking them, which ironically gives their advocates staying power and credibility. One of the most popular of the current crop of Big Stupid positions is the attacks against “cultural appropriation,” which is a deceptive phrase designed to make something unequivocally good sound sinister. In this case, the completely positive and benign cultural process at the heart of the American experiment, the process of diverse people and cultures becoming one by sharing and adopting the best of what each has to offer, is being scorned as a tool of white supremacy, privilege, oppression and capitalism.

The latest screed in this particular Big Stupid is “Yoga and the Roots of Cultural Appropriation,” co-authored by Michigan State University professor Shreena Gandhi andantiracist white Jewish organizer, facilitator, and healer”  Lillie Wolff. Wolff got her degree from Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and the article is published in a Kalamazoo College publication.  The river, Michigan city and College take their name from a Potawatomi Indian Tribe word, but that kind of “cultural appropriatiion” doesn’t matter to the authors, or something.

Don’t expect consistency in the Big Stupid.That would be stupid.

The article is full of Authentic Frontier Gibberish, Academic Division, of the sort that used to send me screaming out of late night bull sessions in college, like,

“Yoga, like so many other colonized systems of practice and knowledge, did not appear in the American spiritual landscape by coincidence; rather, its popularity was a direct consequence of a larger system of cultural appropriation that capitalism engenders and reifies. While the (mis)appropriation of yoga may not be a life-threatening racism, it is a part of systemic racism nonetheless, and it is important to ask, what are the impetuses for this cultural “grabbing”?”

and Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Week, And A Few Related Diversions

My son is named after this President, incidentally.

The quote itself is by Ron Chernow, the historian who authored the recent well-reviewed biography of out 18th President, “Grant,”  “Hamilton,” the biography that inspired, we are told, the mega-hit musical. and “Washington” (won’t somebody send a copy to the fools at Christ Church?) was given to an interviewer as his description of another book, the Philip Roth’s historical novel  “The Plot Against America”:

[A] democracy can be corrupted, not by big, blaring events, but by a slow, insidious, almost imperceptible process, like carbon monoxide seeping in under the door.

Some random thoughts on this statement, which I believe is exactly right, and a lot more interesting than the more frequently used analogy about boiling a frog slowly:

  • Grant, as Chernow’s book (among others of recent vintage) documents, was present at one of those points when democracy seemed to be in the process of being poisoned, and acted forcefully.

By 1868, when Grant was elected to succeed Andrew Johnson, who had done everything he could to allow the South to resist extending civil rights to the newly freed slaves, the KKK had evolved into a powerful terrorist organization that referred to itself as  “The Invisible Empire of the South.” Under the  Klan’s first  “Grand Wizard,” the brilliant former Confederate cavalry general  Nathan Bedford Forrest, whites from all classes of Southern society joined the Klan’s ranks. They attacked and punished newly freed blacks for crimes like  behaving in an “impudent manner” toward whites, brutalized the teachers of  schools for black children, and burned schoolhouses. It also terrorized and often murdered Republican party leaders those who voted for Reconstruction policies.  In Kansas over 2,000 murders were committed as the 1868 election approached; in Louisiana, a thousand blacks were killed in the same period.

Grant entered office knowing that the Civil War victory could come apart. He made some bad appointments–Grant was naive about politics and trusted too easily—but his choice as Attorney General, Amos T. Akerman, was masterful. With Grant’s support, and the with the help of the newly created Justice Department under Grant, he vigorously worked to enforce the Fifteenth Amendment, which gave the vote to black men in every state, and the First Reconstruction Act of 1867, which placed tough restrictions on the South and closely regulated the formation of their new state governments. Between 1870 and 1871, the Republican Congress passed and Grant signed into law the Enforcement Acts, which made it a crime to interfere with registration, voting, officeholding, or jury service by blacks. Congress also passed the Ku Klux Klan Act, which allowed the government to act against terrorist organizations.

  • When I was growing up and becoming interested in the Presidents, a life-long passion that led me to both law and ethics, Grant was routinely listed as one of the worst in the line. All one heard from historians was about the financial scandals that rocked his administration. Grant’s great success in subduing the Klan was literally never mentioned. The main Presidential historian then was Arthur Schlesinger Jr., a member of Jack Kennedy’s inner circle. His job as he saw it was to minimize the contributions of any Republican President, like Teddy Roosevelt (“near great” in his rankings), Eisenhower (“below average”) and Grant (“failure’). Meanwhile, Woodrow Wilson, who dragged the U.S, into the first World War, botched the Versailles Treaty and who actively revived the Klan, being a stone-cold racist, was “great.” Naturally, I believed all of his distortions, which were largely those of the historians at the time, then, as now, often partisans and propagandists. It took me a while to realize that this had been my first encounter with the Left attempting to alter present perception by controlling the past.

That is one of the major sources of Chernow’s carbon monoxide today, except that the disinformation now emanates from the schools, colleges, and the news media. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: Why That “We’re Glad You’re Our Neighbor” Sign Is Unethical (As Well As Obnoxious)

Mrs. Q, who is keeping Ethics Alarms current on the oppressive politically correct environment slowly poisoning Portland, Oragon, was moved to issue another report in reponse to the Ethics Alarms post about a virtue-signalling sign popping up live wild-flowers on yards across America here is her Comment of the Day on the post, “Why That “We’re Glad You’re Our Neighbor” Sign Is Unethical (As Well As Obnoxious)”…(I’ll be back at the end.)

This yard sign is just about everywhere in the city including businesses, churches, schools, and city offices.

 

This one is also popular. I love how the “Science is real” part is in green.

Black Lives Matters signs often accompany the 2 above. Also on businesses, schools, etc.

This one is mostly on businesses/community centers but some residents have this sign taped to their living room windows.

What’s most interesting is that all the problems this town suddenly has with “hate” came after the anti-Trumpers started putting these signs up. I told a (former) friend that I thought these signs were virtue signaling and devisive and smug I didn’t appreciate that every day everywhere an average citizen can’t take a walk or go to the gym without knowing the political opinions of the home/business/agency owners.

She promptly quoted Eleanor Roosevelt’s “No one can make you feel inferior” mantra. Funny enough she’s white, I’m not, and instead of actually listening to me, you know as a special downtrodden minority, she dismissed my concerns altogether about how such signs may negatively affect a community (and then she cut me out of her life. Yep, so tolerant). Continue reading

“Ghost In The Shell” And “Whitewashing”

Once again, a Hollywood film has political correctness furies attacking its casting. This time, it’s the sci-fi “Ghost in the Shell,” starring Scarlett Johansson.

The sad fact is, movie makers can’t win. If a black actor isn’t cast to play a white character in the source material, Hollywood is engaging in bias by eschewing “non-traditional casting,” which is necessary to remedy de facto segregation and prejudice in movies. If Charlton Heston is cast as a Mexican, as in “Touch of Evil,” it’s “whitewashing”—prejudicial and racist casting of whites to play non-whites. Of course, when Morgan Freeman, an African American, is cast to play a dark skinned Semitic character in “Ben Hur,” nobody calls that “blackwashing,” for there is no such thing as blackwashing. Casting Denzel Washington as a white character from “The Pelican Brief”: great! Who doesn’t like Denzel? Casting Denzel as the white hero of “The Magnificent Seven” in the remake, when the white hero was non-traditionally cast with the sort-of Eurasian Yul Brenner in the original, was also great, because—who doesn’t like Denzel?  Casting  Andy Garcia, a Cuban-American, as member of the Italian Corleone family in “Godfather III” was also fine and dandy, but not the casting of sort-of Eurasion Brenner as the King of Siam in “The King and I,” (even though he won the Tony and the Academy Award for an iconic performance)—, especially with all those great Thai musical comedy stars available. So that was–what, “sort-of-whitewashing”?

All right: how about a musical conceived with the novel conceit of having the Founding Fathers played by young black and Hispanic performers? Is that non-traditional casting? Minority-washing? Is it racist to stay with the original (brilliant) concept and tell white actors they can’t audition to be Hamilton, Jefferson, and Aaron Burr? Of course it’s not racist. After all, those actors are white. Screw ’em.

Are you seeing a theme here? Neither am I. What matters in casting a play, film or writing an adaptation is whether the final result works: How well do the actors play their roles? Is it entertaining? Does it make money?

Now the casting of  Johansson as an originally Japanese character in a Japanese manga comic and animated film is being attacked as racist. Whitewashing, you know. No, in fact the words applicable here are “adaptations,” “movies,” “cultural cross-pollination” and “commerce.”  In this case, not always, but in this case, the accusation of “whitewashing” is pure race-baiting.

More than forty years ago, the real life German prison camp escape engineered by captured WWII British fliers was made into the film “The Great Escape.” Brits were annoyed as production got underway, however, by the presence of heroic American prisoners in the cast, the characters played by U.S. stars James Garner and Steve McQueen. This was, British critics and veterans said, an outrage: Americans had nothing to do with the real escape. The answer by the producers contained three segments:

1. We own the film rights, and can do whatever we think will make the best movie.

2. The film is fictionalized, and makes no representations to the contrary.

3. Garner and McQueen will ensure that the film makes a profit in the U.S, plus they are both great and entertaining young stars.

Good justifications all. “The Great Escape,” as we now know,  is a classic, still honored the real event, and made lots of money. Somehow, British self-esteem recovered.

The Brits also didn’t complain when Japan’s great film auteur director, Akira Kurasawa, made an all-Japanese cast adaptation of “King Lear,” which is about a Celtic king. Wasn’t this–what, “yellow-washing”? Don’t be silly: all good stories can be told in myriad ways, in many cultural contexts. “Ghost in the Shell” is a science fiction fantasy. It is not about real people, and the characters were  Japanese because the author and intended audience were Japanese—you know, like the original “King Lear” was in Elizabethan English.

“Ghost in the Shell” director Rupert Sanders cast Johansson as the cyborg assassin named Motoko Kusanagi in the original and renamed the character “Mira Killian.” It is the “Who doesn’t like Denzel?” non-traditional casting principle, except the even more understandable “Who doesn’t like Scarlet, especially when she looks naked for much of the movie?” variation. The perambulations of critics trying to find something racist about the most obvious box office casting choice imaginable border on hilarious. At some point, actress Johansson decided it was more lucrative and fun being the next female action movie star than starring in solemn costume drama bombs like “The Girl With The Pearl Earring” and “The Other Boleyn Girl.” Since then, she has been rising as a bankable star in blockbusters like “The Avenger” films and “Lucy.” Quick: name another hot (I mean, of course, popular and bankable) female action star?

I’m waiting…

Writes Matt Golberg in a laugh riot called “Ghost in the Shell is Racist In Surprising Ways””  (another whitewashing screed, equally lame, is here): Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: Disney’s Maui Costume

maui

It’s a bit early for Halloween costume controversies , but the outrage machine is ever vigilant, and has provided a provocative ethics quiz, though not a difficult one if one isn’t the Headless Horseman.

Disney released a Halloween costume for kids that will allow tykes to dress up as the Polynesian demi-god Maui, a character in its new animated movie “Moana.” This is classic Disney cross-marketing, what Wells Fargo would call “cross-selling,” and what Elizabeth Warren would call “evil,” because it makes money for a big corporation. The difference is that Disney allows customers to actually purchase such products intentionally, while Wells Fargo charges customers for products without their knowing it.

Wait, how did I get off on Wells Fargo and Warren? Right: the next post. Sorry.

Back to Maui: The costume features a body-suit with thin brown material covered by traditional Polynesian tattoos, as well as a grass skirt and a plastic bone necklace. As soon as it was released on the web, the costume was attacked as racist (it’s the equivalent of blackface, critics say) and an example of cultural appropriation. Marama Fox, co-leader of New Zealand’s Maori Party, said that selling the costume is “no different to putting the image of one of our ancestors on a shower curtain or a beer bottle” while Pasifika news site Samoa Planet described the release as “cultural appropriation at its most offensive worst”.  The New Zealand Human Rights Commission issued a statement calling on Disney to “listen to the views of the communities and people whose cultures their movie is based upon.“ Translation: “Bend to our will, or else.”

Activist Chelsie Haunani Fairchild argued on Facebook that Disney was encouraging a children to wear “the skin of another race.”

“Polyface is Disney’s new version of blackface. Let’s call it like it is, people,” Fairchild argued in a video.

Oh, let’s!

Your Ethics Alarms (Ridiculously Early Halloween) Ethics Quiz of the Day is this:

Is there anything genuinely unethical about making, advertising, selling or wearing the Maui costume?

Continue reading

The Same Students Who Defend Illegal Immigrants Appropriating American Rights And Benefits Make Clemson Grovel For Borrowing Mexican Culture

sombreros

Actually, they didn’t make Clemson grovel, Clemson chose to grovel rather than teaching the proper lesson, which is that when you live in this melting pot culture, every thing it has belongs to you, and everything you bring to the pot belongs to it. Clemson’ ethical and responsible response to two students who were “offended” by “Mexican Food Night” and students wearing sombreros should have been “Oh, grow up!”

Clemson Dining’s “Maximum Mexican” night is a regular event popular among students.  However, when two students  took to Twitter to protest that the “#CulturallyInsensitive” food fest was offensive, Clemson officials rushed to apologize. The university also has a Irish-themed night for St. Patrick’s Day, but it might survive because the Irish missed their opportunity to become political correctness bullies and dictators.

Another student objected to the wearing of sombreros, saying, “Our culture isn’t a costume and we will not be mocked!” Once again, the correct response from the University was “shut up, you’re embarrassing yourself, and if you can’t understand this country better than that, then you really should do some nation shopping. ” Continue reading