Honestly, I thought this was a hoax story. I still hope it might be, and if it isn’t, it should be. If it is true, the episode all by itself is signature significance proving that the U.S. race problem has turned into cultural insanity.
Last weekend, leaders from the University of Mississippi’s Greek Life group held a three-day at Camp Hopewell in Lafayette County, designed to “build leaders and bring the campus closer together.” It went spectacular wrong as a result of a banana peel. It really did.
The group included student members of the Panhellenic Council, the National Pan-Hellenic Council and the Interfraternity Council. The retreat was organized by Fraternity and Sorority Life and the national group IMPACT, a campus-based leadership institute designed to foster improved relationships among campus leaders through such events. Saturday morning, the participants ate breakfast together, and the breakfast options included various fruit, including bananas. Breakfast was followed by a discussion session on race relations at Ole Miss.
Shortly thereafter, three students noticed a banana peel in a tree. This was taken as intentional racist symbolism. and the rest of the day was occupied by heated debate regarded racist symbols. Senior accounting major Ryan Swanson eventually stood up and admitted that he put the banana peel in the tree when he could not find a trash receptacle nearby.
[Aside: I once did exactly the same thing on a Boy Scout hike.]
Never mind. It didn’t matter that this was not a racist act. The banana peel continued to be the focus of intense debate. Like a good social justice patsy, Swanson fell on his sword. “I want to sincerely apologize for the events that took place this past weekend,” Swanson told the college paper afterwards. “Although unintentional, there is no excuse for the pain that was caused to members of our community.” Continue reading
The jigsaw puzzle of an existential national crisis, a real one, are assembling sufficiently so an image can be distinguished. It is uglier than I imagined.
1. Item: The Bundy Brothers were acquitted. This was pure jury nullification, because they were guilty as hell. It might be an aberration, but I fear it is not. The jury is a fractal of democracy, and when juries start finding lawbreakers innocent, they are sending a message that those in power ignore at their peril. They say “We don’t like or respect you or your laws, and you better change, or else.” The complete class, regional and ideological estrangement from the Federal government this decision represents shows how completely Barack Obama has divided the nation, and portend a long, long, difficult and, one can only hope non-violent recovery, if some competent leaders emerge who can handle it. As trust in our institutions have collapsed with accelerating speed over the last decade, civility has deteriorated and authorities have increasingly threatened the basic Constitutional rights of citizens while extending privileges to non-citizens for political motives, the connective tissue of our society has been frayed to the snapping point. Responsible leadership, objective and rational citizens must not shrug this verdict off as just a bunch of gun nuts and cowboys throwing a tantrum.
2. Item: Donald Trump keeps saying that the election is “rigged.” This is beyond irresponsible, in isolation not more irresponsible than what Trump has said about other things, but the timing and sheer intensity of this drumbeat from him is truly horrible….and also likely to be effective. Continue reading
Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Kaboom!, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, This Will Help Elect Donald Trump, U.S. Society
“I actually think that it’s probably in its day-to-day interactions less racially divided.”
—President Obama on National Public Radio, giving his assessment of race relations in the U.S. today compared to when he was elected in 2008.
It’s kind of pretty, really.
That explosion (see Kaboom!) was based—I’m guessing now, since I don’t control when my brain blows—-on my shock that the President actually could be President and believe that, as well as not be aware how deluded he appears to assert such something so contrary to evident reality. Is he really that estranged from what is happening in the country he leads? Frightening. Is he really incapable of comprehending the single biggest, most damaging, most unexpected and most dangerous failing of his entire administration? Pathetic. Does he not watch TV? Read blogs? Does he exist in a separate, narcissist parallel reality where everything is as he wills it to be? Wow.
I know that the networks he watches and the newspapers he reads didn’t report them for the most part, but every poll shows that the public overwhelmingly believes that race relations have worsened. You can dispute the value and accuracy of polls with considerable justification, but these are the kinds of polls most likely to be accurate. How plausible is it that race relations, defined as how the races feel about each other and how they are getting along, could improve with the public believing they have worsened? Here’s polls from Pew, Gallup (“The percentage of Americans naming “race relations” or “racism” as the most important problem in the U.S. has climbed dramatically to 13%, the highest figure Gallup has recorded since a finding of 15% in 1992, in the midst of the Rodney King verdict.”), NBC, IDB ( “By an almost 3-1 margin, Americans say race relations have worsened under the man who was supposed to usher in a golden era of “post-racial” relations.”), Bloomberg, and Politico, and there are many others, all with the same message. Moreover, all of them were taken before the ‘killer racist cops ‘ campaign by Sharpton and his cohorts culminated in the assassination of two police officers by a deranged African American seeking to take “two of theirs for one of ours.” Let’s see a show of hands: how many think race relations have improved in the last two weeks?
Other than the President, that is. Continue reading
On “Face the Nation” this Sunday, host Bob Schieffer mentioned to guest Elijah Cummings (D-MD) that it was being reported that many African-Americans are worried the Secret Service would better protect a white president. “Eighty-five percent of all African-Americans that come to me mention what you just said, Cummings replied, “and I don’t agree with it.”
Well, that’s mighty big of the Congressman. He has been one of the many black elected officials who have periodically claimed that criticism of the President stems from a race-based hatred unrelated to his performance or policies. A responsible black leader would have said, not “I disagree” as if this was a matter for rational debate, but rather, “This is obviously unfair and untrue.”
I think the Congressman should have said, to be completely candid, something like this:
Eighty-five percent of all African-Americans that come to me mention what you just said,and I must say, Bob, I think Democrats, liberal pundits, Hollywood, the civil rights establishment, activists and many others like Chris Matthews—all of MSNBC, really—Bill Maher and Eric Holder, should pause to pat themselves on the back. After all, handed a shining opportunity to ease the tensions of racism with the election of a black President, we’ve managed against all odds to convert the majority of the U.S. African-American population into a paranoid, racist, fearful, whites-hating bloc that we should be able to keep voting Democratic for decades, while we convince the growing Hispanic-American population that whites hate them too. Of course, we have to appreciate the efforts of the media in painting that Trayvon Martin tragedy as a mad racist shooting harmless child for “walking while black”—that helped a lot.
Luckily, whites don’t attribute all of the endless screw-ups of government agencies under the supervision of this black President to his hatred of them, or we might really have a race problem in this country. But that would be racist, anyway. Actually, we could use that.”
How much fire power should a democracy’s police forces have at their disposal? Is the trend toward militarization in urban police departments an inherent threat to our liberty? These are interesting topics, and issues with public policy as well as ethical implications, brought to our attention by the armored vehicles we have seen prowling through the streets of Ferguson, Missouri.
I confess to neglecting these matters on Ethics Alarms, in part because the question of whether a police officer justly and legally shot (six times) and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown has been muddled by too many other considerations already. As a result, I haven’t given the issues much quality thought, other than my usual fascination at the ability of some committed libertarians to take a position dictated by their ideology without being troubled by the obvious practical problems associated with that position, a proclivity I would file under the heading of “Irresponsible.” Also, “Strange.” How can someone advocate virtually unregulated access to increasingly powerful weaponry by citizens—including criminals—and oppose sufficient arms in the hands of the police to protect the public from a misuse of that weaponry? Libertarians (and others) maintain that a prime purpose of the Second Amendment is to prevent the government from disarming citizens to dominate and control them. Agreed. But the unfettered freedom of law-abiding citizens to acquire the weapons they feel are necessary for whatever lawful purpose they choose will also result in the same weapons being available to those with less savory objectives in mind. I understand that the opposition to a police force armed to the teeth springs from either a distrust of government generally (libertarians and anarchists) or police specifically , especially by a segment of the population, African-Americans, who are otherwise favorably inclined toward a large, intrusive government—a contradiction as striking as that offered by the libertarian position, but understandable for those who live under the threatening authority of the Killer Klown act known as the Ferguson Police Department.
Fortunately, texagg04, a distinguished Ethics Alarms regular, has been inspired to delve into some of these questions, and others, in a superb post, the Comment of the Day, on the essay Mid-EthicsTrain Wreck Observations On Ferguson. Here it is: Continue reading
Filed under Citizenship, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Rights, Science & Technology, U.S. Society, War and the Military