Not surprising, at least to me, the carrier (in multiple senses of the word) is United, long recognized by travelers as an incorrigible ethics dunce. The latest from United, however, announced in a head-exploding tweet, is special. The airline announced,
“Our flight deck should reflect the diverse group of people on board our planes every day. That’s why we plan for 50% of the 5,000 pilots we train in the next decade to be women or people of color.”
Wait: who says the flight deck crew should reflect the demographics of the passengers? Why would anyone but a fool say that? Is there really any air traveler who cares about any characteristic of the pilot and co-pilot other than that they be the best qualified people available to fly the plane safely and deal with whatever crisis that might occur?
I know I don’t care what color, gender or ethnic group my planes’ pilots belong to. Why would I? Do you? Does any sane traveler think as they hurtle groundward, screaming, “Well, if we crash, at least it will be because the airline met its diversity quota!”
Conservative website PJ Media headlined the revolting development (Pop cultural literacy quiz! This was once a catch phrase: “What a revolting development this is!” What was the TV show, and for extra credit, who was the actor who said the line in every episode?) this way:
“United Airlines Announces They Will No Longer Hire the Best Pilots“
I arrived at the appointed time for my triple tooth extraction to be told that I would be required to pay the entire cost of my surgery on the spot, and the amount was a cool $4000. This, despite the fact that I had been told (by the doctor) that I could wait before deciding on the various treatment options, and having not received clear (to me, at least) information that the office took no general medical coverage at all, just dental insurance, and my dental insurance was not among the blessed. (Raising the related issue of why my dentist would refer me to an oral surgeon who did not accept the insurance that the dentist did, without alerting me in advance. “We tried to call you,” the snotty desk staff said. Really? I had no messages on my home or office lines. “We only call our patients on their cell phones,” I was told. Then why do you ask for the other numbers? If you have essential information to convey, and you can’t reach a patient by cell, why wouldn’t you try the other contact options? Where on the form does it say that the only number you will use is the cell phone? I only included the cell number because it was asked for: I use cell phones when traveling, period, and during the lockdown it is usually uncharged. If I am going to be expected to hand over 4 grand on the spot, I need to be told, and the information I provided gave an easy means to tell me. What I suspect is that the 20-somethings behind the desk, living on their smart phones themselves, would never dream that anyone wouldn’t do the same. It wasn’t a policy, it was an unwarranted and incompetent assumption.
I informed the staff that its conduct was unethical and unprofessional, and that its attitude was arrogant and obnoxious. Then I walked out. I don’t care if the next oral surgeon costs as much or more: I don’t trust people who treat me like this.Screw ’em.
1. It’s a banner day in the history of “the ends justifies the means” medical ethics! On this date in 1953, American medical researcher Dr. Jonas Salk announced on national radio that he had successfully tested a vaccine against poliomyelitis, the virus that causes polio. Salk had conducted the first human trials of his vaccine on former polio patients, on himself, and his family. The general consensus among ethicists is that self-experimentation is ethical: as one scholarly paper put it, “Organizational uncertainty over the ethical and regulatory status of self-experimentation, and resulting fear of consequences is unjustified and may be blocking a route to human experiments that practicing scientists widely consider appropriate, and which historical precedent has shown is valuable.” But using one’s family as guinea pigs? Unethical, absolutely. The researcher, in this case Salk, has undue influence over such subjects, and consent cannot be said to be voluntary.
This is a major development with narrow implications in the field of legal ethics, but potentially wide-ranging importance in the society as a whole.
We are just now learning—after all, you wouldn’t expect the news media to report this kind of sinister, reverse-racism bullying, would you?—that the general counsel of Coca Cola issued an open letter to the law firms representing it. [Full disclosure: I have taught legal ethics seminars for one of them] The letter decreed that these firms “commit that at least 30% of each of billed associate and partner time will be from diverse attorneys, and of such amounts at least half will be from Black attorneys.” You can read the letter here. Here are the edicts:
It was generally lost between in the pandemic resurgence, the post-election controversies and the holidays, but in the final month of the generally awful year of 2020, a single Senator had the integrity and principle to at least delay one more effort to transform the United States of America into a Balkanized culture of competing identity groups.
Hispanics and their allies in Congress, and feminists and their allies have been trying to get approval for the creation of a National Museum of the American Latino and A National Women’s History Museum in Washington D.C. since around the beginning of the century. Last year, after the obligatory studies, commissions and reports, bipartisan bills authorizing the creation of the two proposed museums passed in the House. After all, it’s not as if the year’s budget deficit had blown the national debt up to dangerous levels or anything. Why not spend millions more on new structures honoring only segments of what was conceived as a single nation?
More specifically, why not suck up to two powerful voting blocs in an election year?
Because the Senate is similarly driven by political pandering and is almost as irresponsible as the House, it was assumed that the bills would pass by unanimous consent, a practice reserved for noncontroversial measures. Senators John Cornyn, Republican from Texas (lots of Hispanic-Americans there, coincidentally), and Bob Menendez, the Democrat from New Jersey who is himself Hispanic-American, introduced the legislation setting up the latest hyphenated American museum on the National Mall, and lauded the history and contributions of 60 million Americans, blattety-blah diversity, blattety-blah recognition. But Senator Lee, the Republican from Utah (where, also coincidentally, there are not so many Latinos), stopped the proposed new museums dead (though they will rise again) , as a single vote can do when unanimous consent is needed.
A very good friend who is married to another very good friend posted yesterday that Kamala Harris’s swearing in as Vice-President moved him to tears, and the Facebook post instantly harvested about a hundred “likes” and “loves.” As God is my witness, as Scarlett used to say, I had to fight to restrain my self from writing on his page (since there is no “What the FUCK is the matter with you?” icon to click on), “Why, because she’s a woman with no qualifications to be President or Vice-President? Because she’s the first Indian-Jamaican VP, and you’ve always wanted one of those? Because she’s just the right skin-shade to pretend to be an African-American, when she’s not? Does it choke you up because she slept her way to political power, then locked up a lot of black men for drug crimes, then accused the U.S. of being racist because of “over-incarceration”? Or does any Democrat, even phonies and rank incompetents, getting power make you feel all misty inside and out? Really, I’m curious.”
Well, he’s a nice, good-hearted guy who has the political sophistication of a cheese, so I just shut up. However, his reaction is just incomprehensible to me.
1. Oh, look, now there’s black Batwoman. Yay. Isn’t this a little cliched and formulaic by now? Will every fictional character eventually have to be made black or have his or her race switched, and every male character get virtual transexual transitioning, to satisfy the Woke and Wonderful? Mikey (who liked Life cereal), is now a girl. Jake from State Farm is now black. Perry Mason’s Paul Drake in the new reboot is black. Inspection Lestrade, Sherlock Holmes’ ally, is black on the Netflix Holmes spin-off. (Watson became female in the TV show “Elementary.” And Asian!) A really bad movie made Ralph Kramden from “The Honeymooners” black; Norton too. On Broadway, when there was a Broadway, Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr were black, and they aren’t even fictional. Of course.The whole Ghostbusters team was turned female for the reboot (but still had only one black member). There is much, much more. Isn’t this lazy? Isn’t this boring? Don’t women, blacks and other minorities want to have their own popular and iconic characters rather than just taking over white or male ones? Why isn’t such fake “diversity” an insult? Aren’t hand-me-down characters like hand-me-down clothes?
Ethics Alarms has posted several paeans to the iconic civil rights leader on his “day” is the past, but it is time—past time, really—for a more rueful and honest assessment of his legacy. No one can (or should, anyway) deny King’s crucial role in eliminating segregation in the United States, killing Jim Crow, and prompting long-overdue legal and cultural reforms, epitomized by the 1964 Civil Rights Act. King’s words have continued to inspire while serving as guideposts for the nation’s journey, still infuriatingly incomplete, to a society where citizens are judged “by the content of their character” rather than the color of their skin. But in 2021, a celebration of King and his legacy seem particularly hypocritical. His alleged followers have transitioned to a cynical strategy of encouraging a national mentality that accepts that the color of an American’s skin defines the content of their character, or to put it another way, that race is the most important feature, factor and consideration in American life.
This is a perversion of what Dr. King stood for, but that is the status of his legacy today. Most of what I mention in this post is old news that we have discussed before, but there are, as there now are virtually every day, additional examples of this corrosive use of race to divide and corrupt society. In this morning’s New York Times Arts section, for example, an article headlined “Bringing on New Leaders For Diversity In The Arts” told us that “cultural institutions around the country are hiring their own diversity officers to increase the number of people of color on the staff and board, broaden their programming and address a widely acknowledged pattern of systemic racism.” Translated, all this statement means is that, cowed by routine accusations of racism, arts groups are substituting one undeniable system of racism for an unproven one. People are being hired and appointed because of their skin color alone, or certainly over all other reasons. This is not, of course, restricted to the arts. The idea that skin-shade equals talent and virtue has been embodied at the very top of our government. The soon-to-be official Vice-President of the United States is in that position solely because she is “of color” as well as female. Her character, ability, experience and accomplishments have nothing to do with the responsibility and high office handed to her: she was roundly rejected by the members of the public who belong to her party when running on the basis of those factors. “Diversity” is a cover-word for discrimination. Dr. King was not asking for quotas in his protests, speeches and marches: he was demanding that blacks like him be given the opportunity to succeed on the same basis as whites, judged, rewarded and advanced without regard to their race.
In 1994, Clarke wrote a letter to The Harvard Crimson in her capacity as the president of the Black Students Association to explain her views on race science.
“Please use the following theories and observations to assist you in your search for truth regarding the genetic differences between Blacks and whites [sic],” Clarke wrote.
“One: Dr Richard King reveals that the core of the human brain is the ‘locus coeruleus,’ which is a structure that is Black, because it contains large amounts of neuro-melanin, which is essential for its operation.
“Two: Black infants sit, crawl and walk sooner than whites [sic].
Three: Carol Barnes notes that human mental processes are controlled by melanin — that same chemical which gives Blacks their superior physical and mental abilities.
“Four: Some scientists have revealed that most whites [sic] are unable to produce melanin because their pineal glands are often calcified or non-functioning. Pineal calcification rates with Africans are five to 15 percent [sic], Asians 15 to 25 percent [sic] and Europeans 60 to 80 percent [sic]. This is the chemical basis for the cultural differences between blacks and whites [sic].
“Five: Melanin endows Blacks with greater mental, physical and spiritual abilities — something which cannot be measured based on Eurocentric standards.”
December 29 is one of the bad days in ethics history, beginning with the 1170 murder of England’s Archbishop Thomas Becket as he knelt prayer in Canterbury Cathedral by four knights of King Henry II. The knights were not explicitly ordered to kill Becket, the King’s friend who had become a problem when he took his role as Archbishop of Canterbury to be a calling to defend the Church against royal efforts to constrain its power. Instead, Henry made his wishes known by making the public plea to his court,
“What a parcel of fools and dastards have I nourished in my house, and not one of them will avenge me of this one upstart clerk.”
This is often quoted as “Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?” Either way, the idea of such an oblique request is to relieve a leader of responsibility for the actions of subordinates, giving the leader plausible deniability. It didn’t work for Henry, but it may have worked for, for example, President Obama, whose Internal Revenue Service illegally sabotaged Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election, greatly assisting Obama’s efforts to defeat challenger Mitt Romney. In truth, when a powerful superior makes his or her desires known, it may as well be an order. An order is more ethical however, because it does not require the subordinate to take the responsibility upon himself.
1. But The worst example of a U.S. ethical breach on this date is the Massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890, when the U.S. Cavalry killed at least 146 Sioux at the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. It is definitely the most people killed because of a dance: the government was worried about a growing Sioux cult performing the “Ghost Dance,” which symbolized opposition to peaceful relations with whites, and was seen as inciting violence. On December 29, the U.S. Army’s 7th cavalry surrounded a band of Ghost Dancers under the Sioux Chief Big Foot near Wounded Knee Creek and demanded they surrender their weapons. A fight broke out between an Indian and a U.S. soldier, a shot was fired, and an unrestrained massacre followed. Of the estimated almost 150 Native Americans were killed (some historians put this number at double that number), nearly half of them women and children. The cavalry lost only 25 men. Many believe that the tragedy was deliberately staged as revenge for Custer’s Last Stand 14 years earlier, which seems like a stretch to me.
Statistics on this are inherently inexact, but approximately 8-9% of the marriages in the U.S. are interracial, and that’s including Hispanics and Latinos as “non-white.” However, if you have been watching movies, TV shows or commercials made in 2020, you would get the impression that the percentage is closer to 80-90%, and maybe higher. This parallel universe has been a special bonanza for actors of Indian extraction, who seem to be the default “lovers of color” that casting agents use when they have decided that another African-American-White mixed race couple would be boring.
I really don’t care if Hollywood and Madison Avenue want to create their own fantasy U.S. and madly virtue-signal at the same time, except that I don’t like having my arm twisted, metaphorically or for real. I would happily volunteer to be permanently dyed whatever generic color was decided upon if we could just stop all the posturing, excuse-making and drama over race; the sooner everyone is the same shade the better say I. It is, however, not the job of entertainers and ad execs to shove diversity down our throats., and that’s exactly what’s happening.
Right now, the situation is literally laughable. When we are watching a recent production in which a white character is about to introduce his or her significant other, my wife and I try to guess whether the Mystery Friend will be black, Asian, Hispanic. Indian, or just some kind of unidentifiable non-white. If a white actor shows up, our first thought is, “oh-oh, something’s wrong with this pair.”
The clear message being sold is that if you aren’t part of a mixed race couple, then you’re a racist.
Dorian Abbot, a professor of geology at the University of Chicago, was troubled when a colleague in his department gave an internal seminar that included the idiotic and unethical quote, “If you are just hiring the best people, you are part of the problem.” The setting being a university, Abbot set out to provoke some enlightened discussion on this assertion, creating a video slide show including graphics like the one above.
His primary messages in the presentation were, he wrote, that “we need to think through the consequences of diversity efforts on campus lest they harm promising scientists of all demographics; adjusting departmental demographics at elite universities doesn’t solve any problems, but may make some worse, and that ” the current academic climate is making it extremely difficult for people with dissenting viewpoints to voice their opinions.
Yes, “The Horror.” Such opinions obviously meant that the professor was evil and a danger to everyone on campus.