Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/24/2021: Morning’s Not The Only Thing That’s Broken…

On October 24, 1945, the United Nations Charter became effective, marking this date as the international organization’s official birthday. What a disappointment the U.N. has been! The idea of a body made up of representatives of the nations of the world dedicated to promoting peace and mutual cooperation for the good of humanity was always a quixotic and probably doomed mission, one shared by the U.N.’s ill-conceived predecessor, Woodrow Wilson’s League of Nations.

I am old enough, however, to remember when the American public believed in and respected the U.N. Its meetings were broadcast regularly by PBS; the U.N’s second Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld was one of the world’s most admired men, and the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. (ironically, since his father had effectively killed the League of Nations by blocking the U.S.’s membership in the new body in the Senate), was immensely popular. The U.N. has had its moments, notably during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, but it squandered the public’s trust with outrageous committee appointments, placing brazen human rights violators on its Human Rights Council for example (currently Russia, China and Cuba are members), persistent efforts at world government, which is and should always be an offense to the U.S. Constitution, and corruption at the highest levels that have become impossible to excuse. Today the United Nations’ existence is largely symbolic. Maybe that’s enough to justify the expense, but we once thought the United Nations would be so much more.

1. Searching for an ethical news aggregator...but I can’t find one. I visited the Drudge Report for the first time in months, and saw this link: FACEBOOK Faulted by Staff Over Insurrection…

Drudge has been abandoned by many conservatives over the site’s decision to spin anti-Trump, but continuing to call the January 6 riot an “insurrection” after the FBI’s report conclusively showed it wasn’t one is signature significance for a propaganda site. Over at the aggregator that has snatched away Drudge’s Trump-supporting audience, Citizen Free Press, the coverage of the unfolding Alec Baldwin gunfire accident includes this headline: “PHOTOS — This is the woman Alec Baldwin put in charge of firearms for his low budget film…” and this image of the film’s armorist:

shooting armorist

Oh, I see! Based on her looks, we know she must have been incompetent! This is nothing but bigotry, and it is why so many people detest conservatives.

2. Until more people show some courage and principles, this kind of thing will only become more frequent and get worse. Witness the revolting development from Coastal Carolina University. The College Fix reports:

“On September 16, students filed into a classroom, and some students noted the names of several students of color were written on a whiteboard at the front of the class. Thinking this was some sort of list singling out minority students, the offended students planned a campus protest on September 21 instead of going to class.But the names were actually part of a list of students who may want to hang out together, drawn up by a visiting artist who had been counseling two students of color after the previous class. One of the students had said she felt isolated and wanted to get to know other minority students in the theater department, so the group brainstormed a list of potential friends. The school later admitted the list was “a resource for newer students who are looking to be in community with other BIPOC students.”

Never mind; Facts Don’t Matter! The school apologized to the mistakenly offended students with a statement that “faculty and students involved as well as the Theatre Department as a whole are deeply sorry to anyone who was affected by this incident.” That’s right: the school apologized to the students for the students leaping to conclusions and protesting before they knew what they were protesting about. Not only that, the visiting artist who created the list to help the minority students also apologized, calling her actions “thoughtless and careless.” Yes, it is certainly careless to assume that students in the era of The Great Stupid will be capable of being fair, responsible, and reasonable when they have unlimited power to make administrators and instructors lick their metaphorical boots on a whim.

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And The Great Stupid Figures Out How To Feed Itself: The NCAA’s Brilliant Plan

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I saw this coming. Didn’t you see this coming? Once colleges were told that they could and should treat college athletes as professional athletes, any effort to ensure that they might leave college able to do anything but run, throw, and dunk was on the way out. And so it is.

Last week, an NCAA task force recommended that incoming freshmen in Division I and II sports should no longer be required to meet minimum scores on standardized tests for initial eligibility.

Do you realize how ignorant you have to be to fail to meet the minimum scores?

The recommendation was made by the NCAA Standardized Test Score Task Force, was formed as part of the NCAA’s eight-point plan to advance racial equity. Yes, one sure way to advance racial equity is to let student athletes remain as dumb as marmots.

The Division I Committee on Academics and Division II Academic Requirements Committee will consider the recommendation at their next scheduled meetings in February. “This work reflects the NCAA’s commitment to continually reviewing our academic standards based on the best available data and other relevant information,” task force chairman David Wilson, president at Morgan State, said in a press release. “We are observing a national trend in NCAA member schools moving away from requiring standardized test scores for admissions purposes and this recommendation for athletics eligibility aligns directly with that movement.”

Everybody’s doing it! Now there’s a good reason for abandoning higher education for athletes! The ball started rolling in July 2020, when the National Association of Basketball Coaches called for the NCAA to permanently eliminate standardized test scores from eligibility requirements. Naturally, the main concern of basketball coaches is the educational achievements of student players.

“The days of colleges requiring the SAT or ACT are passing rapidly: more than half of all four-year colleges and universities will not require these tests for admissions in 2021, and more are dropping the requirement every week,” the NABC said in a statement at the time. “These tests should no longer be required in the initial-eligibility standards. The tests are again being recognized as forces of institutional racism, which is consistent with their history, and they should be jettisoned for that reason alone; moreover, pragmatics also support this change.”

Writes education blogger Joanne Jacobs, “So the plan is to admit unprepared students who will play football or basketball and leave college without a degree.”

Exactly. After all, a thuggish Minnesota cop accidentally killed a lifetime black hood without any racial motive, so this is a perfect response. And I am Marie of Romania.

The disgusted Ms Jacobs appended a relevant literary reference to her report…

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Is The George Floyd Freakout Finally Waning?

Oh, probably not, but there are some hopeful signs.

After the death by ambiguous causes of an African American petty hood resisting arrest at the hands, well, the knee, of a habitually brutal cop who should have been kicked off the force long before, absent any evidence whatsoever that the death was intentional or that it was motivated by race, police officers across the nation have been vilified, fired, prosecuted and generally abused virtually every time an African-American, and sometimes even a white citizen, died or was wounded in a police-involved shooting. This insanity, hysteria, freakout, deliberate exploitation, what ever you choose to call it, resulted in law enforcement around the nation being weakened, black communities being made more vulnerable to crime, a mass exodus of police officers, and an unprecedented spike in murders nation-wide. There were other horrible effects too, like the sudden acceptance of anti-white racism and discrimination as “restorative justice,” and the ascent of Kamala Harris to the office of Vice-President, but this is just an introduction.

Last week, however, two decisions in police-involved deaths showed that sanity might be creeping back.

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Have I Mentioned Before That The National Football League Is An Organizational Ethics Dunce? I’m Pretty Sure I Have…[Corrected]

Helmet slogans

…but still I am stunned by how deep the NFL’s lack of principles, craven weakness in the fact of political correctness bullying, and near complete contempt for its fans goes. Still! What the hell’s the matter with me?

Trembling in fear of Black Lives Matter and the strength of a players union with almost 80% black membership, the NFL announced that it will permit players to display progressive and Black Lives Matter propaganda on their outfits. The league is going so far as to provide six pre-approved phrases for players to choose from for display on their helmets during games: “Black Lives Matter,” “End Racism,” “Stop Hate,” “Inspire Change,” “It Takes All Of Us,” and “Say Their Stories.” (For some reason, “Ramalama-ding-dong” didn’t make the cut.) The league will also allow home teams to have one of two phrases written across the end zones of their fields: “End Racism” or “It Takes All Of Us.”

So now the NFL thinks that presenting a sporting event for which fans pay ridiculous sums for tickets reasonable includes partisan, divisive, race-based propaganda as part of the unavoidable experience. If NFL fans don’t push back against this and hard, they are weenies, and not just that, they are aiding and abetting an undemocratic and divisive trend. The one cynical consideration the ethically inert owners and executives may be counting on is that nobody in the stadium can read what players have on their helmets. All right, two considerations: the average mouth-breathing NFL fan wouldn’t care if Joe Wonderful had “KKK” or Man-Boy Love Association slogans on his helmet as long as he throws that game-winning touchdown pass.

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About A New Rationalization And The Netflix Series That Just Reminded Me Of It

I’d like to write about the new Netflix mystery series “Clickbait” in detail, but that would be unfair, because everyone deserves to see it without knowing all of its twists and turns. Maybe after enough readers watche it, I’ll set up a Zoom discussion or something.

There is no doubt about it, “Clickbait” is an ethics drama, or perhaps a dramatization of an ethics train wreck would be a better description. If I had to pick a favorite Ethics Alarms concept that is illustrated by the show, it would be “Ethics Chess,” defined as the vital skill of anticipating the likely consequences, including the worst case scenarios, of ethically challenging or questionable decisions. Multiple characters take extreme or impulsive action without their ethics alarms pinging, often with disastrous results. Reflex lying and deceit is also a persistent theme, along with too many rationalizations on the list to count (or at least I stopped counting them).

Late in the show, in Episode 8, a character voiced a familiar line that I suddenly realized was a rationalization that I had missed, as she urged a family member to stop being obsessed with obtaining “justice” for the death of another family member whose demise was at the center of the plot. “It won’t bring him back,” she said.

Bingo! That’s new Rationalization #52A, “The Resurrection Delusion,”which will soon take its place as a sub-rationalization to #52, The Underwood Maneuver, or “That’s in the past.” (This will require bumping the current 52A, Ted Kennedy’s Stall, or “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” to 52B). Like many of the rationalizations on the list, this one has some ethical uses, as when it is employed to explain the unethical nature of revenge. However, the rationalization often dishonestly (or foolishly) reduces complex ethics calculations to ridiculously simple-minded form when it is used as an excuse to avoid requiring accountability for serious wrongdoing. Like its parent, 52, 52A uses “Move on!” as if doing so is always the right and ethical course.

Other notes on “Clickbait”:

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Now I’m REALLY Sorry American University Dropped Me As An Adjunct Legal Ethics Professor, Because I Can’t Resign In Protest Now

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American University in Washington, D.C. has a course called AUx2 which freshmen must take. Students will learn about “race, social identity, and structures of power.” In the course, students “evaluate how racism intersects with other systems of oppression.”

The campus paper, “The Eagle” reports that the university has all-Black sections in the course, and has since last year. “We’ve definitely heard from Black students and other students of color that the material can be a lot for them because it is part of their lived experiences,” Izzi Stern, the AUx program manager told the student newspaper. “And we wanted to create a space where they could be together in community and have an overall positive experience with the course.”

On the university’s webpage, a former AUx2 student says, “The AUx Program is fundamentally shifting the culture, and students, of American University, while simultaneously fulfilling the institutions’ commitment to social justice and equity. I could not be more enthusiastic about my support for the transformative impact of the AUx2 course.” A sophomore at American University told the paper that “having an all-Black space truly changes the way you interact in that space and the level of comfort you feel.”

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Unethical Quote Of The Month: “A New Deal For Broadway”

“[N]ever assemble an all-white creative team on a production again, regardless of the subject matter of the show…”

——A provision in the “New Deal for Broadway,”  an agreement signed by Broadway “power-brokers” pledging to strengthen the industry’s diversity practices as theaters reopen following the nearly 18-month pandemic shutdown.

A New Deal for Broadway,” was developed by Black Theater United, one of several organizations established last year, the Times story tells us, “as an outgrowth of the anger Black theater artists felt over the police killings” of George Floyd in Minnesota and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky. “Black Theater United’s founding members include some of the most celebrated performers working in the American theater, including Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Billy Porter, Wendell Pierce, Norm Lewis and LaChanze.”

The pledge was signed by the owners and operators of all 41 Broadway theaters as well as the Broadway League, the trade organization representing producers, and Actors’ Equity Association, which represents actors and stage managers.

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Comment Of The Day: “‘Kill A Western Cultural Institution, Wear Its Skin’: The Case of Classical Music”

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Ethics Alarms’ resident musician has a fascinating Comment of the Day humming with informative observations, and best of all, it has nothing to do with the Wuhan Virus vaccine

Here is David Rohde on the post “‘Kill A Western Cultural Institution, Wear Its Skin: The Case of Classical Music”

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Jack, it makes perfect sense that you bring Heather Mac Donald’s very long, two-part screed to your readers’ attention. It’s gotten a lot of notice in the music world. Personally I respect Ms. Mac Donald’s place in the overall cultural and political discussion, whether I agree with her writings or not. I’ve noted either her research or simply her references to the variables of two-parent families and basic levels of educational attainment as fundamental explainers of personal achievement, independent of ethnic background. Her views are part of the overall discussion in America today, or should be.

All that said, her big article about classical music is flawed in at least three ways. Here are those issues:

1. A lot of the article confuses music with musicology. The latter field has been kind of nuts for a while, extending way back before last year. The principal educators of today’s and tomorrow’s performing artists are not theoretical musicologists. They’re a combination of distinguished performers themselves and effective pedagogues, often combined in the same person. I’m not going to excuse some of the crazier things that have recently come out of Juilliard and elsewhere, but conservatory education remains very rigorous and performance-focused, indeed arguably too much so given the supply-demand imbalance for classical music talent.

2. The article is not really fair to the Sphinx Organization. One of the things that Sphinx does is to deal with the same overwhelming problem of expenses for families of limited means that you see in sports such as baseball and soccer. This time of year they bring in, for example, string players – yes “black and brown” ones – to top schools and institutions for intensive education and opportunity for rehearsal and performance experience. An example of someone who came out of the Sphinx Organization is the fantastic violinist Melissa White – yes that’s her name. Melissa has performed in our region at the Phillips Collection in D.C. and the Richmond Symphony, and she has numerous recordings to her name with the Harlem Quartet (which actually performs a huge range of traditional classical and other, adventurous music). And as you know, I believe it is completely valid to assert that, just as in other fields of employment, classical music employers should assess the whole person and what they can bring to an institution, even if their performance chops are obviously the primary criterion.

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“Kill A Western Cultural Institution, Wear Its Skin”: The Case of Classical Music

Beethovan

Scholar and essayist Heather Mac Donald has written a thorough, fascinating and depressing study of how, as absurd as this sounds (and is), the fact that a drug-addicted petty criminal died under a white cop’s knee in Minneapolis has led to the death throes of classical music. The plot is familiar: seizing upon and exploiting white guilt and using the all-purpose weapons of race-baiting and threats of “cancellation,” various alliances of progressives, activists, academics, journalists, politicians and easily recruited naive rich liberals band together to claim that institution X is a feature of white supremacy and must be eliminated, shunned, replaced or destroyed. Taken by surprise and lacking the integrity, courage and fortitude to fight for Western cultural values, the groups that should be the guardians of our icons and institutions easily fall into postures of submission.

Mac Donald’s essay, “Classical Music’s Suicide Pact,” is in two parts (I and II), both published in City Journal, where she writes regularly. Perhaps the most telling part of the work is this one, at the end of Part II:

“Though the keepers of our tradition know that classical music is a priceless inheritance, fear paralyzes them as that legacy goes down. Among the leaders contacted for this article were conductors Daniel Barenboim, Dudamel himself, Riccardo Muti, Franz Welser-Möst, Valery Gergiev, Gianandrea Noseda, Charles Dutoit, James Conlon, Neeme Järvi, and Masaaki Suzuki; pianists András Schiff, Mitsuko Uchida, Lang Lang, Evgeny Kissin, and Richard Goode; singers Anna Netrebko, James Morris, and Angel Blue; and composers John Harbison and Wynton Marsalis. All either declined to comment or ignored the query. Company managers were just as tight-lipped. The Met’s Peter Gelb refused an interview; the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Matías Tarnopolsky, Jonathan Martin of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and Jeff Alexander of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra were also unwilling to speak. Simon Woods’s assistant said that he was caught up in moving to New Jersey and thus unavailable. (A source said that he had been in New Jersey for months already.) Those music professionals who did speak to me, with few exceptions, required that they be referred to in so generalized a category that it would contain thousands of members.”

This is, of course, fear, but also a betrayal of the culture. Things that are important and deserve protection must be protected, and those in a position to do so have an obligation to the public and the culture not to hide from controversy and confrontation, but to engage in both. But artists are notoriously lacking in fortitude, and this is especially so when what is required of them involves defying the Left, which is where most artists have gravitated for centuries.

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Ethics Quote Of The Month: Prof. Glenn Loury

“You can’t have an under-representation without having an over-representation. Are the people who come out on top guilty of “privilege”? Did they “steal” their success? Do they owe their success to the denial of opportunity to someone else? Even if so here or there, is it universally true in every case? Is that a dictum that we have to adhere to? I would submit that this is the wrong way to think about social outcomes. You can see that it’s the wrong way from the places this sort of thinking leads you. “

—Glenn Loury, Merton P. Stoltz Professor of the Social Sciences and Professor of Economics at Brown University, an African-American, in the inaugural essay of the new Journal of Free Black Thought.

You won’t see Loury interviewed on CNN , MSNBC, NPR or the networks. He undermines the narrative—a lot of them, in fact. In his essay, his primary target is Black Lives Matter, as part of his warning against the ascendancy of “bad ideas.” He writes,

“Racial essentialism is one of these bad ideas…If we can’t find some way of countering the underlying problematic ideological commitment to race as an essentialist category, we’re in trouble. Martin Luther King had the right idea with colorblindness, yet today it’s regarded as a microaggression to say one doesn’t see color. Of course, it’s impossible literally not to see color, but despite pressure from cultural elites, we needn’t give it the overarching significance we now do. In fact, if we’re going to make our experiment in democracy work, we mustn’t give it such significance.”

He goes on,

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