An Abject Grovel That Explains So Much

Ethics Alarms has frequently discussed the ethical and professional deterioration of the historian profession, as it, like so many other professions and institutions, has given up integrity for ideology and political agendas. History itself is under attack as a result, with historical censorship and airbrushing increasingly being favored over objective and balanced examination that does not distort past figures and events by the viewing them through the lens of “presentism.”

In an essay on the website of the American Historical Association, the organization’s president, James Sweet, offered constructive criticism of the trend, writing in part,

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Tales Of The Great Stupid, Baseball Division: Incredibly, The Josh Donaldson /Tim Anderson/”Jackie” Fiasco Gets Worse

Unbelievable.

In Act One of this fiasco, covered here, narcissist African-American star White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson implied that Yankee third-baseman Josh Donaldson called him a racist slur—which turned out to be “Jackie,” a slur never before recognized as such. (My late mother used to call me “Jackie.” I can never forgive her… ) You see, Anderson had referred to himself as the current day Jackie Robinson in an interview a few years back, an example of hubris that would have gotten him eaten by a three-headed something if he was in a Greek myth, and Donaldson chose to rub it in when Anderson was tagged out at third. Deserved mockery is not racism, but Anderson’s manager, Tony LaRussa, claimed it was. Tony can read the room: today any criticism of a prominent black American is “racism.”

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/5/2022 (Cont.): Part 2, Rogan, Roker, “Reacher” And “More”

1. There is hope! The new Amazon Prime Jack Reacher series, “Reacher,” has no mixed race couples in it whatsoever. I was amazed, and wonder if this means the thing was made in 2019, before Hollywood decided that the accidental killing in Minnesota of a black perp by a brutal white cop in an incident having nothing to do with race meant that the world film and TV present to America must be one where nearly 100% of all married and unmarried relationships consist of two races. Isn’t it amazing that a casting feature that was once not only routine but accurate seems remarkable by its absence, and it was completely benign then and would still be accurate now?

2. Just for curiosity, I’m going to keep getting these Harvard alerts. The unethical though famous institution I graduated from once is marking this big reunion year with special online events for participants. The first one, not surprisingly, deals with…climate change! You would think that such a university, with all the subjects it covers and all of the departments available, could put together a schedule that didn’t consist of partisan obsessions, wouldn’t you?

But no. I fully expect subsequent programs to include, “Systemic Racism,” “Protecting the Right to Choose,” “The January 6 Insurrection” and “Mainstream Media Conservative Bias.”

I’m getting enough propaganda on climate change, thanks. Today I learned that “Once considered comic relief to anchors, television meteorologists are making it clear to viewers that they are covering a crisis in real time.” The “news story” headline begins, “As Storms Intensify…” Intensify based on what? There is no proof that storms are “intensifying” that justifies stating this as fact.

But you can’t deny that Al Roker is an “expert” on climate science though! After all, he attended the State University of New York at Oswego where he received a BA in communications in 1976….

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The Great Stupid And “The Postman Always Rings Twice” Meet NPR!

Abbott-costello-meet-frankenstein-1

Like the classic film starring my favorite comedy team, this is more funny than scary. And it couldn’t happen to a more deserving news organization.

An online NPR article and a tweet promoting the story reported that Michelle Wu, just elected as Boston’s  first woman and first person of color mayor, had disappointed some activists with her victory. 

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“While many are hailing it as a major turning point, others see it as more of a disappointment that the three Black candidates in the race couldn’t even come close,” the story, like the tweet, read.  This being The Great Stupid, NPR was quickly accused of being racist. Trapped like a rat, NPR’s Boston affiliate apologized and said it had deleted the tweet which was “causing harm”, though all it had done is report, and accurately, the reaction of others in the city, notably the black community. “We realize we don’t always get things right the first time,” it groveled, saying that the  “tweet/headline misrepresented the story.” No, what NPR was really apologizing for is reporting the story, which exposes the fact that black race-activists only care about one race, their own. They did see Wu’s victory as a disappointment. NPR’s sin was telling the truth, instead of being a reliable propaganda organ and spinning the story to the satisfaction of those who want to avoid letting on that the conservative criticism of the Left’s race obsession is legitimate. What “harm” had the tweet done? The harm was not following the approved script and hiding the ugly hypocrisy at the core of progressivism.

Bad progressive lapdog! BAD!

“The story is still Asians vs. Blacks for some unknown reason. The ‘tweet/headline’ was hardly the issue,” one outraged Bostonian tweeted. Unknown reason? Harvard and other elite colleges are rejecting better qualified Asian-American applicants to admit Blacks with lesser credentials. A disproportionate number of the attacks on Asian-Americans hyped by the media was at the hands of Blacks.

Now the  updated tweet says that “many were hopeful Boston would finally elect its first Black mayor,” with “Black activists and political strategists” left having to “reflect on what they can learn from the 2021 campaign season.” But they weren’t disappointed that Boston didn’t elect a black mayor, you see? 

No, I don’t either. What NPR correctly noted is that “many” in Boston and elsewhere in Progressiveland care about color more than character and ability. Continue reading

No Professor, You Must NOT Apologize For Showing Students Laurence Olivier Playing “Othello” [Corrected]

Olivier Othello

Oh, great: a fake blackface controversy again.

Composer and musician Bright Sheng, is the Chinese-born Leonard Bernstein Distinguished University Professor of Composition at the University of Michigan. When he received a MacArthur “genius” fellowship in 2001, the Foundation described him as “an innovative composer whose skillful orchestrations bridge East and West, lyrical and dissonant styles, and historical and contemporary themes to create compositions that resonate with audiences around the world.”

Sheng screened the 1965 film version of Shakespeare’s “Othello” in his class as part of a lesson about how the tragedy was adapted for the opera. It stars the late Sir Laurence Olivier, widely regarded as the greatest living English actor of his day and a definitive interpreter of Shakespeare, as the tragic hero Othello, a Moor. Some students who saw the film—hell, maybe all of them: they’ve all been indoctrinated into knee-jerk progressive conformity– were upset that Olivier’s face was covered in black make-up, though he was white and the character he was playing is black, so such a disguise would seem to be obligatory. This is the function of what actors call “make-up.”

Students complained to the administration that Olivier’s make-up made them feel “unsafe.” Unsafe from what? From the make-up? From Olivier, who is long-dead? From Iago, the white villain of the play?

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No, Gene Weingarten, YOU Are The Poopyface, But Not For The Reason You Confessed To

Weingarten cartoon2

Harry Truman liked to say “If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.” That applies in a lot of fields, but perhaps nowhere more than in the field of humor and satire in these days where would-be censors and race-baiters slither across the landscape. If you are going to venture into these dangerous environs (what they endanger is free speech, expression, and freedom itself), you better have the courage of conviction and willingness to fight the adventure requires. If not, you will make things worse. You will become part of the problem, and it is a big problem.

Gene Weingarten is a longtime columnist for the Washington Post, I’ve written about one of his serious pieces here (also here) and had debates with him via email on occasion. He often writes humorous columns, and it was one of those that unjustly made him the target of the social media mobs.

I assume Gene was a little stuck for a topic, because his theme, foods he won’t eat, is a pretty hoary one. I have read very similar joke essays by other writers, going back to Robert Benchley. Clarence Darrow used to riff on foods he didn’t like: he once said, “I don’t like spinach, and I’m glad I don’t, because if I liked it I’d eat it, and I’d just hate it.“ Another of Darrow’s was “I don’t like turnips, and I don’t like anyone who does.”

So Weingarten whipped off a lazy column joking about all the foods he says he hates; remember, actually hating them isn’t an ethical requirement. The idea is just a platform to justify snarkiness and to make silly comments like ” Balsamic vinegar likely broke up the Beatles.” Among his targets: Old Bay seasoning (hate it), hazelnut (I agree), anchovies (it depends), blue cheese (yecchh), pizza with more than two toppings (I think that’s about right), “garbage sushi,” meaning junk like California rolls (not worth hating) and sweet pickles (absolutely). It should be obvious to a spaniel that all of his laments are tongue in cheek, but that spaniel might object to “Drowning good food in wildly disparate other tastes is — I do not mean to exaggerate — like drowning puppies in a toilet.”

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Dispatch From The Great Stupid, Judicial Division

Duran

Let me preface this absurd episode by saying that it makes no sense whatsoever, not ethically, not logically, and certainly not legally.

Craig Doran, the chief judge of the region that includes Rochester, New York, has resigned from his administrative judicial duties because an old photograph turned up from 1988 when he was a second-year law student. It was, yes, from a Halloween party, and showed him costumed as a “well-known public figure of color.” We aren’t even told who in any of the media reports. In case your calculator isn’t handy, that was 33 years ago.

Since his graduation from law school, Doran has had a stellar career. Elected in 1994 to represent New York State’s 129th Assembly District in the State Legislature, he was appointed Supervising Judge of Family Courts in the Seventh Judicial District in 2006. . In 2011, he was appointed Administrative Judge of the Seventh Judicial District, making him the chief supervisor of all Courts in an eight-county region. He has also been the Presiding Judge of Drug Treatment Courts, a member of the NYS Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children, has served as Chair of the Judicial Commission on Interbranch Relations, Co-Chair of the NYS Juvenile Justice Strategic Planning Advisory Committee (advising the Governor on statewide juvenile justice policy), and as a member of the Office of Court Administration Raise the Age (RTA) Task Force. Judge Doran was selected to serve on the Judiciary Task Force on the Constitution, and the Judicial Commission on Parental Representation, and has also been active as a law professor at the University of Rochester and at Keuka College. He serves as an Adjunct Professor at the former, teaching upper level classes in the Legal Studies, and with the latter in the Adult Studies Criminal Justice Bachelor and Master’s Degree Programs, and also as an Instructor Expert for the Center for Professional Studies and International Programs at Keuka.

Never mind: what’s really important is what he wore as his costume at a law student Halloween Party.

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Ethics Catch-Up, 6/10/2021 (But I Keep Falling Further Behind!)

Hamster wheel

That’s not me, by the way. I would never wear a shirt like that…

1. Not substantiated, but worth mentioning: Fulton County, Georgia, poll manager Suzi Voyles says that when she sorted through a stack of mail-in ballots last November, she noticed strange uniformity in the markings on ballots favoring Joe. Biden. All the absentee votes contained perfectly filled-in ovals for Biden, except that each of the darkened bubbles featured an identical white space inside them in the shape of a tiny crescent, indicating they had been marked with toner ink instead of a pen or pencil. All of these ballots were printed on different stock paper than the others she handled as part of a statewide hand recount of the 2020 Presidential election, and none were folded or creased, as mail-in ballots usually are. To her, the Biden votes looked like they’d been duplicated by a copying machine. At least three other poll workers observed the same thing in stacks of absentee ballots for Biden they handled, have joined Voyles in swearing under penalty of perjury that they something was—is—seriously amiss. A state judge has ordered that all of the 147,000 mail-in ballots counted in Fulton be unsealed to allow a closer inspection of the Biden ballots for evidence of counterfeiting. Observations:

  • Why is this only happening now, rather than before the results were certified?
  • Even if the audit show that Trump “won” Georgia, indeed even if similar audits show that he should have won the election, nothing will change as far as the current government is concerned. You can’t unring that bell. Congratulate the Democrats: it worked!
  • Even the Georgia audit alone, if it turned up sufficient counterfeit ballots, would still force some accountability on the news media and progressive pundits, who have rather too vigorously insisted that the election was as pure as the driven snow.
  • So far, the mainstream media has ignored this story, and will continue to if it comes to nothing. Right now, it’s officially just more conservative conspiracy theory.
  • I am certain that there are many in authority who believe that even if there was widespread fraud in 2020, it shouldn’t be revealed because that knowledge would cause civil unrest. I almost feel that way myself, except that Democrats and news media have been shouting from the rafters that complaints about the loose controls on mail-in ballots are fanciful, and that Trump is “lying” when he says the election was stolen. Now the truth has to be determined, so that highly dubious narrative doesn’t prevent essential reforms.
  • If the Xeroxed ballot accusation turns out to be legitimate, things will get ugly. At that point, maybe they have to.

2. Accountability Ethics, Baseball Division. The last two nights, the Houston Astros were booed lustily in Boston by fans indignant about that team’s cheating in 2017, including during a close play-off series with the Red Sox on the way to the Astros’ World Championship. There’s a disconnect here: the primary villain in the cheating scandal is the current Red Sox manager, Alex Cora, who engineered the sign-stealing scheme the team used to help it’s hitters all season. Cora, of course, hasn’t bee jeered at all. Alex said that the booing of his former team made him uncomfortable. Good! He told the press after the game in part,

“Tough to hear it. Because at the end, I was part of that. I was part of the 2017 Astros, and I was part of the whole sign-stealing situation and them being booed and screamed at … I was part of that, too. I know there’s a lot of people in this town who are fans of the Boston Red Sox that don’t agree that I’m the manager [Note: Like me…] There’s others that yeah, they’re OK with it and others, they’re just happy that we have this [winning] record. But that was something I was wondering for a while — how people were going to treat them — because at the end, we were part of it. [Clarification: Not “part of it,” Alex. You were the instigator of it.] Me and [current Red Sox player] Marwin [Gonzalez] were part of that, and it was a tough one last night. When I got home, I thought about it. I was like, ‘Wow.’ It was tough. It was a tough night.”

Not tough enough. I also liked how he threw his own player under the metaphorical bus. Most Boston fans had forgotten that Gonzales, now with the Sox , was one of the Astros’ sign-stealing cheats. I’m sure he was happy to hear his manager remind everyone in his new city.

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Saturday Afternoon Ethics Picnic, 6/5/2020

Giant ants

And what’s a picnic without ants?

June 5, the day before D-Day, is another date chock full of ethics history. It doesn’t count, but Ronald Reagan died on this date in 2004: I was just thinking that the Great Stupid would have killed him. In Presidential history, this was the day, in 1888, President Grover Cleveland vetoed a bill that would have given a pension to war widow Johanna Loewinger, whose Civil War vet husband died 14 years after being discharged from the army. He was discharged a little less than a year after enlisting for what the army surgeon’s certificate called chronic diarrhea. Loewinger received his pension until he cut his throat in 1876. When Johanna applied for a widow’s pension it was denied; his suicide was not considered to be caused by his military service. Johanna argued that the death was part of the insanity triggered by his war service, and appealed to a member of Congress to petition Cleveland with a bill. But the President declared all previous inquests into the former soldier’s unfortunate death to be satisfactory. Mrs. Loewinger got no pension.

I always thought this was gutsy of Cleveland (or something), since he had paid someone to serve in the Union army for him after he was drafted. But there were bigger ethics landmarks on June 5:

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Ethics Quote Of The Month: Dave Portnoy

“[I]t’s unfortunate that the powers that be at N Magazine are spineless jellyfish who are held hostage by the whims of the vocal minority. Meanwhile, I will continue to do my best to make Nantucket and America a better place while those who hate me can continue to throw cry parties for themselves about how I made a joke they didn’t like 20 years ago.”

–Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy mocking N Magazine, a publication focused on the life on Nantucket, Massachusetts, where he lives, for its nauseating apology to readers who criticized its May cover story on him.

Bravo. Now if every grovel to every grievance mob was certain to attract a similar response, maybe we would see fewer grovels. The fact that someone who spawned a company called “Barstool Sports” in Boston, where call-in sports radio is so outrageous that it has driven athletes to tears and where sports discussions would be banned at Basecamp  because they so frequently lead to battle, has been known to express himself, well, like he’s on a barstool, is absurdly obvious. The complaints to the magazine were as risable as the annual letters from Sunday school teachers to Sports Illustrated condemning its swimsuit edition is “immoral.”

But no. Though the article celebrated Portnoy’s documented charity work raising money for bars, pubs and small businesses (you can imagine what 2020 was like for a bar in Nantucket), the invertebrate publisher and editor of the magazine placed a nauseating grovel on the magazine’s Facebook page, saying “a number of people in the community have taken issue with offensive remarks and actions [Portnoy] has made in the past. We never want to hurt, offend, or disappoint any of our readers with the stories we publish. Accordingly, we formally apologize for any pain caused to those who have objected to this May cover….We now recognize and acknowledge our oversight in how this story would be received. We appreciate feedback, positive or otherwise, because ultimately it helps make us a better publication going forward.”

The Manchurian Candidate or Winston Smith could not have said it better.

That’s right: any time anyone decides that anything offends them, they must be apologized to, and efforts to cancel productive societal actors based on real or alleged “offenses” in the past must always be treated as valid and sacred. This kind of craven virtue-signaling is far worse for society than anything David Portnoy might have said on the most politically incorrect day of his life.

Now, when public apologies like N’s result in tangible negative responses—I’d cancel a subscription to any publication run by aspiring totalitarians like that—maybe this antidemocratic trend can be eradicated, as it richly deserves to be.

Hell, I might subscribe to “N” just so I can cancel my subscription.