My Ethics Conflict: Woodrow Wilson’s Name Should Have Been Removed At Princeton Long Ago, But Erasing It Now Opens The Floodgates, Part I: The Case For Woodrow

Reviewing, I see that the original Black Lives Matter attack on American values, history and culture first broke out in 2015. Then as now, Democrats rushed to embrace the racist group’s anti-white, anti-police and anti-America agenda, seeking, as usual, to enamor itself with its base. That was also the first time Princeton University was urged by student activists to remove honors to Wilson from the campus, though Wilson was not only a President of the United States (and according to Democrats until recently, one of the greatest) but also a lauded president of Princeton. The 2015 calls for his airbrushing out of Princeton’s history coincided with many similar attempts, some successful, to dishonor past historical figures whose legacies or conformity with modern values had been called into question.

College campuses, not city streets, were ground zero in 2015. Yale and the University of Missouri led the madness. At Mizzou, black students manufactured racial outrage out of ambiguous and off-campus incidents, then engaged in what Ethics Alarms then termed  an “I’m mad at the world and somebody has to pay for it” tantrum (Hmmm! Still sounds pretty good!), demanding all sorts of special accommodations and race-based policies and hirings, and demanding the university president’s resignation. Thomas Wolfe did resign, giving us an early precedent for all the capitulation and cowardice we are seeing today. As we’re seeing today, intimidation, race-bullying and attacks on free expression and language were part of the assault:

  • Amherst students demanded a crack-down on any free speech in the form of criticism of Black Lives Matters or the protest goals.
  • Dartmouth’s Black Lives Matters members roamed through the campus library, verbally assaulting white students attempting to study.
  • Smith College held a sit-in, and barred reporters-–the new breed of campus freedom-fighters just don’t like that pesky First Amendment—unless they promised to cover the protest positively. .
  • Occidental College students occupied a three-story administration building, demanding “a series of actions ranging from racist to just unreasonable to oppressive” in the name of “safety” and “diversity”, of course. Predictably, the leftist faculty which helped make the students this way were fully supportive.Refresh your recollections with the list of student demands here; my favorites: demanding an increase in tenured black professors and black doctors; funding for the student group for black men, which is racist and counter-diverse by definition; and “elimination of military and police rhetoric from all documents and daily discourse.”

Why is this so familiar? Continue reading

Today’s George Floyd Freakout Disgrace: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 The triggering event:

The museum’s powerful chairman of European paintings, Keith Christiansen, who has worked at the Met for 53 years, posted this image on Instagram. It depicts .

Christiansen also wrote,

“Alexandre Lenoir battling the revolutionary zealots bent on destroying the royal tombs in Saint Denis. How many great works of art have been lost to the desire to rid ourselves of a past of which we don’t approve. And how grateful we are to people like Lenoir, who realized that their value — both artistic and historical — extended beyond a defining moment of social and political upheaval and change.”

The statement was entirely appropriate and true.

But as we know, Facts Don’t Matter.

The response:

The post was quickly attacked  in a tweet by the advocacy group of arts workers, Art + Museum Transparency: “Dear @metmuseum, one of your most powerful curators suggested that it’s a shame we’re trying to ‘rid ourselves of a past of which we don’t approve’ by removing monuments — and, worse, making a dog whistle of an equation of #BLM activists with ‘revolutionary zealots.’ This is not OK.”

Responses to the tweet were similarly critical.

The reality:

  • Removing monuments is cultural suicide, and paves the road to historical ignorance.
  • BLM activists are “revolutionary zealots,” and denying it, or trying to punish those with the honesty and integrity to say so, won’t alter that fact.

Here is how Hawk Newsome, the president of Greater New York Black Lives Matter, described the movement in an interview with Martha MacCallum on Fox News, as reported by the NY Post:

“If this country doesn’t give us what we want, then we will burn down this system and replace it. All right? And I could be speaking figuratively. I could be speaking literally. It’s a matter of interpretation… Let’s be very real…. What is this country rewarding? What behavior is it listening to? Obviously not marching. But when people get aggressive and they escalate their protests, cops get fired, Republican politicians talking about police reform… Wow, it’s interesting that you would [ask what Black Lives Matter hoped to achieve through violence] because this country is built upon violence. What was the American Revolution? What’s our diplomacy across the globe? We go in and we blow up countries and we replace their leaders with leaders who we like. So for any American to accuse us of being violent is extremely hypocritical….. I think you should be applauding me, seeing how you guys are huge supporters of the Second Amendment….. But it seems to be the hypocrisy of America that when black people start talking about arming themselves and defending themselves, [that] talk is ‘violent.’ But when white people grab assault rifles and go to our nation’s, their state capitals, it’s all good… I just want black liberation, and black sovereignty. By any means necessary.”

Funny, that sure sounds like revolutionary zealotry to me. Continue reading

What A Difference A Month Makes: Re-Watching “Trumbo”

It was only in May that I had a quick note in a morning warm-up declaring the 2015 film “Trumbo” an ethics movie. That it is, but subsequent developments have made me realize it is much more, including frightening.

The film, starring Brian Cranston as the most famous member of the “Hollywood Ten,” now is a glass of ice water recieved full in the face, shocking viewers into the realization that the George Floyd Freakout is the catalyst for a second wave of McCarthyism. This one varies from the first in that the current version is being fueled by the Left rather than conservatives, and that it is far more violent, and potentially more dangerous.

After watching the film again and reviewing the history, for “Trumbo” is easily the best film about the blacklist, there is no question in my mind that this is true. Previously, I regarded the use of “McCarthyism” as a useful if over-used metaphor, like “witch-hunt.” (“McCarthyism” usually refers to the oppression and intimidation of the entire “Red Scare” period, including the blacklist, which was Fifties for “cancelled.” The “Hollywood Ten” were victims of the fascist House Un-American Activities  Committee, which was separate from the vicious Wisconsin GOP Senator, but “House Un-American Activities  Committee-ism” doesn’t roll off the tongue well.) Now it is evident that we are witnessing  in the United States  a mutated clone of what occurred across the country in the beginning of the 1950’s, with “racist” the current label being used to bully, silence, and ruin careers and lives, rather than “Communist.” Continue reading

An Update On The Professor Jacobson Controversy At Cornell

Last week Professor William Jacobson, a professor at Cornell Law School who writes a well-respected conservative blog, announced that there was a movement afoot among some faculty and students to get him fired. (Ethics Alarms discussed it here.) Here are Jacobson’s posts since then regarding the ongoing effort to have him dismissed for being critical of Black Lives Matter:

In a related development, the similarly politically incorrect (but so far anonymous) Berkeley history professor I criticized here is now being condemned by the university.

On this development, Professor Turley writes in part, Continue reading

Yes, I Think EBay Has Wrapped Up The “Most Unethical Fortune 500 Company Of The Year” Prize…

Yikes.

Six eBay employees mounted a cyberstalking campaign  including sending boxes of live spiders and cockroaches and a Halloween mask of a bloody pig’s face —followed by a threatening Twitter message— against a Natick, Mass. couple who ran an online e-commerce newsletter, according to charges filed by federal prosecutors yesterday.

I’ve never heard of anything like this, except perhaps in one of the cheesy horror movies I watch late at night to anesthetize my brain.

The employees, all of whom have now left the company, engineered a campaign against the couple that included ominous emails and deliveries on unordered products obvious chosen to terrify, such as a bloody pig mask, a funeral wreath and a book about how to surviving grief after the death of a spouse. Just to enrich your nightmares, here are the mask and the book: Continue reading

Afternoon Ethics Inflammation, 6/4/2020: Censorship, Groveling, And Ice Cream

Searching for ethical outrages not related to the George Floyd Freakout,

…..and not having much luck.

1. What does it tell us that so many employees of the New York Times oppose freedom of speech? It’s a rhetorical question. Prominent employees of the New York Times protested because they disagreed with this op-ed by a U.S. Senator:

Opinion writer Roxanne Gay’s argument was typical:

“As a NYT writer I absolutely stand in opposition to that Tom Cotton ‘editorial.’ “We are well served by robust and ideologically diverse public discourse that includes radical, liberal, and conservative voices. This is not that. His piece was inflammatory and endorsing military occupation as if the constitution doesn’t exist.”

Oddly, when Times Op-Ed  writer Bret Stephens called for the abolishment of the Second Amendment, nobody on the Times made the “as if the Constitution doesn’t exist” argument. Moreover, the argument against Cotton in this case is legally dubious to say the least. Whether the Insurrection Act should be used to restore order in riot-torn cities is a separate issue. There is precedent indicating that it can be so used, and even if there was not, Sen. Cotton’s opinion is quite a bit less objectively outrageous than various leftist screeds the Times happily bombards its readers with routinely.

Professor Turley’s reaction: “There is a growing orthodoxy in journalism that is now openly calling for the censorship of opposing views.  It is particularly problematic when opinion writers seek the removal of editors for allowing such opposing positions to be published.” Uh, yes, professor, “problematic.” It is a whole lot more serious than that.  Un-lablable pundit Andrew Sullivan was more assertive, as Turley should have been, tweeting,

The Op-Ed was designed so it offers an opposite view to the Editorial board. Liberals believe that ideas should be open to debate. This should be utterly uncontroversial in a liberal paper….It’s important to understand that what the mob is now doing to the NYT is what they did to Evergreen University. They hate liberal institutions and they want them dismantled from within. These people are not liberal and they are a disgrace to journalism….What’s happening at the NYT is an attempted coup.

Isn’t this inevitable, however? When a news media source regularly manipulates its news and reporting for ideological ends, why wouldn’t its employees eventually lobby for the next step, which is active censorship of views the organization deems “inappropriate”?

2. Note to Drew Brees: If you don’t have the guts to stand up to social media mobs, keep your mouth shut and your social media accounts occupied with football trivia.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees had opposed the NFL kneelers, now back in the news because if they had been permitted to keep grandstanding at NFL games, nobody would have knelt on George Floyd’s neck. Or something—I’m sure there’s a connection in there somewhere—by telling Yahoo Finance in an interview, “I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country….Is everything right with our country right now? No, it’s not,” Brees said, “We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together. We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution.”

But then the twitter mob descended, so the big, strong, straight-talking quarterback groveled on Instagram like a little glasses-wearing bot being stomped by a bully, writing on Instagram (accompanied by a nauseatingly pandering graphic of a white hand and a black one grasping each other):

I would like to apologize to my friends, teammates, the City of New Orleans, the black community, NFL community and anyone I hurt with my comments yesterday. In speaking with some of you, it breaks my heart to know the pain I have caused.

In an attempt to talk about respect, unity, and solidarity centered around the American flag and the national anthem, I made comments that were insensitive and completely missed the mark on the issues we are facing right now as a country. They lacked awareness and any type of compassion or empathy. Instead, those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character.

This is where I stand:

I stand with the black community in the fight against systemic racial injustice and police brutality and support the creation of real policy change that will make a difference.

I condemn the years of oppression that have taken place throughout our black communities and still exists today.

I acknowledge that we as Americans, including myself, have not done enough to fight for that equality or to truly understand the struggles and plight of the black community.

I recognize that I am part of the solution and can be a leader for the black community in this movement.

I will never know what it’s like to be a black man or raise black children in America but I will work every day to put myself in those shoes and fight for what is right.

I have ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy.

I am sick about the way my comments were perceived yesterday, but I take full responsibility and accountability. I recognize that I should do less talking and more listening…and when the black community is talking about their pain, we all need to listen.

For that, I am very sorry and I ask your forgiveness.

We know what happened here. Brees’ employers and agent todl him he was jeopardizing his income and market public relations, so he was forced to beg for forgiveness. What are the odds that he wrote that apology himself?

But it’s sure reassuring to know that he stands “with the black community in the fight against systemic racial injustice and police brutality and support[s] the creation of real policy change that will make a difference.” I’m sure he knows what that is, and can answer the 13th question.

3. And while we’re on the topic of the 13th question, here’s what socialist Vermont ice-cream makers Ben and Jerry think is an answer. I’ll break in here and there when I can’t stand it…

All of us at Ben & Jerry’s are outraged about the murder of another Black person by Minneapolis police officers last week and the continued violent response by police against protestors.

Like the good Leftists they are, Ben and Jerry begin with falsity to frame their argument. It is not a murder until due process of law had determined it to be a murder. “Another” is rhetorical dishonesty. Police action against rioters, arsonists and looters is not “violent response.” It is mandatory law enforcement.

We have to speak out. We have to stand together with the victims of murder, marginalization, and repression because of their skin color, and with those who seek justice through protests across our country. We have to say his name: George Floyd.George Floyd was a son, a brother, a father, and a friend. The police officer who put his knee on George Floyd’s neck and the police officers who stood by and watched didn’t just murder George Floyd, they stole him. They stole him from his family and his friends, his church and his community, and from his own future. The murder of George Floyd was the result of inhumane police brutality that is perpetuated by a culture of white supremacy. What happened to George Floyd was not the result of a bad apple; it was the predictable consequence of a racist and prejudiced system and culture that has treated Black bodies as the enemy from the beginning.

This is racist, inflammatory, vicious rhetoric calculated to provoke fear, violence and hate.

What happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis is the fruit borne of toxic seeds planted on the shores of our country in Jamestown in 1619, when the first enslaved men and women arrived on this continent. Floyd is the latest in a long list of names that stretches back to that time and that shore. Some of those names we know — Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Emmett Till, Martin Luther King, Jr. — most we don’t.

Normally I would bail on any article that conflated Emmit Til, who was lynched 75 years ago, and  Martin Luther King, who was assassinated, with Ahmaud Abbery, whose death did not involve police, with Eric Garner, who died in an example of sloppy police work while resisting arrest, with Trayvon Martin, who was killed by a Hispanic man in self -defense and whose death also had nothing to do with police, with Michael Brown. An argument that starts off with such deliberate misrepresentation cannot be respected.

The officers who murdered George Floyd, who stole him from those who loved him, must be brought to justice.

They are arrested and charged, and will stand trial. Or do Ben and Jerry want Emmett Till-style “justice”?

At the same time, we must embark on the more complicated work of delivering justice for all the victims of state sponsored violence and racism. Four years ago, we publicly stated our support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Today, we want to be even more clear about the urgent need to take concrete steps to dismantle white supremacy in all its forms. To do that, we are calling for four things: First, we call upon President Trump, elected officials, and political parties to commit our nation to a formal process of healing and reconciliation. Instead of calling for the use of aggressive tactics on protestors, the President must take the first step by disavowing white supremacists and nationalist groups that overtly support him, and by not using his Twitter feed to promote and normalize their ideas and agendas. The world is watching America’s response.

Translation: Unilaterally submit to our ideological position. Right. Again, this is an unserious argument that is entirely political.

Second, we call upon the Congress to pass H.R. 40, legislation that would create a commission to study the effects of slavery and discrimination from 1619 to the present and recommend appropriate remedies. We cannot move forward together as a nation until we begin to grapple with the sins of our past. Slavery, Jim Crow, and segregation were systems of legalized and monetized white supremacy for which generations of Black and Brown people paid an immeasurable price. That cost must be acknowledged and the privilege that accrued to some at the expense of others must be reckoned with and redressed.

Translation: Reparations! Who didn’t see that coming? Reparations, of course, would do more to exacerbate racial tensions than almost anything I can think of, and again, the idea isn’t serious, because it is politically impossible, and should be. It is a “solution” to justify endless criticism for not adopting it.

Third, we support Floyd’s family’s call to create a national task force that would draft bipartisan legislation aimed at ending racial violence and increasing police accountability. We can’t continue to fund a criminal justice system that perpetuates mass incarceration while at the same time threatens the lives of a whole segment of the population.

Translation: Authentic Frontier Gibberish. It’s meaningless.

And finally, we call on the Department of Justice to reinvigorate its Civil Rights Division as a staunch defender of the rights of Black and Brown people. The DOJ must also reinstate policies rolled back under the Trump Administration, such as consent decrees to curb police abuses.

Police shootings and police involved deaths have declined during the Trump Administration, though the Obama Administration had a completely racialized Justice Department and Civil Rights Division. This is Trump bashing disguises as police advice.

Unless and until white America is willing to collectively acknowledge its privilege, take responsibility for its past and the impact it has on the present, and commit to creating a future steeped in justice, the list of names that George Floyd has been added to will never end. We have to use this moment to accelerate our nation’s long journey towards justice and a more perfect union.

It’s virtue-signaling and dog-whistling without substance.  Like ice cream, it may taste good to many, but there’s little of substance to savor later. The 13th question isn’t even nicked in this screed.

Ethics Dunce: Senator Chuck Schumer [CORRECTED]

“I want to tell you [Justice] Kavanaugh, I want to tell you [Justice] Gorsuch: You have unleashed a whirlwind, and you will pay the price.You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions!”

—–Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer, sounding like Sonny Corleone, in front of the Supreme Court.

How many ways was this demagoguery wrong, as in spectacularly unethical? Let’s see:

  • Schumer  threatened Supreme Court justices, by name. What does “pay the price” mean, if not, “Just you wait, you’re gonna regret this!”

There is no possible justification for such ominous rhetoric

  • It is an attempt at intimidation as well as  encouragement to others to follow through on Schumer’s threat. This prompted Chief Justice Roberts into a making an unprecedented protest, as he wrote, “Statements of this sort from the highest levels of government are not only inappropriate, they are dangerous. All members of the Court will continue to do their job, without fear or favor, from whatever quarter.”

Perfect.

Even addled Larry Tribe, the former Harvard Law School icon turned mad anti-Trump tweeter and conspiracy-monger, called Schumer’s outburst intolerable, tweeting,

These remarks by @SenSchumer were inexcusable. Chief Justice Roberts was right to call him on his comments. I hope the Senator, whom I’ve long admired and consider a friend, apologizes and takes back his implicit threat. It’s beneath him and his office.

Prof. Jonathan Turley joined the chorus and wrote, Continue reading

Now Don’t Sue Me, SmileDirectClub, Because This Only This Ethicist’s Opinion, But…

“Hey! That’s a GREAT Idea! I LOVE it! Sure I’ll accept a refund in exchange for never telling anyone how lousy your product is!”

…no one should trust or do business with a company that engages in this unethical practice. Just an opinion, now.

What SmileDirectClub does, as documented in a New York Times Business Section story, is force customers to sign a non-disclosure (or confidentiality) agreement before they can receive refunds for unsatisfactory products. That way, other customer can’t find out about what the SmileDirectClub  can turn out to be, and in ignorance are more unwitting customers.

Here’s an excerpt from the Times piece: Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: Alternate History Ethics

In 2017, “Game of Thrones” creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss announced that HBO  would carry their new original series “Confederate,” an alternate history show taking place in  an alternate reality where the South won the Civil War, creating a new nation in which slavery remains legal and continues as a modern institution. (yes, presumably they knew this was unlikely, bordering on impossible. )Their release added, “The story follows a broad swath of characters on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Demilitarized Zone — freedom fighters, slave hunters, politicians, abolitionists, journalists, the executives of a slave-holding conglomerate and the families of people in their thrall.”

While I generally dislike alternate history fiction (unless it involves extravagant revenge on unequivocal villains, like in “Inglorious Basterds” or “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood,)” the genre, done well, has the potential to be enlightening and provocative, like Amazon’s The Man in the High Tower,” a series based on Philip K. Dick’s novel about a world in which Germany and Japan defeated the U.S. in World War II.

Now, however,  we learn:

…. HBO president Casey Bloys officially confirms to TVLine that the…long-gestating, controversial slavery drama Confederate will not be moving forward.

The 2017 announcement was greeted by the same people who want to see all statues of slave-holders and Confederate soldiers melted down (and the Confederate flag regarded with the same revulsion as the Nazi swastika) as a dangerous white supremacy plot. Benioff and Weiss even felt they had to make it clear in interviews that they knew “slavery was wrong.” Here’s an example of the social media brickbats the announcement of the series spawned in 2017: Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: The North West Hendricks School Corporation

How can organizations, especially schools,  think this kind of thing is acceptable, much less ethical? Who are the lawyers advising these people? Where do they think they’re living?

In Indiana, the North West Hendricks School Corporation’s “ Parent Code of Conduct ” says that parents should not use social media to make “rude or offensive comments” regarding school staff members or the school itself. Parents also cannot use social media to “campaign against or fuel outrage against individual staff members, the school or policies implemented by the school or district.” Violating the policy means that a parent can be removed from the school premises and banned from entering school grounds forevermore.

This is one of those unenforceable provisions that exist to intimidate and deceive those ignorant parents who were so badly educated (perhaps in the North West Hendricks School Corporation ) that they can’t spot an unconstitutional rule when they see one. No public school can tell parents what they can or can’t say on social media. This is a pure First Amendment violation, so blatant that it even roused the local ACLU from its accustomed slumber.

The ACLU of Indiana was asked about its assessment of the restriction on parents’ speech, and  legal director Ken Falk replied,

“I think this is flagrantly unconstitutional. The overarching problem is you have the government saying if we don’t like what you’re saying, we can punish you — but the government is not allowed to do that. That’s why we have the First Amendment.”

The rule has been in the Parent Code since 2016, but nobody reads these things. It is coming to the fore now because the district is currently keeping a teacher on its payroll despite allegations of sexual misconduct toward a student. Some parents have been discussing the situation on Facebook, and wonder about the school’s response. The district made a point of  handing out copies of the Parent Code of Conduct at a December school board meeting, and it was taken by many as a warning. Continue reading