Lesson of the Asian-Bashing UCLA Video: Shunning and Intolerance Work. Good.

Alexandra Wallace...cultural critic, YouTube star, pariah, GONE

Alexandra Wallace, the UCLA student who created an obnoxious and offensive video stereotyping her Asian colleagues as gibberish-spouting boors,  announced that she was leaving the school as a result of “being ostracized” by “an entire community.”  Yes, I’d say that was the idea, and it is how cultures enforce its values. And it works.

Wallace picked the day of the Japanese tsunami to post her anti-Asian rant on YouTube, where it promptly went viral. It also made her an instant pariah on her campus, where over a third of all students are of Asian heritage, and the rest of them, unlike Alexandra, have at least a vague concept of mutual respect and decorum.

You can read a complete transcript of the three-minute diatribe here, but this shortened version gives a sense of what infuriated Asians, UCLA, and just about everyone else: Continue reading

Ethics Heroes: The Fukushima 50, Reminding Us What Real Heroism Is

We all throw around the words “hero” and “heroism” too readily, and it cheapens the real thing, which is rare, and awe-inspiring. Teachers are heroes, cancer patients are heroes, mothers and dads are heroes, legislators who ignore polls are heroes, quarterbacks are heroes. There is much heroism around us, certainly—those who do vital jobs and make courageous choices at personal sacrifice deserve praise and recognition, as do those who overcome tremendous personal challenges. We should appreciate these acts when we see them.

Still, this leaves us unable to muster the words to distinguish the rarest and most remarkable of heroes, like the fifty Japanese nuclear technicians who have remained behind to try to prevent a nuclear catastrophe at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant damaged by Friday’s earthquake. They are not merely risking their lives, but quite probably trading them, for the well-being of their country and its citizens.

We should all aspire to such courage, selflessness, and character.

In the pantheon of ethical conduct, the Fukushima Fifty deserve the most honored place of all.

Nuclear Crisis Ethics

Meltdown! Radiation! Mutations! Well, I guess that's all we have to know.

I just heard, for the twelfth time, Sen. Joe Lieberman telling “Face the Nation” that the United States should put the brakes on nuclear energy plant construction “right now until we understand the ramifications of what’s happening in Japan.” Meanwhile, the anti-nukes crowd is out in full force, seeing Japan’s crisis as their opportunity to scare the bejesus out of the public, which is nervous about nuclear energy anyway since they know nothing about it, other than that something bad happened at Three-Mile Island, the Russians had a catastrophe at Chernobyl,  Jane Fonda made that scary movie, “The China Syndrome,” where they shot Jack Lemmon— “And don’t they make bombs with that nuclear stuff?”—and the fact that Homer Simpson works for a nuclear plant that creates three-eyed fish and is run by that evil old Montgomery Burns. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: Who Deserved To Be Fired—Beck or The Duck?

Tough quiz today, ethics fans. Be on your toes!

Our quiz for today: Who most deserved to be fired—Glenn Beck, Gilbert Gottfried (the voice of the Aflac duck),  neither, or both?

The Mad Prophet of Fox, Glenn Beck returned to his radio program with this reflection:

“I’m not saying God is, you know, causing earthquakes. I’m not not saying that either… but there’s a message being sent. And that is, ‘Hey, you know that stuff we’re doing? Not really working out real well. Maybe we should stop doing some of it.’ I’m just saying.”

Yes, Glenn Beck said that the devastation of Japan just may be a message from God. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “The Tears of Keith Ellison”

Less to do with the original post and more concerned with weightier matters is this thoughtful comment by blameblakeart, the Comment of the Day:

“This event in Japan has crystalized for me Jack – we as Humanity, as Earthlings – are all in this together, side of the aisle being probably the least of our worries. We need to use our smarts and our will to manifest a better, more abundant, more perfect world, all together, not just for a chosen few.

“10000+ years ago there were hundreds of species that basically cease to exist. What the 8.9 Japanese earthquake tells at least me is that life is tremendously fleeting, but intensely beautiful, magic, and precious, of all things, Human and Of this Earth. I don’t know why there are those out there trying to distract us from these simple truths with all these bogus, hateful, incendiary tactics.”

Unethical Quote of the Week: CNBC Financial Analyst Larry Kudlow

We've all been there, Larry. Still sounded awful, though.

The human toll here looks to be much worse than the economic toll, and we can be grateful for that.”

CNBC’s financial guru Larry Kudlow, discussing the economic implications of the Japanese earthquake and its aftermatha legitimate topic—while giving an instructive demonstration of how tunnel-vision and focus on one objective above all else can disable an ethics alarm, momentarily, or even permanently.

The quote speaks for itself, but here are a few comments: Continue reading