Eight Ethics Observations On Donald Trump’s Prisoner Of War Slur…And Another New Rationalization: “Popeye’s Excuse”

PopeyeFrom the New York Times:

“Mr. Trump upended a Republican presidential forum here [Ames, Iowa] , and the race more broadly, by saying of the Arizona senator and former prisoner of war: “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” Mr. McCain, a naval aviator, was shot down during the Vietnam War and held prisoner for more than five years in Hanoi, refusing early release even after being repeatedly beaten.

The only news outlet that isn’t covering this is the Huffington Post, because controversies that directly affect who will be President of the United States aren’t news when they involve candidates the HuffPo ideologues don’t respect.

I thought I should remind you.

Ethics observations:

1. The statement is signature significance that Trump is a jerk as well as a fool, and not very bright as well. The latter is especially important: being an idiot should disqualify anyone for high elected office. Not that Trump’s intelligence, or lack of it, hasn’t been a matter of record for a long, long time, but this is as blazing a tell as anyone could wish for. Anyone who voluntarily places his or her life at risk for their country is a hero; circumstances and moral luck determine what other tests warfare will present to such an individual’s character. When a hero passes such a test with distinction, as McCain did in his prisoner of war ordeal during the Vietnam war, the military makes a special effort to recognize that heroism, in part to inspire others. My father refused to make a big deal about his Silver Star and Bronze Star, because he was aware that the man who was blown up by a shell while virtually standing next to him could have just as easily been the decorated war hero, and my father a statistic, had the shell landed a little bit to the right. My father regarded the man who was killed in his foxhole as much of a hero as he was. Trump would say, “I like people who aren’t killed.”

Only a stupid man could believe that.

2. For Trump to denigrate McCain’s service when he took every possible step to avoid service in the same war is especially nauseating. The ethical values being rejected here are fairness and respect. John McCain displayed courage, patriotism, devotion to civic duty, selflessness and integrity that Trump could not. It’s really that simple. Trump lacks any standing to criticize Senator McCain’s war record.

3. On ABC this morning, Donald Trump was asked about his habit of name-calling and using personal insults as his response to political criticism. He justified his incivility by evoking the Tit for Tat excuse: if you insult him, he’ll insult you, and that includes calling you fat, old, stupid, or–his favorite—“a loser.” This is playground ethics, worthy of a 12-year-old. Your duty to be fair, civil and ethical is not reduced by the unethical conduct of someone else, even when it is aimed at you. Ethical people understand this, often before they are 20. Ethically, Trump is a case of arrested development. Continue reading

Unethical Column of the Century: CNN’s L.Z. Granderson

OK, maybe I’m exaggerating.

But not much.

L.Z. Granderson’s role model. I’m not kidding.

In a horrifying opinion column, the regular CNN political pundit L.Z. Granderson evoked the virtues of public apathy and unchecked government conduct with warped logic and unethical rationalizations, to make the case that the public should merely shrug off scandals like “Fast and Furious.” I was only able to finish reading it without retching it by imagining Granderson’s motives for writing such mind- and culture-poisoning swill. At least, as an African-American journalist, a liberal and a Obama supporter (I know I repeat myself), he has the self-respect, fairness and integrity not to claim that critics of Attorney General Holder’s Waterloo are being racist. Like the race-baiters, however, he is in denial, and willing to throw principle to the wolves to protect the first African-American Attorney General, though far from the first corrupt and incompetent one.

In a column with the descriptive and idiotic title, “Don’t be nosy about Fast and Furious,” Granderson argues…

“…Times have changed. Yet, not everything is our business. And in the political arena, there are things that should be and need to be kept quiet…..there comes a point where the public’s right to know needs to take a back seat to matters like national security and diplomacy. Heads should roll because of the Fast and Furious debacle. We don’t need every detail of that operation to be made public in order for that to happen. If it were an isolated sting, maybe. But it is at least the third incarnation of a gun-running scheme stretching across two administrations, which means we could be pressing to open Pandora’s Box. We do not want to open Pandora’s Box, not about this and certainly not about a bunch of other potentially scandalous things the federal government has been involved with.” Continue reading

William Aramony and the Fallen Hero Dilemma

As he usually did, the extraterrestrial, mutant, collective or whatever he was William Shakespeare (no human could be that wise) had it exactly right, and a long time ago: “The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones.” In a dispirited column on the CNN website, obviously inspired by the Paterno debacle, ESPN writer L.Z. Granderson writes that he has become afraid to watch the news, fearing that another of his heroes will be shown to be a fraud:

“And when we find out our gods are not perfect, we’re confused. We don’t know what to do with a storyline where the perceived protagonist is complex. Heroes aren’t supposed to do bad things. That’s what villains are for. So either the good supersedes the bad, or the bad makes it impossible to remember the good. We don’t like it when such duality exists in one person. We don’t want to know our heroes are human.” Continue reading

Would It Be Ethical To Prohibit Civicly Ignorant Citizens From Voting?

CNN columnist L.Z. Granderson made the argument in a recent website post that it would be reasonable to deny the right to vote to ignorant Americans who cannot name the three branches of government and who have nary a clue about the issues facing the country .

Granderson could have saved some time by simply writing the undoubted truth that American policies, progress and choices of leaders and are greatly handicapped by the fact that lazy, uninformed, blissfully ignorant boobs warp our democratic process….and have almost from the beginning. But so what? What can be done about it? There is one thing for certain: taking away the right to vote based on someone’s subjective formula for measuring “ignorance” isn’t among the realistic—or ethical—solutions. Continue reading