Lazy Saturday Afternoon Ethics Meander: 6/27/2020: Blank Slate, Mis-Handler, Pandering Chicken (Corrected)

Lately I’ve been having an especially tough time finding some genuine ethics outrages on the Right, since the Left has been going, you know, nuts.

Now that gonzo Ethics Alarms commenter Alizia has pronounced me “a radical progressive,” however, I guess I needn’t worry about balance so much.

1. Fake news, headline division. Yesterday and today I saw several headlines with some version of “D.C. Statehood Takes A Step Forward.”  That’s flagrant clickbait, and false. The House used its Democratic majority to pass a D.C. statehood bill, which is guaranteed the same fate as dozens of other grandstanding bills Pelosi’s minions have sent to the GOP controlled Senate.  It’s not a step forward, because there is no actual progress toward statehood at all. (I was surprised to learn that the House hasn’t passed such a bill in 25 years. Democrats hadn’t because it was futile.) The GOP Senate will reject the bill, and if some kind of brain disease struck and they passed it, the President would veto. To have D.C. make it to statehood would require the Democrats to  control the House, the Senate, the White House and have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

2. Sheep see, sheep do! Actress Jenny Slate was so impressed with Kristen Bell’s ridiculous stunt of quitting her gig as a voice actress for a mixed race animated character (see, Kristen is white, see, so she can’t really express the essence of a mixed race character even though the show’s producers said her performance was “brilliant,” but a black actress told that she couldn’t voice a white animated character would be screaming “Systemmic racism!” so fast it would make your head spin. This is what they’re toppling statues for, folks! ) that she decided to duplicate the virtue-signal, quitting her role on the animated show “Big Mouth”  because she’s white and her character is b-iracial. (Well, really the character is not even a human being and just colored sort of brownish, and  her lines are written by a man, but..oh, never mind. Why would I try to make sense out of this?)

Slate said,

“I acknowledge how my original reasoning was flawed and that it existed as an example of white privilege and unjust allowances made within a system of societal white supremacy … Ending my portrayal of “Missy” is one step in a life-long process of uncovering the racism in my actions…”

If this reminds you of the scripted confessions of brainwashed American pilots held as North Korean prisoners of war, it should. Writes Andrew Sullivan, dissecting Slate’s mindless cant,

“It’s a classic confession of counterrevolutionary error… The word “racist,” which was widely understood quite recently to be prejudicial treatment of an individual based on the color of their skin, now requires no intent to be racist in the former sense, just acquiescence in something called “structural racism,’ which can mean any difference in outcomes among racial groupings. Being color-blind is therefore now being racist. And there is no escaping this. The woke shift their language all the time, so that words that were one day fine are now utterly reprehensible. You can’t keep up — which is the point…. So, yes, this is an Orwellian moment. It’s not a moment of reform but of a revolutionary break, sustained in part by much of the liberal Establishment.”

3. What do you say, most ridiculous corporate white guy pandering yet, or what? Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy took part in a televised discussion at Atlanta’s Passion City Church last week with Pastor Louie Giglio and rapper Lecrae  in what the church called “an open and honest conversation around how racism has plagued our city for generations, and the steps we can all take to confront it head-on in our church, our neighborhoods, and our hearts.” This was sparked, of course, by the police shooting of Rayshard Johnson, about which there is no evidence indicating that it was based on racism at all.

But the company’s CEO, who is trying to get past being labeled as a homophobe for opposing same sex marriage, seized the opportunity to be “woke.” He  shared a story told to him (meaning that it may be made up) about a small town revival meeting  in Texas. A young man at the service  was “gripped with conviction about the racism that was happening” and responded by kneeling down before an elderly African American man and shining the his shoes. “So I invite folks to just put some words to action here,” Cathy said, standing up and carrying a shoe brush over to the black rapper.

Then he knelt down in shoe-shining position, and said, “If we need to find somebody [ that is, somebody black) that needs to have their shoes shined, we just need to go right on over and shine their shoes and whether they got tennis shoes on or not, maybe they got sandals on, it really doesn’t matter. But there’s a time at which we need to have, you know, some personal action here. Maybe we need to give them a hug, too.”

4. And this is why performers should shut up about politics and stay off Twitter. Chelsea Handler, the female, B-version of Bill Maher, posted a video of racist, homophobic,  anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan to her 3.9 million followers on Instagram, writing that she “learned a lot” from watching Farrakhan debate audience members on whether racial prejudice would ever be eradicated. Handler, who is Jewish, was apparently unaware that Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam is generally regarded as a hate group–against whites, gays and Jews. (Apparently fellow celebrities Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Aniston and Michelle Pfieffer, who liked Handler’s choice of a messenger, were similarly ignorant.)Initially Handler doubled-down, saying on her podcast that she…

“…wasn’t thinking about the anti-Semitic thing, but I don’t want to take down the post because I felt the message was powerful and a lot of people did. It was powerful for me the way he spelled it out,” That black people don’t have a history of killing white power. White people have a history of killing black people, for hundreds of years. Over and over again, we kill black people in this country. So everyone needs to remember where the violence came from. It’s not from the black people, it’s from the white people. So I thought it was powerful. So whatever, you know, everybody can fuck themselves.”

Yes, Chelsea Handler thought Farrakhan’s  standard  racist “white devils” riff was “powerful.” It’s not just that Farrakhan is such a repulsive messenger that nobody should trust anything he says, it’s also that his message is a hate screed and based on a biased and deliberately distorted reading of history.

Then social media told Handler to shape up, so, lacking any integrity and courage herself, she took down the post and grovelled to  the Daily Beast:

“I want to sincerely apologize for posting the video of Louis Farrakhan. I didn’t consider the context of his anti-Semitic and homophobic rhetoric,\ that is of course contrary to my own beliefs and values. Part of the process of educating ourselves during this pivotal time is recognizing and working through our mistakes.This was definitely one of mine. I was wrong. It was offensive, and I apologize.

No, you didn’t know who Louis Farrakhan was before you endorsed him. [Pointer: Other Bill]

 

Facebook And Instagram Leap Down The Slippery Slope To Thought-Policing

Facebook has banned right-wing activists Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, Laura Loomer, Joseph Watson, white supremacist Paul Nehlen,  Jones’s company, Infowars, and  Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

And yes, it is unethical. And frightening. The irony is that Facebook says that the ideas promoted by these mostly fringe figures are “dangerous.” Nothing any of them say or write are anywhere nearly as dangerous as promoting censorship based on content and political viewpoint.

It doesn’t matter that all of the political and opinion figures Facebook banned from its two social media platforms are assholes, bigots and hate-mongers—I can’t say for sure that all of them are, since I only bump into any of them when I take a wrong turn on the Information Superhighway, as Al Gore liked to call it. I can say for sure that Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan meets that description, just as I can say for sure the media spin that he is “right wing” is ridiculous. If he’s so far right, why have so many members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including the only-recently resigned co-chair of the Democratic National Committee, met with him, posed with him, and generally given him legitimacy?  Barack Obama posed with him too, though that photo was stored in the media memory hole until he was safely elected President.

Oh, I get it: only conservatives spread hate, ergo Farrakhan must be a right winger.  I suspect that the real reason Farrakhan was on the initial list of banned users was so Facebook could claim, when challenged, that it wasn’t just banning  advocates for the far right.

Progressives and their allies need to get their stories straight.

Let me get back to the first sentence: for a major source of communication in our society to permanently censor anyone based purely on the ideas and opinions they advocate is unethical, and is a serious threat to freedom of expression in the United States. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Catch-Up, 10/19/2018: Digging Out

Good Morning!

My CLE circuit-riding adventure was completed when I returned home last night, and now I have the ethics equivalent of Augean stables facing me. So I’m grabbing my metaphorical shovel, and going to work…

1 Rationalization #22 approach: At least it wasn’t a tweet… During a rally in Missoula, Montana yesterday, President Trump endorsed Montana Rep. Greg Gianforte’s  May 2017 attack on Guardian journalist Ben Jacobs (Gianforte eventually pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault), saying, “Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my kind of guy.”

I’m at a loss. This comment comes in the context of a Saudi journalist being vivisected and Democrats diving at the low road by encouraging incivility and harassment of conservatives. How aware does someone have to be—not just a President, but anyone—to figure out that it is no time to be praising thugs like Ginaforte, whom I wrote about (twice) here?

2. Pro tip: If you want to hide your status as a left-biased hack, don’t use PolitiFact as authority for your opinion. Those who can’t quickly discern that PolitiFact is a blatant example of that oxymoron, a biased media factchecker, are too biased themselves to be taken seriously. (Most of Ethics Alarms’ self-exiled progressive shills were addicted to PolitiFact). Here is yet another smoking gun: now that an election is looming, PolitiFact is barely even trying to appear objective.

First, PolitiFact awarded a “ mostly false” rating this week to former U.S. Air Force fighter pilot Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., for a campaign ad that says of her Senate opponent, “While we were in harm’s way in uniform, [ Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.] was protesting us in a pink tutu and denigrating our service.” Even by the service’s own description of the episode, the ad is accurate. Here is PolitiFact’s argument, which is pretty typical of what the news media calls “fact-checking”:

McSally retired from the Air Force in 2010 after 26 years of military service. After 9/11, Sinema led protests against the war in Iraq. At a 2003 rally called “No War! A Celebration of Life and Creativity,” Sinema wore a pink tutu. Media reports of the rallies in 2002 and 2003 quote Sinema as opposing the war and the Bush administration’s policy, but we found no evidence of her disparaging troops. McSally’s statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression. We rate it Mostly False.

Disagreeing over whether or not an anti-war protest disparages troops is not disproving a fact. This, however, is even worse:

The GOP’s Senate Leadership Fund released an ad this week, titled “‘Normal’ MO,” focusing on Senator Claire McCaskill’s penchant for traveling by private plane and alleging that Senator is out of touch with her constituents.

“Claire even said this about private planes,” the ad says, cutting to video of McCaskill saying, “That ordinary people can afford it.”

Responded PolitiFact: “Did Claire McCaskill say normal people can afford a private plane? No.”

The video highlighted in the GOP ad shows an August 2017 town hall in which a constituent asked McCaskill, “You know, that’s one thing the United States has that nobody else has, is the freedom to fly around and be affordable where a normal person can afford it.” McCaskill responded, “Will you remind them when they come after me about my husband’s plane that normal people can afford it?”

PolitiFact apparently never reviewed the whole exchange, falsely writing that “the audience member never said anything about private planes in the clip; he appears to be referencing the freedom and low cost of the overall U.S. commercial aviation system.” Finally,  Politifact took down its McCaskill story, announcing that it would “re-evaluate” it in light of “ new evidence.”  The new evidence is the full video which has been available for months.

“[A]fter publication,” says PolitiFact, “we received more complete video of the question-and-answer session between McCaskill and a constituent that showed she was in fact responding to a question about private planes, as well as a report describing the meeting … We apologize for the error.” But even after getting the full context and confirmation of McCaskill’s remarks, PolitiFact still only gave the GOP ad a “half true” rating, because, it said, the ad “exaggerated” the full context of what the senator was saying. PolitiFact argues that McCaskill’s comments “seem to refer to ‘normal’ users of private planes, not to ‘normal’ Americans more generally.” She said, “Will you remind them when they come after me about my husband’s plane that normal people can afford it?” You tell me: Is PolitiFact clarifying, or desperately spinning for its partisan purposes? [Pointer and Source: Washington Examiner 1,2] Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “The Obama-Farrakhan Photo”

I don’t think I agree with this comment regarding the post about how a  photograph of Senator Obama smiling next to Louis Farrakhan came to be hidden from public view until now, and how its reappearance has launched speculation on the Right that Obama was elected by a public unaware of his radical, anti-white proclivities. It is a very interesting comment, though, and raises several excellent issues about how actions, motives and truth interact. I may author a detailed rebuttal in the comments, but the core question this raises is this: To what extent does the fact that an action was taken to hide something serve as material evidence that there that something that needed to be hidden?

The results of the Ethics Alarms poll asking what the photo proved, incidentally, was that 86% of those voting believed that it proved nothing regarding Obama’s feelings to toward Farrakhan  at all.

Here is johnburger2013‘s Comment of the Day on the post, The Obama-Farrakhan Photo:

Methinks our faithful ethics blogger is being, according to our friends across the pond, a bit “cheeky”, hoping to inspire a lively debate, knowing fully well that a photo of Trump with David Duke would be conclusive evidence that the present Chief Executive Officer of the US is merely waiting for his hood to come back from the cleaners so that he can don it and go out for a fun night on the town.

For me, the real ethics issue is not the photo, but that Congressional Black Caucus leaned on a journalist to kill its publication and the journalist capitulated. Other Bill, VPJ and Charles Marschner are correct: publication of the photo (probably) would not have changed the 2008 election results.

But, let’s ask the bigger question: Why kill it?

First, who is Askia Muhammad? According to Wikipedia, he is a poet, journalist, radio producer, commentator, and a photojournalist. He has served as the editor of Muhammad Speaks and as the head of the Washington office of The Final Call, the official newspapers of the Nation of Islam, which incidentally, is the organization headed by the right-honorable Louis Farrakhan, from Chicago, IL. (Who else was from Chicago? Might it have been a little-known senator but rising star in the Democrat party? Hmmm.) Continue reading

The Obama-Farrakhan Photo

A  photo has emerged showing former President Barack Obama, then a U.S. Senator,  posing with Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the black nationalist Nation of Islam. Obama and the anti-white, anti-Semitic demagogue are beaming at a Congressional Black Caucus meeting in 2005. The Southern Poverty Law Center calls his organization a hate-group, but then they call a lot of organizations hate groups. I’d call the Nation of Islam a racist group that peddles hate.

Journalist Askia Muhammed, who took the photo, is publishing it in a new book called “The Autobiography of Charles 67X.” He says that after the event,  the Congressional Black Caucus contacted him and demanded to have the disk. “I gave the original disk to him and in a sense swore myself to secrecy because I had quietly made a copy for myself,” Muhammad told Fox News, adding that the CBC was concerned that a photo with Farrakhan could hurt the Obama’s Presidential prospects.

The conservative news media is writing about this, while the mainstream news media, with a few exceptions like the New Yorker, is ignoring it. Writes Vinson Cunningham, in that publication,

“[Askia] Muhammad, that anonymous C.B.C. functionary, and Farrakhan, with that faux-harmless smile, all knew it: if that picture spreads in 2007 or 2008, a whole different history ensues.”

If that’s true, then the fact that the photo was buried is news, right? But is that true? Why should it be true? Why would such a photograph mean anything at all? Continue reading