The Supreme Court Holds The U.S. To A Promise

“On the far end of the Trail of Tears was a promise. Forced to leave their ancestral lands in Georgia and Alabama, the Creek Nation received assurances that their new lands in the West would be secure forever…Because Congress has not said otherwise, we hold the government to its word.”

Thus did Justice Neil Gorsuch begin and end his historic 42-page majority opinion this month in McGirt v. Oklahoma, as the Supreme Court ruled  in a 5-4 decision that the Creek reservation in eastern Oklahoma had never been “disestablished” by Congress, and thus the promise made in a series of 18th Century treaties ensured that the territory remains an Indian reservation for the purposes of federal criminal law, and quite probably in other areas as well.

The decision was overshadowed by more politically debated decisions this month, but it may be the most overtly ethical of the Supreme Court’s recent holdings. Among other virtues, it rejects the false logic of Rationalization #52. The Underwood Maneuver, or “That’s in the past.” That one holds that time erases accountability, an attitude  useful to the habitually unethical, because “moving on” gives them  an opportunity to repeat their unethical and harmful conduct, or worse.

The Underwood Maneuver manipulates the victim of wrongful conduct into forgiving and forgetting without the essential contributions a truly reformed wrongdoer must make to the equation: admission of harm , acceptance of responsibility, remorse and regret, amends and compensation, and good reason to believe that the unethical conduct won’t be repeated.  By emphasizing that wrongdoing was in the past, this rationalization all but assures that it is also lurking in the near future.

Potentially half of Oklahoma will be affected by McGirt. The issue was whether the state of Oklahoma could prosecute Indians accused of major crimes in Indian Country, or if, under an 1885 federal statute known as the Major Crimes Act, such offenses were within federal jurisdiction. The case hinged upon whether the Creek Reservation had been withdrawn or disestablished, by Congress in the lead-up to Oklahoma’s admission to the Union in 1907, thus causing Hugh Jackman to sing.

This is 3 million acres in and around Tulsa we’re talking about here.

With the Court holding that the Creek reservation was never disestablished, four other tribes— the Seminole, Cherokee, Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations in eastern Oklahoma— may benefit from similar rulings. Those tribes’ total territory covers  19 million acres where 1.8 million Americans now live, relatively few of whom are Native Americans. Continue reading

Tales Of The Niggardly Principals

Quite a bit of the censorship, word-banning and historical air-brushing we are seeing during the George Floyd Freakout, aka The Great Stupid, are fueled by ignorance, like that of the black D.C. employee in 1999 who forced  David Howard, an aide to Mayor Anthony A. Williams, to resign for using a “racial slur.”  (“Niggardly (noun: niggard) is an adjective meaning  stingy or miserly. It is derived from the Middle English word nigard, which is probably derived from Old Norse hnǫggr , meaning “stingy”) After Howard was reinstated, there was wide agreement that this was political correctness run amuck. Julian Bond, then chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said, You hate to think you have to censor your language to meet other people’s lack of understanding…Seems to me the mayor has been niggardly in his judgment on the issue” and noted that the US has a “hair-trigger sensibility” on race that can be tripped by both real and false grievances.”

Ah, those were the days! Imagine as statement like that coming from the NAACP today.

The core idea behind the three Niggardly Principles is that ignorance and stupidity should not be enabled, reward or encouraged, though it is unkind—unethical—to deliberately set out to offend someone even if the source of the offense is the individual’s knowledge or intellectual deficit. (That’s the Second Niggardly Principle.)

I do not think that one applies to this episode: Greg and Kjersten Offenecker, owners of The Nordic Pineapple in St. Johns, Michigan removed  the Norwegian flag and an American flag posted outside their Civil War-era mansion last week because morons had accused them of promoting racism in the largely conservative Michigan town.

The couple said they capitulated after receiving “at least a dozen hateful emails” and other complaints.  “I don’t see it because I grew up with the Norwegian flag.To me they are two distinct flags,” shrugged Kjersten.

They ARE two distinct flags, you cowardly, submissive enabler of race bullies.!You should have issued each sender of those emails an explanation. You should have put out a press release clarifying the difference between the flags. You should have extended a little time and commitment  to protect speech and expression from sinister efforts to intimidate and censor by the proto-totalitarian Left, which is getting less proto- by the hour. Too much trouble to do your duty to fight for American values and principles, is it? Then I pronounce you a lazy and irresponsible citizen.

Here’s the Norwegian flag next to the Confederate flag:

They are not the same design. They do not have the same colors. Why are you allowing people this stupid to dictate your conduct? And if you remove the American flag because some vile mutation of citizen complains, you are as anti-American as it is. You are the kind of submissive coward who would raise a Nazi flag because your neighbors insisted on it.

The United States cannot survive if it is dominated by the ignorant and the meekly submissive.

Boy, Norway is so lovely this time of year. I don’t know how you can stay away… Continue reading

Another Vote For “The Washington Code Talkers”

The Washington Redskins ownership finally was forced to capitulate in the decades long- battle to force a beloved and fanatically supported NFL team to ditch the name that fans were beloving on the dubious theory, rejected by most native Americans and people capable of  critical thought, that despite all outside appearances having a team carrying a  Native American name dishonors Indians rather than keeps their story up front and vital in American consciousness and culture. Because the decision was a sudden biproduct of the George Floyd Freakout, the D.C. team wasn’t prepared for a change, and had no names in reserve. (It apparently had a shot at the name “Warriors,” which alliterates at least, but was late moving on the copyright and trademarks, so that name has, as they say, left the wigwam.

Meanwhile, gag names are flying around like arrows at the Little Big Horn, so ending the mockery is urgent. We are hearing calls for the Washington Weasels, the Washington Swamp-Dwellers, the Washington Investigators, the Washington Slime, The Washington Bootlickers…even the retro “Washington Murderous Savages.”  (I was an early advocate for “The Washington Concussions.”) However, one serious suggestion offered by the President of the Navajo Nation Jonathan Nez is brilliant: the Washington Code Talkers.

I second, with enthusiasm.

Few professional sports team have nicknames carrying any historical significance. Most are generic animals, birds, even reptiles. Some of the oldest names are meaningless, like “Red Sox.” Just a few refer to or referenced history: the now defunct Chicago Fire, the San Francisco 49’ers, the Philadelphia 76ers, and a few others. One great virtue of the Code Talkers, in addition to keeping the Native American connection to the D.C. team, is that it would compel the team’s fans to learn some history for a change. (I assume that the 2002 Nicholas Cage bomb, “Windtalkers,” did not have sufficient reach to educate most Americans.)

Who, or what,  were the Code Talkers? Continue reading

Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/13/2020: “Hail To The Thingamajiggies!” Edition [Corrected]

How.

1. When late is worse than never. Reports say that the Washington Redskins will officially announce that they are changing their name, to what nobody knows, not even them. The team’s obnoxious owner, Dan Snyder, who has run the once cultishly popular and successful NFL franchise into the ground during his incompetent stewardship, had memorably said that he would never change the controversial team name, unquestionably the most politically incorrect in all of sports. That pledge did not anticipate his league going nuts and supine before the George Floyd Freakout, to the point that there may be mandatory kneeling by the time the 2020 season opens.

The attack on the Redskins name was always about power, as has been the decades-long assault on all team nicknames with ethnic references. Survey after survey has shown that the vast majority of Native Americans don’t care; the idea is to bring corporate interests to heel, and then aim at the next, more substantive objective. The competent way for a team to handle this problem is to quietly retire a problematic name like “Redskins” (or a anachronistically provocative logo like the Cleveland Indians’ Chief Wahoo) when the heat is off, making it clear that the change is volitional and not compelled. Then the social justice mob members can’t puff out their little pigeon chests with pride and think “I did this! What’s the next target?”

I don’t care what the D.C. team’s name is. I do care about dishonest and illogical arguments, which is what have been mounted against this name for as long as I can remember. That’s why the Redskins and related matters have so often been a topic here.

I did laugh yesterday when I read a comment predicting that Snyder would announce that the new name would be “the Washington Murderous Savages”… Continue reading

The Madness Continues…

I have a feeling I may be using this clip, the final lines from “The Bridge of the River Kwai,” a lot from now on. In fact, I’m going to add it to the Ethics Alarms clips list right now. Back in a minute…I just realized that there’s another clip I left out of that post, so we are now up to eleven.

***

Back. As Lili Von Shtupp  said, “I feel wefweshed!

These are truly the crazy times. The George Floyd Freakout has emboldened the power-hungry, the self-righteous, the manipulative and the irresponsible, while those who have not abandoned their values and faculties  descend into fear and submissiveness. For example…

When…suppressing speech and conduct based on an individual’s or a group’s sincere claim that such speech or conduct is offensive, however understandable and reasonable this claim may be, creates or threatens to create a powerful precedent that will undermine freedom of speech, expression or political opinion elsewhere, calls to suppress the speech or conduct must be opposed and rejected.”

The City Council of Duluth, Minnesota, is considering stripping the word “chief” from the job titles of top administrators because the mayor thinks the word is offensive to Native Americans. It was reported  that during a press conference yesterday, Mayor Emily Larson “implored City Council members to vote to approve the change next week ‘”so that we have more inclusive leadership and less language that is rooted in hurt and offensive, intentional marginalization.”

Alicia Kozlowski, the city’s community relations officer, told reporters, “I think there are other titles that we have the opportunity to use to steer away from language that may put people down based off their race or culture.”

These women are idiots and ignoramuses, but they are virtue-signaling, and while madness reigns, facts don’t matter. “Chief” is not a Native American word: it’s Middle English: from the Old French chief, or chef, based on the Latin caput ,’ meaning “head’.’

Then we have this item from the University of Florida, where for the last two decades or so “Gator Bait!” has been a popular chant by the football team’s fans in response to a song played by the school’s band… Continue reading

Three Intriguing Updates And Supplements To Recent Posts!

1. This Time, Blame The Victim (3/24/2020) and High Noon Ethics Showdown, 4/2/2020: Reality Dawns

From the National Review:

Arizona police are now conducting a homicide investigation into a woman who claimed she gave her husband fish tank cleaner after President Trump claimed the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine was an effective treatment for coronavirus.

Wanda Lenius told NBC News last month that she and her husband Gary consumed fish tank cleaner because it contained a chemical that Trump suggested might be an effective prophylactic and treatment for coronavirus. The cocktail, which contained four teaspoons of fish tank cleaner mixed with soda water, put Wanda in the ICU and killed Gary. “My advice,” Wanda explained, is “don’t believe anything that the President says and his people because they don’t know what they’re talking about.”

When I wrote the first post about Wanda Lenius, who, she said, persuaded her  husband to swallow fish-tank cleaner because the President had promoted chloroquine, one of the ingredients, as a promising treatment for Wuhan virus infections, commenter Joe Fowler suggested that the story sounded to him as if she had figured out how to bump off her husband, writing,

Am I alone in finding it suspicious that the couple that consumed the fish tank cleaner is presumed to have done exactly what the wife is claiming? The husband is dead in bizarre circumstances, poison in fact…. The “Trump told us to do it!” nonsense is just too perfect a narrative for the corrupt media, They can’t help but use it.

Blogger Ann Althouse also suggested that foul play might be involved, and so did my wife. later we learned that far from being a robotic Trump-follower, the woman was, in fact, an active anti-Trump donor. She and her husband had a contentious relationship that had include a domestic abuse complaint.

Stay tuned... Continue reading

First They Came For Tiger Lilly, And I Said Nothing. Then They Came For The Land O’Lakes Girl…

(Actually, I did say something about Tiger Lilly…)

Well, it finally happened. Land O’Lakes  capitulated, as spineless corporations are wont to do, to silly and contrived political correctness bullying and is sending its iconic Land O’Lakes Indian Maiden logo to the Happy Hunting Ground. The comely illustration that has appeared on  containers of butter and margarine since 1928 will be replaced by photos of real Land O’Lakes farmers and co-op members, along with the phrase “Proud to be Farmer-Owned,” according to a company release. Gee, what fun.  As I wrote here, the company had already eliminated the logo’s famous capacity for sophomoric snickers in 2018…

“…so you could no longer do the “boobs trick” by folding the package just right and making a little flap on the butter package that  young Elizabeth Warren or whatever her name was held that when raised  would show her oddly shaded knees as something less pedestrian. Why they would bother papering paper over one of the longest-running and most famous commercial artist gags ever after decades, I don’t know. In its day, the gag was considered obscene, but by 2018 it was Americana. I had an uncle who kept one of the risque package cut-outs in his wallet.”

(You can see how the gag worked at the link.) Continue reading

The Ethics Mess That Is US Race Relations, Chapter I: The Killingly Redmen Fiasco

In Killingly, Connecticut, the local high school’s mascot has long been  a Plains Indian, and its athletic teams have been called the Redmen. Then, in 2019, the Nipmuc Tribal Council across the state border in Massachusetts complained that the name and mascott were offensive. [There’s an interesting discussion of the association of the color red with Native Americans here.]  Once the complaint was made, other Native American groups decided, “Yeah! We’re offended too!” along with usual gang of offended-by -proxy political correctness zealots. (Does this all sound familiar? It should.)

As typically happens in such situations, the people in charge decided to take the path of least resistance—this is how political correctness and expression suppression take hold, as you know–and in July, the Killingly  school board voted to eliminate  “Redmen” and the mascot and change it to “Redhawks.” It’s just a name, right?

Well, not this time. The uproar was so great that restoring “Redmen” became an election issue. Supporters of the old name and mascot took  control of the school board in the November 2019 election. However, while the new members had enough votes to eliminate the “Redhawks” name, they couldn’t muster enough to restore “Redmen.” “There is no mascot at this point,” said Craig Hanford, the new Republican board chairman, and he sent the dispute to a committee.

Fans of the football team, it was reported, shouted “Go Redmen!” during games during the rest of the season, wore Redmen jerseys and hats, and told anyone who asked that there was nothing racist about the name. One fan wore the grammatically perplexing sweatshirt, “Born a Redmen, Raised a Redmen, Will Die a Redmen.Continue reading

Whatever Day This Is Ethics Warm-Up, 11/30/2019: The Bonkers Left Thanksgiving Edition [CORRECTED]

What a week!

Until a minute ago, I had no idea what day this is, as is usual on Thanksgiving week, though it’s possible that fainting during Thanksgiving dinner and landing on my head has something to do with it. [Incidentally, before I get accused of an anti-Left bias (again), if the Right behaved half as bonkers this week as their ideological foes, I would have written about it.] 

1. What does it say about our media that two websites and a TV network feature a guy that writes things like this? What does it say about our society that he has an audience?

We stand on the precipice of losing our American character to the forces of authoritarianism and bigotry. For many people, this holiday season will be the last face-to-face encounter with family members before the most consequential election of our lifetimes. And yet, many people are desperate to pass the potatoes without starting any uncomfortable conversations.

The holidays are when your resistance is needed. Some of you have the opportunity to talk to Trump voters and assorted conservatives this weekend. Some of you will have the opportunity to talk to people who live in an echo chamber of Fox News commentary and Russian troll farms. To waste that opportunity because of your own hang-ups and Mommy or Daddy issues is criminal….You might not like conflict, but if you choose to break bread with Trump supporters and climate change deniers because you happen to be related to them, then conflict is required. Anything less is appeasement, and we’ve had far too much of that these past few years. So stiffen your spine, rehearse your talking points, and get ready to fry some turkeys in your family with your righteousness…

Take a traditional Thanksgiving Day football game. This may seem like safe, nonpolitical ground—so long as everybody agrees to not talk about Colin Kaepernick. But it won’t take long for Trump supporters in your family to say something racist, sexist, or plain nutty while watching the game. They’ll say a white athlete is just a “hard worker” while praising a black athlete’s “natural gifts.” They’ll champion a slur against Native Americans, masquerading as a nickname, on a holiday that commemorates the prelude to a continental genocide. They’ll make fun of the “egghead statisticians,” which will sound like they’re making a comment on football strategy, but actually they’re making an attack on science and math that will later fuel their climate change denier sensibilities. Or maybe they’ll just sit like lumps on the couch while women: prepare dinner, set the table, take care of the kids, clean up after dinner, serve dessert, and fetch them a beer.

In those moments, I think of the children. I think of the behavior that is being modeled for them. I think of the cultural messages they are learning as they’re being exposed to these “traditional” structures….

Who IS this lunatic? Why, it’s Elie Mystal, the race-obsessed, U.S. hating crazy who made “Above the Law” so unbearable to read that I have to go elsewhere for my big law firm gossip. Because he detests whites and the U,S, and of course the President, Ellie is now turning up on MSNBC and, of course, on “The Nation’s” site, where America-bashing thrives.He really, really thinks that white Americans, men and supporters of President Trump (Ellie is a man, but he calls himself Elie, so he has an out) are as he portrays, racist, sexist morons who must be vanquished. An equivalent stereotype for blacks would have them eating watermelon and fried chicken while they listen to the Mills Brothers sing “De Camptown Races.” The man just oozes with hate; almost as much hate as disinformation and progressive propaganda. Continue reading

From The Ethics Alarms Archives: Two Ethics Takes On Columbus Day

In 2011, I wrote an Ethics Alarm post extolling Christopher Columbus, and urging readers to celebrate this day named in his honor. Two years later, I wrote a post arguing that the holiday was a mistake. Which is how I really feel? Which is correct? I have no idea. I just read both, and found each persuasive. You know the famous observation in thethe essay “Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds”? Today I like that line. Sometimes I don’t.

I certainly don’t like the current movement to cancel Columbus Day, and Columbus, out of the culture and historical record because he was not appropriately sensitive to indigenous people by 21st Century standards. That is no better than tearing down statues of Robert E. Lee, airbrushing history to avoid the inherent conflicts and dilemmas that make it invaluable to us going forward into the unknown…like Columbus did.

Here are the two posts. You decide. Meanwhile, I’m thrilled I could find the great Stan Freberg’s version of Columbus’s quest (above). More of my sensibilities about life, humor and history were effected by Freberg’s satire than I like to admit…

I. Celebrate Columbus Day, Honor Columbus

Continue reading