Ethics Quiz: The George Washington Hating George Washington Student’s Washington Post Op-Ed

A black college senior named Caleb Francois who is currently attending George Washington University in Washington, D.C. persuaded the Washington Post to publish his op-ed of surpassing ignorance and stupidity. His thesis (or theses)?

The racist visions of James Madison, Winston Churchill and others are glorified through building names, programs, statues and libraries that honor their memory.

The controversial Winston Churchill Library must go. The university’s contentious colonial moniker must go. Even the university’s name, mascot and motto — “Hail Thee George Washington”— must be replaced. The hypocrisy of GW in not addressing these issues is an example of how Black voices and Black grievances go ignored and highlights the importance of strong Black leadership.

The Post is being roasted in various conservative forums for publishing the 800-word essay.  One pundit (at Breitbart) writes,

The arrogance of the Post knows no bounds. Publishing this editorial is just another troll from the Post, a way for the Post to stick its finger in the eye of its critics by relishing the hypocritical double standards the former newspaper now lives by.

I hate to defend the Post, but I don’t think for a second that the paper finds the student’s argument persuasive. It’s just provocative, and like other off-the-wall opinion pieces published by both the Post and The New York Times (remember the op-ed recommending that children and babies get to vote?), publication doesn’t imply endorsement. Yet the author in this case isn’t a historian or a crackpot professor; it’s a maleducated, indoctrinated young black man imbued with the 20-something’s unique certitude that he has everything figured out. If Caleb learns anything after graduation, I think it is very likely that he will want change his name and keep a bag over his head. Should a national newspaper help a young man to make a fool of himself?

Predictably, even the Post’s progressive readership entered an overwhelmingly negative verdict on the piece (which the author will surely dismiss as more racism and white supremacy.) Here is the “most liked” and the most representative of the over 1200 comments:

History professor here. If GW was only known for being a Confederate General or a slave owner, cancel away and rename away. But he was not. He is known for so much more… one of the biggest things is the idea that a president is not a king. And the office is not for life. Without him, our country would not be free. He kept order at a time when fractions would have torn us asunder. For God’s sake, do not rename George Washington University… I’m a liberal, and I believe in equality for all. But this is just stupid.

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Our Unprofessional Professionals, Our Inexpert Experts: The Ethicist And The Economist

One of the most disturbing aspects of the 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck was the ugly spectacle of once esteemed professions deciding en masse to ditch their integrity in order to join the “Get Trump!” mob with the cool kids. Historians, lawyers, judges, psychiatrists, scholars, civil libertarians, journalists, educators…yes, and ethicists—all these groups disgraced themselves and breached the one, overarching mandate for those who supposedly labor for the public good: be trustworthy. Then came The Great Stupid, compounding the damage to society and the culture by showing “experts” to be equally unreliable, burdened as they were by crippling bias, political agendas, and flawed skills and assumptions.

Two recent examples highlighted this trend. First up, the ethicist.

Doriane Lambelet Coleman, a professor at Duke Law School, is co-director of the Center for Sports Law & Policy and a senior fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics. She authored a jaw-droppingly lame op-ed for the Washington Post headlined, “Yes, Kamila Valieva should be skating in Beijing.” There isn’t a single valid ethical principle behind her entire, constructed-for-sentimentalists argument.

Her first sentence would normally make me quit reading any opinion piece: “Russian Kamila Valieva is the best figure skater on the planet, she is gorgeous to watch perform and she should be skating in Beijing.” This is the equivalent of “Barry Bonds is a great player and we should ignore the fact that’s he’s a steroid cheat.” An ethicist is openly elevating the most obvious non-ethical consideration seasoned with personal bias, that the author thinks she is “gorgeous” on the ice, over the clear ethical consideration that the skater broke the rules, and had they been enforced, she wouldn’t be at the Olympics at all.

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More From The Bulging “It Isn’t What It Is” File! Unethical Quote Of The Week: Washington Post Deputy Editorial Page Editor Ruth Marcus

“How nice for the Supreme Court. It can take the precautions it deems necessary to keep its workplace safe…If only the court were willing to extend similar protections to the rest of us, in our workplaces. Or to be more precise, not to interfere with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s effort to provide such protections.”

—-Ruth Marcus, long-time WaPo op-ed writer and deputy editor of the Post editorial page.

Marcus’s opinion piece, Boris Johnson in reverse: The Supreme Court gives itself what it bans for the rest of us” is unforgivable, and the Washington Post should be excoriated for publishing such garbage. Why didn’t the editors…oh. Right. Ruth Marcus is an editor. The essay would be inexcusable if Marcus were just a typical op-ed partisan loud-mouth, because it is one of those punditry pieces that makes readers more ignorant than they were before they read it. The Supreme Court didn’t “ban” institutions or employers from making their own rules about Wuhan virus precautions as the headline says. It banned a vaccine mandate issued by OSHA, an agency, it concluded, that had no legal authority to issue one.

But Marcus isn’t any ordinary incompetent pundit. She’s a lawyer, or at least graduated from Harvard Law School: I can’t determine whether she ever passed the bar examination or is licensed to practice. She never has practiced, since she entered journalism rather than law after getting her Harvard JD. It’s no excuse. She knows what the Supreme Court does; most Americans don’t. Why is she writing op-eds that falsely pretend that the Supreme Court “extends” protections over anyone or anything unless it deems that those protections are already guaranteed by law? Marcus “reasoned”…

The court’s 6-to-3 ruling Thursday blocking the Biden administration’s vaccine-or-test mandate is yet another example of the elite playing by one set of rules while applying a different standard to the masses — Boris Johnson-ism, but worse. In that case, the British prime minister partied away in defiance of rules imposed on lesser mortals. In this one, the justices declined to extend the same protections to others that they grant themselves.

Not only are lawyers trained to make better analogies than that, opinion writers are supposed to be able to make better analogies than that no mater what their background and training. If they can’t then they shouldn’t get published. Boris Johnson violated a directive that his government issued for the rest of the population. The Supreme Court hasn’t done anything like that. If has forbidden a government agency from abusing its power by forcing businesses to do what is beyond the agency’s authority to require. No government agency could require participants in a workplace to wear business attire, and SCOTUS would end any attempt to do so, but it wouldn’t be “the elite playing by one set of rules while applying a different standard to the masses” for the Court to continue to enforce its own dress code, by its own choice.

Does Marcus really think it would make any sense at all for the Court to announce, “Since we’ve concluded OSHA shouldn’t be able to fine businesses with 100 workers or more to require employees to be vaccinated, the Court will no longer require lawyers appearing before it, and the reporters in the chamber, to test negative and be masked, except when speaking.” That would be a non-sequitur. Incidentally, those requirements are dumb, since speaking is when the danger of spreading the virus is at its highest. Nor does the Court set any standard for masks, which are mostly for show. Well, never mind: more than half the Court is over 65, meaning that they are at high risk if infected, while the vast, vast majority of workers who would have been effected by the banned mandate are under 65. That’s just another reason Marcus’s analogy is ridiculous.

What is Marcus doing then? She is doing what so many desperate progressives and Democrats are doing now—abandoning honesty, fairness, and responsibility and integrity in a desperate effort to rescue Joe Biden and the unscrupulous Democratic Party from losing power and support, as they so clearly deserve to do. They will do and say almost anything; here, Marcus is attacking the Supreme Court as she attempts to give those spreading the false narrative that the SCOTUS is a “threat to democracy” more ammunition to de-legitimize its authority. She has to know her argument is nonsensical, but she is confident that enough readers are ignorant of law and logic that he op-ed will convince more people than it disgusts.

This is a major betrayal of trust. Deliberate efforts by perceived authorities, experts and professionals to abuse their credibility by deliberately making members of the public ignorant and stupid represents a particularly heinous form of unethical conduct. It is one that Ethics Alarms has flagged frequently, yet I do not have a convenient name for the practice. It is worse than lying, or spreading misinformation. Making the public dumber cripples citizens’ ability to function competently in a democracy, while simultaneously softening them up to be exploited by demagogues. It is a terrible, indeed evil thing to do, and any journalist, politician, elected official, lawyer, scientist or other elite authority who engages in it intentionally is, to quote our previous President in one of his most inspired moments, an “enemy of the people.”

Ruth Marcus, with this disgraceful op-ed, qualifies.

And The Latest Desperate Rationalization As Abortion Advocates Search For A Persuasive Argument To Justify Allowing Pregnant Women The Unilateral Right To End Another Human Being’s Life Is….

Unborn children in heaven

…..this intellectually dishonest opinion piece by Kate Cohen in the Washington Post. It is titled “How would you feel if your mother had aborted you?’ Easy. I’d feel nothing,” and embodies several themes in the abortion-loving Left’s escalating freak-out over the very real possibility that Roe v. Wade will be overturned or limited by the current Supreme Court.

One theme is that that abortion advocates almost unanimously continue to avoid dealing with the other human party in the equation whose interests are at stake: the unborn human being. Another is using collateral attacks on religion and faith to minimize the belief by religious people that it’s wrong beyond question to kill an innocent individual for the benefit of a more powerful one. The third…

Well, let me address the second a bit again. Progressives are largely hostile to religion and the religious, whom they regard as unsophisticated, superstitious rubes. Since people tend to project their biases and attitudes on others, those who want open season on fetuses think they score points by linking the anti-abortion side of the debate to something they think is ridiculous. It is not a genuine argument but rather a cognitive dissonance trick. They are counting on a someone conflicted about the abortion debate being pulled to their side by the association with a different subject they regard with contempt. It is the same kind of tactic as using “The Handmaiden’s Tale” as a false map for the dystopian future abortion fans claim awaits if Roe goes down: linking abortion to something horrible, even a science fiction story, will diminish the appeal of the anti-abortion position, not with logic or reason, but with a negative association alone.

I have a difficult time not concluding that those using the anti-religion, association tactic are malign people because of their association with it. The belief that killing an innocent human being is wrong isn’t only a religious belief and bedrock moral tenet. It is basic ethics as well, a conclusion virtually all societies have accepted based on human experience. That’s where ethics comes from: one doesn’t have to be religious to strongly object to killing human beings, indeed religion isn’t necessary to reach that conclusion at all. Whether one reaches the position that legal abortion consists of one powerful human being who has had the opportunity to live ending that opportunity for a weaker human being for her own sole benefit and is therefore wrong, through religion, Kant, Rawls, basic ethical analysis, logic, common sense or some other path is irrelevant. You got there. Congratulations. It’s the ethical place to be.

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Ethics Villain: University Of California Prof. Michele Goodwin

Goodwin

Why does Ethics Alarms rate Professor Goodwin an Ethics Villain rather than the more common, and usually forgivable, status of Ethics Dunce? It is because in her op-ed for the New York Times, “I Was Raped by My Father. An Abortion Saved My Life,” she deliberately misrepresents the law and ethics of the abortion issue while using her status as a law professor to mislead readers. She also presents an argument that is purely an appeal to emotion, though as a scholar and teacher she is professionally obligated not to advance a position without basing it in reason and fact.

There is nothing unethical or inappropriate about Goodwin advancing a pro-abortion position if she does so honestly. She is obviously committed on the issue as the founding director of the U.C.I. Law Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy and its Reproductive Justice Initiative, and the author of “Policing the Womb: Invisible Women and the Criminalization of Motherhood.” Terrific: make your case, Professor! I have an open mind; I look forward to reading it. You obviously have the skill, background, experience and erudition to be enlightening and persuasive on the topic.

But Goodwin doesn’t make a legal case, an ethical case, a moral case or even a logical one in her op-ed. Doing any of those require acknowledging counter arguments and rebutting them with facts and analysis. Instead, her essay goes straight for the heartstrings and viscera, bypassing the brain entirely.

Goodwin was raped by her father when she was 12, you see. How horrible. She courts our sympathy, and, not inappropriately, receives it. However, she never makes the case that a young woman’s (or girl’s) misfortunes, however severe, justify taking the life of another human being.

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And Yet Another Entry From The Res Ipsa Loquitur Files! “There Is No Good Reason You Should Have to Be a Citizen to Vote”(NYT)

shackles

I really didn’t plan this. I certainly didn’t plan on having to shackle my arms to prevent myself from expressing the appropriate sentiments after encountering not one but two examples of how ethical ignorance is apparently reaching a new and dangerous high in the United States of America. But my print version of the New York Times contained an op-ed that really “argued” for the proposition above, and the New York Times, allegedly a responsible newspaper, actually felt that such an uninformed, civically illiterate, stupid opinion was worthy of publication.

We are told that the author, Atossa Abrahamian is a journalist “who has written extensively about citizenship,” evidently without understanding what citizenship is. We also are told, “This essay is part of a series exploring bold ideas to revitalize and renew the American experiment.” Bold! You know, like “Let’s have a monetary system based on cheese!” Or “Let’s select members of Congress by having Beer Pong competitions!”

Note that I still haven’t made any substantive statements rebutting this garbage or explaining why it is the intellectual equivalent of toxic waste. I don’t need to; first, I can count on my almost exclusively intelligent, ethical and erudite readers to do it, and moreover,such sentences as this are res ipsa loquitur…they speak for themselves:

“The strongest case for noncitizen voting today is representation: The more voters show up to the polls, the more accurately elections reflect peoples’ desires”

Yes, that’s the strongest case.

You take it from here.

“Is We Getting Dummer” Or Is The News Media Deliberately Trying To Make Us Dumb?

Ethics Alarms has occasionally referenced the Arthur Herzog novel “IQ 83,” in which mutant DNA infests the U.S. population and lowers its average intelligence disastrously. “Is We Getting Dummer?” a typo-riddled New York Times front page asks. In the novel, the news media is one of the victims of the virus; today, it appears to be spreading the equivalent, and perhaps doing so intentionally.

Less than two weeks ago, we discussed a jaw-dropping (technically “head-exploding”) op-ed in the New York Times that criticized President Biden for giving poor Vice-President Harris assignments that were too darn hard for her, thus undermining her chances at being President, which was much to be desired. “[Biden] had to know that in choosing her as his vice president, he was making her his heir apparent. But based on how things look now, her work as his No. 2 could end up being baggage more than a boon. Mr. Biden and his team aren’t giving her chances to get some wins and more experience on her ledger. Rather, it’s the hardest of the hard stuff,” the Fordham political science professor wrote.

I thought this was about as incompetent an argument as I had ever seen published in a supposedly trustworthy publication, and even sinister in that too many readers lack the intellectual wherewithal to recognize its non-logic for the dog’s breakfast that it is. Prof Greer obviously thinks that Kamala Harris is qualified to be President, though why she does remains vague. But imagine an op-ed that takes the position that Harris is being unfairly “sabotaged” in her Presidential aspirations while simultaneously making it clear that she is obviously unqualified (which, of course, she is.)

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Ethics Quiz: The “Expose Your Kids To LGBTQ Kinkiness” Op-Ed

kink

The Washington Post, where “democracy dies in darkness” most days, published a fascinating op-ed a week ago called “Yes, kink belongs at Pride. And I want my kids to see it.” The author, Lauren Rowello, is a former prostitute and self-identifies as “gendervague.” (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) She brought her pre-teen children, including a toddler, to a Philadelphia Pride parade and had them march in it along with her and her trans wife. [Ethics Foul! Her children were too young to meaningfully consent to being used as props this way, which is what Rowello was doing.] She tells us,

When our children grew tired of marching, we plopped onto a nearby curb. Just as we got settled, our elementary-schooler pointed in the direction of oncoming floats, raising an eyebrow at a bare-chested man in dark sunglasses whose black suspenders clipped into a leather thong. The man paused to be spanked playfully by a partner with a flog. “What are they doing?” my curious kid asked as our toddler cheered them on. The pair was the first of a few dozen kinksters who danced down the street, laughing together as they twirled their whips and batons, some leading companions by leashes. At the time, my children were too young to understand the nuance of the situation, but I told them the truth: That these folks were members of our community celebrating who they are and what they like to do.”

“Kink embodies the freedom that Pride stands for,” Rowello proselytizes, “reminding attendees to unapologetically take up space as an act of resistance and celebration — refusing to bend to social pressure that asks us to be presentable.”

But society, and community ethics, ask us all to be “presentable.” Public displays of kinkiness show disrespect for everyone watching and basic manners. What ‘resistance” is there in a gay pride parade today, unless it’s the demonstration of the unethical principle, “Since you don’t respect us, we won’t respect you”? Rowello is teaching her children that complete social chaos and deliberate defiance of social norms is not just tolerable but desirable. Hippies in the lamentable Sixties called this ” letting it all hang” out, which sometimes they did literally. I thought most cognizant Americans figured out the flaw in that approach. Guess not.

Here’s Rowello’s justification for exposing her children to adult sexual fetishes:

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Observations On An Op-Ed Botch And Its Aftermath

New York Times snarkmistress Maureen Dowd wrote an op-ed  bemoaning the fact that no women have been on a Democratic ticket since 1984, when everyone was so sexist and mean to Geraldine Ferraro. Will everyone be so sexist again, now that Joe Biden is trapped into choosing a woman, whether there are any qualified or not?

Ann Althouse was among the early online pundits to point out Dowd’s gaffe–I would say obvious gaffe, but it apparently wasn’t obvious to her editor, or anyone else who saw the piece before it was published.  Uh, Maureen, does the name “Hillary Clinton” ring a bell? How quickly they forget! The Times eventually rushed out a correction, and the online version of the op-ed now says, “It’s hard to fathom, but it took another 36 years for a man to choose to put a woman on the Democratic ticket with him.”

There’s a lot more wrong than that… Continue reading

Nice Try, Charley…But You Still Struck Out

I usually skip the New York Times Sunday Review section now. By mid-2017, it had become so partisan and such a nest of rabid Trump Derangement that it was not unusual for 75% of the content to consist of anti-Trump screeds. I finally got bored with it; the stuff was predictable and too often completely bats. If I read it at all, I did so to check how fanatically the Times was supporting the various coup efforts.

Charlie Warzel is one of the less hateful of the Times op-ed writers, though based on his Ethics Alarms file he is also one of most juvenile. He was the author of a New York Times editorial  titled “Open States, Lots of Guns. America Is Paying a Heavy Price for Freedom,” or in my print edition, “Will We Get Used To The Dying?” that I had fun shredding—it wasn’t hardhere. I was curious to see if he’s gotten any better since May in his Wuhan virus hysteria. His title seemed promising:  “How to Actually Talk to Anti-Maskers: You cannot force public trust; you have to earn it.”

I think “anti-maskers” are jerks. It is still unclear to me how much good masks do, and the information from the “experts” has been inconsistent. I still see no reason to wear the things outside when nobody is going to come within ten feet of you, and I don’t. However, the ethical reasons to wear them are still valid:

  • They might make a difference.
  • Wearing them demonstrates good will and that one is trying to be responsible.
  • It places those at enhanced risk at ease.
  • It can’t hurt. The recent claim of Louie Gohmert (R-Tx) that his mask probably infected him was spectacularly dishonest and irresponsible, but you know, that’s Louie.

I also regard fanatic pro-mask hysterics as ridiculous and will say so when pressed.

However, I was interested to see if Charlie, having gotten himself on the Ethics Alarms Naughty List with his previous screed about the pandemic, would redeem himself. For writing op-eds is all about trust too: if I know you shade the facts, omit relevant information, engage in bias and cheat in your logic, I really don’t care what your opinion is. It’s not worth reading.

Charlie begins with an anecdote about how health officials gained the trust of the public in Senegal during an Ebola outbreak. OK—as long as the idea is to make a point about trust. Ebola isn’t the Wuhan virus, and the United States’ culture isn’t remotely like Senegal’s. Then he writes,

Taiwan is welcoming baseball fans back into stadiums. As of June, more than 20 other countries have begun the process of bringing children back to school. Thailand, a country of 70 million, hasn’t had an instance of local coronavirus transmission in seven weeks, as of last Thursday. And yet Americans are staring down nearly 150,000 virus deaths while governors and health officials pleading with citizens to wear masks are starting to sound like substitute teachers who’ve lost control of the classroom.

One indicator of how bad things are: Last week, Anthony Fauci, the United States’ leading infectious-disease doctor, felt compelled to reassure his audience during an online talk, “You can trust respected medical authorities.” He added, “I believe I’m one of them, so I think you can trust me.”

Ah! So Charlie trusts Dr. Fauci on the topic of masks., and thinks we should to. And my immediate reaction to this is.. Continue reading

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