“This is not history; it is a remnant from a bygone era.”
—–San Francisco School Board Member Alison M. Collins, expounding to the New York Times and expressing her displeasure with the school board’s vote to nullified an earlier vote to spend over $600,000 to paint over Depression-era school murals depicting slavery and the deaths of Native Americans.
I love this unethical quote; it might be my favorite of all the unethical quotes Ethics Alarms has ever featured. It tells us so much in so few words.
Ethics Alarms wrote about the school board’s earlier vote that this one, for now, at least, undid, last June, noting,
The San Francisco school board unanimously voted this week to spend at least $600,000 of taxpayer money to eliminate the “Life of Washington,” a 13-panel, 1,600-square-foot mural that has been on view in the city’s George Washington High School since 1936. It was considered politically incorrect at the time, but in a way that explicated American history rather than whitewashing it. Among the mural’s many scenes is one depicting slaves picking cotton at Mount Vernon and Virginia colonists walking past a dead Native American. The Horror. Although these scenes are historically accurate as well as provocative, “The truth will make you free” has been substantially abandoned by the Left in the U.S. Taking their cues from the dead and rotten Soviet Union and “1984”, the new slogan is George Orwell’s “Who controls the past controls the future.”
Ms. Collins’ classic quote perfectly expresses how her city, her party and her ideological clones reached the state of delusion and the worship of manipulated reality (remember, the Democratic Party’s leading contender for the White House “gaffed” by admitting last week that “we choose about truth, not facts”) that have so many of our political leaders flirting openly with totalitarianism.
The idea is to prevent young citizens (and older ones too) from acquiring the kind of messy information that requires critical thought to sort out, the information known as “history”and “life.”Without forceful filtering, people of sound and open minds are liable to reach conclusions that don’t advance those of the ascendant (they think) re-engineers of American values and culture. Those poisoned by the past and traditional American values might be willing to treat with fairness and respect, rather than contempt and abuse, those who hold non-conforming, non-woke positions and policies. They might tolerate the rebels and iconoclasts who refuse to follow in lock-step their betters of superior virtue and wisdom . Continue reading →
The portrait above, which once seen, cannot be unseen, reportedly was hanging in the late Jeffrey Epstein’s mansion in Manhattan. Clinton, as well know be now, hung out with the infamous sexual predator more times than is good for his reputation.
Now this. So far, no mainstream media source has covered the weird episode. Few websites have either. Call me crazy, but I find it difficult to believe that if an equivalent portrait was found hanging in Epstein’s lair with the subject being Donald Trump or George W. Bush, CNN, MSNBC, the Times and the Post would be all over the story, snickering, speculating and asking questions. I assume that the Democratic candidates for President would be doing so too, noting that this was one more example of what an embarrassment the President was, that it hinted of his suspicious involvement with the sex offender, and that it proved how “unfit” he was to sit in the Oval Office.
On conservative blogs, several commenters have asked whether any reporter will have the fortitude to ask Bill of Hillary about the monstrosity. Don’t they have a duty to at least ask? What could the painting possibly mean?
I’ll be interested in the response to this poll, the topic of which is journalism ethics and double standards…
In my one lucky private audience with genius and futurist Herman Kahn, he mused about how societies periodically forget important lessons of conduct that had been that absorbed by the culture over decades or even centuries. The result, he said, can be disastrous, even fatal to a civilization.
At the time he was talking about the Sixties-sparked cultural amnesia about the reasons sexual promiscuity and having children out of marriage were societal poison–forgetting THAT has worked out well, don’t you think? Yet I have thought about Kahn’s observation a lot lately, as for the second time in my life the nation I live in appears to be suffering from a cultural nervous breakdown.
As toxic as it is, the embrace of historical airbrushing is far from the most dangerous of the examples of this phenomenon that threaten the U.S. today, but it is one of the flagrant. Not for the first time, San Francisco is giving us a vivid demonstration of what happens when, as Herman put it, “whole cultures go stupid.” If the right lesson are learned before it is too late, maybe the ultimate effects will be positive.
I am not optimistic. After all, San Francisco’s peculiar version of social justice has led to a city culture that regards human feces on sidewalks and public places as acceptable. Continue reading →
While we’re on the topic of “hate speech”…how about “hate paintings”? At public universities? Painted by faculty members?
An art gallery at the University of Alaska-Anchorage this month displayed the painting above, depicting actor Chris Evans as Captain America and holding the severed head of President Trump while Hillary Clinton grasps Cap’s legs like she is a slave girl and he is Conan the Barabarian. The artist is UAA Painting Professor Thomas Chung, who created the masterpiece as part of a faculty art program. Naturally it was accepted, just as it would have been if he had painted Thor holding up President Obama’s severed head. Of course it would have been accepted. After all, art is art. Academic freedom. Right?
“I was really torn about putting this piece up at a faculty show, because I would never talk about my own political beliefs to my students. But I realized that I feel very strongly about this, and I think even students that might be pro-Trump supporters could benefit from having a conversation with me about why I feel this way—why I painted this.”
(By the way, the actual painting shows Evans/Captain America’s sex organs. None of the versions on the web do, though. Sorry!)
Random ethics observations, since I fear that painting may have caused some brain damage and I can’t seem to organize a coherent paragraph: Continue reading →
The painting above, by high school senior David Pulphus, is now hanging in the U.S. Capitol complex, its award for being selected as the first place prize-winner in Missouri Democrat Rep. Lacy Clay’s annual Congressional Art Competition last May. It is not clear whether Clay personally selected “Untitled #1” as the winner or had a part in the section, but the African American congressman praised the work according to a press release:
His visually stunning acrylic painting on canvas entitled, “Untitled #1” will be displayed at the U.S. Capitol Complex. Pulphus will travel to Washington, DC, courtesy of Southwest Airlines, to unveil his winning entry. The painting portrays a colorful landscape of symbolic characters representing social injustice, the tragic events in Ferguson, Missouri and the lingering elements of inequality in modern American society….
In his remarks to the overflow crowd of young artists, parents and teachers who gathered at Webster University’s new downtown St. Louis campus in the historic Arcade Building, Congressman Clay said, “Tonight, we are celebrating our sixteenth year of recognizing outstanding young artistic talent. As you can see from the artwork on display here, the level of talent is truly impressive. Your work is inspiring, and I encourage all of you to continue to develop your creative abilities.”
Your first Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of 2017 is to answer this question:
Was it responsible, fair, and ethical for Congressman Clay to have this painting displayed in the U.S. Capitol?
I think it is a tough question. In fact, it’s an excellent opportunity to begin the year by practicing and applying one of the ethics decision-making processes, like this one from the Josephson Institute, in the Tools section: Continue reading →
Signature Significance: The concept is the creation of baseball statistics genius Bill James, who applied it to baseball performance. Signature significance posits that a single act can be so remarkable that it has predictive and analytical value, and should not be dismissed as statistically insignificant. Thus, in James’ example, certain outstanding pitching performances can prove that the pitcher involved is an outstanding one, because average pitchers literally never reach such levels of excellence, even as a one-time fluke. Ethics Alarms employs the term to describe an extreme ethical or unethical act that similarly reveals the true character of the individual responsible for the conduct, and that can be reliably and fairly used to predict future conduct and trustworthiness.
My immediate assumption about now-ex NAACP executive Rachel Dolezal’s charade as a black woman her conduct was signature significance, that anyone who would construct and benefit from such an audacious deception was unreliable, untrustworthy, and a likely sociopath. My posts never got into this issue, in part because I was waiting for a unanimous consensus that the woman was lying–sadly, a lot of stubborn progressives, civil rights advocates, celebrities and culture warriors either ducked the issue or, to their eternal discredit, denied that she couldn’t be black is she said she was. I was waiting for the “she just made a mistake” arguments, and the “anyone can get confused about what race they are” rationalization by playing the signature significance card, and never got to play it.
Shanks. (The photographer hid a tiny image of an asshole in the photo, Nelson. He knew you’d approve.)
A “fick” is an individual isn’t just unethical, shamelessly unethical, or openly unethical. Fick is the Ethics Alarms term, created in honor of the horrible Leroy Fick, who is proudly and cheerfully unethical. Fick sightings are mercifully rare, but we have a true giant of the species: Philadelphia portrait artist Nelson Shanks. Shanks, who was the artist commissioned by the Clintons to paint the portrait of Bill that hangs in the National Portrait Gallery, just gave an interview to the Philadelphia Inquirer, and without a gun pointed to he head, told them this:
“Clinton was hard. I’ll tell you why. The reality is he’s probably the most famous liar of all time. He and his administration did some very good things, of course, but I could never get this Monica thing completely out of my mind and it is subtly incorporated in the painting.
If you look at the left-hand side of it there’s a mantle in the Oval Office and I put a shadow coming into the painting and it does two things. It actually literally represents a shadow from a blue dress that I had on a mannequin, that I had there while I was painting it, but not when he was there. It is also a bit of a metaphor in that it represents a shadow on the office he held, or on him.”
Bill Clinton chose Shanks for this prestigious task, paid him, patronized him, posed for him, and trusted him. And Shanks not only does this trick with the dress shadow, which is bad (making a disguised uncomplimentary reference to a career scandal in an official portrait is a betrayal of the subject whether it is discovered or not —See Rationalization #10, The Unethical Tree in the Forest, or “What they don’t know won’t hurt them.” ), but then makes his conduct public, instantly transforming the portrait from an honor into an indictment. He was not hired to paint an indictment.
He is using this now to his own advantage, gaining fame and name recognition, possibly enhancing the value of his work, definitely increasing interest in the painting itself. He knows there will be TV interviews and controversy; he knows enemies and critics of the Clintons, Republicans, and many of those–like me— who find Bill Clinton’s continued currency among Democrats, women and feminists infuriating will applaud him, defend him, and even reward him in various ways.
He knows what he did was wrong, and knows announcing it is wrong. He’s still pleased with himself.
A Hitler masterpiece during the artist's controversial "Care Bears" period
As readers here probably know, I don’t do much commentary on Swedish ethics, but this intriguing story touches on a couple of Ethics Alarms topics of continuing interest: so-called dirty money and political correctness.
Sweden’s debt collection agency had planned to sell seven paintings by that noted 20th Century artist Adolf Hitler to bring the government some extra cash to pay off debts. A genuine Hitler can fetch $40,000 or more on the global art market. The intended sale never happened, because the agency concluded that the paintings were fakes, but never mind: what is ethically provocative is that Stockholm’s Jewish association protested that it would be morally offensive for the government to make money off of Hitler’s artistic labors. “It is symbolically unfortunate that people earn money on these items,” said the group’s spokesperson. Continue reading →