George Washington’s Birthday Ethics Warm-Up, 2/22/21: Happy Birthday, George! We’re Sorry Your Country Has Become Populated With So Many Ignorant, Ungrateful Fools…

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If there is any American whose birthday should be a national holiday, it is George Washington, born this day in 1732 in Westmoreland County, Virginia, the first of six children of Augustine and Mary Ball Washington. If I have to tell you the reasons he was “the essential man” in American history, well, I guess you’re the product of our current public school system, a recent college graduate, a Democrat, a Black Lives Matter enthusiast, or something. There is no rational excuse for every American, yes, even African-Americans, to not be grateful for this day. Martin Luther King is now the only individual to have a national holiday dedicated to his honor, while Washington’s memory was dumped into a hodge-podge of lesser figures including Franklin Pierce, William Henry Harrison and now, Donald Trump. King is worthy of his day, but to honor King over Washington is as good an example of “putting the cart before the horse” as one could find. Shame on us. True, George is not lacking honors, with the capital city named for him, a towering monument, cities and towns in many states, Mt. Rushmore, and his image on both the most-used bill and coin. Nonetheless he earned all of it, and this date should be a holiday.

On The Ethics Alarms home page, you will see to your right a link to the list of ethical habits some historians believe made Washington the remarkably trustworthy and ethical man he was, ultimately leading his fellow Founders to choose him, and not one the many more brilliant, learned and accomplished among them, to take on the crucial challenge of creating the American Presidency. Directed to do so by his father, young Washington copied out by hand and committed to memory a list called “110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation.”  It was  based on a document compiled by French Jesuits in 1595; neither the authors nor the English translator and adapter are known today. The elder Washington was following the teachings of Aristotle—another Dead White Man whom most Americans alive today couldn’t tell you Jack S-word about— who held that principles and values began as being externally imposed by authority (morals) and eventually became internalized as character. As I wrote when I first posted them here,

The theory certainly worked with George Washington. Those ethics alarms installed by his father stayed in working order throughout his life. It was said that Washington was known to quote the rules when appropriate, and never forgot them. They did not teach him to be a gifted leader he became, but they helped to make him a trustworthy one.

Would that readers would access that list more often. And politicians. And lawyers. And educators…

1. How ignorant and ungrateful? THIS ignorant and ungrateful

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Ethics Dunces: The San Francisco School Board [Corrected]

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I was going to write an Ethics Dunce post about Jamie L.H. Goodall, a staff historian at the U.S. Army Center of Military History who wrote a truly stupid piece for The Washington Post headlined “The Buccaneers embody Tampa’s love of pirates. Is that a problem?” Goodall is triggered by the fact that the NFL’s now champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers carry a nickname that romanticizes pirates, who were bad people.

Of course, everyone knows pirates were (are, since there are more pirates operating now than back in the “Arrrgh!” days) bad, but they were scary and tough, see, and teams are named after scary and tough symbols, sometimes. Only people who have nothing better to do but to try to bend others to their will make the fatuous kinds of arguments Goodall does. ( “There is danger in romanticizing ruthless cutthroats…Why? Because it takes these murderous thieves who did terrible things — like locking women and children in a burning church — and makes them a symbol of freedom and adventure, erasing their wicked deeds from historical memory. These were men (and women) who willingly participated in murder, torture and the brutal enslavement of Africans and Indigenous peoples.” ) Oh yeah, we had to get the racist angle. I wonder how the good people of Pittsburgh managed to have a much-loved baseball team called “The Pirates” for more than a century without anyone, or any of their many, many proud African American and Caribbean players feeling that they were honoring raping and pillaging. Perhaps it’s because the team doesn’t and neither do “Treasure Island” and “The Pirates of Penzance (which I have performed in and directed).

The problem isn’t the Buccaneers; it’s the far too successful ongoing strategy of the oppressive Left, which seeks to keep anyone with normal sensibilities and an appreciation of history, literature, humor, whimsy and proportion constantly apologizing and retreating under a barrage of manufactured indignation and artificial moral superiority. The blunder has been that instead of responding to the power-hungry ideologues and their allies like Goodall who make these claims with the mockery and contempt they deserve, those under assault make the mistake, again and again, of saying, “Well, if it bothers you that much, okay. We’ll give you what you want. After all, it’s only a name.

But it’s not only a name. It’s a word, a street, a mascot, a flag, a logo, a book, a song, a movie, a statue, an artist, a leader, a President, a Founder, a culture, and a nation. The strategy and its purpose should have been obvious long ago, and it should have been fought against hard, right at the beginning, with all the fury and determination that goes into any other existential battle. Or a war.

As I said, I was going to write this post about Jamie L.H. Goodall, but her idiocy is already a cliche, and at this point, arguing over team names is a distraction. (Too bad, though, as I had a fun post ready explaining how almost every professional sports team name was vulnerable to woke attack.) But I realized that the recent action by San Francisco’s school board represents the metastasized end game in the totalitarian Left’s cultural bull-dozing plan.

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Bee Ethics: A Brief Addendum To Today’s Ethics Warm-Up…

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I meant to have this as the opening to today’s first post, but the painting of Joe hugging Kamala while dead anti-Trump icons looked down from heaven shorted out my brain.

I believe I may have discovered the beginning of American society’s ruinous capitulation to claims of being offended and organizational submission to contrived complaints of coded prejudice and bigotry. I found it, of all places, at the end of the terrible 1978 Irwin Allen (“The Poseidon Adventure;” “The Towering Inferno”) disaster movie “The Swarm.” For some reason, TCM devoted last night to famously bad movies, like John Wayne’s hilarious “The Conqueror,” in which the Duke played Genghis Kahn for producer Howard Hughes. Many critics said at the time it came out that “The Swarm” was the worst movie ever made; I don’t know how they could say that when the sequel to “The Exorcist,” “The Heretic,” came out just a year before. I don’t think “The Swarm” is even the worst big all-star cast movie ever made: I’d give that distinction to “The Greatest Story Ever Told.”

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Yet PETA’s Campaign To Limit Speech Is No More Unethical Than Other Attacks On Freedom Of Expression, Just More Self-Evidently Stupid…

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It doesn’t matter what words, phrases or expressions politically-motivated censors try to eliminate from the language, be it gender pronouns, “retard,” fuck,” “nigger” (or “niggardly”), “bitch,” “Karen,” or “master; ” “a chink in the armor,” “sexual preferences,” “Illegal aliens,” or “anchor babies.” The intent is to limit the ideas that can be expressed, and, eventually, thought. The principle is pure Orwellian linguistic: what the brain can’t express, it can’t imagine. The technique is unethical; worse, it’s a weapon against democracy and freedom of thought.

PETA, the U.S. organization that most egregiously misuses the word “ethical” in its name (with CREW, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is a close second) would like to erase the boundaries between human beings and animals in law and culture. Thus it must have seemed like a natural progression to them to come up with “speciesism,” a form of alleged bigotry in which humans view themselves as superior to animals, just because they are. Hence the new directives above. PETA wants dictionaries to excise from the language derogatory metaphors involving certain animals. “Animal-related slurs used to debase humans reinforce inaccurate and harmful characterizations of animals,” PETA says.

“Oh, shut up and get a life, you silly people,” Ethics Alarms says. Animal metaphors and comparisons contribute to the richness of language and literature, and unlike negative characterizations of human individuals and groups, nobody’s feeling are hurt, because, see, one of the reasons humans are superior is that they can read and understand complex language.

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It Appears Great Britain’s Anti-Racism Madness Is Even More Advanced Than Ours

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The obvious question is whether this is encouraging or depressing: does this brain-explodingly absurd story mean that The Great Stupid has finally passed over the U.S. and is reaching its ridiculous peak across the Atlantic, or is the insanity moving in the other direction?

In what may be the best examples yet of the principle “if you can hear the dog whistle, you’re the dog”—except that it involves monkeys, not dogs—the University of York removed the iconic image of the “Wise Monkeys, better known perhaps as “See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil,” from its website because somebody decided the image was racist and nobody had the courage and common sense to tell them that the theory was crackers and made the whole institution look like monkeys. The image had been used to promote an upcoming art history conference, and the organizers issued an apology rich in scholarly gibberish, saying-–don’t giggle now, these are intellectuals

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/29/2020: Another Dark Date For Ethics

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December 29 is one of the bad days in ethics history, beginning with the 1170 murder of England’s Archbishop Thomas Becket as he knelt prayer in Canterbury Cathedral by four knights of King Henry II. The knights were not explicitly ordered to kill Becket, the King’s friend who had become a problem when he took his role as Archbishop of Canterbury to be a calling to defend the Church against royal efforts to constrain its power. Instead, Henry made his wishes known by making the public plea to his court,

“What a parcel of fools and dastards have I nourished in my house, and not one of them will avenge me of this one upstart clerk.”

This is often quoted as “Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?” Either way, the idea of such an oblique request is to relieve a leader of responsibility for the actions of subordinates, giving the leader plausible deniability. It didn’t work for Henry, but it may have worked for, for example, President Obama, whose Internal Revenue Service illegally sabotaged Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election, greatly assisting Obama’s efforts to defeat challenger Mitt Romney. In truth, when a powerful superior makes his or her desires known, it may as well be an order. An order is more ethical however, because it does not require the subordinate to take the responsibility upon himself.

1. But The worst example of a U.S. ethical breach on this date is the Massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890, when the U.S. Cavalry killed at least 146 Sioux at the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. It is definitely the most people killed because of a dance: the government was worried about a growing Sioux cult performing the “Ghost Dance,” which symbolized opposition to peaceful relations with whites, and was seen as inciting violence. On December 29, the U.S. Army’s 7th cavalry surrounded a band of Ghost Dancers under the Sioux Chief Big Foot near Wounded Knee Creek and demanded they surrender their weapons. A fight broke out between an Indian and a U.S. soldier, a shot was fired, and an unrestrained massacre followed. Of the estimated almost 150 Native Americans were killed (some historians put this number at double that number), nearly half of them women and children. The cavalry lost only 25 men. Many believe that the tragedy was deliberately staged as revenge for Custer’s Last Stand 14 years earlier, which seems like a stretch to me.

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Afternoon Ethics Breather, 12/11/2020: Train Wreck Free Zone, Because I Need A Break

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1. Sorry, but there was and is no excuse.. The New Yorker reports that Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) is in serious cognitive decline:

[M]any others familiar with Feinstein’s situation describe her as seriously struggling, and say it has been evident for several years. Speaking on background, and with respect for her accomplished career, they say her short-term memory has grown so poor that she often forgets she has been briefed on a topic, accusing her staff of failing to do so just after they have. They describe Feinstein as forgetting what she has said and getting upset when she can’t keep up. One aide to another senator described what he called a “Kabuki” meeting in which Feinstein’s staff tried to steer her through a proposed piece of legislation that she protested was “just words” which “make no sense.” Feinstein’s staff has said that sometimes she seems herself, and other times unreachable. “The staff is in such a bad position,” a former Senate aide who still has business in Congress said. “They have to defend her and make her seem normal.”

Well gee, what a surprise. Ethics Alarms criticized the Senator for having the hubris and not showing proper responsible conduct in 2018, when she ran for re-election and another 6 year term at the age of 85. That was ridiculous, and it was foolish for her constituents to vote for her. Now they are stuck with a Senator who can’t do the job, and it is their fault, plus that of the Democratic Party and Feinstein herself. They all deserve what they get.

Particularly nauseating in the New Yorker story is this section:

“Some former Feinstein aides insist that rumors of her cognitive decline have been exaggerated, and that video clips taken out of context can make almost anyone look foolish. They also bridle at singling out her condition, because declining male senators, including Strom Thurmond, of South Carolina, and Robert Byrd, of West Virginia, were widely known by the end of their careers to be non-compos mentis. “For his last ten years, Strom Thurmond didn’t know if he was on foot or on horseback,” one former Senate aide told me.”

Is this the quality of thought on Capitol Hill? A single idiot making such an argument is too many: “Hey, don’t criticize us for having walking vegetables weilding the power of U.S. Senators:we should be able to do it becaise Republicans did it!”

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Ethics Hero Prof. Dorian Abbot Rescued By Ethics Hero Robert Zimmer, University Of Chicago President

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Dorian Abbot, a professor of geology at the University of Chicago, was troubled when a colleague in his department gave an internal seminar that included the idiotic and unethical quote, “If you are just hiring the best people, you are part of the problem.” The setting being a university, Abbot set out to provoke some enlightened discussion on this assertion, creating a video slide show including graphics like the one above.

His primary messages in the presentation were, he wrote, that “we need to think through the consequences of diversity efforts on campus lest they harm promising scientists of all demographics; adjusting departmental demographics at elite universities doesn’t solve any problems, but may make some worse, and that ” the current academic climate is making it extremely difficult for people with dissenting viewpoints to voice their opinions.

Yes, “The Horror.” Such opinions obviously meant that the professor was evil and a danger to everyone on campus.

The professor writes,

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Nicely Timed Ethics Quote Of The Month: John Cleese

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Monty Python legend John Cleese apparently has decided that to hell with it, he’s going to get himself canceled, and he doesn’t give a damn if he is. The tweet above was part of a long string of them tweaking transgender activists, J.K. Rowling haters and more, but his “woke joke” was especially apt.

The Australian singer Sia (never heard of her—you?) wrote and directed an soon-to-be released movie titled “Music” about a young woman with autism. Music is played by actress Maddie Ziegler, who is apparently not on the autistic spectrum.

The Horror.

The cyber-mob, almost all of which have never directed or cast anything, were outraged, with reactions like this from Irish actress Bronagh Waugh:

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A Case Study In Intimidation: The Self-Cancelling Children’s Book Author

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This could have been a standard Ethics Dunce post, but I think it warrants more attention than that category might suggest.

One of the reasons it is fair to say that the President had the election stolen from him, or, as he likes to say (and shouldn’t) “rigged,” is that his supporters have been relentlessly intimidated and indoctrinated into attitudes designed to make them doubt their own judgment and values, especially those that aligned with the President’s policies. The tactics have ranged from threatening and even physically attacking citizens for wearing MAGA hats, to forced resignations of company officials and academics for the “crime” of endorsing Donald Trump’s actions in office.

Self-censorship triggered by fear of rejection and social isolation allowed Facebook, for example, to become a progressive echo chamber with minimal dissent. (I haven’t posted on anything related to the election for a month. It’s just a waste of time, and I end up losing respect for people I would like to keep as friends while having to defend views that should require no defense.) We are also seeing the related phenomenon of self-flagellation, self-shaming and self-cancelling of the sort demanded by the “Silence is violence” mobs. Like tortured and brain-washed North Korean prisoners of war,  we are ordered to denounce our great sins, such as engaging in “systemic racism,” enjoying “white privilege,” defying the political correctness police, and daring to support the President of the United States. When Black Lives Matter terrorists burst into restaurants and demand that diners raise their fists or hands in support of the Marxist, racist, anti-law enforcement group, the photographic evidence is that they do as ordered in hopes that they be left alone. What nation’s citizens from the past, say, 85 years ago do these timid souls remind you of?

Never mind. I digress…

Adam Pottle’s children’s book “The Most Awesome Character in the World” tells of Philomena, a young deaf girl whose  deafness  has made her vibrant and  imaginative person. (The author is also deaf.)  .

Pottle did not have approval over the illustrations his publisher chose to complete his book, and with the nudging of some negative reviews online, was horrified at the illustration above.  He concluded that the single drawing was “racist,” and Pottle asked that it be changed. The publisher, Reycraft Books, refused (the profit margin on any book is small, and this would guarantee a money-losing project), so Pottle took to social media and asked people not to buy his book and retailers not to stock it. Several retailers supported him.

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