The New York Times’ “Lessons From A Year Talking Race”: Not Fake News, Just Divisive And Misleading Propaganda

“Over the past year, we have hosted weekly live conversations about race and ethnicity on Facebook, tackling topics that ranged from black royalty to Latino baseball players to Asian-American slurs. RaceNYT, as we call the segment, is an extension of the crucial coverage on race — in America and beyond — that appears in The New York Times. We see it as a chance not only to explore important stories of race and what they mean to society, but also to give you, our readers and viewers, a chance to join the conversation.

These subjects are not always easy to talk about. Why, for instance, is affordable housing built mostly in poor, heavily minority areas? What are the terms about race that make us uncomfortable? And what do the United States and major institutions like universities owe the descendants of the enslaved people they profited from?

We explored these issues and more with a wide range of guests, including political strategists, filmmakers, academics and Times viewers. Here are five takeaways from the show…”

Thus spake the New York Times, online a couple of days ago, and in today’s print edition. What are stated as “takeaways” are, however, the product of confirmation bias, dubious assumptions, and efforts at political manipulation. For example…

Like racial minorities in the United States, Indigenous Australians are often relegated to the fringe of society, Craig Quartermaine, an Aboriginal television reporter and comedian, told us. “We’re window dressing,” he said.

Why this is unethical: Comparing the problems of Indigenous Australians to “racial minorities in the United States” is unsupportable. A comparison with indigenous North American populations would arguably be valid.

Madeline Vann reached out to us, wondering how she should handle the racially offensive remarks she was hearing in her community. She is a white freelance writer in Virginia.

Why this is unethical: Uh-uh. Ethics foul. You can’t tar a community like that without giving concrete examples. I live in Virginia: I almost never hear any “racially offensive remarks.” The New York Times core audience is the same group that believes it is “racially offensive” to object to NFL players using stadium time to issue half-baked protests they can’t articulate during the national anthem. The Times’ supposedly open inquiry on race begins with the assumption that the nation is racist. That’s called a bias. What kind of remarks are you talking about Madeline? How many, how often and from how many people?

“The first year of the Trump presidency has been marked by a vast racial chasm where perspectives often exist in different worlds.”

Why this is unethical: Wow, all that division in such a short time! This statement is deceitful. The reason there is a vast racial chasm is because the previous administration had eight years to put it there, and the because the news media fully committed to the project. The Congressional Black Caucus boycotted the Trump Inauguration, because part of the campaign strategy against him was to declare he was a racist, and that anyone who voted for him was a racist. That was a strategy developed into an art form to protect Barack Obama from legitimate criticism, and keep his loyal African American base angry and afraid.

Trayvon Martin’s death at the hands of a “white Hispanic” was politicized by Obama and the CDC to widen that “chasm,” and it occurred midway through the Obama years. In 2012, Joe Biden said that the Republicans wanted to put blacks “back in chains.” Black Lives Matter wasn’t a creature of the Trump administration. Black college students didn’t start demanding “safe spaces” without whites and special privileges after Trump’s election: they did it before. The historical airbrushing madness to use slavery to justify erasing any references to the confederacy was an Obama era phenomenon that has extended into Trump’s administration. The Oscars were bullied into making race a criteria for artistic honors during Obama’s administration.

The more I read that quote, the more misleading and intentionally dishonest it seems.

The Muslim-American activists Aber Kawas and Dalia Mogahed told us how they felt last month when the authorities quickly described an attack by a Muslim man in Manhattan as terrorism, while that term was never officially applied to a white man who fatally shot more than 50 people in Las Vegas weeks earlier.

“Pretty much we define terror attacks as something that’s done by a Muslim,” Ms. Kawas said. Continue reading

Unethical Website of the Month: Dogsbite.Org [UPDATED]

group shot

This despicable website, created by phobics, liars, fools and bigots to promote dog breed prejudice and persecution of responsible dog owners, is discredited by the vast, vast  majority of dog experts, breeders, and people with any knowledge of dogs. It is useful in a way, in that its rhetoric mirrors that of the anti-Jewish, final solution advocates of the Nazi regime, and the most virulent American racists, like the KKK. (A dog breed is exactly like a human race.) It also apes the logical fallacies of those who want to ban guns or engage in racial profiling.

Although a mass of data and history proves that pit bull-related breeds are no more inherently dangerous than any powerful breed and arguably less, Dogsbite.Org is leading a vendetta against both the breeds and lawful, loving owners, reasoning that dogfighting uses pit bull-type breeds, and pit bulls used for fighting are more likely to be dangerous (as any dog so abused  may be), so to kill two birds with one stone, it makes sense to wipe out not just any individual dangerous dog of the type but any dog that is a hybrid of the a “pit bull breed” and any dog that looks like what people think is a “pit bull”, in part because there is no such breed as “pit bull.”

Thus because some “pit bulls” are abused, all should be exterminated.This is essentially the argument of the unethical people at PETA, which announced that it is supporting DogsBite.Org with the batty, but no more so than many of  their positions, argument that we need to destroy the dogs in order to save them.  Continue reading

Maybe I’m Losing My Mind, But I Think Geico’s “Maxwell The Pig” Ads Are Racist

Well, not racist, exactly, since there is no such human race (yet) as “Pig Men.” If there were such a race, however, there is no question that Geico’s humorous ads would be regarded as racist and offensive. And in Geico Universe, where Maxwell the Talking Pig resides, there is such a race. Therefore the ads are racist. Right? No?

Hear me out.

This has been bothering me for a while, and I don’t think I am imagining it. If we had, living among us, anthropomorphic swine like Maxwell (first discovered being driven home by a friend’s mother and yelling “Wee wee wee!” all the way), would making not so subtle, demeaning pig references (“when pigs fly” in one commercial, “pig in a blanket” in another) be considered acceptable or civil? Clearly not. Obviously Maxwell is a minority, and obviously sensitive about being a pig. Using “when pigs fly” around him is like intentionally inviting an obese friend to “chew the fat,” or accusing a Native American of being an “Indian giver.” Maxwell gets the intent of the insult in both ads, too: “I can’t believe she said that,” he says after one swine-slur, and “I walked right into that one,” after another.

Geico laid the foundation for Maxwell to be a “harmless” stand-in for harassed minorities that the commercials couldn’t mock without serious consequences in an earlier ad, where his car is stopped by a policeman. The cop asks, “Do you know why I stopped you?” Maxwell suggests profiling. “Because I’m a pig driving a convertible?” Yes, it’s strange. The more I think about it, the stranger and more subversive it seems…

This is ridiculous, I know, but also, I think, sinister. Continue reading

“Studies Prove BMW Drivers Are Jerks”….And So It Begins

"Look at THAT jerk. What's he up to, I wonder?"

“Look at THAT jerk. What’s he up to, I wonder?”

If you would like to ponder on how prejudices, stereotypes and bias worm their way into our brains, look no further than here, a Yahoo! report, via the Wall Street Journal, about how research backs up the widespread belief that drivers of BMWs are jerks. (Full disclosure: my son drives an old BMW, and loves it dearly. I love it less, because repairing the damn thing has required me to moonlight by entertaining at kids’ birthday parties and rodeos…)

Various studies, we are told, show drivers of the car are less likely to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and to take the upper hand at four-way stops. In addition,

“…in the U.K., motorists were asked to identify the make and color of the car from which they have most frequently suffered road-rage incidents…The study of 2,837 motorists found men between the ages of 35 and 50 driving blue BMWs were most likely to be reported as having engaged in road-rage behaviors such as aggressive driving and swearing.” Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Asra Nomani

Asra Q. Nomani is a Muslim. She is also is an American, an author, a women’s rights activist, and co-director of the Pearl Project. Today, in a column for the Daily Beast, she broke ranks with her religion and the absolutist foes of profiling as an anti-terrorist tool with a profoundly ethical act: she argued for new policies that may be against her own interests, but also may be in the best interest of her country and the public— because she believes it is the right thing to do.

The title of her essay: “Let’s Profile Muslims.”

Some excerpts… Continue reading

Ten Ethics Questions for the Pat-Down Defenders

I, like you, have been reading and listening to my various “My Obama, may he always be right, but my Obama, right or wrong” friends try to argue that having TSA agents sexually assault non-consenting adults is a perfectly reasonable and benign exercise of government power. I, like you, am tired of the posturing and excuse making. Their arguments, in essence, all boil down to: a) they have no choice b) they have our best interests at heart c) it’s no big deal, and 4) trust them, they know what they are doing.

I suggest that you, as I will, pose the following questions to your trusting friends, perhaps beginning with a preliminary query regarding whether they themselves have undergone the humiliating and invasive pat-down procedure that they so willingly approve of for others.

Then ask them these: Continue reading

Arizona, Illegal Immigration, and Ethics

The State of Arizona has passed a controversial law to address the serious social, economic and law-enforcement problems caused by the bi-partisan abdication of the core government responsibility to protect our borders and enforce a fair and rational immigration policy. President Obama calls the law “misguided,” which suggests, in the absence of any current efforts by his administration to deal with the illegal immigration crisis, that he believes that doing nothing at all is “well-guided.” It isn’t. It is irresponsible and unethical.

The governance ethics principle involved here is clear, and it is one that the Obama Administration has been willing to embrace when it considers the objective important enough. For example,  national health care insurance reform will not work unless everyone who can afford to do so buys health insurance. This raises serious issues of Constitutionality and, as two seconds of listening to conservative talk radio will let you know, slippery slope problems. Never before has the State presumed to order individuals what to buy. (You don’t have to buy auto insurance if you’re willing to eschew driving.) It doesn’t take much imagination to think of ways this intrusion into personal liberty could be abused, but the alternative is not to fix the problem, Obama reasons, and that is even more unacceptable, at least if you care about the problem. In leadership and government, fixing the problem is the prime directive, and yes, this means Utilitarianism in its strongest and most potentially dangerous sense. You have to make the system work, and often, more often than we like to admit, that means ethical trade-offs. The government ethics principle is “Fix the problem with a good faith solution, and do everything possible to minimize the bad side effects as they appear.” Continue reading