Comment Of The Day: “Comment Of The Day: The NFL Anthem Protest Ethics Train Wreck, Part One”

I don’t like only covering one ethics topic on a given day, but the NFL National Anthem Train Wreck posts certainly generated enough high-level commentary to justify it this time. My two posts on the topic also sparked several candidates for Comment of the Day. This one, by Chris Bentley, challenged the central premise of the NFL kneelers, to the extent that they have a premise: they certainly have been neither persuasive nor consistent in articulating whatever they think they are kneeling for.

Here is Chris Bentley’s Comment of the Day on the post (by Chris Not Bentley),Comment Of The Day: The NFL Anthem Protest Ethics Train Wreck, Part One:

“…of a man who said that he couldn’t honor a nation that “oppressed” blacks…”

Sincerely asking, Chris, because I took issue with when Kaepernick made the initial claim, and take issue with you repeating it. How is ours a nation that oppresses blacks?

That is a bold, and wide ranging claim to make. And, as I have invoked before (and at times you’ve shot down, at times legitimately, and at times not, IMO), how can a country that oppresses an entire race of people, a group of people that share the same race as I, somehow not oppress me? Not oppress my father? My brother? My sister, uncle, niece, cousins?

If there is something that makes us different, that makes Thomas Sowell, and Jason Riley, and Walter E. Williams, and Derrick Green (writer for Project 21, a leadership network for Black Conservatives), and many other blacks who are apparent immune to this different, then why is no time devoted to identifying what that secondary component is, that causes us to be excluded from this oppression? We spend so much time discussing intersectionality, but ignore the intersection where systemic racism meets some unknown, unspoken characteristic possessed by some of us, where we become immune to that aforementioned systemic racism. If that’s our goal, eradicating racism, why is no one asking those of us who aren’t finding racism around every street corner, what our secret is? Why are the cameras consistently shoved in the faces of the victims of our racist society, but never us? (You and I both damn well know the answer)

To me, it’s be like someone claiming that Jack is biased against ALL commenters that have “Chris” in their screen name. If Jack’s never been biased against you, can that claim be credibly made? Shouldn’t there be a deeper dive, to identify other characteristics held by the group being infringed upon, rather than lazily basing it on a trait that’s also held by many people who haven’t been affected?

But, to my original question…by what metric can one claim that America is oppressive towards blacks?

Is it the ritualistic, indiscriminate killing of blacks by cops? B/c according to the Washington Post Police Killings tracker, in 2017, twice as many whites are killed by cops than whites (164 to 326). And while, yes, Im fully aware that means (since whites outnumber blacks 5 to 1) that blacks are MORE LIKELY to be killed, it also means that whites are killed in high enough number, that police killings cannot be solely about race. And 95% of police killings involve men, but there’s no outrage about that…so if we’re being intellectually honest and consistent, it cannot be about police killing rates relative to a particular demographic’s representation in the population, right? Unless we’re willing to admit that men are over represented in activities that bring them into violent contact with police…but that can’t be it, unless we’re ALSO willing to admit (I think you see where this leads)…

Is it about black poverty rates? 46% of Black families with children that are headed by single Black women live in poverty, vs 8% of black families where the parents are married (which obviously trails statistics for while single mom headed households/married households), but as of 2014, only 29% of black adults were married, down from 61% in 1960. It stands to reason that a 2 income household leads to more financial stability, and is something that can be created regardless of how racist our society is (I mean, the black marriage rate was 80% in 1890, when the US was still in the immediate shadows of the Civil War and Reconstruction). Did the legacy of slavery just…skip a few generations? Is systemic racism somehow preventing us from marrying one another? Continue reading

“U.S. Race Relations Have Finally Reached The Point Where They Make No Sense Whatsoever” Sunday #2: The Ol’ Miss Banana Peel Saga

Honestly, I thought this was a hoax story. I still hope it might be, and if it isn’t, it should be. If it is true, the episode all by itself is signature significance proving that the U.S. race problem has turned into cultural insanity.

Last weekend, leaders from the University of Mississippi’s Greek Life group held  a three-day at Camp Hopewell in Lafayette County, designed to “build leaders and bring the campus closer together.” It went spectacular wrong as a result of a banana peel. It really did.

The group included student members of the Panhellenic Council, the National Pan-Hellenic Council and the Interfraternity Council. The retreat was organized by Fraternity and Sorority Life and the national group IMPACT,  a campus-based leadership institute designed to foster improved relationships among campus leaders through such events. Saturday morning, the participants ate breakfast together, and the breakfast options included various fruit, including bananas. Breakfast was followed by a discussion session on race relations at Ole Miss.

Shortly thereafter, three students noticed a banana peel in a tree. This was taken as intentional racist symbolism. and the rest of the day was occupied by heated debate regarded racist symbols. Senior accounting major Ryan Swanson eventually stood up and admitted that he put the banana peel in the tree when he could not find a trash receptacle nearby.

[Aside: I once did exactly the same thing on a Boy Scout hike.]

Never mind. It didn’t matter that this was not a racist act. The banana peel continued to be the focus of intense debate.  Like a good social justice patsy, Swanson fell on his sword. “I want to sincerely apologize for the events that took place this past weekend,” Swanson told the college paper afterwards. “Although unintentional, there is no excuse for the pain that was caused to members of our community.” Continue reading

Comment of the Day: Signature Significance: President Obama’s Farewell Speech Jumbo

Accusation

I woke up this morning to not one but three Comment of the Day-worthy posts from readers, and there was already one waiting in the queue. We have to begin with this lovely post by Pennagain, in the discussion about President Obama’s remarkable conviction that U.S. race relations have improved on his watch, in defiance of all apparent evidence. ( Adding to the evidence countering the President’s self-serving delusion, a new Pew survey shows (among a lot of other things) that 75% of police officers report “increased tension between cops and the black community.” )

Here is the first Comment of the Day Of The Day, on the post, Signature Significance: President Obama’s Farewell Speech Jumbo:

My experience over the last four years – in my half-baked melting pot of a city – has been that the economic status has improved for self-identified non-whites who were already educated and on career paths. As far as social status goes, however, there has grown up a new “separate but equal” world mandated as Black which does not welcome non-melaninated visitors. This is not the Harlem of the 20s! It has a presence in nearly every neighborhood and does not require white financial investment, advertisement nor approval. It speaks its own language (particularly body language) that eschews the obviousness of Ebonics but has instead a sly, wry, deliberate anti-Establishment pronunciation to it that isn’t heard in the weekday workplace. Black people I did not previously so designate, those whom I have worked with for decades in many different jobs and at least three different professions, are not unfriendly; if anything, they are better comrades and easier bosses than ever before. But there is no longer any doubt that we will not be discussing Travon or Trump. The gates are closed. Continue reading

Signature Significance: President Obama’s Farewell Speech Jumbo

jumbo-film

“Now, I’ve lived long enough to know that race relations are better than they were 10 or 20 or 30 years ago, no matter what some folks say.”

It’s funny: when I was searching Google after entering this quote, I found one site the had as a headline, “2o Quotes From President Obama’s Farewell Speech That Will Melt Your…” and that’s where it cut off.  Which was it, I wondered, “heart” or “brain”? It was heart….and the 20 also included the quote about race relations.

I also checked the Washington Post, which “fact-checks” major speeches with annotations. In the transcript, that line was indeed highlighted—I thought there was a 50-50 chance, knowing the Post’s pro-Obama bias, that it would let that whopper slide. The annotation by reporter Aaron Blake in its entirety:

Obama has seen the polls. A July Washington Post-ABC News poll [showed 6 in 10 thought race relations were bad, and a majority thought they were getting worse](Poll: Majority of Americans think race relations are getting worse)

Now that’s a tentative fact-check! Obama has seen the polls, so …he must know something we don’t? Obama has seen the polls, so…he’s basing this certitude on his own impeccable wisdom? Obama has seen the polls, so….he’s having a little fun with us? Obama has seen the polls, so…he’s lying through his teeth? What is the Post saying?

For this is rather significantly counter-factual. Yet demonstrating the hard-hitting investigative reporting that the Post is renowned for, the paper recently launched an investigation into whether Donald Trump was LYING when he told the Times, in one of his typical, off-hand, “this just popped into my head” moments, “There will be plenty of movie and entertainment stars [at the Inauguration] All the dress shops are sold out in Washington. It’s hard to find a great dress for this inauguration.” AHA!  This is NOT TRUE! This is further proof that the man is NOT FIT TO BE PRESIDENT! And EEEEVIL!!! A Post reporter actually interviewed multiple dress shop owners, and concluded,

“It’s hard to imagine how Trump came to his conclusion, and a transition team spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But for all of the president-elect’s promises about economic stimulus, it doesn’t seem that he’s making Washington dress-shopping great again.”

In contrast, when the first African-American President of the United States, having seen his performance lead to the devastation of his party and the installment of a new President so antithetical to his world view as to risk the two of them exploding if they shake hands, makes a completely ridiculous assertion about a crucial American problem like race relations, we get a 27 word shrug and a link.

American journalism in 2017. Continue reading

14 Ethics Musings On The Death Of Francisco Serna

keith-scott

Scott and Serna.

From The Washington Post:

Slightly after midnight on Monday, police in Bakersfield, Calif., received a call concerning a man thought to be brandishing a weapon in a residential neighborhood.

Shortly after police arrived, 73-year-old Francisco Serna — who family members said was suffering from the early stages of dementia — walked out of his home and into his driveway. When Serna, who was unarmed, did not comply with officers’ orders to remove his hands from his jacket pocket, one officer fired seven shots at him, killing him.

During a canvass of the premises that lasted at least until the following afternoon, police did not find a firearm on or near Serna. Instead, they found a crucifix.

Questions and Observations:

1. The shooting occurred two days ago, on December 12. There have been no organized protests, or community groups, family lawyers or anyone else suggesting that the shooting was murder, or an example of police animus toward the community. Why not?

2. The circumstances of the shooting were notably similar to the police involved shooting of Keith Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina, except that in the case of Scott, the officer believed the victim had a gun, and he did have a gun. Nonetheless, that shooting triggered two days of rioting. Why?

3. In the Scott shooting, both officer and victim were black. In the recent shooting in Bakersfield, officer and victim were white. Why did one shooting become a racial incident and the other not, when the conduct of the police officers were essentially identical, and the provocation for the shootings  were similar as well?

4. One difference in the two episodes is that in Charlotte, a false narrative was launched by a family member to make the shooting appear to be a case of excessive force with a police cover-up. Is it just felicitous that this did not occur in Bakersfield, or was the Charlotte episode different in some way that caused events to resemble the aftermath in the Ferguson and Freddie Gray police-involved deaths?

5. If Francisco Serna had been black and all other facts the same, is there any reason to believe that the aftermath, including recriminations, accusations and attacks on police, the justice system and the nation’s culture, would have been any different than they have been every time an unarmed black man, or a black man who was reported as being unarmed, has been shot by police? If there is not, what does that tell us? Continue reading

No Charges In The Keith Scott Shooting, And An Ethics Test For Black Lives Matter

stephanie-clemons-thompson-fb-post

Yesterday,  Mecklenburg, North Carolina District Attorney Andrew Murray announced that the investigation into September’s fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott had found no legal wrongdoing. This meant, in addition to the fact that officer Brently Jackson, who is black, would not face trial, that the two-days of riots inflicted on Charlotte after the Scott’s death were even more inexcusable than riots generally are. People who claimed on social media that they had seen the shooting and that Scott was unarmed admitted to investigators that they hadn’t seen what they said they saw. Evidence in the case showed that Scott stepped out of his SUV  holding a gun—his DNA was retrieved from the weapon found at the scene—and ignored at least ten commands from the five officers on the scene to drop it. Individuals who behave like that are likely to get shot, and deserve to be. No case, no outrage, no systemic racism.

Following the shooting, however, this was a Mike Brown encore, complete with angry, loud, false accounts and social media rumors focused on making Scott’s death another rallying point for race-hucksters, politicians who felt they could benefit from dividing the country by color, and irresponsible pundits.

From the Ethics Alarms post on September 21: Continue reading

The Charlotte Riots: Good Work, Everybody! It Is Now Officially Impossible For Police Officers To Do Their Jobs…Now What?

Thank you,  George Zimmerman. Thank you, Mike Brown, and Freddie Gray. Thank you, Marilyn Mosby, Barack Obama, Ta Nihisi Coates. Thanks, Charles Blow, and Al Sharpton, MSNBC, Sabrina Fulton,  Lezlie McSpadden, and the Democratic National Committee. Thanks, Baltimore Police, Ferguson Police, and Bill DeBlasio.  Thanks, Eric Holder. Thanks, Black Lives Matter. And thanks to you too, Michael Slager, Timothy Loehmann, and the other trigger-happy cops who made their fellow officers around the country vulnerable to accusations of racism and murder by your incompetence. Thanks to all of you and others, it is now impossible for police to do their jobs without fear of being demonized and destroyed if they are wrong, or sparking riots and violence if they are right.

Now what are we supposed to do?

 A Charlotte, North Carolina police officer named Brentley Vinson, an African American, shot and killed Keith L. Scott, 43, after he posed an “imminent deadly threat” to police officers by refusing to drop the weapon he was carrying when ordered to do so.  The shooting sparked night of rioting and violent confrontations between police and “protesters.”

According to police, officers were searching for a suspect with an outstanding warrant. Around 4:00 pm yesterday, police observed Keith Lamont Scott inside his car. (Scott was not the person being sought.) Scott exited the vehicle carrying a firearm, got back into his vehicle, and when officers began to approach his car, got back out of it, again carrying his handgun. Officers ordered him to drop it, and he did not.  The officers fired their weapons at Scott, who was hit and fell. They immediately requested medial assistance and began performing CPR.

Following the pattern of the Ferguson and Freddie Gray incidents, unverified reports spread through social and broadcast media that the victim was a disabled man, holding only a book and no weapon. A woman claiming to be the victim’s daughter used Facebook Live to give her angry, emotional and quite possibly fanciful account of what was transpiring. About a hundred protesters arrived at the site of the shooting. #KeithLamontScott began to trend on Twitter.

Continue reading

Unethical Tweet Of The Month: New York Times Journalist Brent Staples

Staples

Brent Staples, who I'm sure is certain I am criticizing him because he is black...

Brent Staples, who I’m sure is certain I am criticizing him because he is black…

I view this as tragic, in so many ways. Brent Staples himself is apparently the victim of the cultural poison he is peddling, that every failure, misfortune or criticism of an African American must be presumptively rooted in racial animus rather than the shortcomings or fault of the black citizen involved. Others who use this strategy of race-baiting as a political weapon are not as sincere as Staples—he writes this kind of thing in editorial columns all the time—but they have joined with him to do terrible damage to race relations, all in defense of a President whose incompetence is too painful for his supporters to accept.

I realized that this would be an unethical political weapon Democrats could not resist using back in 2008, when Obama was running against John McCain. I warned against it then. The Democrats were arguing that Obama was so clearly the only choice for voters that he could only be defeated by racism, for only racists would oppose him. I wrote..

This strategy would be unethical even if the Democrats weren’t the party nominating an eloquent abstraction with less governing experience than any Chief Executive within memory. It is insanely irresponsible when used to back a candidate about whom there are many legitimate doubts, mysteries and questions. Both parties deserve respect; both candidates deserve respect. And the democratic system deserves the most respect of all.  

But is the Democratic message wrong if party decision-makers and faithful really believe it? Yes, because the belief is unsupported by hard, persuasive, un-slanted facts, and that makes it irresponsible and unfair…A belief alone is not enough to justify claiming victory for an untested leader with plenty of holes in his resume. Belief alone is not sufficient justification to lay the groundwork for race-baiting in the wake of an electoral loss in November.  

I’m a rational, informed voter who does his research and knows the issues, and I may choose not to vote for Barack Obama for any number of legitimate reasons—including the offensive attitude of his party—that have nothing whatsoever to do with his race. How dare the Democratic Party, Obama, or anyone shout to the media that my vote is motivated by racism? This is playing with societal dynamite. 

The Democratic message that the election is a slam dunk for Obama if America can only avoid bigotry and election fraud is a recipe for civil unrest, racial tension, and the unraveling of public faith in our institutions. It is reckless and offensive, and, take note, Democrats, idiotic.

Continue reading

“Kill The Messenger” And The CIA Crack Story Ethics Train Wreck

I finally saw the 2014 docudrama “Kill the Messenger,” which completed—I hope—the passenger list for a 30-year-old Ethics Train Wreck.

The film purports to be the true story of Gary Webb, the San Jose Mercury News reporter who wrote the sensational “Dark Alliance” series of investigative reports in 1996. The series attributed the inner city crack cocaine explosion in part to Nicaraguan anti-government Contra rebels in  the 1980s funding their efforts by drug smuggling and sales, all with the knowledge and assistance of the  CIA. The agency, the series claimed, was acting to support the Contras despite Congress rejecting the Reagan administration’s request for aid. Like most Hollywood accounts of anything, the film distorts and misrepresents facts to make a better story. Unfortunately, Webb’s story is made more dramatic by making him out to be a tragic hero and victim of a sinister alliance between the mainstream media and the U.S. Government. That’s not exactly true, fair or accurate, and in this matter, affirmatively harmful.

The fastest way to survey this particular Ethics Train Wreck is to list the distinguished passengers, more or less in order of boarding: Continue reading

Of Shoes and Socks, and the Soothing, Unethical Device of Lowered Obama Leadership Goals and Aspirations

shoes and socks

I had a friend in college named David, a talented musician and a funny guy, who one regaled me with his new theory of how to be a success and eliminate anxiety and stress in the bargain.

“See, we make ourselves miserable and guarantee failure by setting our goals impossibly high,” he said. “The secret to a happy, successful, care-free life is to set one’s goals extremely low. Last week, I was depressed because I had aimed at attending all my classes, writing 50 pages on my thesis, and finishing my reading assignments. I didn’t come close to accomplishing this, and I was miserable and guilty as a result.”

“Then I had an epiphany! Today I set my goal, my only one, as putting on my shoes and socks,” David explained. “That was it, the whole thing. Look! I did it! And it’s only noon!” He laughed and skipped away, not a care in the world.

I’m pretty sure he was kidding. Yet the Obama Administration, and its increasingly zombie-like, denial-motivated supporters, appears to have adopted this approach to leadership. Continue reading