Tag Archives: rationalizations

New Orleans’ Historical Air-Brushing Orgy

New Orleans is in the midst of completing a plan to remove four Confederate monuments from public spaces in the city. In April, city workers removed a monument to a Reconstruction-era insurrection, and last week, they dismantled a statue of Jefferson Davis. Statues of the Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and P. G. T. Beauregard will be coming down soon.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu exploited the murder of nine black churchgoers  in Charleston, South Carolina to push for historical censoring, a long-time goal of civil rights groups and progressives.  Now the city says it is weighing a new location for  the monuments so they could be “placed in their proper historical context from a dark period of American history.” The favored new location is rumored to be Hell.

There are protests, of course, and most objections are coming from the perfect advocates from perspective of the historical amnesia fans: Confederacy fans, “Lost Cause” adherents, white supremacists, and other deplorables.  Seldom has George Orwell’s quote been more relevant:

“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”

I’ve written so much about the efforts from the left to purge America of any memory of or honor to historical figures who do not meet its 2o17 lock-step mandate for politically correct views and statements that I hesitate to repeat myself. You can review the record here.

Still, some things bear repeating. The last time I wrote about this issue was in February, when Yale capitulated to student thought-control advocates and eliminated the name of John C. Calhoun from a residential hall.  For it isn’t just leaders of the Confederacy who are targets of this cultural self-cannibalism: it is all past leaders who were proven wrong in some respects by subsequent wisdom, experience and events, including American icons like Jefferson and Jackson.  That last post listed the rationalizations  employed by the statue-topplers and the spineless officials who capitulate to their purges , including

 The Revolutionary’s Excuse: “These are not ordinary times” 

The Troublesome Luxury: “Ethics is a luxury we can’t afford right now.” 

The Ironic Rationalization, or “It’s The Right Thing To Do.”

Ethics Surrender, or “We can’t stop it.”

The Saint’s Excuse: “It’s for a good cause”

The Futility Illusion:  “If we don’t do it, somebody else will.”

The Comparative Virtue Excuse: “There are worse things.”

The Coercion Myth: “We have no choice!”

The Desperation Dodge or “I’ll do anything!”

The Unethical Precedent, or “It’s not the first time”

The Abuser’s License:  “It’s Complicated”

 The Apathy Defense, or “Nobody Cares.”

When you can throw up twelve rationalizations, that’s more than enough to convince the average, ethically-deficient citizen, not to mention social justice warriors.

That  post concluded,

A friend, lawyer, and Democrat had chided me on Facebook for suggesting that the frenzy to make America a safe place for anyone troubled by the opinions and actions of American patriots of the past could reach as far as Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, and accused me of engaging in wild hyperbole. Soon thereafter, the Connecticut Democratic Party purged the names and images of Presidents Jackson and Jefferson from its annual dinner, in order to kowtow to progressive activists. In November of last year, hundreds of University of Virginia students and faculty members demanded that President Teresa Sullivan stop quoting Thomas Jefferson, because doing so “undermines the message of unity, equality and civility that you are attempting to convey.”…I believe it is fair to say that I was right to be alarmed, and my friend was wrong. (I’m still going to let the statue of him in my backyard stay there, though.)

The cultural ethics alarms are sounding, as the toxic combination of the ignorant, the cultural bullies and the cowardly brings the United States closer to an Orwellian society where the past is remade to suit the perceived needs of the present.  Yale’s treatment of Calhoun redoubles my conviction that I expressed last year more than once. We have to honor what deserved and deserves to be honored. If we do not, history becomes political propaganda, useful only to support current political agendas. A nation that does not  honor and respect its history has no history.

And a nation that has no history is lost.

The New York Times published separate interviews with a leading critic and a prominent supporter of the historical airbrushing in New Orleans. Continue reading

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Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, History

Once Again, Stop Making Me Defend President Trump, And Tell Fox To Stop Making Me Defend The People Who Are MAKING Me Defend Him!

 

See? What does Comey have to complain about?

Fred, my topic scout, sent me this and suggested that it was the apotheosis of  Rationalization #22, Comparative Virtue or “It’s not the worst thing.”

Boy, was he right.

In last night’s episode of the Tucker Carlson show—right-wingers are actually impressed with Tucker’s skills at taking down lame liberal fanatics, which is sad in so many ways—featured the Fox News conservative dilettante agreeing with guest James Rosen, who was making the fatuous and ethically offensive point that people shouldn’t get so upset about what Trump does because the Civil War and the Cold War were worse.

This argument is the Mother of All Terrible Rationalizations, and especially bad because it spoils a good point, which is that absent historical perspective, it’s not easy to know what a real crisis is. Arguing that people shouldn’t object to something, however, because something else was worse is the mark of desperation as well as intellectual deficiency. Explain why the alleged crisis isn’t one (as in the Comey firing); explain why the assumed harm is exaggerated, or being hyped, or the product of bias and emotion. But to say, as Rosen, a “conservative historian,” which only means he isn’t an aggressive leftist like almost all of his colleagues, did,

“During Watergate, the term ‘crisis’ was thrown around as well and there were people at that time who were old enough to remember when there were legless Civil War veterans still in the streets of Washington.”

And I’m sure conservative historians were reminding those Civil War casualties while their legs were being sawed off without anesthesia that the Civil War wasn’t nearly as horrible as the Black Death. “Ah, I feel much better now,” they smiled. “Just call me ‘Stumpy!’

Here, for the sake of reference, is the description of #22 on the Ethics Alarms Rationalizations List: Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Professions

From The Ruddigore Fallacy Files: “60 Minutes” Seeks Sympathy For Another Deported “Good Illegal Immigrant”

Earlier installments regarding the deportation of “good” illegal immigrants are here, here, here, and here. We are cursed to hear about these until the stars turn cold.

“60 Minutes” showed viewers the sad story of Roberto Beristain, an illegal immigrant deported to Mexico after being in the U.S. for nearly 20 years. This was part of the news media’s ongoing anti-Trump assault, as well as an effort to pull at the public’s heartstrings while paralyzing its brains.

The CBS news magazine gathered Beristain’s family and friends in Granger, Indiana so they could express their frustration that someone with no criminal record like Roberto could be separated from his wife and children, who are all citizens.

“It just feels wrong,” Kimberly Glowacki said. Michelle Craig said she voted for President Trump, but did so because he promised to deport dangerous criminals. “This is not the person he said he would deport,” she said. “The community is better “for having someone like Beristain in it.

Wrong, wrong and wrong. While the President emphasized that the nation’s passive enforcement of illegal immigration allowed dangerous criminals to enter the nation, he never suggested that “good illegal immigrants” should be allowed to break our immigration laws with impunity, as long as they became law abiding illegal citizens. What did Michelle think the wall was all about? Did she think it would somehow let good illegal immigrants in while stopping the “bad hombres”?

Beristain was as much of a border-jumper success story as the there is, a former cook and new owner of a popular Granger restaurant , “Eddie’s Steak Shed,” that employs about 20 people.  He had no criminal record in the U.S.. He entered the U.S. in 1998 illegally but had been issued a temporary work permit, Social Security number and drivers license under the Obama administration, an irresponsible policy that sent a “Illegals Welcome!” message to the world. The Trump administration, to its credit, has ended this cynical nonsense. If you are here illegally, you are subject to deportation at any time, and should be. The argument that by being a “good” illegal after you get here somehow erases the fact that you shouldn’t be here is what has been named “The Ruddigore Fallacy.” To refresh your memory: Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Family, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President, U.S. Society

Say Hello To Rationalization # 65, “The Pest’s Justification.”

The Pest’s Justification or “He/She/They can take care of themselves,” the latest addition to the apparently bottomless pit of self-deception known in these parts as the Ethics Alarms Rationalizations List, is a distant cousin of Rationalization 2A, Sicilian Ethics, which holds that  wrongdoing toward a party isn’t wrong when the abused party has aggrieved the abuser.  2A boils down to “He deserves it.” #65 boils down to “There’s no need to be ethical to someone more powerful than me.”

The newest addition takes its name from periodic playground accounts in the news, where a larger child is endlessly tormented by a smaller one who assumes that he is immune from harsh judgment  by virtue of being perceived as relatively harmless compared to his target. These stories often end badly, with the larger child finally deciding that he can take no more, clobbering his tormenter, and being called a bully for doing so. Spousal abuse where women beat up their larger husbands are especially ugly extensions of  this rationalization. It can take the form of bullying. Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Education, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

The Flint Water Bills: Is This The Most Outrageous Ethics Story Of The Year?

“What do you mean it’s brown and poisonous? Water is water! Pay up.”

This story out of Flint, Michigan is so wrong, so astoundingly and obviously unethical, such a satire of government ineptitude at its worst and bureaucratic soullessness at its most damning, that I literally didn’t believe that it could be anything but a momentary hiccup, and that it would be resolved by the state, the city, an elected leader with guts and the sense God gave a mollusk, within a day or two, after the voices of millions were heard screaming. “WHAT????”

I was wrong. You want to know why it is insane to place your freedom, health, livelihood and survival and that of your families in the hands of government? THIS is why. Exactly this.

Thousands of Flint, Michigan residents risk losing their homes if they don’t pay their overdue water bills  less than three years since the start of a prolonged, botched, water safety crisis that led to extremely dangerous levels of lead in the city’s water pipes. In a move that will stand through the ages as the epitome of shamelessness and gall,  the Flint government sent threatening letters to more than 8,000 residents warning them they will face a tax lien if they do not pay water and sewage bills they have avoided for six months or more. Residents have until May 19 to pay the delinquent bills, and after that, a process begins that could end with foreclosure on their homes. Flint sends these letters annually to property owners whose payments are at least six months late, but skipped this process in 2016, given that the water the residents weren’t paying for was only technically water at all. The better label was “poison.” This year’s letters cover two years of past-due balances. Continue reading

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Filed under Environment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership

Well, Waddya Know! Both President Trump And Barack Obama Are Interfering With The French Election!

See. when we do it, it’s ethical.

It’s small wonder that the rest of the world sees the United States as the most arrogant nation imaginable. Hot on the heals of  elected officials from both parties declaiming the outrageous conduct of Russia to “interfere in an American election,” with Democrats, depending on which excuse has been chalked on the blackboard as Hillary’s excuse du jour, even claiming that Vladamir Putin’s e-machinations stole the election, President Trump endorsed far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen. Oh, as usual with this President, it was a confusing endorsement with a touch of deceit: in an interview with The Associated Press, Trump said although he was not offering an endorsement,  Le Pen is “strongest on borders, and she’s the strongest on what’s been going on in France.” In other words, he endorsed her by saying she was the best candidate. The translation of Trump’s statement: “I won’t endorse her, but I’m endorsing her.”

Typical. Unfortunately.

Two weeks later, ex-President Obama directly and formally endorsed Le Pen’s opponent, Emmanuel Macron, saying  a video announcing his support..

“I know that you face many challenges, and I want all of my friends in France to know how much I am rooting for your success.Because of how important this election is, I also want you to know I am supporting Emmanuel Macron to lead you forward. En March! Vive la France!”

Also typical, also unfortunate.

Obama’s latest exploits should be called his Hypocrisy Tour: first the man who led the party that condemned the corruption of big money in politics immediately cashes in witb a staggering post-presidency book deal and two $400,000 speaking fees, and now the icon of the party that has been shaking its fist at the skies about foreign interference in U.S. elections openly interferes in the election of an American ally. …because, you see, when we do it, it’s a good thing.

This shouldn’t be hard to grasp. Any efforts by a foreign country, government, official, leaders, former leaders, corporations, organizations or media organs to influence the results of another nation’s elections are wrong, per se and always, no exceptions.

Some forms of outside and illicit influence are worse than others, but they all are wrong: endorsements, contributions, fake news, hacking…all of it. This should be obvious, and it is not a partisan observation. The refusal to admit it, however, IS partisan. The United States cannot protest credibly when its elections are messed with as long as its leaders and others persist in interfering with the democracy of other nations themselves. It doesn’t matter if the meddler is a former President who has been anointed with an unearned, permanent presumption of virtue regardless of reality, or a current President whose conduct is automatically assumed to be sinister by those unalterably biased against him. It is wrong in either case, or any other.

This embodies an international application of the Golden Rule. Democratic elections are nobody’s business but the citizens of the nation holding them. The United States resents outside interference with our elections—some Democrats called the Russian involvement with letting us know just how corrupt the Clinton campaign was the equivalent of an act of war—so we should understand why for us to do the same is similarly wrong.

I admit it: I trolled my Angry Left Facebook friends with this post a couple of days ago:

Barack Obama just endorsed Macron in the French election. Boy, don’t you just hate it when foreign governments and officials try to influence elections?

Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Around the World, Facebook, Government & Politics, Leadership

The United Ethics Train/Plane Wreck Sails On: A New, Worthless Apology, Ann Althouse Buys A Ticket, And More!

[ And yes, it is worth the attention it’s getting on an ethics blog. Greater ethical lessons and enlightenment can arise out of a transaction at a lemonade stand than in nuclear disarmament talks; this basic, establishing principle of Ethics Alarms still is elusive to many readers, and I don’t know what else I can say to explain it for them. Of course other things are going on: Bulletin: this isn’t a news site. No, the fact that Sean Spicer said that “Even Hitler didn’t use chemical weapons” and the news media, knowing full well what he meant (and that what he meant was technically correct, though still a jaw-droppingly cretinous thing to say) still turned it into a big deal —because he works for Donald Trump, and there for is evil—and Nancy Pelosi even said the it mandated his removal (no, the fact that Spicer is incompetent mandates his removal—“Best people,” Mr President? Remember “Best people”?—but we knew that) is not a more important ethics story.

I am seriously considering just banning every commenter who makes one of those “Why are you writing about this when children are dying in the Congo and Flint still has bad water?” complaints. Write your own damn blog. I have clients, a full time job and many other responsibilities, taught for four hours yesterday, and most of all, had a Red Sox game to watch. Istill posted about 2000 well-considered words. I am not your Ethics Monkey.]

Reports from the still accumulating United Flight 3411 ethics carnage:

Look! A new apology! United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz performed a backflip and issued a brand new apology for the fiasco on United Express Flight 3411, and said in a statement;

The truly horrific event that occurred on this flight has elicited many responses from all of us: outrage, anger, disappointment.  I share all of those sentiments, and one above all: my deepest apologies for what happened. Like you, I continue to be disturbed by what happened on this flight and I deeply apologize to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard.   No one should ever be mistreated this way.  

I want you to know that we take full responsibility and we will work to make it right.    

It’s never too late to do the right thing. I have committed to our customers and our employees that we are going to fix what’s broken so this never happens again. This will include a thorough review of crew movement, our policies for incentivizing volunteers in these situations, how we handle oversold situations and an examination of how we partner with airport authorities and local law enforcement. We’ll communicate the results of our review by April 30th.  

I promise you we will do better.  

Sincerely, 

Oscar

Quick reactions:

….Well, I hope you will do better, because it would be almost impossible to do worse.

…Wait, I thought the United agents were following procedures and that this was all the fault of the “disruptive” passenger? Didn’t you say that? I’m sure I read that you said that…

…”Outrage, anger, disappointment”? When did Munoz express any of those? The word he used before was “upsetting.” In his previous “apology,” which extended to the passengers who were “re-accommodated,” a weasel word if there ever was one, since they were “un-accommodated’…

…Yes it is too late to do the right thing sometimes, and this apology is a perfect example.

If the soon-to-be-forcibly retired United CEO had issued this apology immediately, contemporaneously with  placing every involved employee in Chicago on leave until the matter was fully investigated, it would have been a #1 apology on the Ethics Alarms Apology Scale, the best of the best, the top of the line….

1. An apology motivated by the realization that one’s past conduct was unjust, unfair, and wrong, constituting an unequivocal admission of wrongdoing as well as regret, remorse and contrition, as part of a sincere effort to make amends and seek forgiveness.

However, when such an apology follows a previous apology that expressed none of this, but instead a reflex insistence that no wrong had been committed and that the victim of the wrong was at fault, the second apology becomes a #7 apology on the scale, one that is insincere and not a true apology at all:

7. A forced or compelled [apology], in which the individual (or organization) apologizing may not sincerely believe that an apology is appropriate, but chooses to show the victim or victims of the act inspiring it that the individual responsible is humbling himself and being forced to admit wrongdoing by the society, the culture, legal authority, or an organization or group that the individual’s actions reflect upon or represent .

Munoz’s second apology also insults the intelligence of everyone following the incident. We know what United’s attitude was: the United CEO expressed it:

“Be still peasants, and don’t scream like little girls when you get your comeuppance! We decide what your rights are! Next time, try walking to Louisville! I bet our surly representatives, cramped seats and stale pretzels will start looking pretty damn good before you get though Indiana.”

Now he’s suddenly horrified and contrite. Sure he is: he’s horrified because United stock is falling, and contrite because a public relations crisis management specialist told him to be.

Too late. We know what you really think, and we don’t forget that easily. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks