A few quick notes on “the College Pledge” are in order. It is the work of something called Dallas Justice Now which claims to be “a member-driven project of activists, researchers, and local leaders dedicated to making our city more just.” Yesterday the rumor was rampant that its threatening “pledge” demanding that white Dallas parents agree not to let their children apply for admission to elite institutions so black and brown kids could have an open field to obtain an Ivy League degree was a conservative “false flag” operation. This does not appear to be the case, and the increasingly unhinged Far Left, which is now just “the Left,” hardly needs any assistance in appearing menacing and racist.
The version of the pledge that I posted yesterday was not the full document, which included the implied threat that those who did not sign would be outed and ostracized, and the miserable device of introducing a false dichotomy: “Will you take the college pledge?” can be answered only with “I am a racist hypocrite.” and “I agree.” That’s rather funny, since the whole exercise is an example of anti-white racist hypocrisy.
I have searched, and apparently no mainstream national media news source finds this attempt to intimidate white Americans in the Dallas area newsworthy.
The vast majority of wealth is *multi-generational*. Yes, America is replete with the starry examples of rags-to-riches stories, but even those are generally isolated exceptions. For the rest of those who have significant wealth, it is mostly because the generation before them made tiny sacrifices in their lives that they didn’t have to make. Those sacrifices were essentially investments in and for their children that paid off in dividends worth VASTLY more than the sacrifice.
This post was supposed to go up yesterday, May 29, but as has happened too often in recent months, the vicissitudes of existence got in the way of Ethics Alarms. May 29 is the anniversary of the epic moment when, at 11:30 a.m. on May 29, 1953, Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay, a Sherpa of Nepal, become the first explorers to reach the summit of Mount Everest. At 29,035 feet above sea level, the peak of Everest is the highest point on earth. Hillary and his Sherpa guide were part of a British expedition, and the two completed their successful assault after spending a perilous night on the mountain at 27,900 feet.
Hillary’s tribute is included in the The Ethics Alarms Heroes’ Hall Of Honor, but for several years had been unavailable, unbeknownst to me, because I hadn’t connected some dots. The essay about him was a link to my 2008 post on the predecessor of Ethics Alarms, The Ethics Scoreboard, which was offline. I had forgotten that (and if anyone tried to access the article and failed, they never let me know), so the first Ethics Hero to be awarded that Ethics Hero Emeritus title was also the only such hero dishonored by my carelessness.
I apologize, Sir Edmund.
The Ethics Scoreboard is back online (and worth a visit), but I am finally putting the 2008 piece here, on Ethics Alarms, where it should have been long ago.
Ethics Hero Emeritus: Sir Edmund Hillary 1919-2008
“”To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World—Fellow Citizens & compatriots—I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna — I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man — The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken — I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the walls — I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch — The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country —Victory or Death.“
Col. William Barrett Travis, Commander of the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, on February 24, 1836, as his make-shift fort with its couple hundred volunteers were surrounded by the army of General Santa Ana, and a siege was inevitable.
Travis sent out several appeals for assistance and reinforcement that day, but this one has been enshrined as one of the iconic letters in American history. When the Texas revolution began in 1835, Travis, a failed lawyer, businessman and husband—he had abandoned his wife and unborn child in Alabama to escape his debts and start a new life in the Mexican territory—had became a lieutenant-colonel in the revolutionary army and was given command of troops in the recently captured city of San Antonio de Bexar (now San Antonio). On February 23, 1836, a large Mexican force commanded by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana arrived in the town. Travis and his troops barricaded themselves in an abandoned mission repurposed as a fort, the Alamo, where they were joined by a volunteer force led by Texas land speculator and adventurer Jim Bowie. Later, another, smaller group of volunteers organized by former Congressman and self-made legend Davy Crockett joined them.
Before Travis’s fevered and desperate letter-writing, the Mexican dictator had demanded the fort’s unconditional surrender, promising no quarter if the defenders refused. As his letter said, Travis answered with a cannon shot.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
This is an especially important time for Americans to remember the Alamo.
Everyone these days is so … tribal. We fostered this thinking and romanticized it in fiction and documentary, the whole “brothers in arms” thing. This person is asking for America to abdicate to communism so they can be safer, and using the occasion to slander genuine camaraderie with his/her anti-capitalist grievances.
They don’t see the sacrifice of every day people who are out of work, out of money, and out of prospects for the immediate future of regaining the means to pay their mortgage or car payment or insurance or children’s clothing, needs and food. The government will step up and help, but to many that means a tiny portion of their salary or income, and not enough to keep all their needs funded.
Nobody is asking health workers to work for free. They get paid very well for what they do, and nobody can make them work if they don’t want to. So if you are afraid of catching the disease, then quit your job and join one of my bests friend in the unemployment line. That, at least, shows you are willing to sacrifice your livelihood for your safety — certainly understandable in some cases. In many other cases, it is simple cowardice, but I won’t even judge. Just stop demanding others sacrifice more on your behalf than you are willing to sacrifice yourself. Continue reading →
Don Giuseppe Berardelli, an Italian priest, died from the Wuhan virus after giving up his respirator to a younger patient, a stranger. The following is from the Google Italian to English translation of this source:
Don Giuseppe had been archpriest of Casnigo for almost fourteen years and would have concluded his mission in Casnigo. He ended it earlier, in a hospital in Lovere, hit by the coronavirus. Already last year he had had health problems. His perennial smile, his availability, but also his activism in the realization of important and expensive works, that smile hid the worries.
He was a simple, straightforward person, with a great kindness and helpfulness towards everyone, believers and non-believers. His greeting was ‘peace and good’. Always friendly and available to the public administration, associations and not only those of the parish, he participated in all the events without ever being intrusive…. He was loved by everyone: his former parishioners still came from Fiorano after years to find him. But he also had an incredible ability to solve economic problems, to knock on the right doors for help.
This is the testimony of Giuseppe Imberti, long mayor of Casnigo: “Don Giuseppe died as a priest. And I am deeply moved by the fact that the archpriest of Casnigo, Don Giuseppe Berardelli – to whom the parish community had bought a respirator – announced his will to assign it to someone younger than him.” Continue reading →
The following post was mostly assembled from past essays here about my favorite event in American History…
I will never forget my first visit to the Alamo, and seeing Texans weeping, openly, proudly, as they read the plaque with Travis’s words engraved on it:
Commandancy of the Alamo Bejar, Feby. 24, 1836
To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World
Fellow citizens & compatriots
I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna I have sustained a continual Bombardment and cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, and our flag still waves proudly from the walls. I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism and everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch. The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible and die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country VICTORY OR DEATH.
William Barret Travis.
The story of the Alamo isn’t taught in schools outside of Texas. It wasn’t taught in my school, either: like most American history, I learned about the event though a thick mixture of pop culture, reading (Walter Lord’s “A Time To Stand” was a birthday present in 1961) and ongoing research. I recently completed “Texas Rising,” which was also just broadcast on cable as a mini-series starring the late Bill Paxton as Sam Houston. Historian Stephen Moore is a plodding writer, but he nicely puts to rest the currently popular politically correct slander that the defenders of the Alamo and the Texas rebels were fighting to keep their slaves, and trying to steal Mexico’s land. The Texians were opposing a dictator who had changed the terms under which they had come to the territory, and anyone familiar with the American character could have predicted what would happen when a despot demanded that they submit to unelected authority. The Alamo was a fight for liberty and democracy, and its martyrs exemplified sacrifice for principle and country.
While the Alamo was under siege, the provisional Texas government organized at Washington-on-the-Brazos. On March 2, the convention declared independence and the Republic of Texas was born, at least on paper. The Alamo’s garrison showed its support for independence from Mexico by sending its own delegates to the convention.While they were unaware that Texas had declared independence, the roughly 200 Alamo defenders stayed at their post waiting on help from the settlements. Among them were lawyers, doctors, farmers and a former congressman and famous frontiersman from Tennessee named David Crockett. While the youngest was 16 and the oldest defender was Gordon C. Jennings, age 56, most defenders were in their twenties. Most were Anglo, but there were a handful of native Tejano defenders as well. Legendary knife fighter and land speculator James Bowie was in command before falling ill and sharing duties with Travis. Several women and children were inside the Alamo, including 15-month-old Angelina Dickinson. Just before the final battle, Travis placed his ring around her neck, knowing she would likely be spared. One of the last messages from the Alamo was a note from Travis asking friends to take care of his young son Charles.
The final attack came before dawn on March 6, 1836. As Mexican troops charged toward the Alamo in the pre-dawn darkness, defenders rushed to the walls and fired into the darkness. Travis raced to the north wall but was soon killed. Bowie was most likely killed in his bed, while reports differ as to Crockett’s death. Many believe Crockett survived the initial attack but was put to death by Mexican soldiers soon afterward.
Mexican soldiers breached the north wall and flooded into the compound. The fierce battle centered on the old church, where defenders made a last stand.
Once again, I am re-posting the first Ethics Alarms Christmas post from way back in 2010, its first full year. (The last time I revived this post was in 2016.) I’m not inclined to change it, though I did fix some typos.
In the 2016 introduction, I wrote, “The ascendant attitude toward Christmas is both anti-religious and non-ethical.” That is still true. In my extended neighborhood, there are giant penguins, snowmen, Santas, dragons, unicorns, the Grinch and Christmas Storm Troopers on lawns, and exactly one manger or reference to Jesus. There is no mention of peace, good will or love. My wishes of “Merry Christmas!” are returned, I’d estimate, about 20% of the time. Often I get glares, because saying “Merry Christmas!” must mean that I have a MAGA cap in my closet.
Those who might be otherwise tempted to show some signs of faith may be intimidated by the Diversity Fascists, like this guy:
Yes, many people–they call themselves “progressives”— believe that a healthy national culture embracing love, charity, generosity and kindness is disrespectful. The culture seems to be capitulating to the bullying without a fight. The two most prominent Christmas movies on cable this year are the mildly cynical “A Christmas Story” and the wretched “Christmas Vacation,” which isn’t even a good Griswald movie, much less a decent Christmas movie. I have been searching for the original “Miracle on 34th Street”—yes, I know I haven’t finished the ethics review–and keep finding arguably the worst version, the one with Richard Attenborough playing Kris Kringle. “Four Christmases,” another bitter comedy, has appeared many times. “A Christmas Carol” is now rare fare, but we get many showings of “Scrooged,” with Tiny Tim played by MaryLou Retton.
Some of the Hallmark Christmas stations have been playing a Whitney Houston version of “A Christmas Song” that interjects “Happy Kwanza” in the lyrics. Thanks to John Legend, we now have a Christmastime ditty that endorses abortion.
Think about that a minute.
I don’t know how to reverse the damage already inflicted on our society, but I do know that we have to try.
The Ethics Alarms Ethics Guide to Frank Capra’s 1946 masterpiece “It’s A Wonderful Life,”perhaps the greatest ethics movies of all time, has become this blog’s official welcome to the holiday season. Once again, I have reviewed the post after another viewing of the film. It is a mark of the movie’s vitality that I always find something else of interest from an ethics perspective.
The movie is an important shared cultural touch-point,and exemplifies the reasons why I harp on cultural literacy as so vital to maintaining our nation’s connective tissue. The film teaches about values, family, sacrifice and human failings unlike any other. I hope its power and uniqueness disproves the assertion, made in one online debate here this year, that new cultural creations inevitably and effectively supersede older ones, which, like copies of copies, eventually the cultural values conveyed get fainter and less influential.
Last year I wrote with confidence, “No, they really don’t,” but now I am not so sure. In , I learned that my druggist, about 35, married and with children, had never seen the movie. I gave him a DVD over the summer, and suggested that he watch it with his whole family, which he said he would: he moved on to another CVS branch, so I have no idea if he did or will. I used to be amazed at how many people haven’t seen the movie; now I am not. Last year I wrote that my son’s girlfriend admitted that she hadn’t; this year he has a new girlfriend, and she hasn’t either.
The movie is in black and white, and many Gen Xers and Millennials disdain uncolored films the way I once avoided silent movies. Will anyone be watching “It’s A Wonderful Life” 20 years from now? I wonder. The movie begins in heaven, and has a strong religious undercurrent. Religion is increasingly mocked and marginalized today, and I see no signs that the trend is reversing. Aside from the nauseating Hallmark Christmas movies, most of this century’s holiday fair is openly cynical about Christmas and everything connected to it.
Here’s an example of how rapidly cultural touchpoints vanish: I’m going to poll how many readers remember this:
Deck us all with Boston Charlie, Walla Walla, Wash., an’ Kalamazoo!
Nora’s freezin’ on the trolley, Swaller dollar cauliflower alley-garoo!
Don’t we know archaic barrel Lullaby Lilla Boy, Louisville Lou?
Trolley Molly don’t love Harold, Boola boola Pensacoola hullabaloo!
Bark us all bow-wows of folly, Polly wolly cracker ‘n’ too-da-loo!
Donkey Bonny brays a carol, Antelope Cantaloupe, ‘lope with you!
Hunky Dory’s pop is lolly, Gaggin’ on the wagon, Willy, folly go through!
Chollie’s collie barks at Barrow, Harum scarum five alarm bung-a-loo!
Dunk us all in bowls of barley, Hinky dinky dink an’ polly voo!
Chilly Filly’s name is Chollie, Chollie Filly’s jolly chilly view halloo!
Bark us all bow-wows of folly, Double-bubble, toyland trouble! Woof, woof, woof!
Tizzy seas on melon collie! Dibble-dabble, scribble-scrabble! Goof, goof, goof!
Now just answer the poll, don’t go giving away the answer. Nobody knows all the lyrics that I just posted, nobody but the author ever did. The first verse, however, was once familiar.
Maybe there is hope: it was recently announced that a new musical adaptation of the movie may be coming to Broadway as early as next year. The songs will be written by Sir Paul McCartney, and interest in The Beatles is surging.
“It’s A Wonderful Life” would be an excellent basis for a middle school ethics course. I haven’t seen a better, richer film for that purpose come along since, and I’ve been looking. Despite the many ethics complexities and nuances that the film glosses over or distorts, its basic, core message is crucial to all human beings, and needs to be hammered into our skulls at regular intervals, far more often than once a year.
What is this message? In an earlier posting of The Guide I described it like this:
Everyone’s life does touch many others, and everyone has played a part in the chaotic ordering of random occurrences for good. Think about the children who have been born because you somehow were involved in the chain of events that linked their parents. And if you can’t think of something in your life that has a positive impact on someone–although there has to have been one, and probably many—then do something now. It doesn’t take much; sometimes a smile and a kind word is enough. Remembering the lessons of “It’s a Wonderful Life” really can make life more wonderful, and not just for you
Finally, I hope you all have a terrific Thanksgiving, and that the holiday season is joyous for all.
There are at least two more Comment of the Day candidates in the comment threads following the Bazelon post, which makes five out of 25 total comments, highest percentage ever. Here is #3, by doctormoreau, perhaps my favorite Comment of the Day on “Ethics Dunce: Professor Lara Bazelon”: