Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/25/17
Good Morning, everyone!
[I thought I had posted this two hours ago! I’m sorry!]
1. Re President Trump’s latest anti-news media rant: American journalism’s abandonment of partisan neutrality, competence and professionalism has become the single greatest threat to the nation’s functioning democracy, along with the erosion of public trust that this has caused. I have previously endorsed President Trump’s earlier statement that the news media has become an enemy of the people it is supposed to serve. However, saying, as he did this week, that journalists don’t “love America” is incompetent and irresponsible.
But what else is new. Journalists just over-overwhelmingly hate him, and cannot muster the professionalism to do their duties fairly as a result. (Norah O’ Donnell actually interrupted Trump’s anti-journalism rant to call him a liar—nice. A network news operation with professional standards would suspend her for that. ) To be fair to the President, his use of language and comprehension of it is devoid of nuance. I presume that to him, saying that the news media hates America, hates him, and is the enemy of the people all mean the same thing.
2. Let’s keep track of which journalists and politicians relate Hurricane Harvey to climate change, or cite the dangerous storm as more evidence that the “consensus” is correct. This is the first major hurricane in 12 years, in defiance of virtually all predictions and climate change models, which told us that the warming earth would lead to more frequent violent storms, not fewer. Of course, the sudden and unexpected dearth of hurricanes during the entire Obama administration (no, Super Storm Sandy was not a hurricane) also doesn’t prove that climate change is a crock. But every single individual, activist, meteorologist, reporter, talking head, Democrat and Al Gore Fan Club member that points to Harney and says, “See???” is proving that he or she isn’t interested in the truth, just in furthering an agenda.
3. We shouldn’t allow California to secede, but it will be tempting, if it ever comes to that. Continue reading
Comment of the Day: “Yes, Virginia, There Is A White Supremacist Teacher Principle”
It is seductively easy to be certain about one’s analysis of controversial issues if you simplify them to the point of distortion. This is what politicians do, and it is often impossible to tell whether they are trying to deceive, just don’t understand the issue at hand, or are deliberately ignoring inconvenient facts to advance an agenda. Sometimes it is all three. The Civil War, as the recent debate over Confederate statues again illustrates, is a classic example of this phenomenon, and has been since the war itself began. Southerners saw their cause as just, because they were fighting for the right to determine the shape of their own culture, a right they felt was embodied in the Constitution itself. Since that culture included slavery, to assert that the South had a measure of law and ethics on its side has routinely dismissed as, and simplifies as, sympathizing with slaveholders. (As an aside, I wonder if the censorious Left will redouble its efforts to get “Gone With The Wind” exiled from television permanently. I’m betting yes.)
Arguments about what the Civil War was fought over have been taking on the tenor of the old Miller Beer commercials: “Less filling!” “More taste,” or perhaps the Certs ads: “Certs is a breath mint!” “Certs is a candy mint!” “STOP you’re both right!” To his great credit, texagg04 accepted the challenge of trying to clarify the complexities of the “root causes of the Civil War” confusion in a concise comment (the topic has filled long scholarly books). He did an excellent job, and as he wrote as he began his explanation, the complexities matter. They usually do.
Here is texaggo4’s Comment of the Day on the post,Yes, Virginia, There Is A White Supremicist Teacher Principle:
…The South seceded to defend against what it believed would be the Republican plan to eradicate slavery via the National level of government.
Slavery is why the South seceded – Slavery could be said to be a type of Final Cause of secession.
But that said, slavery was merely the topic of the question, “Who has final authority to make significant economic decisions within the individual states: The States or the National level of government?” State powers — those not delegated to the Union — was the issue to be answered as it pertained to slavery. So “States Rights” could be said to be a type of Formal Cause of secession.
There was NO war at that point, because secession, prior to the Civil War, was widely regarded as a perfectly legal course for States *voluntarily* part of a Union to do.
Stopping secession, that is preserving the Union status quo, is *why* hostilities began. Continue reading
Ethics Observations On The Post-Election Freak-Out, or “A Nation of Assholes” Reconsidered
I have to adapt, with acknowledgement, a long-running gag wielded by Prof. Glenn Reynolds on his iconic conservative website Instapundit thus:
“I wrote if Donald Trump was elected President, we’d have a nation of assholes, and I was RIGHT!”
The problem is that the joke isn’t funny in this case. It’s tragic. What I am seeing in the news, watching on social media and reading on the web and in editorial pages shows me that the last eight years have done even more damage to American unity and ethics than I had realized.
First, a brief defense of the word “asshole.” It is a vulgar term, and I fully expect President Trump to use it in a press conference or rant some day. I first employed it here in 2010 to describe Julian Assange. I trust nobody will take issue with that decision. ( “Assange’s real priority is Assange, and everything and everyone else is secondary. Luckily, there is a word for such people, a useful label that will help us assess his actions and motives. Asshole.”)
Next was Rev. Terry Jones in 2011. Remember him? He was the self-righteous pastor who announced that he was going to publicly burn the Koran, knowing that the act would incite anti-American riots abroad, and probably get people killed. I wrote,
“What do you call someone who pours gasoline on a brush fire to get attention? Jerk is too mild. What do you call someone who intentionally makes a difficult problem of international perception even more difficult—intentionally? Fool is too kind. Unethical, my staple, is too abstract. There just is no civil term for someone like Jones. He is an asshole. There are others running loose right now—Julian Assange, Michael Moore, Charlie Sheen—but none come close to Jones.”
Frankly, I don’t know how Donald Trump escaped that last sentence.
Last year, as part of my plea to get the Republican Party and its primary voters to be civicly responsible Americans and prevent the nomination of Donald Trump—in my most fevered nightmares, like the ones where my son’s head has turned into an eggbeater and he is dating Miley Cyrus, I never conceived that Trump would actually be elected—I explained that having a President, always the nation’s most influential role model, who spoke and acted like Trump did would transform the culture of the U.S. and give us a whole generation of boorish, mean-spirited, impulsive and self-righteous young citizens, of which misogyny would only be the tip of the metaphorical iceberg. I still fear that this will be the effect of the Trump years, even if he proves to be a popular and successful president. Especially, if he is a popular and successful president.
What I did not fully comprehend is how the divisive actions and rhetoric emanating from the White House, prominent progressives and the complicit popular culture and news media have already turned a substantial segment of the public into assholes. There have now been four days of violent tantrums across the U.S. as “disappointed” progressives, Democrats and illegal aliens “protest” the results of the election. MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, an old-school Democrat and unabashed lover of the political process, was gobsmacked, despite his network’s official derogation of Donald Trump.
“What kind of a statement is it really there to make?” Matthews asked. “They lost!”
Of course, there is no statement, just self-indictments, like “We think we know what is best, and will scream and set fires until we get it,” “We have no respect for anyone who disagrees with us,” and “We only believe in the institutions of the nation we live in when they do what we want.” Most obvious of all: “If you don’t fall into lockstep with the policies and rhetoric of the last eight years, you’re a racist.”
Or perhaps “We’re assholes” is clear enough. They are assholes nourished and encouraged by the Obama/ Democratic party culture of arrogant and intolerant progressivism, the demonization of sincere dissent, and the ends justify the means.
OBSERVATIONS: Continue reading
To The Un-American Secessionists
Led by Texans, the White House is being deluged with petitions from all around the nation asking that various states be allowed to secede from the U.S. because the prospect of another four years of President Obama is so heinous. My immediate reaction is that this proves that conservatives are lazier than progressives, whose solution to a similar disappointment with parties reversed in 2004 was to pack up and move to Canada, or at least to make noises about it. Conservatives apparently want to stay at home and leave the U.S.too. How convenient.
In 2004, when liberals and Democrats were acting like spoiled brats, I posted the following essay entitled “Escape to Canada and the Ethics of Democracy.” I think it is instructive to re-publish this post unedited to clarify what is wrong with the conservative tantrum of 2012. Oh, I could have changed “left” to “right,” Canada to Texas and Bush to Obama and Alec Baldwin to Ted Nugent, but it hardly seemed necessary, for my diagnosis and conclusions are exactly the same, just with a different group. It also seems prudent to leave the essay in its original form to remind smug liberals like Jon Stewart, now having a ball mocking Republicans, that Democrats disgraced themselves in a similar manner not that long ago. Being a hysteric, an alarmist, a bad citizen and a poor loser isn’t confined to members of one partisan group—it just seems that way at the moment. Now the conservatives are the silly people who are rejecting the principles of self-government that they were fervently lecturing us about, because, you see, those principles didn’t work out their way…this time.
Here is “Escape to Canada and the Ethics of Democracy,” from The Ethics Scoreboard on November 17, 2004: Continue reading
Alizia Tyler’s Comment of the Day predictably set off another round of debates relating to the Civil War. There are few episodes in our history that are so rich with ethics and leadership controversies, so it is not surprising that Lincoln, secession, slavery, the Confederacy, Lee and other objects of contention keep finding their way here, most recently in connection with the relentless Confederate Statutory Ethics Train Wreck.
Red Pill Ethics has made an impressive entry in this fascinating and ever-green category. Here is his Comment of the Day on the post,”Comment Of The Day: “Pre-Thanksgiving Day Ethics Wrap-Up, 11/27/2019””….I’ll be back at the end.