The Novelist Is Scared By Red Caps. What’s The Ethical Response To That?

“AAAAAAAIIIIIII!!!! Take it away! TAKE IT AWAY!!!”

Rebecca Makkai, an American novelist of moderate success, tweeted,

Fascinating!  And her tweet raises some trenchant ethics questions:

1. How should good Americans regard someone who suggests that it isn’t normal to support the elected President of the United States?

Answer: As a bad American, as well as stunningly arrogant. The impulse is fascist: those who don’t agree with the political positions of Makkai and her ilk are not merely wrong, mistaken or misguided, but abnormal. It is particularly subversive to pronounce those who are behaving exactly as U.S. citizens have behaved and have been expected to behave since 1789 as not being normal, while Makkai, one of the divisive and destructive members of the “resistance” attempting to undermine the nation’s unity and institutions, pose as respectable.

2. Does an individual’s aversion to red caps because one variety carries a slogan deemed objectionable to the Trump Deranged qualify as a sensitivity anyone is obligated to observe in their choice of headgear? Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/17/2019: The Deluded, The Narrative, “The Squad,” The Hedgehog, And Other Things…

PERK UP! There’s ethics to think about!

(I’m talking to myself here…I’m sure you’re fine)

1. Today’s ridiculous note on the heartbreak of  Self-Awareness Deficit. Republican Mark Sanford, the defeated  former U.S. congressman from South Carolina who is best known for having to resign as governor after going AWOL to visit his South American mistress, said yesterday that  he is considering mounting a primary challenge to President Donald Trump. (Psssst! Mark! The RNC has already said that there would be no debates, and the primaries are a mere formality.) Sanford says he will decide in the next month or so whether to oppose Trump for the 2020 presidential nomination.

The basis on which to run against Trump is character and ethics. Of the entire universe of legitimate potential challengers, an ex-governor who escaped impeachment by resigning after making a spectacle of himself has to be near the bottom, if not lying on it.

Somebody tell him.

2. Update: The Red Sox and the late Ken Poulsen’s son are still resisting common decency, I’m sorry to report. I wrote about the on-field presentation to Brett Poulsen last week, when he was awarded the 1967 World Series ring that his father had inexplicably never received despite being part of the that magical Red Sox season. Then we learned that the Sox infielder’s daughter Kendra had never been contacted by the team or her brother, so she and her children, Ken’s grandchildren had been left out of the ceremony. I’ve tried to alert the team and have passed the story along to a baseball writer friend, so far to no avail. Last night, NESN, the Red Sox-owned cable network, interviewed Brett in the stands during the Sox-Blue Jays game. Once again, the false impression was left that he is the only offspring of Ken Poulsen.

I’m sorry Kendra. This is wrong. I’ll keep trying. Continue reading

The Big Lies Of The “Resistance”: A Directory. Big Lie #3: “Trump Is A Fascist/Hitler/Dictator/Monster/White Supremacist”

 Big Lie #3: “Trump Is A Fascist/Hitler/Dictator/Monster/White Supremacist” is the Big Lie of longest duration wielded against Donald Trump, since it arose early in the 2016 campaign, before Trump had been nominated. It’s a framing lie, designed to color everything he does or says within an established bias. If there is some interpretation of his words, however far-fetched, that can be used to support the premise that Trump is a fascist/Hitler/dictator/monster/white supremacist, it will be. #3 is also useful for spreading fear and hate. It is a direct cognitive dissonance ploy: on the cognitive dissonance scale,

…all of those labels are about as low as they can be in the value systems of most Americans. Linking any individual to them, even a President, effectively pulls his positive rations down without evidence or support. Continue reading

The Big Lies Of The “Resistance”: A Directory. Big Lie #7: “Trump Is Anti-LGBT”

You may notice that this series jumped from Big Lie #2 all the way to #7. I apologize for the confusion: it will be remedied when the directory is complete and the Big Lies are lined up in the proper order.

However, this Big Lie, which I have been hearing and reading from  my many theater friends and colleagues, was nicely highlighted today by the Washington Blade, an LGTB publication of long standing in the District.  It chose today to publish an extensive post called “All of Trump’s anti-LGBT actions since last Pride (plus a few welcome moves).”  The piece nicely shows why the accusation of anti-gay bias is a politically convenient fabrication.

Big Lie #7 was launched immediately after the election. Gay rights activists decided to join in the attacks on Trump by their fellow progressive base members, even though Trump’s history and statements suggested that he was the most gay-friendly Presidential candidate in history.

“This morning, LGBTQ people — particularly young people and their parents — woke up scared and filled with questions about our country and their place in it,” Sarah McBride, national spokeswoman for the LGBT Left Human Rights Campaign, said. McBride added that “much of our community’s progress over the last eight years is at risk after yesterday’s election.”

This was fantasy, fear-mongering, and deliberate misrepresentation. The greatest threat to gays was the presence of Mike Pence, who had been adamantly against gay marriage as Governor of Indiana, as Trump’s running mate. He was chosen  to  appeal to the Religious Right, and the Mid-West.  Vice Presidents  are almost always chosen for their states, regions, and constituencies, not ideological affinity with the President.  Ike chose Nixon as his VP, and detested him. Kennedy disagreed with LBJ on many issues, but needed Texas in the electoral vote column.. George H.W. Bush was well-Left of Reagan, but Ronnie needed to mollify the Republican center (back when it had one). I think it is fair to regard Pence as anti-gay, but Vice Presidents are not Presidents.

Nobody called Barack Obama an idiot just because Joe Biden is. Continue reading

The Big Lies Of The “Resistance”: A Directory. Big Lie #2: “Trump Is Not A Legitimate President”

The Directory of the Big Lies cynically and unethically employed by the President’s political opponents continues with…

Big Lie #2. “Trump is not a legitimate President”

Although this was not the first of the Big Lies, it was the foundation of all the others to come. The assertion, seeded by Hillary Clinton and spread by pundits and the news media, is pure poison to the democracy, national unity, the public trust, and the national welfare.

It boggles the mind that progressives and Democrats have been willing to risk so much harm to the United States and its culture for the sole purpose of waging political warfare against the President of the United States. I have to believe that at other times in our history, any party considering such a strategy would be stopped short by a respected and responsible leader. Incredibly, the Democrats didn’t have one (and still don’t). The obvious individual who could have minimized the political and cultural carnage was Barack Obama. He had neither the courage, the character nor the bi-partisan concern for the nation to do so. This was one more failure of leadership for the most wildly over-praised President in U.S. history.

The most damning aspect of the Democrats’ refusal after the  election to follow the tradition of all previous losing parties is that they had lectured Donald Trump, when they were certain of victory, about how he was obligated to accept the will of the voters.

Hillary Clinton, another leader of the party who could have killed this insidious  tactic in its cradle, was very clear on how essential such acceptance was—when she thought Trump would be the loser:

“To say you won’t respect the results of the election, that is a direct threat to our democracy,” she said at a rally at a late October rally the University of North Carolina. “We’ve been around 240 years. We’ve had free and fair elections and we’ve accepted the outcomes when we may not have liked them and that is what must be expected of anyone standing on a debate stage during a general election.” Later, she said unequivocally that “The peaceful transfer of power is one of the things that makes America America.”

For once, Hillary was right. Unable to accept her own responsibility for her shocking defeat, however, she engaged in the exact conduct that she had—correctly—condemned as dangerous, and allowed (and I assume encouraged)  her party to employ it—to this day—as its signature Big Lie. Continue reading

The Big Lies Of The “Resistance”: A Directory. Big Lie #1: Trump Is Just A Reality TV Star

Introduction

The “Big Lie” strategy of public opinion manipulation, most infamously championed by Adolf Hitler and his propaganda master Joseph Goebbels, has, in sinister fashion, become a routine and ubiquitous component of the Left’s efforts to remove President Donald J. Trump from office without having to defeat him at the polls. One of the most publicized Big Lies, that the President had “colluded” with the Russian government to “steal” the Presidential election from Hillary Clinton was recently exposed as such by the results of the Mueller investigation, and Democrats, with blazing speed, replaced it with another Big Lie  that there is a “Constitutional crisis.”

Becoming addicted to relying on Big Lies as a political strategy is not the sign of ethical political parties, movements, or ideologies.

Perhaps there is a useful distinction between Big Lies and “false narratives,” but I can’t define one. Both are intentional falsehoods designed to frame events in a confounding and deceptive manner, so public policy debates either begin with them as assumptions, thus warping the discussion, or they result in permanent bias, distrust and suspicion of the lie/narrative’s target. For simplicity’s sake, because I believe it is fair to do so, and also because “Big Lie” more accurately reflects just how unethical the tactic is, that is the term I will use in this and the posts to come

Big Lie #1. “Trump is just a reality TV star.” Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 6/9/2019: “Big Lie” Week !

Good Morning!

1. “Big Lie” Week coming! Hopefully today, definitely over the next week, I will begin a surprisingly long series of posts, each devoted to one of the Big Lies being used by the “resistance,” as well as the news media and the Democratic Party, to try to destroy the administration of President Trump and, if possible, remove him from office without the inconvenience of an election. I began a single post on the topic with the goal of producing a list, but it became evident that the result would be too long.

I will assemble all of the Big Lies into a single list when all the posts are done.

I should have done this earlier. The Big Lies are being thrown around more thickly than ever, nearly blotting out the sun, as Democratic Party hysteria over the failure of the Mueller Report to confirm the Russian collusion fantasy has spawned a desperate push for impeachment. In yesterday’s Times, for example, there was another screed from one of the paper’s full-time “resistance” columnists, Timothy Egan, this one proclaiming under the headline that “the president is corroding and destabilizing the institutions of democracy.” That’s on my Big Lie list, though I won’t get to it until the fourth or fifth post. I was curious: did Egan have actual evidence of such corroding and destabilizing? He did not. Here are his examples, which I have to assume are the best he could come up with: Continue reading