Tag Archives: The Confederate Statuary Ethics Train Wreck.

Ethics Dunce: Durham District Attorney Roger Echols

This is how a society erodes respect for the rule of law. It is a good way to pander to political correctness and social justice warrior jerks, though.

At the height of the mad fervor to tear down Confederate hero memorials and statues over the summer,  Takiyah Thompson, 22, Dante Strobino, 35, Ngoc Loan Tran, 24, and Peter Gilbert, 39. pulled down a century-old statue of a generic Confederate soldier in Durham, North Carolina. This was done in front in front of news cameras and during the day.

Thompson  is a student at North Carolina Central University, a black institution.  The three men belong to the Workers World Party, which  organized a Durham protest to piggy-back onto the Charlottesville, Virginia protests around the removal of a Statue of general Lee.

Notably, police spotted Tran at the court hearing for Thompson when a deputy asked him to help identify two people . Tran refused and he was arrested.

Tran explained the justification for the vandalism thusly:  “Monday night hundreds of people gathered in front of the statue, and it was the will of everyone there that that statue come down knowing that in the state of North Carolina there is no legal route for removing Confederate statues.”

Of course there is a legal route for removing statues. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/25/18: Your School Shooting Ethics Train Wreck Update [UPDATED]

Good Morning!

1  Addendum to the “Weapons of War” post: I almost included this in the post itself, but it was long enough. During the debates here over the Confederate statue-toppling orgies and the Charlottesville riot, we often heard the defense that Robert E. Lee, et al., were unworthy of statues, monuments and memorials because they were traitors. I always viewed this as a rationalization for the real reason the Confederates are being airbrushed out of our public history, which is that their political and social beliefs don’t measure up to 21st Century ethics. The “traitor” argument is a neat way to distinguish Robert E. Lee from slave-owners like George Washington.  However, as the post explains, the United States was founded on the principle that it is not treason for citizens to seek to create a new government when they concluded that the current one has abused its power and cannot be reformed. That is certainly what the Confederacy believed. Under the Founding documents, they had every right to leave the Union, and would have done so peacefully had Lincoln allowed it. Robert E. Lee was wrong, and he was a racist, but he was no traitor. By Jefferson’s formula that was ratified unanimously by the Continental Congress, he was a patriot.

2. Everybody’s flailing. President Trump floated the much-mocked “arm teachers” suggestion, and then used the cultural DeLorean to retrieve the “popular culture is too violent” explanation. The gun violence in the U.S. is very much driven by our culture, and pop culture both reflects and affects it. Hollywood made some efforts to tone down the violence last year; it also had the worst year at the box office in a quarter of a century, so we’ll see how long that lasts. The President just doesn’t understand the Constitution very well: the government can’t force video games, music, TV shows and movies to be less violent, but it can launch efforts to build a public consensus to dial back the fictional killing.

You know, like Tipper Gore’s effort to get the sex, obscenity and violence out of rap music. That sure worked well. The Obama approach would be to send out a menacing letter saying something like, “We recommend that you tone it down, but of course we can’t make you, but you know there are a lot of ways we could make your life miserable if you displease us, not that we would ever try to muscle you or anything since it you have the right of free speech. Just a word to the wise between friends. Nice little business you have there; it would be a shame if anything were to happen to it…”

The President’s critics sneered that he is “flailing” on the issue. I don’t see that he is flailing any more than anyone else. To the zealots, “flailing” means “not advocating the repeal of the Second Amendment.”

3. At least Vox is honest. In this article, left-wing Vox argues that the solution to gun violence “isn’t a big mystery,” but then only uses innuendo to explain what the solution is. Guess! here’s the biggest clue (emphasis mine): Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/14/18: Comfort Women, Presidential Health Lies, Pit Bulls And No “Goodbye Columbus”…Yet

Good morning!

1 Attack of the Dog Bigots. The 2015 Ethics Alarms post designating an anti-pit bull breed website “Unethical Website of the Month” was once again targeted by dog breed bigots and has been getting the same, mindless comments from hysterics that it has been recieving since the post went up.  I don’t allow comment threads to be polluted by propaganda, so I have posted an update requiring any comments to be substantive and to make a genuine effort to address the inconvenient facts I have laid out here over time, facts that the dog bigots routinely deny or ignore, and facts that virtually all experts in the dog field have confirmed.

I recommend  scanning the comment thread, however, for a reason unrelated to dogs. The commenters in the mold of the one who recently wrote this—“But tomorrow, and every day after, when ANOTHER pit bull mauls ANOTHER person, the nutters will take a break from their busy schedule of rampant drug use and domestic violence to jump onto the comments section of the news article to defend these useless pieces of canine garbage.”—are perfect examples of 1) the reasoning of racists and 2) individuals who no longer process information that challenges their belief system, so they simply ignore it all, deny it all, and just keep mouthing their ignorant manifestos.

They are indistinguishable in this regard from the indignant women who have now for three months running come up to me during a break in a legal ethics seminar, recited their feminist cant  talking points objecting to my accurate explanation of legal ethics priorities when the clash with political correctness, and then turned their back on me and walked away when I attempted to address their points.

2. A Japanese Ethics Train Wreck. The Japanese army forced captured Korean women, many thousands of them, to be their sex slaves, or “comfort women.” This is documented fact, and it also launched an ethics train wreck of unusually long duration.  The long-held official position of the post war Japanese government that South Korea’s complaints about these war crimes were either exaggerated or imaginary—the equivalent would be if the German government denied the Holocaust, which it has not—has undermined relations between those countries to this day. There is no end in sight, as this report explains.

What a mess. Japan’s current Prime Minister,  Shinzo Abe, was once a Comfort Women Denier. In  2015, the South Korean president, Park Geun-hye, signed an agreement with Abe  as a “final and irreversible” settlement of the controversy, including an official Japanese government apology and an $8.8 million fund to help provide care for the now elderly ex-“comfort women.” The damages were judged inadequate by critics, and Park was later impeached. Now the current South Korean president wants the deal to be renegotiated. Abe, however, rejected  the “additional measures” sought by Seoul, saying that, in essence, a deal’s a deal. He’s on strong ethical ground there, except that the 8 million was ridiculously low,  and Japan’s acceptance of its responsibility for the sex slave outrage has always been grudging at best.  Continue reading

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From “The Ethics Incompleteness Principle” Files: Memphis, Tennessee’s Confederate Statues

A better application of the Ethics Incompleteness Principle would be difficult to find than the decision by Memphis, Tennessee to remove a huge monument to Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, and an even larger heroic equestrian statue (above) of Nathan Bedford Forrest, swashbuckling Confederate general and (allegedly) the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan,  from two public parks.

As we have discussed here in great detail, I am unalterably opposed to the current mania among our Left-leaning friends and neighbors  of tearing down statues, monuments and memorials honoring  past historical figures because their lives, beliefs and character do not comport with current day standards or political norms.  This primitive exercise in historical censorship has been especially focused on famous and notable figures from the Confederacy, although recent efforts have targeted George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson and even Theodore Roosevelt. Of the attacks on memorials to Confederate figures, I wrote,

[ Union veterans]  didn’t think of the former Confederates as traitors, or racists, or slavery advocates. They, like the Union veterans, were just men of their times, caught up in a great political and human rights conflict that came too fast and too furiously for any of them to manage. They were caught in the same, violent maelstrom, and knew it even 50 years earlier. Soldiers on both side wrote how they admired the courage of the enemy combatants they were killing, because they knew they were, in all the ways that mattered, just like them. It was the Golden Rule.  After the war, these soldiers who had faced death at the hands of these same generals, officers and troops, did not begrudge them the honor of their statues and memorials, nor their families pride in the bravery of their loved ones.

Yet now,  self-righteous social justice censors who never took up arms for any cause and in many cases never would, employ their pitifully inadequate knowledge of history to proclaim all the Civil War’s combatants on the losing side as racists and traitors, and decree that they should be hidden from future generations in shame. We have honored men and women for the good that they represent, not the mistakes, sins and misconduct that are usually the product of the times and values in which they lived. In doing so, we leave clues, memories, controversies, differing views, and stories for new generations to consider and better understand their own culture and society, and how it came to be what it is.

Those who want to tear down monuments to the imperfect, whether they know it or not, are impeding knowledge, perspective, wisdom, and understanding. They want only one view of history, because they will only tolerate one that advances their ideology and values—just as the Americans of the past believed in their values. Foolishly, I suppose, they trusted future generations to act on their own ethical enlightenment without corrupting the historical record.

I feel strongly about this, as the tone of that post, far from my first on the subject, shows.

But… Continue reading

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Now THIS Is “Whataboutism”….

Oh, Glenn, Glenn, Glenn.

What gets into you sometimes?

I could ask that of a lot of conservatives right now.  Many of them, and there are far too many,  are looking for ways to rationalize supporting Roy Moore for the Senate in Alabama because he has an (R) next to his name. My favorite quote from “A Man For All Seasons” comes to mind: “It profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world… but for Wales?”  Wales is a bargain, compared to giving up one’s soul—integrity, values, self-respect, common decency, credibility— for the likes of Roy Moore. Even the most fanatic partisan has to accept that there are some depths to which no honorable person should  sink for pure political gain. Partisans who don’t accept that are themselves untrustworthy.

Moore’s candidacy was indefensible long before he was revealed as a stalker of teens when he was an assistant district attorney. The allegations—there was another one yesterday—are just fecal frosting on a poisonous cake. Republicans are saying, “Oh, everyone’s making too big a deal over the frosting. It won’t kill you.” What about the cake???

Yesterday Prof. Glenn Reynolds, a conservative blogger who often gets disoriented amidst his more extreme and less erudite readers, posted,

HOW CAN DEMOCRATS SUPPORT THIS? Roy Moore’s Democratic Challenger Recently Ran an Ad Praising the Confederate Army. I’m sure all the press folks will ask all the leading Democrats that question.

This is wrong in so many ways, it’s like a tangled ball of unethical yarn.

The Slate article linked is intellectually dishonest, politically-correct History for the Simple-Minded. Normally, Reynolds would be mocking it, which would require defending Democrat Doug Jones. Can’t have that! Jones has run a campaign ad spotlighting Col. William Calvin Oates of Alabama, the Confederate officer who led his troops in battle on Little Round Top against Maine soldiers led by Col. Joshua Chamberlain. It was one of the most memorable and important episodes at Gettysburg: Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/7/17: Election Day Edition

Good Morning!

1 It’s a rainy election day in Virginia, and the Democrats must be worried, since they are in full race-baiting mode. I know it was click-bait, but I check out the political sites and news aggregators on the right, hard right, middle, left and hard left, and here was ThinkProgress’s headline: Explicit racism is on the ballot today: If Ed Gillespie wins, the GOP’s transformation into a Trumpian racist party will be complete.

Read the post. If this is the way mainstream Democrats are thinking these days, either the country is doomed or the Democrats are. The essay shows that progressives have learned nothing, literally nothing, from Hillary Clinton’s defeat, especially the part of it that emanated from her express contempt for anyone who doesn’t cheer for the au currant leftist cant. If you don’t vote Democratic, you are deplorable—a racist, a sexist, a mouth-breathing moron. Such dehumanization of political and ideological opponents is anathema to democracy; its is the beating heart of totalitarianism. “You are unworthy of making decisions that affect us, the wise and virtuous, but don’t worry, we will use our power over you  for the greater good.” Now voting for unremarkable conservative  Ed Gillespie is explicit racism.

Just like Donald Trump. You see Gillespie wants to enforce immigration laws—this means he is xenophobic. He objects to NFL players making incoherent, revolving topic protests during the National Anthem, which means he’s anti-black, though many of the Kneelers aren’t black—but then Michael Brown was black, and had his hands up. Or something. All right, maybe he’s not the best person to be protesting over. Ask Colin Kaepernick to explain it. He’s Rosa Parks. Finally, Ed Gillespie opposes tearing down statutes of 19th Cnetiry historical figures because the increasingly radical Left wants to veto the nation’s history as part of its indoctrination strategy. This means, says ThinkProgress, that he’s pro-slavery, you know, just like John Kelly.

Barack Obama and his party were so effective at demonizing political opposition by calling critics racists and sexists that this malignant, democracy-curdling tactic is now a reflex with Democrats. It is unethical, dishonest and destructive. If Ed Gillespie wins, it might just show that smart, principled people are sick of being denigrated for having the ability to resist political correctness groupthink.

2. It’s also election day in New Jersey, where the almost certain election of a new Democratic governor puts an exclamation point on the fall of Chris Christie. A moderate conservative Republican with brains, guts (stop it), and communications skills, Christie might have shown how a balanced governing philosophy built on bi-partisan cooperation and compromise could work in a famously unethical state, and, with success, have led the national Republican Party away from divisive politics and toward responsible leadership. (Bill Clinton once had the same opportunity from the Left.) Christie, however, failed miserably, and it was largely (I said stop it!) a failure of ethics and character, culminating in his unforgivable alliance with Donald Trump. I marked him then as an Ethics Villain, and so he is.

In the end, civilizations flourish or  fall based on able and remarkable people rising to challenges and bringing the best of themselves to public service. I’m trying to think of the last time the United States benefited from one of those people. It’s been a while.

3. Now that Koigate has been debunked as fake news, unconscionable confirmation bias, and a new low of manufactured anti-Trump bile from the mainstream news media, the competition is on to top it. Here’s Mediaite on a “juicy” story from a former Trump bodyguard and aide Keith Schiller, quoting Politico:

“…when the White House kitchen staff couldn’t match the satisfaction of a quarter-pounder with cheese (no pickles, extra ketchup) and a fried apple pie, it was Schiller, bodyguard and Trump whisperer, who would head down New York Avenue to McDonald’s on a stealth fast food run.”

Headline: “Trump Bodyguard Went On McDonald’s Runs for POTUS Because WH Chefs Couldn’t Replicate Quarter Pounders.” I’m sure Maxine Waters, Charles Blow, Larry Tribe and Richard Painter will soon explain why this is impeachable. Abuse of power. Bad taste. If Trump owned MacDonald’s, it would be self-enrichment.

The post also has a fat joke about Chris Christie. Continue reading

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John Kelly’s Statement About General Lee And The Civil War Was Fair, Benign And Accurate, And The Historians And Journalists Claiming Otherwise Have Exposed Themselves And Their Professions, Not Kelly, And Not The President

[I’m sorry: this post is long. The provocation for it is serious, however, and I couldn’t thoroughly shred this despicable media effort to make what John Kelly said yesterday something it was not and not even close to being without going over my word limit. I hope you read it. It’s hard to try to counter a concerted effort to mislead and lie to the public from this tiny outpost.]

This development yesterday really depressed me. Either the leftward professions are losing their collective minds, or they are so dedicated to turning the public against the president that they will engage in complete fabrication. Both conclusions are frightening.

Yesterday, CNN reporter April Ryan thought it was appropriate to end a White House press briefing by shouting, “Sarah, is slavery wrong? Sarah, is slavery wrong? Does this administration think that slavery was wrong? Sarah, does this administration believe slavery was wrong?” What, other than a complete absence of fairness and professionalism, provoked this unethical outburst? It was this statement by Trump Chief of Staff John Kelly, as he was interviewed by Fox News’ latest star, Laura Ingraham, regarding the The Confederate Statuary Ethics Train Wreck, specifically the Charlottesville controversy over the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. Here is Kelly’s entire statement:

“I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man.He was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state, which 150 years ago was more important than country. It was always loyalty to state first back in those days. Now it’s different today. But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War, and men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand.”

Based on that statement, April Ryan, and other hair-trigger “resistance” zealots, concluded that there was now a question whether the Trump administration “thinks slavery is wrong.”

Astounding.

But such is the dishonest and biased state of the news media today.

Let’s begin by examining the components of Kelly’s statement.

A. “I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man.”

There are no contemporary  accounts from anyone who knew Lee that he was not honorable, meaning honest, moral, ethical, and principled, the usual synonyms for honorable. I doubt Kelly was using the word in its most literal sense, “worthy of honor,” but he might have been, The argument is, and I would make it, that such traits a honesty, integrity, courage and other ethical values make any individual, famous or not, worthy of honor.

Lee was terribly, tragically wrong in his choice regarding which side to fight for during the Civil War. I am not an admirer of Lee for this reason. However, during his life there were many episodes where he exhibited exemplary character.  His immediate acceptance of responsibility for the failure of Pickett’s Charge was one, meeting his returning soldiers personally and exclaiming, “It was all my fault.” Another was his insistence that the Confederate army surrender rather than take to the hills in guerrilla resistance that might have extended the Civil War indefinitely.  Lee was flawed, and few men in history who were so admired by their contemporaries have made such a tragic mistake. That does not alter the fact that he was an honorable man.

The problem is that the modern Left does not believe that it is possible to be honorable and to not embrace the Left’s most fervently held principles, even if you lived centuries ago. This is, in part, why  our politics are so uncivil, and why partisans today show less respect to those with differing opinions on public policy than Lee and many of his generation showed to members of the enemy army who were trying to kill them.

B. “He was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state, which 150 years ago was more important than country. It was always loyalty to state first back in those days. Now it’s different today.”

This is a statement of fact. Lee’s position was certainly consistent with Kelly’s statement. In some kind of magic, un-negotiated  conspiracy to take what Kelly said to mean something he emphatically did not say, one writer after another has claimed that Kelly was arguing that the Civil War wasn’t about slavery. Here, for example, is Vox:

“Though this view has long been promoted and even taught in schools around the country, there has been a new push to recognize the cause of the Civil War as rooted in a disagreement about slavery and the refusal of Southern states to give it up…”

Though what view?  Kelly wasn’t opining on the reason for the Civil War, or what was the root cause. He was talking about Robert E. Lee. Is there any question that if Virginia had decided not to secede—as of course it seceded over slavery—Lee would have fought with the Union? I have never read any historian or biographer who said otherwise. Here’s Biography.com, usually an uncontroversial distiller of historical consensus in its Lee biography:

“But Lee’s commitment to the Army was superseded by his commitment to Virginia. After turning down an offer from President Abraham Lincoln to command the Union forces, Lee resigned from the military and returned home. While Lee had misgivings about centering a war on the slavery issue, after Virginia voted to secede from the nation on April 17, 1861, Lee agreed to help lead the Confederate forces.”

That’s what Kelly said. Not every soldier thought that loyalty to state over country was the correct priority, and Kelly wasn’t saying that Lee’s position was the dominant one. It was a common one, however. 1861 was less than a hundred years after the culturally diverse Colonies came together to fight the American Revolution, and the states had been fighting over the balance of power between the federal and state governments almost non-stop ever since. Kelly was acknowledging the fact that Lee’s extreme state loyalty seems odd today, when so many citizens live in several states during their lives, and move from one to another without giving it a second thought. 150 years ago, citizen bonds to the state of their birth was a far, far greater issue, and being asked to take up arms to fight against that state would have posed a wrenching dilemma for most Americans.

That is all Kelly said. If one doesn’t understand the context of Lee’s decision to fight on the same side as the defenders of slavery, then one cannot begin to assess Lee’s status as an American figure. Anyone leaping from that statement to “the Civil War wasn’t fought over slavery” is engaging in a clinical level of confirmation bias, and that’s exactly where the attacks on Kelly are coming from. This statement, that doesn’t mention slavery, isn’t about the root cases of the Civil War, and that only explicates Robert E. Lee’s  overwhelming reason for fighting for the Confederacy, is being deliberately distorted to show that President Trump and others in his administration are apologists for racism. The fact that nothing in Kelly’s words even hint at that didn’t stop this example of mass race-baiting, based on air. Continue reading

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