In Defense Of The Terrorist: Clarence Darrow Eulogy For John Brown

In the ongoing debate here regarding what constitutes a great American—sparked by reader valkygrrl’s guest post on the topic as well as the President’s recent remarks at Mount Rushmore, the question of whether abolitionist John Brown belongs has been the most contentious. I don’t believe that one can ethically assign a murderer and law-breaker (and unraveling fanatic) like Brown to the “great American” category,  but a figure unquestionably smarter than I whom I believe unquestionably was  one of the greatest Americans did, and his argument deserves attention and thought. That figure is Clarence Darrow.

Brown was much admired by Darrow’s iconoclast father, Amirus Darrow, and his mother was an anti-slavery activist, turning the Darrow home into a stop on the Underground Railroad.  Born in 1857, Darrow was too young to remember the pre-Civil War period, and Brown was hanged in 1859. Nonetheless, the admiration for Brown was passed on from father to son, and there are moments in Darrow’s career where his actions seemed consistent with Brown’s philosophy of the ends justifying the means when the stakes were important enough, notably the conduct that almost got him disbarred and imprisoned for jury tampering. (Darrow was guilty, but was acquitted because he had a great defense attorney—Clarence Darrow.)

John Brown was a hero of Darrow’s , who didn’t have many: the abolitionist, Voltaire, and his friend and mentor John Peter Altgeld were about it, as far as I can tell. Periodically, on the anniversary of Brown’s birthday (May 8), Darrow would give a speech eulogizing Brown to a progressive group. Its final sentence is the most quoted:

The radical of today is the conservative of tomorrow, and other martyrs take up the work through other nights, and the dumb and stupid world plants its weary feet upon the slippery sand, soaked by their blood, and the world moves on.

Incredibly, Darrow’s John Brown Eulogy is impossible to find on the web now; I have no idea why. (Enter that sentence in Google, and what pops up is…me!) Thus I am  reproducing Darrow’s speech here, for two purposes: first, to let you consider Clarence Darrow ‘s argument for why we should honor John Brown, and second, to have an online home for it.

It is not the whole speech, but my own shortened and edited version. I am still hunting for the whole document in a form I can post (I have it in several books), and when I find it, I’ll substitute the complete version for this: Continue reading

Unethical…And Stupid…Quote Of The Month: Minneapolis Restaurant Owner Ruhel Islam

“Let my building burn, Justice needs to be served, put those officers in jail.”

—-Ruhel Islam, owner of the restaurant Gandhi Mahal, in Minneapolis, quoted by his daughter in the Facebook post above.

Is it my imagination, or has the police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis generated even more idiotic quotes and responses than these events usually do?

The quote from Ruehl Islam sets some kind of a record: dumbest quote ever to be praised by someone who isn’t a closed-head injury victim, perhaps? The now completely ideologically-deranged New York Magazine, wrote of it,

Published on the restaurant’s Facebook page and since widely shared, Hafsa’s post asks people not to worry, and ends the update with a message of support for their neighbors. Hundreds have responded with messages of support and pride, with one person writing “thank you for living your public life with such integrity and continual love for your community.” Many others have shared similar comments about Ruhel, an immigrant from Bahar Mordan, Bangladesh….Ruhel’s words have been shared across social media by everyone from San Francisco Chronicle restaurant critic Soleil Ho, a former Minneapolis resident, to television host and chef Andrew Zimmern and activist DeRay Mckesson, as a powerful expression of the value of human life over property.

Well, maybe if your goal is to engage in cynical grandstanding and signal warped virtues to a community gone nuts, such a quote isn’t so dumb. Surely regarding it as “a powerful expression of the value of human life over property” is, however. How, exactly, does shrugging off the illegal destruction of private property in a mass tantrum benefit human life? Let’s see: according to a local listing, these are the businesses damaged by the riots, or as CNN calls them, “mostly peaceful protests”: Continue reading

Democrats Now Stand With Bill Maher On Tara Reade And Joe Biden, Which Tells Us All We Need To Know About #MeToo And Democrats

Former actress Rose McGowan, an alleged Harvey Weinstein rape victim, among the most dedicated #MeToo advocates, and a pariah in Hollywood for her penchant for calling out harassers (like Ben Affleck) and grandstanding hypocrites (like Alyssa Milano), directly accused Bill Maher of sexual harassment yesterday in a tweet:

This won’t trouble Maher or presumably his fans and viewers, because Maher has made it crystal clear for his entire, ugly career as a clown nose on/ clown nose off pundit that he doesn’t see anything wrong with sexual harassment. He believes women exist on earth for his convenience and pleasure. He is a pure misogynist, who has repeatedly called women who don’t conform to his ideological cast “cunts” and “twats” (as his audience guffaws). When Bill Clinton was battling through Monica Madness, Maher opined that Clinton should have said, ‘Yeah, I had sex with an intern, and I deserve to, because I’m President!” (Maher wasn’t kidding, just as Clinton  wasn’t kidding when he essentially confirmed Maher’s assumption by writing in his autobiography that he exploited Lewinsky “because he could.”) It goes without saying that Maher also thinks that #MeToo is a crock.

And I guess, based on so many of its vocal  supporters’ words and conduct recently, he must be right.

Do I believe that Maher said what McGowan claims? The former “Scream” star is perpetually furious, but she has also been consistently honest. Maher used (and probably still uses) his panels as a dating bar (Rose was really hot in the 90s), and his quote sounds like something he might say to an attractive  female guest; heck, he’s said worse on the air. Bill hasn’t responded yet; I bet that if he does, he’ll say something like, “Sure, I said it. Why shouldn’t I? It’s true!” And his peanut gallery will cheer.

This brings us to Maher’s pronouncement on his show last week regarding the Tara Reade accusation, which she elaborated on in a graphic interview with former NBC News and Fox News journalist Megyn Kelly last week. Continue reading

Ethics Warm-Up, V-E Day 75th Anniversary Edition

To my father and all the rest…

Thank-you for saving the world.

1. About that Eva Murry story. The last we heard from Eva Murry, she was telling the story of how creepy Joe Biden complimented her on the size of her breasts 12 years ago, when she was 14. Ethics Alarms noted at the time that the woman’s detailed account had no effect on the credibility of Tara Reade’s allegations one way or the other, since we already knew Biden was creepy.  However,earlier this week Fox News reported : 

A past organizer for Delaware’s First State Gridiron Dinner now says Joe Biden did not attend the event in 2008, after a woman recently claimed the former vice president and senator sexually harassed her there, Fox News has learned….

Local news reports from the time said Biden was having sinus surgery earlier that week — to address issues including a deviated septum — and was scheduled to be out of work for the whole week.

At the time, his spokeswoman said that she “anticipates that he’ll be out for the remainder of the week recovering at his home in Wilmington,” according to a report in the News Journal at the time.

Murry’s aunt, Christine O’Donnell (of “I am not a witch” fame) says she remembers Murry talking about the event at the time, and  stood by her viece’s accusation, telling Fox,

“Yes, it could have been another year. So what? She was a teenager when I ran for office. It doesn’t make it okay. It happened when I was running for office against him. If it was 2007, that makes it even worse.”

But it couldn’t have been in 2007 either, because records place him in Iowa that evening.

All anyone can figure out is that young Murry ran into a different creep that she thought was Biden, though that seems unlikely too. What’s going on here? Why would the woman subject herself to national scrutiny and embarrassment by telling her story in such detail when it wasn’t true?

Since the new evidence came to light, she has been notably silent. That’s not right; she made an accusation against Biden, and needs to follow up with either an explanation or an apology. Continue reading

Monday Morning Warm-Up, 5/4/2020: Six Reasons To Be Cynical [Corrected]

“May The Forthe be with you!”

As Daffy Duck would thay…

1. Following a familiar unethical pattern...Eva Murry’s allegation about Joe Biden making a remark about her breasts at a political even when  she was 14 seems to have been decisively debunked. Biden’s schedule shows he didn’t attend the event, and the chair at the time confirms he wasn’t there.

What would possess someone like Murry to be so vocal and self-righteous about something that didn’t happen? As with the Kavanaugh mess, subsequent fake stories undermine the main one. Even though they have nothing to do with each other, Murry’s fiction, if Biden really didn’t attend the event, increases cynicism about Tara Reade’s account.

2. What a surprise…Harvard’s dedication to feminism stops at the bank vault. Harvard, while it was violating the constitutional rights of male students by punishing them if they belonged to men-only clubs off-campus, was also giving aid and comfort to convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. The regime of first female Harvard President Drew Faust was full of dubious and virtue-signaling measures to ensure the esteemed university was sufficiently woke, including discriminating against one ethnic group (Asian-Americans) to elevate another ethnic group (African-Americans). Yet when it came to its attitude toward an infamous sexual predator, what mattered to Faust and Friends was, you guessed it, money.

Epstein, who was provided his own office at the school following his 2008 sweetheart plea deal that incredibly allowed him a quick release from prison to continue his <cough!> hobby, visited the campus more than 40 times between 2010 and 2018 often accompanied by young women who acted as his assistants, according to a report on the Harvard-Epstein alliance released last week. Apparently Epstein’s primary value to Harvard was connecting academics and scholars with financiers, VIPs and other sources of contributions, including Wall Street wheeler-dealer Leon Black, the founder and chief executive officer of Apollo Global Management Inc., one of the world’s largest private equity funds. Epstein also provided access to his pal Bill Clinton and retail billionaire Leslie Wexner. Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month: Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn)

“The reason that we’re in the crisis that we are today is not because of anything that China did,  it’s not because of what the WHO did, it’s because of what the President did. He didn’t take this virus seriously. We weren’t going to be able to keep every case out of United States, but we didn’t need tens of thousands this of people dying.”

—Senator Murphy, in an appearance with CNN’s Anderson Cooper

The Democrats have decided, I presume in a conference call or something, that their best chance at winning the fall elections is to accuse Donald Trump of killing people. For an opposing party, indeed for any responsible citizen, to deliberately try to undermine trust in a President during a national emergency is unprecedented and irresponsible, as well as dangerous.This is what the Democrats have come to.

The statement was made in the midst of  comments in response to Cooper’s question, “You believe that the president made mistakes that ended up costing lives?” Maybe Murphy does believe that; like the rest of the “resistance” and his party, it is beneficial for him to believe that, so confirmation bias applies. Nonetheless, whatever he believes, the belief is unprovable, and as the death toll from the Wuhan virus appears to be falling not just short, but dramatically short of the models and “expert” projections, the accusation is transparently desperate. 80,000 Americans died of the good, old-fashioned flu virus in the winter of 2017. The estimates now for the Wuhan virus, more deadly, more easily transmitted with no vaccine or proven treatment, are as low as 100,000. It is obvious that the position of the Axis of Unethical Conduct (AUC),that is the Democrats, the “resistance” and the news media, is that whatever happens, it would have been better if Trump did something different than he did. The question is only how many Americans are either so hateful or so gullible that they will accept that.

“Absolutely,” Murphy replied to Anderson. “The fact that we didn’t start buying up medical supplies, masks, gowns, face shields early on, when we were begging for that funding in early February. The fact that the president didn’t put in place an effective plan to develop new tests. The fact that he didn’t work with governors and mayors to push social distancing measures earlier has cost lives.”

Earlier! Sooner! Continue reading

A Lesson In Ultimate Utilitarianism: Israel’s Nazi Hit Man

Israeli special agent, Otto Skorzeny. No, I’m not kidding.

There are few better examples of how extreme versions of “the ends justifies the means” can be adopted as an ethical course than the strange, and oddly under-publicized, story of Otto Skorzeny.

Do you know the tale? I didn’t, until today. This is a good day to consider it, being the anniversary of the date Hitler’s minions invaded Czechoslovakia.

 Skorzeny was born in Vienna in June 1908. He joined Austria’s branch of the Nazi Party in 1931 when he was 23. He worshipped Hitler. When the Nazi army invaded Poland in 1939, Skorzeny left his construction firm and volunteered  for the  SS Panzer division that served as Hitler’s personal bodyguard force. He took part in battles in Russia and Poland, and was probably involved in exterminating Jews.

In 1944, Skorzeny handpicked 150 soldiers in a plan to foil the Allies after they landed in Normandy on D-Day. Dressing his men in captured U.S. uniforms, he procured captured American tanks for  to use in attacking and confusing Allied troops from behind their own lines. This mission more than anything else earned Skorzeny two years of interrogation, imprisonment and trial after the war ended. Somehow, despite being one of Hitler’s favorite SS officers, he still managed to be acquitted in his war crime trial in 1947. The Führer had even awarded Skorzeny the army’s most prestigious medal, the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross, for leading the rescue operation that rescued Benito Mussolini from his captors.

After  Skorzeny’s acquittal, newspapers called him one of the most dangerous Nazi criminals still unpunished. Typically brazen, he capitalized on the notoriety by publishing his memoirs,  including the 1957 book “Skorzeny’s Special Missions: The Autobiography of Hitler’s Commando Ace.”

Skorzeny did not reveal in his books how he escaped from the American military authorities who held him for a year after his acquittal, perhaps saving him from more charges and another trial before the Nuremberg tribunals. The escape was rumored to have been assisted by the CIA’s predecessor agency, the OSS, which he assisted in some special operations after the war. Continue reading

The US Soccer Equal Pay Law Suit: No, Megan, Truth Is Not Misogyny

The U.S. women put on their angry faces and inside-out jerseys in protest…

I would add to that title “And you know it,” but I’m not really sure United States Women’s National Team captain and star Megan Rapinoe do know it. She’s an extreme ideologue, and facts are just obstacles to activists like her. Even if it’s sincere, however, her ridiculous indignation—- because the defense to a legal action based on posturing rather than reality made a predictable and irrefutable point— is ethically indefensible, except on the basis that it worked.

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen or heard of something quite like this. An opposing party has thrown a fit over factual representations in an adversary court filing, on the grounds that it’s mean to assert the truth, and people are taking that complaint seriously.

Wow.

The United States Women’s National Team is suing U.S. Soccer for gender discrimination because the men’s team, they argue, is paid more “for the same work.” In its counter motion opposing the motion by the women’s lawyers for the court to grant them summary judgment—a routine and usually futile request—the lawyers for U.S. Soccer  replied in part that

“The point is that the job of [a men’s national team] player (competing against senior men’s national teams) requires a higher level of skill based on speed and strength than does the job of [a women’s national team] player (competing against senior women’s national teams).”

Continue reading

It’s Time Again For The Ethics Alarms Mailbag! The Question: Wait, What? Your Vote In 2016 Was A Write In?

Here I was, all set to write a substantial post  updating the newly launched Coronavirus Ethics Train  Wreck, and I encountered this question in the comments to today’s Warm-up, in reaction to my reply to another commenter:

“Wait…at the time you were lecturing all the commentariat about how it was unethical to “throw away your vote” by not voting for one of the two major political party candidates? When did you change your mind on that a do a write-in?”

The questioner was Tim Levier, one of five active Ethics Alarms regular commenters who date back to the old, still off-line (but coming back!) Ethics Scoreboard, so attention had to be paid. If he could have missed my late campaign reversal of the position he described–I would describe my stated logic a bit differently, as “the lesser of two evils is still the lesser of two evils—then that critical moment could have been missed by anyone, or even everyone.

Thus I went back into the October and November 2016 archives, which was fascinating.:

  • As always when I do this, I start wondering what became of some previously active commenters. Whither THE Bill? Where have you gone, wyogranny, T Bird, carcarwhite, joed68?

I know I take this too personally, but it still bothers me.

  • You know, this is damn good blog: thorough, extensive, unpredictable, well-written, diverse, funny, educational. I like it! The only one that comes close to being as interesting without descending into periodic eccentric weirdness or ideological rigidity was the old Popehat, and that’s gone now.  I worked hard on it that year, and have ever since. It should have a lot more traffic and influence than it does, but that’s a reflection on the inadequacies and bad taste of those who don’t come here. I’m proud of the product.

There. I said it.

  • The first time I expressed doubt in my position that I would have to hold back my gorge, defy my principles, and vote for Hillary Clinton was earlier than I thought. It was here, on September 25, 2016. The subject of the post was Clinton’s campaign manager, Robbie Mook, saying that  debate moderators should run interference for her and intervene to contradict and rebut Trump’s assertions, “unlike every other Presidential debate and every legitimate and fair debate of any kind, where that responsibility rests with the debaters.”

I responded to his  Unethical Quote Of The Month by writing, in part, Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Minnesota’s Cottage Grove United Methodist Church

They’re going to have to update this, I think…

I believe that it’s fair to say that no church should ever make an ethics dunce of itself. This, unfortunately, is an extreme example. [Full disclosure: My father was raised as a Methodist, and my father in law was a Methodist minister and scholar.] The rationalizations and  double talk came fast and furious, and there even was a Jumbo in the mix.

Praise the Lord!

Rev. Dan Wetterstrom, lead pastor at the Woodbury and Cottage Grove branches of the United Methodist Church, sent out letters to parishioners that the Cottage Grove branch would close on June 1, then open, refurbished, in the Fall seeking the membership of young families with children. Current members who don’t fit that description will not be welcome. The letter encouraged the exiles  to worship elsewhere.

The good news is that the old, childless members should be able to come back into the fold  in 15 to18 months.

“The ends justify the means” is not a Christian, moral nor ethical philosophy, but that is the reasoning being applied by Wetterstrom and his church’s administrators to deal with what they see as a demographic crisis. Young people are staying away (perhaps because they have noticed the rank hypocrisy and stupidity in the church, indeed many churches, engage in, but I’m just guessing) and the current flock keeps getting older and older.

Yecchh. Continue reading