Tag Archives: tribalism

Ethics Quote Of The Week: Andrew Sullivan

“When elite universities shift their entire worldview away from liberal education as we have long known it toward the imperatives of an identity-based “social justice” movement, the broader culture is in danger of drifting away from liberal democracy as well. If elites believe that the core truth of our society is a system of interlocking and oppressive power structures based around immutable characteristics like race or sex or sexual orientation, then sooner rather than later, this will be reflected in our culture at large.”

      —-Andrew Sullivan, in a New York Magazine essay titled “We All Live On Campus Now”.

Once again, blogger-turned-essayist Andrew Sullivan arrives at an accurate assessment of an ethics problem in society without being able to avoid his own biases in trying to assess where the problem came from, which would be extremely easy if he were capable of objectivity. I recommend the whole piece, though Sullivan is an infuriating truth-teller and iconoclast trapped inside an angry gay man who can’t muster  the integrity to directly criticize his sexual politics allies.  Incredibly, Sullivan substantially blames Donald Trump for the phenomenon he assails here, which is ahistorical in the extreme, bordering on delusion:

“Polarization has made this worse — because on the left, moderation now seems like a surrender to white nationalism, and because on the right, white identity politics has overwhelmed moderate conservatism. And Trump plays a critical role. His crude, bigoted version of identity politics seems to require an equal and opposite reaction. And I completely understand this impulse. Living in this period is to experience a daily, even hourly, psychological hazing from the bigot-in-chief. And when this white straight man revels in his torment of those unlike him — and does so with utter impunity among his supporters — there’s a huge temptation to respond in kind.”

Good God, Andrew, show some backbone. Trump, as can be documented and proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, was the “response in kind” to the identity-based social justice movement that was weaponized and reached the point of madness under the leadership of Barack Obama. Why should anyone listen to you when you equivocate like this and make false excuses for what was spinning out of control before anyone thought Donald Trump had as good a chance of becoming President as Martin O’Malley? The University of Missouri meltdown that triggered an across-the-nation epidemic of identify politics warfare occurred in 2015. You know that, and you still write this fiction? What’s the matter with you? Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/26/1918: It’s Incompetence Friday!

Good Mronign!

Competence is often not regarded as an ethical value, but it is one of the most important of them all. It is also one of the most commonly breached, usually with the rationalization that “everyone makes mistakes.”

1 “The Nip” Redux  In a legendary “Seinfeld” episode, Elaine’s Christmas card features a photo, taken by amateur photographer and inveterate screw-up Kramer, in which one of her nipples is exposed. Kramer, however, was an admitted amateur. What is Vanity Fair’s alleged professionals’ excuse for its current cover (I’m not talking about the nauseating pandering to Hollywood it represents, for which there is no excuse), which shows actress Reese Witherspoon with three legs?

Vanity Fair may have been too focused on photoshopping out actor James Franco, who was in the original photo but became model-non-grata when he was accused of sexual harassment, and as #MeToo has taught us, an accusation is all the due process these male scum deserve.

2. Segue Alert! And speaking of Hollywood, there has been much ballyhoo over the fact that the nominated Best Actresses this year play feisty, unglamorous, tough, in several cases outright repulsive women. Question: Who likes watching such characters (and more are on the way)? The Academy snubbed the most popular film with a female star, Gail Gadot in “Wonder Woman,” who probably is still too politically incorrect because men—ick!—find her attractive. 2017 was a catastrophically bad year at the box office, meaning that Hollywood proved incompetent at its job, with is making movies people want to see. It also displayed incompetence—not to mention arrogance, bias, condescension, hypocrisy and stupidity–by shooting off its various mouths on political matters, making the entire film industry, which should be a unifying force in the culture, polarizing, like everything else in 2018.

The Hollywood Reporter has a report about the role politics plays in the Academy Award voting; this has always been true, but never more than now. I cannot imagine who would care what or who wins the statuettes when it is all transparent political grandstanding, virtue-signalling and an attempt to meet quotas. Next crisis on the horizon: Hispanic artists are gearing up to show how they have been statistically insufficiently represented in nominations and awards. I presume Asians will do likewise. Why are there not more roles and awards for the differently-abled? Trans performers? Hollywood is committed to the Left, the Left is committed to tribalism, and tribalism has nothing to do with popular entertainment.

Or democracy. But I digress. Continue reading

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Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Essay Of The Month: Andrew Sullivan”

luckyesteeyoreman‘s first comment here was in 2012. He has participated in our colloquy with passion humor and perception through over a thousand comments He has had Comments of the Day before, but not like this one—I’m note sure anyone has made a comment like this one. His catalyst was Andrew Sullivan’s essay on tribalism, and the comment was lost for a day in WordPress Hell, then languished as my time to spend on Ethics Alarms was taken up by transportation and the annoying things called “teaching ethics” and “making money, though not nearly enough.”

I’m sorry it took so long to post this. It’s thoughtful and pure, unadulterated luckyesteeyoreman, which translates loosely into “worth the time to read it.”

Here is luckyesteeyoreman‘s epic Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Essay Of The Month: Andrew Sullivan:

(I don’t have a title for this – only sub-section titles. I beg pardon in advance for unreadability. Maybe it should be titled “Lucky’s Madcap Mangled Manifesto #1 of 2017.”)

Andrew Sullivan, in his essay “America Wasn’t Built for Humans” (alternately titled, “Can Our Democracy Survive Tribalism?”) did not address two particular opposed tribes. I will discuss them, giving them my own choices for labels. I will blame one of the two tribes entirely for the current state of human affairs. I cannot envision any resolution of the conflict, other than the virtual annihilation of one or both tribes. Make no mistake: The conflict and its impacts are historically cyclical, humanity-wide, and universal – not some uniquely American problem.

TRIBES IN CONFLICT

In one tribe are the “governists.” One might be more comfortable with calling that tribe “governmentalists.”

Members of the governist tribe view governance and its machinations – created, continually reformed, and sustained by an ever-omnipresent government, a source and repository of ultimate power – as the sole institution that is essential to the fulfillment of human needs. To the governists, governance must embody ultimate means of power and control over all people, over all other life forms, and over all resources known to be required for (1) sustainment of the lives that are subject to control, and (2) sustainment of the needed means for such power and control.

In the tribe that is irreconcilably at conflict with the governists are the “ownwayists.”

Ownwayists view themselves, as individuals, as sources and repositories of need-fulfilling power – power independent of the powers of government. Ownwayists view their individual power largely as sufficient for need fulfillment, but, limited by their own individual human limitations – where that power is not additionally limited by external forces. Thus ownwayists are unavoidably and eternally conflicted within themselves, over the need for government – powers external to themselves – to combine and orchestrate individuals’ powers synergistically.

A PAUSE: A reader might perceive that statists and individualists are synonyms for governists and ownwayists, respectively. I would have used those terms, if I had felt confident that they are accurate for the tribalism I am aiming to discuss here. I leave to others smarter than myself the resolution of any issue about the best, or correct, labels for the two tribes. In this essay, I will proceed using forms of governist and ownwayist.

The conflict between governists and ownwayists is exposed when ownwayists perceive (correctly or incorrectly) that governists are creating, or have created (knowingly or unknowingly) what I am calling Synergy Despoliation (SD). I could elaborate further here on that specific phenomenon, but have chosen not to. SD can evidence itself in, for examples, inefficiencies of governance; failures of governments to enable the meeting of human needs; and impositions of insufficiencies upon governed individuals which often, but not always, stem from excessive government control of the powers of those individuals.

TRIBES AND TRIBALISMS 

DUALITY…

BLENDING, EVEN SWITCHING

Taking of power from individuals by governments happens, whether those so deprived are ownwayists or governists, and whether those with the power to deprive are ownwayists or governists operating within governments. Acquiring, holding and wielding of governance powers is not necessarily more coveted by any given governist than by any given ownwayist. Nor are there (yet) any inherent obstacles to access to governance powers that completely preclude any ownwayist from holding a position in government that is coveted by any governists. Any given individual can be conflicted internally, between co-opting oneself to governism and relying tenaciously and exclusively upon ownwayism, and on what extents one would embrace both.

Governments will hire from both tribes. In some cases governments will “spawn,” even transition and transform, governists and ownwayists such that some individuals re-set, and even switch, tribal affiliations. In the long run, however, any given government and its governance will eventually favor the existence, pre-eminence, and ways of the most “pure” governists.

In the final outcome, throughout history, governments and their governance continue to rise and fall, regardless of their tribal demographics. The conflict between the two tribes continues throughout history, too, regardless of the forms or tribal demographics of governments.

NATURAL SELECTION AND ITS RESULTS Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/28/2017: Late For My Ethics CLE Seminar Edition!

 

GOOD MORNING!

1 Incredible! The stupid NFL Anthem Protest Ethics Train Wreck is still dominating the newscasts this morning. Now football fans are organizing boycotts and burning NFL merchandise. Meanwhile, I heard a quick exchange this morning where an advocate for “The Knee” insisted that “it’s not about the National Anthem” and the retort was, “If it’s not about the National Anthem, why is the protest during the National Anthem?” Good question. The Ethics Alarms Protest Checklist could have prevented this whole mess. That, or the simple responsible act of the NFL telling its players that they were free to make whatever political statements and protests they chose, out of uniform and as private citizens, but when they attempted to do so on the NFL’s time, on the field, the they were doing harm to the team, the league and the game.

2. Speaking of tribalism, what can you call Michelle Obama’s statement encouraging gender bias (as long as it is favor of the right gender) with her statement that “Any woman who voted against Hillary Clinton voted against their own voice”? I’ll give the former First Lady credit, though: she has always been a hard left demagogue, but for the most part completely avoided venting these views while her husband in office. That was prudent, appropriate and wise.

3. Why does the President keep saying that the U.S. is the most heavily taxed nation in the world? This has been debunked over and over. Has no one told him?

4. Conservative news sources and blogs are thrilled that ex-CIA agent Valerie Plame, the central figure in a false Democratic narrative concocted to embarrass the Bush Administration, embarrassed herself by tweeting anti-Semitic sentiments. Alan Dershowitz explains her conduct in excruciating detail here, but Plame is a non-entity. The Right’s obsession with is story is pure revenge. She’s not important, the Plame Affair is not only old news, but also an event that not one in 10,000 Americans could explain if their lives depended on it, and the fact that one woman whom Democrats tried to make into a martyr over a decade ago for partisan gain is a bigot just isn’t news.

5. Ugh—late for my seminar!

 

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Filed under Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Sports

Ethics Essay Of The Month: Andrew Sullivan

I used to read Andrew Sullivan’ blog regularly: he was smart, gutsy,a good writer, and willing to buck conventional wisdom> then the gay marriage controversy heated up—Sullivan is gay– and Andrew lost it. His focus and once-reliable rationality became distorted by anger, bias and emotion. He eventually gave up blogging because he determined that it was emotionally unhealthy; maybe he finally recognized that he needed a break. By that time, I had stopped reading him.

His brilliant essay in New York Magazine suggest that Andrew has his groove back, which means that his observation are thoughtful and worth pondering. The topic is tribalism, and he writes in part,

Over the past couple of decades in America, the enduring, complicated divides of ideology, geography, party, class, religion, and race have mutated into something deeper, simpler to map, and therefore much more ominous. I don’t just mean the rise of political polarization (although that’s how it often expresses itself), nor the rise of political violence (the domestic terrorism of the late 1960s and ’70s was far worse), nor even this country’s ancient black-white racial conflict (though its potency endures).

I mean a new and compounding combination of all these differences into two coherent tribes, eerily balanced in political power, fighting not just to advance their own side but to provoke, condemn, and defeat the other.

I mean two tribes whose mutual incomprehension and loathing can drown out their love of country, each of whom scans current events almost entirely to see if they advance not so much their country’s interests but their own. I mean two tribes where one contains most racial minorities and the other is disproportionately white; where one tribe lives on the coasts and in the cities and the other is scattered across a rural and exurban expanse; where one tribe holds on to traditional faith and the other is increasingly contemptuous of religion altogether; where one is viscerally nationalist and the other’s outlook is increasingly global; where each dominates a major political party; and, most dangerously, where both are growing in intensity as they move further apart.

Sullivan goes on to explain that this development is antithetical to the model the Founders intended for their new nation:

The project of American democracy — to live beyond such tribal identities, to construct a society based on the individual, to see ourselves as citizens of a people’s republic, to place religion off-limits, and even in recent years to embrace a multiracial and post-religious society — was always an extremely precarious endeavor. It rested, from the beginning, on an 18th-century hope that deep divides can be bridged by a culture of compromise, and that emotion can be defeated by reason. It failed once, spectacularly, in the most brutal civil war any Western democracy has experienced in modern times. And here we are, in an equally tribal era, with a deeply divisive president who is suddenly scrambling Washington’s political alignments, about to find out if we can prevent it from failing again.

Bingo.

Sullivan explains the evolutionary basis of tribalism and why it is so deeply rooted in the human psyche. Then he writes, Continue reading

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Leading Candidate For Most Unethical Opinion Column Of 2016: Daily Beast Editor Goldie Taylor

Ox-Bow-still-3

How a major U.S. news and public affairs website can produce an article like Daily Beast Editor-At-Large Goldie Taylor’s is a fertile subject for inquiry, as is the question of how much the ignorant, un-American, values-warping assertions it contains are reinforced throughout our rising generations’ education and socialization. Those investigations must wait for another day, when I have the stomach for it.

For now, let’s just consider what Taylor wrote. It is titled “Six Baltimore Cops Killed Freddie Gray. The System Set Them Free,” an unethical headline that kindly warns us regarding the awfulness to come. No, six Baltimore cops did not kill Freddie Gray, as far as we, or the system, knows based on the evidence. That Taylor would state such an unproven and unprovable statement as fact immediately makes her guilty of disinformation, and shows that she is willfully ignorant of the principles of American justice, as well as too hateful and biased to comprehend them. Damn right the system set them free. That’s because in the Freddie Gray cases the system worked spectacularly well, despite the best efforts of an incompetent and biased prosecutor to make it do otherwise.

And that was just the title. The rest is infinitely worse: if you are feeling sturdy, read it all here. If not, the selected highlights (lowlights?) to follow will suffice.

Taylor wrote early on, Continue reading

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As The Fourth Officer Charged In Freddie Gray’s Death Is Correctly Acquitted, What Do African Americans Mean By “Accountable”? [ Partially Restored ]

Lt__Brian_Rice

In Baltimore, Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams acquitted Lt. Brian Rice of all charges  related to Freddie Gray’s arrest and death. As he had with two other officers charged in the case (the trial of the third ended in a hung jury), Judge Williams cleared Rice, ruling that the prosecution hadn’t proved its case. This was the result widely predicted by legal ethics, because it was apparent that State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby had rushed the decision to prosecute and proceeded without sufficient investigation or evidence.

Williams said prosecutors failed to meet their burden of proving the charges against Rice beyond a reasonable doubt, and instead had asked  the court to rely on “presumptions or assumptions.” He said that the court “cannot be swayed by sympathy, prejudice or public opinion.”

The result spurred a predictable response from activists.”So far, nobody’s been guilty for this man’s death,” said protester Dornell Brown. “Nobody’s been held accountable. Verdict after verdict after verdict, they’ve been getting off. Who’s gonna be held accountable for that man’s death?”  “This is a man who had chain of command responsibility for Freddie Gray and so he should be held responsible and accountable for what happened to Freddie Gray,” Brian Dolge, another protester said. Protester Arthur Johnson, who has held a sign outside of each of the four trials of the officers  connected with Gray’s death, said,

“It’s just what I and the community expected. You’ve got an individual that interacts with six other individuals over something trivial and that individual ends up dead and we can’t even get reckless endangerment.”

[ NOTICE: This is all I could recover from the original post, which was up, then disappeared when some glitch crashed it with the last Melania post. More than a thousand words followed, and it was, I think, an important post, but I have neither the time nor the heart to try to reconstruct it. So, with apologies, I will summarize the main points

. I also apologize for the comments to that post, which somehow ended up with Melania, where they now make no sense. I had to delete them. Ugh. This has never happened before. I hope it doesn’t happen again., though because I don’t know why it happened at all, that is just a hope.]

In summation:

1. These statements represent a false definition of accountability and justice. The concept appears to be that any time a black citizen dies at the hands of a police officer without incontrovertible  proof that the citizen was threatening the life of the officer with a deadly weapon, accountability mandates criminal charges, a trial, and a conviction. Anything less is not justice or accountability.

2. This is not American justice, and should not be. No charges should be brought without probable cause and sufficient evidence to convict. No conviction should occur unless a fair trial finds an officer guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

3. The version of justice and accountability that black activists are promoting is ancient tribal justice, primitive justice based on “an eye for an eye” and vengeance. Unless blood pays for blood, there has been no accountability.

4.  Disgracefully, States Attorney Marilyn Mosby pandered to this dangerous and retrograde version of  accountability and justice, further entrenching it and validating it in Baltimore and the black community nationally.

5. In fact, there has been accountability for the death of  Gray. Baltimore paid a multi-million dollar settlement to Gray’s family for the acts of the city’s employees resulting in Gray’s demise. It is likely that some of the police officers, perhaps all, will face administrative discipline.

6. Why does the African-American community so widely reject the evolved justice system of modern America? Sociologists can argue about that. I believe it is a result of frustration, history, the problem of living in high crime areas, and confirmation bias. There is also great and dangerous ignorance across all segments of the public regarding how the justice system works, and why. Tribal justice, like gang justice, is simple: one of us has dies, so the killer must be punished. The details don’t matter. It takes no knowledge or understanding of jurisprudence to conclude that if “one of us” is hurt or killed, the responsible party has to suffer.

7. There will be no resolution to the current societal divide  and racial distrust until there is a threshold consensus on what accountability and justice means in this society. What has occurred in the Gray trials is justice. The prosecution failed its burden of proof. African Americans benefit from that standards of justice too.

8. Unless some eminent, trusted, respected, persuasive, and influential black leaders have the courage to confront black activists and make them understand that the versions of accountability and justice they are demonstrating for are destructive, divisive and wrong, the police/black and black/white conflicts will become more bitter.

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