From The Mouths Of Babes…Cultural Poison

A recent question to Phillip Galanes, the advice columnist whose “Social Q’s” feature for the New York Times has frequently sparked Ethics Alarms essays, was fraught with larger significance.

A mother said that her 12-year-old daughter had a a sticker on her water bottle quoting Dr. Seuss: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” The girl’s friend told her that  systemic racism made that statement false for many Americans, so the sticker was racist. The daughter then peeled off the sticker. “What’s a mother to do?” was the gist of the inquirer’s appeal. Continue reading

Wow—Is This The Most Contrived Feminist Complaint Ever Put Into Print?

Actress Lindsay Crouse has an op-ed in the New York Times called Why Don’t Women Get Comebacks Like Tiger Woods?” (Thanks to Althouse for pointing me to it: I tend to avoid the Sunday Times Review section since it became a repetitious Trump-bashing fest week after week.) I like and admire Lindsay, whom I knew in college; she was two years ahead of me. She’s one of my favorite actresses, quirky and versatile.  I also think it’s cool that she’s the daughter of famed Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright/producer Russell Crouse, who named her after his partner, Howard Lindsey. It’s as if George S. Kaufman named his son “Hart,” or Fred Ebb named his daughter “Kander.”  But I don’t know what she was thinking to write this long, illogical whine about an imaginary variety of gender bias.

Here’s Crouse’s argument, condensed, in her own words: Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Ca)

This is rich. Ethics Alarms has previously flagged the apparently uncontrollable race-baiting by Democratic Congresswoman and Congressional Black Caucus member Barbara Lee, But I did not see this coming. After she lost her bid today to become the first black woman elected to a House leadership position when she lost the vote to lead the Caucus to Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, Lee blamed ageism and sexism, since, of course, blaming race would have been ridiculous.

“I’m a black woman and the institutional barriers are still there, so we just keep fighting,” Lee said.

It would do well for our rising generations, especially in the black community, for their elected leaders to model personal accountability rather than establishing the perpetual Get Out Of Responsibility Free card of “Everybody is biased against me because I’m ____________,” which is how Lee, and to be fair, most of the Congressional Black Caucus handles virtually every defeat, every argument, and every piece of criticism.

The real reason Lee didn’t have the votes is that victim-mongering is just about the only tool in her box: she isn’t very bright, and has uttered some of the most laughable statements on any member of Congress, which is quite an accomplishment. My personal favorite was when she opposed any military opposition to ISIS, saying, “I support strictly humanitarian efforts to prevent genocide in Iraq.” In 2014, I wrote, “An elected official who would utter such intellectually and morally bankrupt gibberish in public has disqualified herself for responsible office, as it makes almost everything about her qualifications suspect—her intelligence, her honesty, her judgment, her education, her sanity.” I strongly suspect that no one who works with Lee in or out of the Democratic Party has any illusions about her abilities.

No, Congresswoman. It’s not racism, sexism or ageism. It’s you.

“U.S. Race Relations Have Finally Reached The Point Where They Make No Sense Whatsoever” Sunday #2: The Ol’ Miss Banana Peel Saga

Honestly, I thought this was a hoax story. I still hope it might be, and if it isn’t, it should be. If it is true, the episode all by itself is signature significance proving that the U.S. race problem has turned into cultural insanity.

Last weekend, leaders from the University of Mississippi’s Greek Life group held  a three-day at Camp Hopewell in Lafayette County, designed to “build leaders and bring the campus closer together.” It went spectacular wrong as a result of a banana peel. It really did.

The group included student members of the Panhellenic Council, the National Pan-Hellenic Council and the Interfraternity Council. The retreat was organized by Fraternity and Sorority Life and the national group IMPACT,  a campus-based leadership institute designed to foster improved relationships among campus leaders through such events. Saturday morning, the participants ate breakfast together, and the breakfast options included various fruit, including bananas. Breakfast was followed by a discussion session on race relations at Ole Miss.

Shortly thereafter, three students noticed a banana peel in a tree. This was taken as intentional racist symbolism. and the rest of the day was occupied by heated debate regarded racist symbols. Senior accounting major Ryan Swanson eventually stood up and admitted that he put the banana peel in the tree when he could not find a trash receptacle nearby.

[Aside: I once did exactly the same thing on a Boy Scout hike.]

Never mind. It didn’t matter that this was not a racist act. The banana peel continued to be the focus of intense debate.  Like a good social justice patsy, Swanson fell on his sword. “I want to sincerely apologize for the events that took place this past weekend,” Swanson told the college paper afterwards. “Although unintentional, there is no excuse for the pain that was caused to members of our community.” Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Catching Up On “Instersectionality,” And Finally Paying Attention”

These do not exist.

My heart sank when the I saw that the extremely lively debate following yesterday’s post about “intersectionality” had sparked a posting of “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Paula McIntosh, who either was time traveling  from 1947 or who was awakened from a coma in 1988 and set it to paper.  The list was out of date then, and it is 29 years old now: one of my favorite aspects of perpetual victim-mongers is that they always pretend that no progress has been made in ethics and human relations, because progress puts them out of business. 

I had to debunk this thing, but there were other priorities hanging over me. Fortunately, reader Isaac took up the challenge. This is often the case in Ethics Alarms, where the remarkable reader base either assists me in doing my job, or, as in this case, does it for me, often better than I could. Isaac chose humor to do the job here, and looking over the material, that might have been the kindest course.

Here is Isaac’s epic Comment of the Day on the post, “Catching Up On “Instersectionality And Finally Paying Attention.” (I’ll have a few comments at the end.)

I wish to thank Deery for sharing about the “Invisible Knapsack” of 26 White Privileges invented by someone named McIntosh. I had never heard of it and am eager to unpack all of unseen ways that the White-spiracy has gifted me with an implicit advantage over my colored people friends. By knowing what my white privilege affords me, I can now exploit it and achieve my highest potential! Let’s dive in.

—-“1. I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.”—-

That can’t be right, and I don’t just mean the sentence structure. My neighborhood in Riverside County, California is about 65% Latino and 15% Black. And I can’t afford to move. I like it here. But if I did want to move to Orange County or Malibu or whatever and hang around fellow Whites all day, I can’t afford it. Maybe McIntosh can connect me to the secret White Privilege Office that will hook me up with a McMansion in Irvine.

—-“2. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area, which I can afford and in which I would want to live.”—–

Seriously, McIntosh? I just went over this. If it costs more than a one-bedroom apartment in Perris, I CAN’T afford it. Who is McIntosh and why does she believe that being White gets you real-estate discounts?

—-“3. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.”—-

My neighbors have been pretty cool except for the three or four people who have robbed me or smashed some of my property. Is this the realization of my White privilege or do I still have untapped benefits?

—-“4. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.”—-

I got kicked out of a gift store once as a teenager, but to be fair, I WAS shoplifting at the time.

I’ve only been unfairly followed or harassed while shopping a few times. But I checked with some of my Brown and Black friends, and they ALSO had only been followed or harassed while shopping a few times. That number should be WAY higher for them than for me. What kind of white privilege is this? Why are my benefits not notable?

—-5. “I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.”—-

To check my privilege in this area I turned on the television and looked at a newspaper, and was surprised to find that yes, there were quite a few white people there. Sweet, privilege! But it gets better! I checked Wikipedia and found out that White people make up almost two thirds of the population of America! Wow! How can a group of people that make up 63% of a country’s population also be seen on the television and newspapers constantly? It’s gotta be a conspiracy, baby! A sweet, sweet, white conspiracy.

—-“6. When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.”—- Continue reading

The Doctor, The Emergency And The Flight Attendant: A Depressing Ethics Tale With No Ethical Resolution In Sight

Was it race, gender, youth, all of them, or none of them?

Was it race, gender, youth, all of them, or none of them?

Tamika Cross, a young OB-GYN flying Delta from Detroit to Minneapolis,  heard flight attendants calling for medical assistance when a passenger  man two rows in front of her was found to be unconscious. Dr. Cross raised her hand, only to be told, according to Cross’s subsequent Facebook post on the incident, “Oh no, sweetie, put your hand down. We are looking for actual physicians or nurses or some type of medical personnel. We don’t have time to talk to you.”

Cross says she tried to  explain that she was a physician, but was “cut off by condescending remarks,” from the attendant. A moment later, when there was a second call for medical assistance and Cross again indicated that she was ready to help, the same flight attendant said, according to Cross, “Oh wow, you’re an actual physician?” She then quizzed Cross  about her credentials, area of practice, and where she worked. In the meantime, a white, middle-aged male passenger appeared, and Cross, she says, was dismissed.

On her now viral Facebook post, Dr. Cross concludes:

“She came and apologized to me several times and offering me Skymiles. I kindly refused. This is going higher than her. I don’t want Skymiles in exchange for blatant discrimination. Whether this was race, age, gender discrimination, it’s not right. She will not get away with this….and I will still get my Skymiles….”

What’s going on here?

Stipulated:

1. This was an emergency situation.

2. Dr. Cross sincerely felt insulted and treated with disrespect.

3. She also feels that she was the victim of stereotyping,, bias and prejudice.

4. Her account can be presumed to be an honest recounting of how she experienced the episode.

5. The Roshomon principles apply. We do not know how the flight attendant perceived the situation as it developed, and will never know, since the incident is already tainted with accusations of racism.

6. This was an emergency situation.

7. There is no way to determine what the flight attendant was thinking.

8. Despite all of the above, observers, analysts and others will be inclined see the event as confirmation of their own already determined beliefs and assumptions.

9. This was a single incident, involving a set of factors interacting in unpredictable ways.

Next, some ethical observations…. Continue reading

Observations On The Gadsden Flag Controversy

Gadsden Flag

On the Volokh Conspiracy, now featured on the Washington Post website, Prof. Volokh applies his First Amendment expertise to a recent EEOC decision which ruled that a complaint from an African-American that a fellow worker who repeatedly wore a cap with the famous “Don’t Tread On Me” insignia from the Gadsden flag may have created a hostile work environment at the federal agency both worked for. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission called for further investigation, including an interview of the cap-owner’s intention in wearing the symbol, concluding,

“In light of the ambiguity in the current meaning of this symbol, we find that Complainant’s claim must be investigated to determine the specific context in which C1 displayed the symbol in the workplace. In so finding, we are not prejudging the merits of Complainant’s complaint. Instead, we are precluding a procedural dismissal that would deprive us of evidence that would illuminate the meaning conveyed by C1’s display of the symbol.”

Observations:

1. Now this is the slippery slope. Because murderous racist Dylan Roof posed with the Confederate flag, a tipping point was reached that resulted in the symbol and the flag being effectively and in some respects officially banned. The EEOC had already ruled the wearing a Confederate flag T-shirt constituted racial harassment,. Now the banning of historically significant symbols is threatening to spread to a flag that had no relationship to race whatsoever, in large part because of who has chosen to display it.

2. There is a whole website devoted to the Gadsden flag, from which we learn that…

  • It first appeared in October of 1775, as the British were occupying Boston and the desperate Continental Army was dug in in nearby Cambridge, lacking sufficient arms and ammunition.  In October, a merchant ship returning to Philadelphia from a voyage to England brought private letters to the Second Continental Congress informing it that  England was sending two cargo ships to America loaded with arms and gunpowder for the British troops.
  • Congress decided Washington’s troops’ plight required that those ships and their cargo be captured. It authorized the creation of a Continental Navy, then only four vessels, to take the ships. Congress also authorized the mustering of five companies of Marines. Some of the Marines enlisting that month in Philadelphia carried drums painted yellow, emblazoned with a  rattlesnake with thirteen rattles, coiled and ready to strike, accompanied by the motto “Don’t Tread on Me.”
  • That same December, a citizen calling himself  “An American Guesser,” anonymously wrote to the Pennsylvania Journal, saying in part:

“I observed on one of the drums belonging to the marines now raising, there was painted a Rattle-Snake, with this modest motto under it, ‘Don’t tread on me.’ As I know it is the custom to have some device on the arms of every country, I supposed this may have been intended for the arms of America…the Rattle-Snake is found in no other quarter of the world besides America….She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders: She is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage. … she never wounds ’till she has generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of treading on her..

I confess I was wholly at a loss what to make of the rattles, ’till I went back and counted them and found them just thirteen, exactly the number of the Colonies united in America; and I recollected too that this was the only part of the Snake which increased in numbers. …Tis curious and amazing to observe how distinct and independent of each other the rattles of this animal are, and yet how firmly they are united together, so as never to be separated but by breaking them to pieces. One of those rattles singly, is incapable of producing sound, but the ringing of thirteen together, is sufficient to alarm the boldest man living.”

It is generally agreed that the writer was really Benjamin Franklin. Ben had a hand in the design of the flag, since the first use of a rattlesnake to represent the colonies was his own “Join or die” cartoon,

800px-Benjamin_Franklin_-_Join_or_Die

…published years earlier. Continue reading