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December 27, 2019

Impeachment – Ethics and National Identity

Let us assume a quite common situation which some teachers may face. One of the students is about to fail, so s/he comes to the teacher’s office hour and begs for leniency, praises the teacher for his/her great skills and knowledge, and then insinuates that failing a student would not reflect well on the teacher. Unfortunately, the teacher is not impressed and only points out the grades which the student had earned. The student presses on, there might surely be ways to sway the teacher; his/her parents would demonstrate their gratitude for his kindness by making available one of their time-shares, free of charge, and they would throw in even a free flight ticket. Again, the teacher refuses to budge, which leaves the student no other alternative but to threaten the teacher; he would then go to the principal and complain about the unfairness of the grading policy, the excessive amount of work assigned to the students, and the teacher’s hostile attitude toward this student who had just not been able to attend all classes because of sickness, work requirements, sport activities, you name it. Other students had also expressed their anger about the teacher, and a negative teaching evaluation would certainly not be in the teacher’s interest.

What should the teacher do? Give in to this barrage of cajoling, flattering, gift offerings, and threats? Ethics demand absolutely that the grade for this poor student not be changed. The principal would have to listen to the teacher and then accept the grading policy, if it proves all to be fair and just. But the principal might have already received a call from the student’s rich parents, and would very much like to accept a generous donation to the school so that some new computers could be purchased. Now, what trumps what? Ethical ideals or material advantages? Promote the school altogether and enjoy the monetary support by parents, or uphold fundamental pedagogical ideals? Of course, taking the money could be leaked, and once a whistleblower would have revealed this secret transaction, the principal’s career would come to an ignoble end. The principal then comes up with an alternative plan and quietly indicates to the teacher that his/her file contains some compromising information, so it would be better not to upset that student and the parents. The teacher would surely find some ways to increase the student’s grade point average, enough for him to pass the class.

Let us hope that all this constitutes only a fictional scenario. However, just slightly adapted to the current situation in D.C., there is enormous pressure from higher up to repress any evidence that would support an impeachment trial in the Senate. We can be certain that all Republican Senators, completely loyal to their party line, will vote against impeachment. They have plenty of personal interests in supporting the President, either because they themselves want to be re-elected or because they have been deeply involved in some business deals with the Ukraine, or Russia, or both. Of course, there is the Constitution, but when money and power are at stake, there are always rhetorical tricks to undermine the teacher’s position, to stay in the image, because the grading was unfair in the first place, or because the teacher was too strict, or because no one could learn in his/her class at any rate. Moreover, whatever the textbook says falls into the category of fake news; all claims made up to support a liberal agenda, a socialist worldview, pure propaganda. The earth is, after all, flat, never mind what researchers might have found out, especially because they cannot be trusted. This is then the Republican slogan: Although I am not a scientist, I can tell you for sure that the earth is flat. Never trust a scientist, a witness of greatest integrity, a loyal servant in the US government. Whoever dares to say anything against the President is nothing but a liar. Trump is the greatest leader of our nation, and he is certainly making America great again, at least for himself and his cronies. Putin, Assad, Erdogan, and Kim Jong Un congratulate him regularly for his great accomplishments carrying out their dictates. To return to our analogy, now the principal visits the teacher, reminds him/her of the dire situation the school is in, points out how much the computer lab needs an update etc.

Ethics, and once again, ethics are the bedrock of our lives. The principal is prepared to let one little stone roll down the hill, soon enough a second one, etc., and then the avalanche breaks loose. Our Senators face a somewhat different situation, but exactly the same ethical concerns. Party loyalty at all costs or observance of their own ethics, hence the Constitution? I am afraid that our fictional student has already passed the class, that other failing students have also informed their parents, and that new donations come rolling in. Good grades can be purchased, and it seems that our President has realized this from day one. Of course, there is the whistleblower, then the additional witnesses, and the evidence inculpating the President is just overwhelming. But no, the Republican Senate is resolutely opposed to offer a fair trial and stands ready to accept the bribery coming from many nefarious channels. Once the teacher has changed the grade in the student’s favor, and once the Republican Senators have voted quickly to exonerate President Trump, there is no real school left, and no real Senate either. Then, kiss the Constitution good-bye, and hail to King Trump!


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