July 01, 2005

Transitivity of Causation and Moral Responsibility

From Tim Noah's story about Fred Malek (more on why this is newsworthy below the fold; you'll be surprised to learn that it reflects poorly on Republicans):

A couple of readers have notified me that some editions of today's Times did manage to work in that Malek "was once ordered by President Nixon to investigate a possible 'Jewish cabal' in the Bureau of Labor Statistics." But that wasn't in my edition, and it isn't (as of this writing) in the online version of the story. Moreover, even the "complete" version of the article doesn't explain that Malek carried out Nixon's order, and that two BLS employees on Malek's Jew-list were demoted two months later. (Malek has denied playing any role in that.) [boldface mine]

Fred? If you prepare a list of Jewish employees in the BLS, and two of them are then demoted, you did play a role in the demotion. Transitivity of causation, y'all. And unless you thought the list was being prepared so Nixon could hand out Hanukkah presents, you're morally responsible for what happened to them.

via Yglesias.

Malek is in the news because he is trying to buy the Washington Nationals baseball team. So is a group that includes George Soros as a minor investor. Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) and other Republicans have threatened Major League Baseball with bad consequences if they let Soros' group buy the team. Davis's rhetoric has not failed to include anti-Semitic tropes. The GOP strongarm tactics are disgusting on a number of levels; it's just the icing on the cake that they're designed to benefit a man who saw nothing wrong with drawing up a hit list of Jews.

Posted by Matt Weiner at July 1, 2005 11:40 AM