Respect and Responsibility

Published: June 10, 2019

By Jim Lichtman
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Last week I wrote how the outcome of James Holzhauer’s loss on the game show Jeopary! was leaked the Sunday before the show aired on Monday, (I’ll take ‘Best Penalties’ For $1,000, Alex). The show’s executive producer, Harry Friedman, believes he knows who leaked the information and said that “very, very, very appropriate” action will be taken.

At the end of that commentary, I offered my own punishment: “He or she should be forced to sit and watch video clips of President Trump for 48 continuous hours with only bread and water!”

A good friend and regular reader who served in Vietnam wrote, “The comment and the ending of a good story only demean the author of that story.”

In a private e-mail, he added, “I understand the cuteness of your ‘punishment’ which probably sits well with others, but I personally believe one does not assault the President and… you should not take liberties with your own words. I love “Ethics Stupid,” but don’t… throw in political rhetoric at the very end of a nice dissertation. …

“Seventy-five years ago, kids died on the sands of France for a cause they knew little of, but now – in our freedom – not only benefit from that sacrifice, but others flaunt it and push it to the limits with parades, special scholarships, awards and benefits which [many who served] cannot understand.

“I love your work… [but] don’t weaponize and politicize it… it is demeaning and unnecessary.”

He’s right!

My snarky joke at the end of that piece was wrong. It was flippant and gratuitous. I apologize to readers for showing a lack of respect for the office of the president particularly coming the day before the 75th Anniversary of one of the most consequential battles in American and world history.

On Friday, I read a story about Ernie Pyle (The Man Who Told The Truth About D-Day), the 43-year-old journalist who covered the invasion. Pyle spoke with front line soldiers and saw first-hand, the many sacrifices, not only on those beaches, but the many acts of courage and bravery shown by soldiers in the many battles that took place all over Europe. In plain language, that all back home could understand, Pyle made the experience real and vivid. In his first column about the landings at Normandy, he described the miracle of the Allies success against formidable odds.

“The advantages were all theirs,” Pyle wrote of the German defense lines at Normandy, “with crossfire taking in every inch of the beach… whole fields of evil devices under the water to catch our boats… and yet,” Pyle adds, “we got on.”

Ernie Pyle’s dispatches from the front lines throughout Europe were just what America needed to get through one of the greatest crisis in world history: to defeat a rabid dictator and a German military force that had grown to more than 4.5 million.

Today, the battle lines at home are clouded by partisanship with little consideration to the American values the country fought so hard to defend. In today’s political atmosphere, it’s more about winning than adhering to principle.

But, despite the current division in the country — to borrow from Ernie Pyle — we will go on!

The country has seen many conflicts, both internal and external, but we learned and grew stronger.

When bullies rise-up, they need to be called out. To remain silent is to normalize their behavior and return to a time when many ignored the lowest words and actions of autocrats believing it could never affect them until it did.

Having said that, I need to remember to do it in a more useful way.

Respect and responsibility are important American values. They are particularly important to remember as we honor the sacrifices of others this past weekend.

Ultimately, we have always risen above the petty, small-minded, demagogic individuals scattered throughout American and world history and became better for it.

Despite this current fever of fear and division, we will go on!


  1. Jim, this is exactly why I read your articles. I agree with everything you stated today. Respect and responsibility is so important in this day and age.

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