College of William and Mary Taps Alum James Comey to Teach Ethical Leadership

In this June 8, 2017, file photo, former FBI Director James Comey is sworn in while testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

By Donald McLaughlin Published on January 31, 2018

On January 19, the College of William and Mary announced that former FBI Director James Comey will teach a course on “Ethical Leadership.” The college’s president, Taylor Reveley, said that Comey “understands to the core of his being that our leaders must have an abiding commitment to ethical behavior and sacrificial service.” He praised Comey’s “experience and wisdom.”

Yes, this is the same James Comey whose name keeps popping up in connection to the alarming FISA Memo that GOP lawmakers want released to the public. The same James Comey who illegally leaked a memo about his private talks with President Trump. Comey must think his actions justified. He was only serving the higher moral good protecting Hillary Clinton, who shared his values. Donald Trump must be kept out of the Oval Office at all costs.

As a reward for what now appear to be not only unethical but also illegal actions, he gets to teach a course on “Ethical Leadership” at his alma mater.

The Rise of Relativism

If we no longer hold Judeo-Christian values, we’ll hold some other moral system. And we’ll hold it religiously.

In 1991, Charles Colson, spoke at Harvard University’s School of Business. He’d gone to jail for his service to President Nixon. Now he explained “Why Harvard Can’t Teach Ethics.”

As a society, he said, we gave up our common belief in a transcendent value system. This gave rise to relativism and the “me” generation. Without a fixed common value system, each person can decide for themselves what is right and good.

Colson talked about his own case. He saw himself as morally strong, of good character and values. To get what he thought was good, he broke the law. “In my own self-righteousness,” he said, “I was never more dangerous. I ended up going to prison!”

We’ve cast off our Judeo-Christian moorings. Something had to fill the void. Writing in the Weekly Standard, David Gelernter suggested that “Almost all human beings need religion, as subway-riders need overhead grab bars.”

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Liberals will be just as religious as anyone else. The problem is their religion. “Liberals have mostly shed their Judaism or Christianity, and politics fills the obvious spiritual gap. You might make football, rock music, or hard science your chosen faith. Some people do. But politics, with its underlying principles and striking public ceremonies, is the obvious religion substitute.”

Gelernter put his finger on the logical outcome of the development Colson described. If we no longer hold Judeo-Christian values, we’ll hold some other moral system. And we’ll hold it religiously. For far too many people, especially liberals, that new religion will be politics.

Not Surprising

It’s not surprising that the College of William and Mary wanted James Comey to teach ethical leadership. If politics is your religion, you will believe that Comey was justified, maybe even duty-bound, to do what he did. He had to keep people who didn’t share the liberal religion from gaining access to power. Bending the rules or even breaking the law is ethical. It serves the higher moral good. It might even be viewed as restraining evil.

No doubt the College of William and Mary shares those values. Hiring the unethical Comey to teach “Ethical Leadership” would be seen as the correct and moral thing to do. That’s a pretty sad statement on the condition of ethics in our world.

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