The fallacy of fact

FactsA friend of mine had a discussion going on his Facebook page with a guy who took umbrage to my friend’s posting of a picture contrasting the way Roof the Racist was treated by the police and the way Robocop in McKinney treated an unarmed Black girl. My friend asked me to weigh in, and I did:

‘Facts’ are relative when used solely to support the all too common arguments of modern racism. Let me start by explaining the difference between historical and modern racism.

‘Historical’ racism holds that Blacks are biologically inferior to Whites and therefore the races should be segregated.  By contrast, ‘modern’ (AKA ‘symbolic’) racism holds that some Blacks are morally inferior to Whites, and as such, don’t hold to such traditional White American values as hard work and independence. Modern racism has four basic themes:

  1. Blacks no longer face much prejudice or discrimination,
  2. Blacks don’t progress because they don’t work hard enough;
  3. Blacks are demanding too much too fast, and
  4. Blacks have gotten more than they deserve.

This discussion is typical – a string of logical fallacies peppered with microaggressions — and it hits just about every one of those themes. It’s a view that is myopic, and, I would add, revisionist, racist, paternalistic, and condescending.

First, there are the microinvalidations: “I’m not saying racism doesn’t exist but,…” There is no ‘but.’ Try an ‘and’ and maybe we can have a real discussion. White people are always trying to discount racism and its legacy – slavery – by deciding that it just doesn’t matter anymore. That’s privilege. YOU decide it doesn’t matter, ergo, it doesn’t matter. You’re not saying racism doesn’t exist because you can’t say it doesn’t – at least you can’t say it honestly. And if you do say it – or rather, if you actually believe it – then White folks are not the “phantoms” to which you refer, but real, live people exercising privilege just by waking up in the morning.

Then, there are the one-sided ‘truths’, hasty generalizations, false dichotomies and all other manner of fallacious arguments using the random facts. Allow me to analyze just a few of your arguments…

“… black people themselves are scared of young black men. You can’t say it’s not true because I have been told that by especially older black people. Apparently, Jesse Jackson agrees with me because, the quote was from Jesse Jackson.” Hello argumentum ad verecundia, or the appeal to authority (Jackson) and anonymous authority (older Black people). Jesse Jackson is not an authority on Black people or Black issues, and he is not the defining voice of Black America. He is not the Black stamp of approval to your racist views. And anyone can say they’ve been told anything by anyone. Doesn’t make it universally true. I’ve been told by Black people, especially angry ones, that all White people are the devil. Apparently, Malcom X agreed with me. Does that make it true?

Let’s look at another of your statements: “Black people kill more black people in Chicago in one year than all of the events you mentioned combined. The problems are there because people in the black community will not tell their kids these things…” Cum hoc ergo propter hoc coupled with non sequitur.  Your premises:

  1. Black people kill Black people and…
  2. Black people don’t tell their kids that intelligence is good, out-of-wedlock babies are bad and the reason you won’t get a job is because you can’t pass a piss test, therefore…
  3. Inadequate parenting by some Black people leads to large-scale Black-on-Black crime.

Do you know how ridiculous that sounds? Says who? Based on what?  Correlations that imply causations, conclusions that don’t follow from the propositions. If it were that simple, if inadequate parenting led to murder, then White neighborhoods would have bloodbaths. Unless of course what you’re really saying is that Black people – as a race – are morally inferior, so the same set of causations will, by default, produce different conclusions if you’re White? Modern racism? Nailed it!

One more of your textbook racist arguments: “Having babies before you get an education and without being married is the quickest route to poverty. 70% of black kids are born out of wedlock and for that reason they start in a disadvantaged environment.”

Your premises:

  1. Black people kill Black people, and…
  2. Having babies out-of-wedlock and sans college degree leads to poverty, and..
  3. 70% of Black kids are born out-of-wedlock, therefore…
  4. If you’re Black and poor, you’re likely to kill other Black people.

First of all, that doesn’t follow even a little bit. It’s a stupid argument. Even if the cause/effect were valid, the conclusion is completely invalidated because of the sheer magnitude of other, more logical reasons for your conclusion. You’re employing timeworn racist tactics – expedient vision, convenient truth. There’s a whole bunch of other factors that you’re just not even factoring in. Revisionist history is a mark of privilege.

And given the fact that, among Millennials, ‘outside’ babies are the “new norm” I guess all of us – including White folks – better buckle up because it’s going to be a bloody, bumpy ride when all these illegitimate kids reach open carry age.

I’m not even going to deal with your comments about the pool party in Texas. Let me just say: Look at the video. The child was sitting down, the cop walked away to pull his gun on some other unarmed kids, came back to where she was STILL sitting (with one of those “mysterious white folks” you mention seemingly standing guard), to snatch her further to the ground and sit on her. I guess she wasn’t close enough to the dirt to suit him.

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