Tag Archives: sociology

GK Chesterton, TRUMP, CLINTON, the 2016 election, and the Medical Fallacy

TRUMP and CLINTON (hey, it was in the title).

Throughout the presidential campaign of 2016 we have heard a recurring theme:

“Our country is sick.  It needs to be made well.  Vote for me and I will provide the remedy it needs.  I will bring the healing that our country needs.”

There has been no shortage of rhetoric like this on either side of the political divide.

According to the inimitable G.K. Chesterton, however, this is a fallacy.  He terms this the Medical Fallacy.  How can politicians pontificate about what ‘well’ is in absolute terms, if the idea of well is of the most disputed issues in all of academia?  One side of the ideological divide defines well in one way, while the other defines it differently.

What is seen as a remedy by one side of the political spectrum will be seen as an exasperation of the original problem to the other.  This whole business of talking about “well” and “sick” is patently absurd.  It is play on emotions.  It is like invoking balls and strikes when talking about football.  Only in medicine and science can this terminology be used.

Why you might ask?  In medicine, we agree on what a well body looks like.  We agree on what good is.  The disagreement comes when it concerns malady.  In politics and social science, we agree on what bad looks like—we disagree on what constitutes the good.

That is a profound problem.

To give you an analogy, Chesterton makes this grand point:   It is a fact that a man may have pain in his leg and walk into a hospital, and due to medical necessity, come out with one leg less.

BUT HERE IS THE CLINCHER

Never will that man find himself under the scalpel of a doctor, and in a moment of creative rapture, walk out of the hospital, having being given one leg more.

Don’t fall for fallacies.  Nonsense doesn’t cease to be nonsense just because it is uttered by an “intellect” or a “smart” politician.

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White Privilege

While I usually like what Matt Chandler has to say, I think he has ventured into territory that he should have left untouched; or at least he should have thought about his words before saying them.  Chandler explained recently that white privilege is not like blatant racism, and folks who live through it may never have a racist bone in their body—but it is racist nonetheless.  Seems harmless right?

Chandler noted:

“What is so deceptive about white privilege is that it is different from blatant racism or bias…A privileged person’s heart may be free from racist thoughts or biased attitudes, but may still fail to see how the very privilege afforded to him or her shapes how he or she interprets and understands the situations and circumstances of people without privilege.”

He goes on to say that most whites are unaware of their ubiquitous privilege.  He warns emphatically that thinking whites and blacks are playing on the same field is not right.

“The challenge with white privilege is that most white people cannot see it,” Chandler explained. “We assume that the experiences and opportunities afforded to us are the same afforded to others. Sadly, this simply isn’t true.”

This is the same sentiment fomented by the likes of Barack Obama who says that all Americans must have the same fair shot at success—the same opportunities.  Now, I have had all the same opportunities that Michael Jordan had.  The problem is, he has talent and I don’t.  Is this black privilege?  Have I been disenfranchised or not given a ‘fair shot?’  No.  It is a matter of his having skills that other people are willing to pay for.  Just because a black guy is interested in golf, should he be given a spot in the USGA U.S. Open next year?  No!  It seems that it is only in sports or entertainment that the left allows merit to rule.

Chandler then notes:

 “It has been my experience that there are few things that enrage a large portion of white people like addressing racism and privilege.  We want to move past it, but we are not past it. Clearly, we are not past it. So, let’s press in to it.”

By ‘press into it,’ Chandler clearly means that he is going to make statements about the Michael Brown situation in Ferguson, Missouri.  And by ‘enrage a large portion of white people,’ he clearly means anyone who disagrees with his comments.  What he fails to mention is that this talk of white privilege also enrages a large portion of black people.   Shelby Steele, Walter E. Williams, and Thomas Sowell have all written innumerable pages on the fact that white privilege is a myth.  Why doesn’t he include them in his ‘enrage’ statement?  Oh, it’s because they aren’t real black people.  They don’t count.  Right?

The Christian Post says this:

“When Chandler was asked on Twitter what white privilege had to do with Brown’s murder, he correlated the feelings of the community of Ferguson to the fact that the treatment just isn’t the same for those of a different community.”

What was Chandler’s response?  Well here it is:

“The facts are still being debated, and I am hopeful that justice will take place once those can be established, but the way white people tend to perceive the situation in Ferguson, Missouri and in situations like this is through distinctively white lenses.  We believe that our experiences, histories and benefits of our hard work are universal experiences for everyone. This is simply not true. I’m not a sociologist, but I’ve read enough, lived in enough places and have enough friends that I’m beginning to understand what motivates the frustrations and anger that can exist deep in the hearts of young black men.”

Here is what people do when they say things that sound wonderfully erudite, but at second glance are completely nonsensical.  He makes a lofty claim and then runs for cover by saying, “oh, by the way…I’m not a sociologist.”  Why is he using his position to make a public statement on such an issue if he isn’t going to claim some sort of authority or at least take responsibility?  He doesn’t do this in the books he tries to sell.  Chandler isn’t a sociologist, yet he makes the above statement anyways. He says what he thinks fits the narrative and then systematically exculpates himself by claiming he isn’t a sociologist.  This is utterly embarrassing.

To thoroughly confront Chandler’s diatribe, let me offer this thought.  If disparities do exist, and they do, isn’t there someone to blame?  Well, Chandler would say, “Yeah, without intending to, whites have caused it.  We are to blame.”  Who does Chandler propose is the solution?  Whites.  We must change the way we conduct ourselves in every area of life in order to fix the problem of white privilege.  from the eminently wise Dr. Thomas Sowell:

“No individual or group can be blamed for being born into circumstances…that lack…advantages.  But neither can ‘society’ be automatically assumed to be either the cause or the cure for such disparities.”

Whites aren’t responsible for it.  Blacks aren’t responsible for it.  It just exists.  And I am not arguing that is equals ought.  I am only arguing that one group cannot fix it; and in the same regard, neither are they the cause!  Trying to fix things externally does nothing.  Sowell isn’t speaking as a Christian, but his statement has more appeal to the gospel message than does Chandler’s.  Chandler is calling for external action, Sowell is saying that external action doesn’t work.

Let me just offer one instance of data.  Did you know that tests were done on IQ and general well-being of students on U.S. military bases in Europe?  Do you know what they found?  That white and black students were virtually the same in all measurable respects.  They were equally smart, equally articulate, equally well behaved, and equally poised for success.  Why is this?  For one, the whites weren’t exposed to the perpetual shame narrative, and second, blacks weren’t exposed to gangster rap and the bigotry of low expectations.  They were all expected to do their work, excel, and behave.  Period.   External factors didn’t shape them to the extreme that they do in the United States, and their true characters shone through.

Could it be that we bring this entire myth on ourselves?  Could it be that whites and blacks are…wait for it…equal?  YES.

It is being force fed down the throats of children in public schools. You know the shame narrative: Whites came to America, exterminated the Indians, brought in black slaves from Africa and beat them and treated them as animals, and then slave-owners wrote founding documents that called men equal—and it all culminates with riots and protests (opposed by whites) in the 60’s that eventually led to the first black president in 2008—though whites opposed him and continue to do so just because he is black.

What they are doing in the schools is taking large swaths of time and focusing in on singular events that further a particular agenda.  This isn’t teaching history.  This is perpetuating an agenda.  The agenda that the academic left have invested in, is this shame agenda.

Now, I fully admit—Indians did die.  We did bring slaves from Africa, horribly enough.  Some whites did oppose Obama because he was black.

While it is true in many places throughout history—and even now— blacks are treated like second class citizens, the data doesn’t support this ubiquitously like we are told.  In fact, some might even go to the extreme of saying that racism and discrimination fluctuate in parallel to each other.  You know something?  That is not what the data shows.  In fact, the unemployment rate of blacks was lower just 10 years after slavery ended than it is now.  I know such a statement will be flagrant at first read, but like Henry Rosovsky says,

“Never underestimate the difficulty of changing false beliefs by facts.”

John Adams said it this way:

“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

Secondly, I certainly recognize that America has seen injustice committed on its soil—and it needs to be pointed out and justice should be served.  Has it not been?  The truth is, I think, that a famous historian is right when she noted that, America should be willing to face its past—regardless how virtuous it looks.  What I point out when it comes to slavery is:  Slavery was a worldwide institution since the dawn of man.  It needed no defenders because it had no critics.  Eugene Genovese is right when he notes that

“Race relations did not determine the patterns of slavery in the new world…the patterns of slavery…determined race relations.”

There is nothing exclusively western about slavery.  Even Zora Neale Hurston, the celebrated Harlem academic and writer said —

“The white people held my people in slavery here in America. They had bought us, it is true, and exploited us. But the inescapable fact that stuck in my craw was: My people had sold me…. My own people had exterminated whole nations and torn families apart for a profit before the strangers got their chance at a cut. It was a sobering thought. It impressed upon me the universal nature of greed.”

Reflecting further, Hurston laments:

 “My ancestors who lived and died in it are dead. The white men who profited by their labor and lives are dead also. I have no personal memory of those times, and no responsibility for them. Neither has the grandson of the man who held my folks. . . . I have no intention of wasting my time beating on old graves. . . . I do not belong to the sobbing school of Negroes who hold that nature somehow has given them a low-down dirty deal and whose feelings are all hurt about it. . . . Slavery is the price I paid for civilization, and that is worth all that I have paid through my ancestors for it.”

Why didn’t those quotes make it into Howard Zinn’s A Peoples History of the United States?

Many think that slavery is an exclusively western institution.  Actually, the thing that is exclusively western however isn’t slavery itself—but the movement to end slavery.  Consider, what Orlando Patterson said:

 “There was no word for ‘freedom’ in most non-Western languages before contact with Western peoples.”

You cannot overlook the deaths of 300,000+ white northerners, who didn’t own slaves—who gave their lives to secure a freedom for the slaves that they were in no position to secure for themselves.  Many will counter with, “Those soldiers didn’t know they were fighting against slavery or they wouldn’t have fought.”  While the history seems to show that to be false, we must note:  Without slavery there wouldn’t have been a civil war and without a civil war, we would still have slavery.

Many also think that it is a movement way from the founding documents of our Country that ended slavery ultimately.  This doesn’t jive with the facts.  Did you know many feel the constitution is a “living document?”  Do you realize what they mean when they say this?  They are saying that the laws in the founding documents are not absolute.  Here is the problem, why is their view that the founding documents are not absolute–well, absolute?  Why do they have a view that is absolute, yet deny other views that founded this nation to be absolute.  In fact, the founding principles, specifically the Declaration of Independence were the documents that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. referred to when he cashed his promissory note.  It wasn’t a movement away from America’s founding that helped to further civil rights in America—it was a return to it.

In our history classes, we also learn that Columbus is saddled with the accusation of mass genocide of American Indians, even though—he never set foot on American soil, and he came some 300 years before America was born.  Maybe we would want to include in the long list of world genocides—the Europeans killed by the bubonic and pneumonic plagues that swept from Asia to Europe.  Neither of these are “genocide” in the way the term is meant to be used.  People unfortunately die as their immunities are not able to handle illnesses.  The native Americans were killed by diseases for the most part—why is that called genocide but the plagues in Europe aren’t?  We are led to believe that white settlers actually murdered through intentional violence, some 2,000,000 native Americans.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Did they or are they now talking about William Ellison in classrooms?  He was one of many black slave owners in the south who from all accounts, treated his slaves worse than white slave owners. Maybe we’d want to include the prosperity, amidst devastatingly challenging times by Sarah Breedlove, aka Madam C. J. Walker—who became the nation’s first female self-made millionaire marketing a line of beauty and hair products for black women.

Finally, in terms of the history of white privilege, I do wonder why these events don’t make it into the shame narrative:  The Norman Conquest, Irish Potato Famine, Decline of the Hapsburg Dynasty, Napoleonic and Czarist adventurism, and gratuitous speculations and insults about the intelligence of Europeans of Polish decent.  Why don’t those make the list?

I think that we need to examine the history and be more open minded when it comes to those of other races—But—why is it that when statistics show that black applicants for conventional mortgage loans were turned down at twice the rate for white applicants, the media went ballistic crying racial discrimination and white privledge—But when those same whites were turned down almost twice as often as Asian Americans — no one thinks that is racial discrimination?

Further—from personal anecdotal evidence—we are in the process of adopting a black infant.  Why is it that we are forced to watch innumerable movies perpetuating the Roots narrative (which the author Alex Haley admitted was a myth) and shaming us for being white and having the audacity to adopt a black child?  I would have little problem with it—IF—the same documentaries existed so that black couples who adopt white children could receive the same shame narrative.

Here is Walter Williams:

“What would you think if your 8-year-old came home and told you that “white privilege is something that white people have, meaning they have an advantage in a lot of things and they can get a job more easily?  You would have heard that at the recent 15th annual White Privilege Conference in Madison, Wisconsin, attended by 2,500 public-school teachers, administrators and students from across the nation.

The average parent has no idea of the devious indoctrination going on in classrooms in many public schools. What follows are some of the lessons of the conference.

In one of the workshops, “Examining White Privilege and Building Foundations for Social Justice Thinking in the Elementary Classroom,” educators Rosemary Colt and Diana Reeves told how teachers can “insert social justice, anti-racist information” into their lessons that “even little kids” can understand.”

Much of the public’s understanding of ‘white privledge’ comes solely from public school indoctrination.  If it is a fact, teach it.  The problem is, who is deciding that white privledge is a fact?  Is there a special caste of thinkers who have access to knowledge that we as common Americans don’t?

Shelby Steel thinks it’s a myth.  “I grew up in segregation, so I really know what racism is. I went to segregated school. I bow to no one in my knowledge of racism, which is one of the reasons why I say white privilege is not a problem.”

Steele claims,

“The real problem is black irresponsibility. … Racism is about 18th on a list of problems that black America faces. It is White peoples preoccupation with guilt and compensation such as affirmative action is actually a subtle form of racism,” writes Steele in his book White Guilt.

“One of the things that is clear about white privilege, and so many of the arguments for diversity that pretend to be compensatory, is that they advantage whites. They make the argument that whites can solve [black people’s] problems. … The problem with that is … you reinforce white supremacy. … And black dependency.”

“White privilege is a disingenuous idea.” 

He argues in contrast that what really exists is“ minority privilege.”

Steele notes,

“If I’m a black high school student today, there are white American institutions, universities, hovering over me to offer me opportunities. Almost every institution has a diversity committee. Every country club now has a diversity committee. I’ve been asked to join so many clubs, I can’t tell you. … I don’t have to even look for opportunities in many cases, they come right to me.”

Steele admits there are problems. 

“The fact is,” he adds, “we got a raw deal in America. We got a much better deal now. But we can’t access it unless we take … responsibility for getting there ourselves.”

So, what about responsibility?  It is hard to think that black culture writ large is taking responsibility when we consider the knockout game, the senseless killing of a WW2 veteran in a parking lot, or the killing of an Australian baseball player by black youth who were bored.  Further, we hear stories from both Philadelphia and San Francisco that talk about black students who beat up Asian students.

As Thomas Sowell laments,

“This is especially painful for those who expected that the election of Barack Obama would mark the beginning of a post-racial America.  While Obama’s winning majorities in overwhelmingly white states suggests that many Americans are ready to move beyond race, it is painfully clear that others are not.”

Sowell is right to continue,

“When black schoolchildren who are working hard in school and succeeding academically are attacked and beaten up by black classmates for “acting white,” why is it surprising that similar hostility is turned against Asian Americans, who are often achieving academically more so than whites?”

But, it isn’t just blacks doing this.  It is all troubled human beings.  We see the same phenomenon happening in lower class white Britain.  The white brits who do well are beat up by those who don’t.  It has nothing to do with race—it is all jealousy and a refusal to rise out of intellectual poverty.

 

I think, however, the white privledge myth has been most perpetuated through a lack of understanding the history of American success.  The clearest example of today’s misguided policies comes from examining the history of the American South.

The old South was a society that was three tiered.  Blacks and common white folks were dominated by white elites who played up racial tensions to keep power.  Did you know, “At the height of slavery, in 1860, less than 5% of whites in the South owned slaves. The eminent black historian John Hope Franklin wrote that “fully three-fourths of the white people in the South had neither slaves nor an immediate economic interest in the maintenance of slavery.””

Far from boosting it economically, slavery and the Civil War devistated the South—both in terms of capital and human capital.  Both blacks and whites were affected.

In 1938, FDR created a national commission to study what he termed “the long and ironic history of the despoiling of this truly American section.” At that time, most industries in the South were owned by companies outside the region. Of the South’s 1.8 million sharecroppers, 1.2 million were white (a mirror of the population, which was 71% white). The illiteracy rate was five times that of the North-Central states and more than twice that of New England and the Middle Atlantic (despite the waves of European immigrants then flowing to those regions). The total endowments of all the colleges and universities in the South were less than the endowments of Harvard and Yale alone. The average schoolchild in the South had $25 a year spent on his or her education, compared to $141 for children in New York.

Facts like these don’t disappear overnight and they do affect how culture progresses.  In 1974, a National Opinion Research Center (NORC) study of white ethnic groups showed that white Baptists nationwide averaged only 10.7 years of education, a level almost identical to blacks’ average of 10.6 years, and well below that of most other white groups. A recent NORC Social Survey of white adults born after World War II showed that in the years 1980-2000, only 18.4% of white Baptists and 21.8% of Irish Protestants—the principal ethnic group that settled the South—had obtained college degrees, compared to a national average of 30.1%, a Jewish average of 73.3%, and an average among those of Chinese and Indian descent of 61.9%.

It was convenient for policy makers and pundits to ignore these facts about white culture while advancing programs only to help minorities.  Whites were treated monolithically.

While some whites are successful, some blacks are as well.  While some blacks live in poverty, so do some whites.  While there are racist whites, there are racist blacks.

The human problem is the issue.  Man is fallen and cannot help himself through programs, laws, or ideas with no evidence for their virtue like “diversity.”  It is only when man is changed from the inside that the culture writ large will see any discernible change.

 

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