Common right-wing claim: Liberals are racist.
Argument: liberals believe that black people cannot achieve anything on their own, and need special help and favors, whereas republicans respect the ability of black people to succeed on their own.
Flaw: This argument makes many extremely fallacious assumptions:
1. That racism and other impediments do not exist; that people of color share an even playing field with white people, and have an equal chance to succeed in any enterprise.
2. That liberals believe that racism has no impact; without this assumption, liberals would only be misguided, not racist.
3. That liberals believe that people of color cannot successfully compete in a fair and equitable environment, and so push artificial advantages on them that they do not need, eroding their self-confidence and self-reliance.
Ergo, since liberals believe people of color are inferior, liberals are racist.
That’s not some distortion I cooked up, that is the actual theory as explained to me by various conservatives. I will assume for this writing that any conservative making this argument atually believes it. Many likely do. But many know the argument is a crock and spread it because it serves and entertains them.
So let’s unravel the flaws:
1. The core of the argument, of course, hinges upon the assumption that racism simply isn’t a thing, that it has no significant impact. This is outrageously wrong; the evidence that racism exists, both personal and institutional, and has a substantial impact, is overwhelming, to say the least; it takes a fantastic level of willing blindness and denial to state otherwise.
2. The very idea that liberals do not believe that racism exists or has any impact is laughable.
3. Liberals do not fight to give people of color any advantages. All that liberals try to do is to remove obstacles created by racism and level the playing field. Not even close to the same thing. Liberals, for example, want to establish hiring guidelines, workplace rules, and other protocols that make the job market equitable and fair.
Of course, conservatives would not agree to many of these basic facts. They argue that racism has no impact in society, using fallacious examples like “we elected a black president” and “employers hire strictly on merit.” They use anecdotal evidence as if it were statistical; just last week, a conservative argued that of course the playing field is level, because “black millionaires and billionaires exist.” I hope that I do not have to explain to the reader where the flaw in this argument resides.
Furthermore, they expect liberals believe the exact same thing, or else are deluded.
And, since they believe (or claim to believe) that the playing field is level, they see any attempt to actually level the playing field as giving black people a decided advantage. Imagine a white person going into a room where they are told that they will get equitable snacks, and find that they are given 15 while a black person across the table has been given 5. An arbiter appears and says, “There has been a mistake, you got too many and the other person was given too few; we shall even things out.” The white person sees any attempt to give 5 of his snacks to the black person as unfair theft. The white person assumes that the unequal distribution is because they somehow deserve more, and that the lack for the black person is because they did something wrong. Human nature tells us that the reasoning is more venal: “I got the bigger share, for whatever reason, and I intend to keep it.”
When people are born with wealth stolen from others, many won’t and don’t question its validity; as the saying goes, “People born on third base believe that they just hit a triple.” They believe that the advantage is earned or otherwise natural and deserved. They also argue that since white people are often poor, this means that black people cannot be at a disadvantage. “I had to fight tooth and nail to get where I am, and have always had it really rough” is a common right-wing protest that they have it just as bad as black people do. It ignores the possibility that someone else had it worse, or that a much higher percentage of black people than white people have that problem.
Conservatives claim that 230 of years of slavery and 160 years of racial discrimination had no relevant economic impact in favor of white people or at the cost of black people; this idea is ludicrous on its face.
Conservatives deny the facts plainly established, such as that banks favor white people and disfavor black people when it comes to loans, that black people looking for jobs are denied even an interview 50% more often even when they have equal qualifications as white applicants, or that black people are treated differently by police.
So, is the truth that conservatives are racist? One could easily argue that anyone making such a preposterous argument about race as the one detailed above easily fits the bill. However, I will simply note the truism that “While not all republicans are racist, racists are usually republicans.”