Rep. Allen West and Reductio Ad Slaverum.
I’m sitting here and wondering what was the purpose of Representative Allen West using a slavery metaphor where he describes Congressional Black Caucus members as ”overseers”, the democratic party as a “plantation” and himself as “Harriet Tubman”. With the implicit understanding that (in his mind at least) African Americans with a progressive view of politics are “slaves”.
While I’m sure some of Mr. Wests critics will say unflattering things about Mr. West which will then be seized upon by Mr. West and his allies. I’m wondering where is the outrage at HIS deplorable and disgusting comparison?
In my opinion, Mr. West would do well to make his points without the inflammatory rhetoric which only seem to encourage the most reactionary racist perspectives in this country.
Reductio-ad Hitlerum is a form of ad hominem and logical fallacy that equates a bad thing with Hitler. It generally has the net effect of diminishing the importance of the holocaust and bringing ridicule to the speaker.
As an African-American who has voted Republican in the past I suspect that it’s time for both sides of the political spectrum to stop using Reductio ad Slaverum.
Believe it or not, I actually agree with the thrust of Mr. West’s comments in the above clip. But, I would suggest that his methodology is ineffective at best and counter-productive at worst.
Certainly things are better now than in the days of Jim Crow. But, unfortunately, I still feel that there is still a substantial amount or inter-racial racism in our nation that must be addressed. However, it is now intricately linked to class. Frankly, my kids (brought up in a stable two parent family by professionals in what would have been considered affluence based on our backgrounds) have been raised in an enriched integrated society and don’t experience much racism at all. (They tell me as much).
However, for kids on the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum there is still a substantial problem with failing schools, absent role models, single parent homes, institutional low expectations, negative cultural influences and the presumption of criminality from the wider society (white and black). I’m not willing to say this will always exist; rather I feel we should fight hard to erase it.
I suspect Mr. West has some positive contributions to make in this regard. But he failed to make an impact with the statements he made about slavery and the Democratic party. Rather than use his unique position to make an impact on the issues I’ve raised, he seems to prefer to make inflammatory statements which lead to further polarized arguments which do not address significant concerns. I have higher expectations for him than that.