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Is Racism Logical?

Updated on August 7, 2015

The prominent seventeenth century philosopher, Rene Descartes, famously quoted, "I think, therefore I am." That simply means if you think, you must exist, because there's no other reasonable explanation for the ability to think. That's essentially how logic works. You look at something, and in deciding what it means, you must consider every possible explanation. If more than one possible explanation exists, you must consider all possible explanations. For example, in deciding whether or not someone is intelligent, one could make the claim that "that person's shoes were untied when I seen him yesterday, therefore, he's unintelligent." While this claim could certainly be made, I think most people would agree it would not be based on logic, as there are plenty of other possible explanations for why someone's shoes were untied.

This is exactly what I find so troubling about so many notions I've been hearing recently regarding racism in this country. There doesn't seem to be any logic in many of these conclusions. People just up and say things like, "that European officer was rough in apprehending that African, therefore he's a racist," or, "that white man called that black man stupid, therefore he's a racist." There's probably people reading this article right now who have already concluded in their minds that I'm a racist for writing an article about how most modern notions of racism are illogical. Does that make me a racist? I'm calling people who jump the gun with their racism conclusions illogical, aren't I? While true, what they'd be failing to consider is whether or not an accusation of illogical behavior is equivalent to an allegation of inferiority. To argue, "he's illogical, therefore he's inferior," would not amount to an accurate conclusion, as there are other possible explanations for being illogical. In this case I believe it's most commonly the pursuit of happiness. Everyone has the right to pursue happiness, but the methods utilized in their efforts to obtain it should be just as well. When there's a potential benefit that could make people happier at stake, however, it's common human nature for people to act and think in a manner that is most likely foreseeable to obtain that benefit, even if it means resorting to methods of questionable morality.

I'm sure a lot of white people would make the same illogical claims if they thought they could benefit from making them. Comprising a majority of the American population, however, and with an absence of a well documented history of abundant discrimination, white people typically can't benefit from making such claims. I'm writing this article not to express a racist idea, (I have no such idea within me to share), but because I don't think that ANYONE should be attempting to benefit from such claims when they haven't been logically established. As I will briefly attempt to demonstrate here, I don't believe many of the modern and recent claims of discrimination have been logically established.

Let's examine the above-example of the European officer being rough apprehending the African. As you can see, no consideration has been given as to whether or not roughness was necessary in the apprehension of the African, or if the roughness was excess under the circumstances, whether or not it was inspired by something other than a belief that Africans are inferior to Europeans. There are other reasons why excessive force could be utilized on a crime suspect. Perhaps the best way to introduce these other possible reasons is in a real life example of such an occurrence.

One of the most talked about, and famous real life recent examples of this was undoubtedly Rodney King's apprehension in Los Angeles twenty-four years ago. I personally believe the force the arresting officers used to apprehend Rodney King on March 3, 1991 was excessive, and that the four officers involved were properly investigated and charged with assault with a deadly weapon and use of excessive force. Does this mean they had to have been racists? Are there any other possible explanations for officers using excessive force on a crime suspect like Rodney King?

It need not be reminded that officers are humans too, and as such they experience all the same natural emotions as everyone else: anger, fear, ect...Rodney King, a man on parole for robbing a store with an iron bar, refusing to pull over after being noticed speeding, and thereafter provoking officers into a high speed chase through urban areas, not stopping until being cornered in all directions by patrol cars, then strenuously resisting arrest, attempting to flee officers, and placing his hands on his buttocks as if reaching for a weapon, could easily have triggered emotions in the arresting officers which lead to the use of excessive force, having nothing to do with their observations of the color of his skin.

If you still doubt that it very well may have had nothing to do with racism, then ask yourself, was the officer who maced Jim Morrison for purportedly telling him to "eat it" in New Haven, Ct before a concert in 1967 a racist? According to all accountable testimony involving this incident, it sounded like an excessive reaction by the officer, but this officer and Jim Morrison were both white. Were the officers that arrested Andrew Meyer at the University of Florida in 2007 for disturbing the peace racists after drive stunning him and apprehending him brutally, according to numerous eye witnesses? Again, Andrew Meyer was white, and so were the arresting officers. There are plenty of other examples of arguably excessive force used on white crime suspects by white police officers. Could all these examples been the result of racism? There obviously had to have been a much different reason involved. With that obviousness being established, I think it would be fair to say that any conclusion that police were brutal, therefore they were racists is never going to be a logical conclusion, regardless of the police brutality involved.

Does this mean concluding that something was racist is never going to be based on logic? It would in most examples similar to the above-referenced, but obviously not in every example of potential racism. If twenty people, nineteen white and one black, all get caught slacking off at work, and only the black person gets terminated without any other reasonable explanation other than the incident of slacking off, I think a logical conclusion for racial discrimination could be drawn in such a case. It would not, however, be logical to conclude that every time a black person gets terminated from a job, employment discrimination has occurred. There are plenty of other potential explanations for terminating someone. To argue that it is always racist would amount to nothing more than an effort to gain benefits people of other races are typically unable to obtain.

Ask yourself, do you honestly think if OJ Simpson had been white he would have been able to obtain a not guilty verdict in 1995, with the evidence that existed for his role in a double murder? If you answered no, then why was he set free? Was the act of setting him free some form of an affirmative action? Would that have been just when I doubt little dispute could be brought against the notion that two wrongs can never make a right? These kind of actions based on conclusions of racism are not helping our nation as a whole, they're only helping the members of the races claiming discrimination. Other people are being negatively impacted by them, as victims of crimes, violent protests, and unequal treatment in general. Being equal doesn't only mean equally sharing in the joy life has to offer, it means equally sharing in the miseries and misfortunes life has to offer as well. No one ever said life was going to be simple. Can't we all just be logical about racism?

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    • lukemike92 profile image
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      lukemike92 2 years ago

      If your not gonna quote me correctly I can come back for another comment. I never said Europe was more intelligent than Africa. I said they progressed faster on account ecological advantages. This faster progress lead to racism and slavery, (I don't know how distinguishing the institution from the mentality that lead to it adds anything helpful to this conversation). Racism does not have to be substantiated by evidence, neither does anything, but when evidence exists, as in this case it does, as to how it all started and why it's wrong it does no one any disservice to disclose it. You can choose not to believe it is you like. You can come up with your own beliefs why Europe progressed faster than Africa. It makes no difference to me. I'm just pointing out why racism is wrong but you don't have to accept it. Had the world been different it could just as well have been the Africans enslaving the Europeans. I'm not sure what point I made in my last comment either that you understood very well. I only indicated that I'd be okay with a reparation program that compensated former slaves for their labor. That's one kind of program I would be okay with. But I'm never gonna agree with you in violent means being helpful. That's a point I doubt either of us are gonna agree on so it's pointless waisting time here arguing about it.

    • profile image

      C.J. Wright 2 years ago

      @Ozy

      Ah so its not about slavery. Its about theft. So what about women and children? Haven't they had their labor stolen? Now since this is simply a matter of holding peoples financially accountable. Clearly in your world view those who were indentured servants would have to be compensated as well. After all minors could not have acted in good faith when they traded a boat ride for years of labor. How will the financial responsibility be divided? In the case of slaves. The person selling the slaves were very often not American. Certainly the UN would have to get involved? How does one ensure the right people receive compensation? Is it to be paid via taxes? If so how would one deal with those owed compensation be paid if they also paid taxes? If they don't pay taxes and have never, would any subsidies paid to them be considered payment in kind? Finally, this day in age there is little racial homogeneity. Assuming only wealthy people of a certain genealogy be held culpable what would we do in the case of those like the sitting President? Would their bill be cut in half?

      I'm not trying to make light, simply trying to point out the folly of your argument.

    • OzymandiasX profile image

      OzymandiasX 2 years ago

      @Lukemike92

      No, I understood that point very well. And that is why I raised the observation about ignorance, because the fact that Europeans are more intelligent would not lead to a greater prevalence of racism...it would actually achieve the exact opposite effect.

      We should also offer a distinction between slavery and racism. Slavery achieved a very practical economic benefit. It is justified to the public through the use of racism. So one would only have to delude oneself into believing one's own superiority in order to justify slavery, it does not have to be substantiated by evidence.

      Which is really quite revealing, if you think that the English could only have justified slavery by actually being superior to the rest of the world...

      There are plenty of things we are all entitled to among this is justice and dignity.

    • lukemike92 profile image
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      lukemike92 2 years ago

      If that's what it's about I'm fine with that. I'm perfectly fine with that kind of a reparation. I'll be happy to read any further comments on this, but I really am done discussing this topic. Thank you for your comments.

    • OzymandiasX profile image

      OzymandiasX 2 years ago

      @CJWright

      You are misunderstanding the function of the reparations. They are not a consolation for suffering, they are not meant to pass blame onto those providing the reparations. It IS strictly for the money, for the uncompensated labor which they had performed for over a century. It is all very much a matter of finances. NOT about any accusations of moral ineptitude on the part of their descendants -- unless they fail to recognize that whatever wealth they have now was in large part a product of the slave labor of the forefathers of their black peers.

    • lukemike92 profile image
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      lukemike92 2 years ago

      Electricity, penicillin, modern physics, internal combustion engines, telephones, etc...came from Europe. My point was that due to ecological benefits that were out of human control Europeans had more time to think during the times when these inventions were coming out than Africa. Because they progressed faster on account of this, they developed a false sense of superiority which gave rise to slavery. I would say the ignorance is with you if you failed to notice the point I was making there. As far as violent means for resolving conflicts, if a man catches his spouse cheating he is in the wrong both morally and legally if he resorts to violence. Yes we feel the desire to inflict violence at times, everyone does, but it's wrong to follow through with this desire, and it does no one any good. What happens, someone ends up injured or dead and you end up behind bars. A lot of good that does the world. Reparations are fine in certain forms also. Not by setting criminals free, or switching the sides of discrimination onto white people. Funding programs to assist with certain issues however is perfectly fine. You can't get a free ride, however, just because slavery did at one time in history exist. That's exactly the kind of exaggerated sense of entitlement that leads to very actions I've been discouraging here. That won't work. I have no desire to speak any further on this topic with you.

    • profile image

      C.J. Wright 2 years ago

      @Oz

      for past harm committed by someone else long ago and attributed to someone today based on race. Especially when one considers that these past harms were not perpetrated on a single race. The country simply had a more polite term for those of other races. It was called indentured servitude.

      The idea that one can offer money to undo a horrific human failure is like offering money to a woman who has just been violated. No sir, you cannot fix this with money. Doing so is an attempt to turn a victim into something worse!

      " "What shall we do with the Negro?" I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with

      us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are wormeaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! I am not for tying or fastening them on the tree in any way, except by nature's plan, and if they will not stay there, let them fall. And if the Negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone!"

      Frederick Douglas

    • OzymandiasX profile image

      OzymandiasX 2 years ago

      @LUKEMIKE92

      Every country across the globe has racists. It is not isolated to the Europeans.

      "This extra time to think is the only reason they were able to progress faster, and the only reason today why racism even exists. "

      I'm not entirely sure what you're saying here. Are you implying that Europeans are racist because they are more technologically advanced than the rest of the world? You do realize that there is an almost direct association between racism and ignorance, right?

      http://www.livescience.com/18132-intelligence-soci...

      Telling a population of people to not protest violently is the equivalent of telling a person not to get angry when their partner cheats on them. It is a rash emotional reaction -- because this is a fairly important issue for a large number of people and it has been ignored and aggravated over time. You know, people get angry when they're provoked and pushed over the edge. You can't tell people how to behave, you can change the circumstances which lead to that behavior.

      Which is precisely what must be changed if we intend to foster the sort of environment which does not breed racism.

      @C.J.Wright

      They aren't accusing you of owning slaves, they are asking for reparations for past harm. It's much the same mechanism which grants Native Americans many rights which are not granted to other Americans. The wealth generated as a result of their servitude set the foundation of prosperity for entire white families. It is not in the least bit extraordinary or uncalled for for them to request reparations.

    • bradmasterOCcal profile image

      bradmasterOCcal 2 years ago from Orange County California

      Oz

      Racism has no better definition than does pornography.

      I couldn't disagree more with your comment.

      And I could find no compelling argument made by you to change my comment.

      And your use of Racism to attack me is a perfect example of how it is being used, or really misused.

      I would suggest that you reread my previous comment, and compare your retort, and make a call on who is the racist here.

    • profile image

      C.J. Wright 2 years ago

      "Not as much in the North, where I'm from, but I've seen it in the South, and it sickens me"

      Ladies and Gentlemen I give you Detroit. Very cosmopolitan!

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Detroit_Wall

      Racism does not have geographical boundaries. It should also be mentioned that most recent racial tensions have occurred in the north and the west, not the south.

    • lukemike92 profile image
      Author

      lukemike92 2 years ago

      I don't believe anyone benefits from violent protests. That goes for everything, including the predominately white violent protests against wars in the past. It's never done anyone any good.

    • profile image

      C.J. Wright 2 years ago

      @OzymandiasX

      No one? Surely you don't believe that. Your comment isn't surprising though. Your right, I've never heard of "white guilt" , "white privilege" or "reparations" Of course that was nowhere near my point. My point was that people have to see things though another's eyes when forming opinions. Not simply seeing color. Some cannot and that's the problem.

    • lukemike92 profile image
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      lukemike92 2 years ago

      I believe that Europe for various reasons had more time for leisure throughout the dark ages while African nations had to remain busy hunting and gathering. This extra time to think is the only reason they were able to progress faster, and the only reason today why racism even exists. I think it's all bologna, and I've seen it too. Not as much in the North, where I'm from, but I've seen it in the South, and it sickens me. It really does, especially considering we've all had the same rights in this country for a half century now. I understand it would be difficult being an African here knowing the history in this nation, but we all have the same rights and opportunities today. If such a right had been denied, and it's quite clear it had something to do with the color of one's skin, I can understand peaceful riots, but not the violent protests. That does no one any good. And let's not forget the justice system: Plessy vs Ferguson, Brown vs Board of Education. There's equal rights here now, as there rightfully should be, largely, (but not entirely), because of judicial decisions like these. But I also acknowledge just because there's equal rights here now doesn't mean the fight against racism is over. I just don't like some is the ways it's being handled and some of the things being called racism. I understand your points about it, however, and just because I haven't read everything there is to read about it doesn't mean I don't care. I noticed discriminatory behavior and ways of thinking in Charlotte, NC several years ago that made ill. I care when I see things like that, but I also care when I hear about people getting killed and businesses destroyed and looted in protests. That's not right either. I'm all for keeping the fight alive, just not like that. I appreciate your comments here. They've reminded me is a few things I wasn't thinking about when I wrote this, and I appreciate that.

    • OzymandiasX profile image

      OzymandiasX 2 years ago

      @C.J. Wright

      No one is blaming contemporary white people for the slavery 150 years ago. Dear god. Where do you people get these ideas from?

    • profile image

      C.J. Wright 2 years ago

      Great Hub, enjoyed reading it. Because of our history in the US, race relations will always be difficult. Racism will always exist. No matter your race attempt to put yourself in the others shoes.

      Example: Imagine your an innocent young black person of lets say 6 or 7. Suddenly for the first time your met with the reality of your countries history. Try to imagine how that would make you feel. What a bitter pill to swallow. How for them, no matter how sweet the taste of liberty is. It will always have a lingering bitter after taste.

      Now imagine your a 25 or so white person who for the first time are having to test their ideas of equality and sense of fairness. While doing so they realize that they, simply because of the color of their skin are somehow responsible for the sins of an entire nation. A sin so horrible that they can never be forgiven.

      This is what goes on every day in our country. The irony here is that while both person's in this example have drastically different experiences. The root problem is the same. The problem is how to prevent the past from defining the future.

    • OzymandiasX profile image

      OzymandiasX 2 years ago

      @bradmasterOCcal

      Racism has a very distinct definition for anyone who knows what racism means.

      "There is a pecking order even in the human race, and that means every one thinks that they are better than someone, or some group. "

      There is a pecking order. But that doesn't mean everyone thinks they are better than someone, or some group. And if that was true, any just and equal society would strive to dismantle the foundations of such inherent inequality.

      "Racist is a term used today to invoke artificial empathy, and emotion into people when they hear the cry of racist."

      No, not at all. Racist is the calling card of the oppressor, or the deluded superior. Your observation above was correct that racism exists because of fantastical notions of superiority. But there is no reason for this to be true, unless you have fallen victim to the absurd notion that everyone is racist. Also, I don't think it would be much of a catastrophe at all if we managed to empathize with one another....even if it was artificial.

      "Racist also chills the power of Freedom of Speech, and political correctness took its place. We already have protection against Defamation, but it doesn't apply if the statement is true."

      Let's see if I understood this correctly: You fear that accusations of racism hinder your ability to express yourself. So, in other words, you are entirely incapable of expressing ideas without impressing onto others the belief that you are a racist.

      Then, sir, the possibility might exist that you are in fact a racist, but if you don't also want to earn the label of a liar as well, you should embrace the truth.

    • OzymandiasX profile image

      OzymandiasX 2 years ago

      Those demonstrations were reactions to the institutional racism which I had mentioned above and not a product of the belief that the individual officers were racists. Obviously we have no way to determine whether the individual officers were racists -- unless they made direct commentary to that affect.

      The racial biases of the individual officers are entirely irrelevant. It is society at large which concerns people, and the statistical predispositions of the police force to antagonize, arrest, mistreat, and sentence harshly black people at a far greater frequency than any other race.

      The only thing which has ever consistently solved the problems of this country have been the enraged masses protesting on the streets.

    • bradmasterOCcal profile image

      bradmasterOCcal 2 years ago from Orange County California

      The term Racism is a red herring, as it is used way beyond any real objective interpretation.

      There is a pecking order even in the human race, and that means every one thinks that they are better than someone, or some group. This superiority transcends race, or any single human attribute.

      Racist is a term used today to invoke artificial empathy, and emotion into people when they hear the cry of racist.

      Racist also chills the power of Freedom of Speech, and political correctness took its place. We already have protection against Defamation, but it doesn't apply if the statement is true.

    • lukemike92 profile image
      Author

      lukemike92 2 years ago

      I haven't indicated that such a claim was the case, only that far too many things are being considered racism without a proper logical basis. As you can see here I have confirmed that racism does in fact exist, just not to the extent that it's being alleged. It truly disgusts me when I see things like violent protests in Baltimore or Los Angeles over something that merely could've been an officer mistake, which could have, (and occasionally does), just as well happen to members of all races. It disgusted me when everyone I knew who was African, in entertainment and in person, cheered to see someone like OJ Simpson get set free. No way you're gonna tell me the evidence supported his acquittal. Setting criminals free and violent protests are not gonna solve any real problems involving racism in this country. Affirmative Acton isn't a good solution either, as that's no different than saying two wrongs makes a right. Neither is pointing out statistics claimed by one author of an article and reading only articles that favor racist views. The clearly one-sided views I noticed in some of the articles you've posted with your comment could give rise to unnecessary stirred up anger, which can lead to the type of actions referenced above that don't solve anything, but rather create more problems. If there's a clear cut example of racism with a provable logical basis the justice system is the place to take it. While they tend to get it wrong sometimes also there are human rights departments and civil rights attorneys in every state who work on nothing but discrimination and racial issues. I know for a fact that a lot of them are very concerned with this problem in our country as well. Thank you for your comment.

    • OzymandiasX profile image

      OzymandiasX 2 years ago

      The claim isn't that all instances of police brutality against black people are acts of racism, that would be an absolutely ridiculous claim to make and I don't think anyone who makes such a claim has thought thoroughly about the subject and is most likely reacting out of an emotional impulse. But the fact that you have given it so much weight and believe that the view is so common place demonstrates an almost equivalent lack of understanding.

      The prevailing belief is that black people have a statistically greater probability of being victims of police violence irrespective of their behavior. This implies a racial bias or fear -- an intuitive, underlying apprehension toward people of dark skin. Or...racism. And this belief is substantiated by facts:

      http://www.propublica.org/article/deadly-force-in-...

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/201...

      This is commentary from a former (black) police officer: http://www.vox.com/2015/5/7/8562077/police-racism-...

      There are plenty of sources for more information on this subject, if you cared even remotely you would have researched the opposing view point, but evidently you are interested only in peddling your own beliefs.