- Politics and Social Issues
Is Racism Logical?
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?