One of my favorite things in the world is a good, civil debate. Ask my wife, and she’ll tell you I can go on for hours though that may not be her favorite thing in the world.
Recently, there is something I’ve noticed more and more about those I debate with. It is also something that keeps being used in our national conversation. It is something we have to watch out for and be careful to identify so as to not use it ourselves. We must beware of the straw man.
For those not familiar, the straw man is a logical fallacy or false argument. It happens when one side presents an argument and the other side refutes a separate argument that may be an exaggerated or misrepresented version of the original. It is done to gain an easy defeat. This is the setting up and knocking down of the straw man.
Right now, one of the biggest topics of debate in the national conversation is the Black Lives Matter movement. With this subject comes our biggest straw man – All Lives Matter.
All Lives Matter is a logical fallacy for the simple fact that it does not address the initial argument. The initial argument is that the justice system is dangerous to and overwhelmingly biased against the black community. The straw man is the response that the movement cares only for the lives within its own race, thus, it is invalid. This response is obviously a distortion of the original claim.
The facts in relation to the initial argument are clear. These are that black men are three times more likely to be killed by the police, six times more likely to be incarcerated, and two times more likely to serve a longer sentence for the same crime. It is plain to see in these statistics that the United States is not that far removed from its dark past. Remember that it has only been 50 years since the civil rights movement, and in terms of societal progression, that is a relatively short amount of time.
When we continue our conversations on this issue – the real, initial issue – let’s do so without building a straw man to knock down. Let’s talk about the real issues that face our fellow citizens in the black community and what we can do to address them.
Reach Matt Moran at 580-482-1221, ext. 2071.