Thursday, May 31, 2012

Newt Gingrich, Sophist

Remember how I said I was going to open up the blog a little? It was for stuff like this:

Newt Gingrich on why Birtherism isn't racist: "Nobody runs around and asks whether Colonel [sic] West was born in the United States. He’s an African-American, you know. He’s a congressman. Nobody runs around and says, ‘Is Tim Scott born in the United States?’ He’s a congressman. He’s African-American."

Except, of course, that it isn't against the law for a congressman to be born in another country; it is against the law for the President to be foreign-born. John Boehner, Ruth Bader-Ginsburg and Rick Perry could all have been born in Serbia, and they'd still be lawful US officials. If you really wanted to prove that Birtherism isn't racist, you'd have to subject another presidential candidate to it. A white presidential candidate. Like, say...Romney. When the Birthers do that, we'll know they're not racists.

This is a beautiful example of the logical fallacy known as the False Equivalence. Of course Newt, who never tires of telling us that he's a PhD, knows it. I'm not surprised that he did it. I am surprised that he could whip it out that fast: not crafted in an op-ed, but apparently spontaneously, in a casual response to a reporter...that's sharp. Sharp indeed. Newt is a very clever boy, who's clearly been practicing false logic for a very long time. He's also a natural segue to the subject of the Sophists of Athens - soon to come in another post.

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