White Supremacy Confirmation Bias: How Do You Argue With Someone Who Reasons Like This?

confirmation_bias

A blog that has been out there much longer than mine (and which conveniently leaves the blogger’s identity mysterious) argues that “implementing vaccine passports would be a white supremacist measure.” The Biden administration is encouraging such documentation, and the ultra-woke state of Oregon has announced that these will be required for its citizens to go unmasked in any indoor, public-access gathering. I am not concerned here with the wisdom of the policy. I want to know how anyone can have a rational conversation with someone who is convinced such a measure is evidence of “white supremacy.”

Whoeverthehellheorsheis writes,

“[P]oor people are much less likely to be vaccinated than higher-income persons…According to the long-set standards of Black Lives Matter and other critical-theory advocates, whether racial disparities like this are intended or not is irrelevant. These disparities are the results of racial discrimination and white privilege baked into the social-legal-medical networks for centuries. Therefore, it does not matter that this gap in immunization is not intended. It does not matter that the men and women managing the vaccine program and distribution, or administering it to the public, do not discriminate at the vaccine sites by the race of persons who come for the shots. Lack of deliberate intent does not excuse systemic racism. The fact that matters is this: “Black and Latino people are far more likely to live in poverty than white people, and despite having died at higher rates throughout the pandemic, they are receiving fewer vaccines than white people.” 

The argument is instructive, which is why I am bothering to publish it. If any disparity exists in any area where blacks and other non-white groups have statistically less positive outcomes than whites, it is per se proof of “white supremacy.” The fact of statistical variation is the proof, and reasons don’t matter. This is an especially useful example, because there is no reason at all for poor people or minorities not to be vaccinated. The vaccinations are free and ubiquitous. The greatest cost imaginable would be a cab ride. One doesn’t need online access to get one.

Minorities and poorer populations—they are not the same thing—are lagging behind in getting the shots, and by choice. Now, in the case of African Americans, an argument could be made that systemic flaws in the school system, or systemically rooted inadequacies in nutrition leading to cognitive damage, or pockets of African American culture crippled by paranoia and superstition as an outgrowth of centuries of abuse from slavery, are examples of harm from past white supremacy. However, a policy that only confers a disadvantage on a group because that group chooses to be disadvantaged cannot be condemned as an expression of hostility toward that group, or as a means of keeping that group disadvantaged.

The response of Mystery Blogger is this:

Of course, such a response can come only from a position of privilege. It concretizes rather than addresses the white supremacism of vaccination processes and passports. The passports will obviously be issued only to persons who have completed the vaccination shots. And that means that a vaccine-passport system will be just as racially unjust as vaccine administration.  Passports will inevitably privilege white people over people of color. Whites will be advantaged for travel, for attendance at sporting events or even government functions open only to passport holders. And as CNN’s report above indicates, whites will be massively over-privileged also for employment and job assignments. Jim Crow could not have thought of a better way to widen the income and social inequality gaps between whites and POCs.

And what, pray tell, would “address” the “white supremism”? Clearly, not having vaccinations at all. If blacks disproportionately choose not to be vaccinated, then the only way to prevent them from disproportionately suffering for their choice is for no one to have the option.

Although this anti-logic is extreme in this case, it is not really different from what policy-makers, academics and activists argue in other contexts. Blacks perform worse on standardized tests and nobody seems to be able to fix the problem, so we eliminate standardized tests. Black students misbehave in class at a higher rate than white students, so we must stop disciplining students. Blacks engage in destructive illegal drug use at higher rates than whites, so we must eliminate drug laws. And so on, so the entire culture’s expectations are brought down to the lowest common denominator. Now this reasoning mandates that everyone should wear masks and practice social distancing, perhaps forever, and that the economy and enjoyment of life be constrained far into the future, in order that individuals who choose not to cooperate with a society-wide effort to serve the public health suffer no consequences of their own choices.

A depressing number of people accept this circular reasoning as persuasive. You can’t rebut it, because it is based on an unmovable false assumption that strikes at the heart of a basic American value: personal responsibility and accountability. No, if a society requires everyone to suffer the consequences of their own conduct, and a particular group insists on destructive conduct anyway, even if no detectable conditions make that conduct unavoidable, allowing such consequences to take place proves societal animus against that group. This is true because activists want it to be true, that’s all.

Thus Blogger X begins the screed by saying, “This does not require a long explanation.” Explaining what’s wrong with his or her thesis requires an even shorter explanation, in the style of the illustrious detective, Sidney Wang:

16 thoughts on “White Supremacy Confirmation Bias: How Do You Argue With Someone Who Reasons Like This?

    • I think you’re right. The article also contains the line (not quoted here by Jack), “But at least there are no more mean tweets, so all is well.” I think that’s a pretty big wink that the whole thing is meant to be tongue-in-cheek. Other posts on that site tend to reinforce this assessment, as well.

      • That line is so ambiguous as to be incoherent, but I took it to mean that just because Trump was gone, it didn’t mean that the government wasn’t still advancing white supremacy.

        • It’s a line that sees frequent use among conservatives online when critiquing the Biden administration, i.e. “Crime is up, inflation is out of control, the Middle East is in flames again, but at least there are no more mean tweets!”

    • My impression is that this is a rhetorical argument, rather than a logical argument. “Vaccine Passports” have all sorts of civil rights problems. Most of the arguments for the passports are downright hypocritical. The blogger correctly points out that vaccine passports are untenable if all the irresponsible blather about undoing systematic discrimination were sincere. It is a dishonest argument meant to manipulate dishonest politicians towards an otherwise ethically defensible position.

  1. This is critical race theory and BLM in a nutshell: Because black people are incapable of fending for themselves, everyone and everything must be changed to accommodate their incapacity. Again, I refer to this as black fragility, which is remedied by black privilege. It’s quite brilliant.

  2. Many of us, the Unwoke, are obviously on the wrong side of history:

    EXCLUSIVE: Leaked State Department Memo Indicates Official Support for BLM Agenda

    https://humanevents.com/2021/05/24/breaking-news-leaked-state-department-memo-indicates-official-support-for-blm-agenda/

    A source within the Biden State Department wishing to remain anonymous has shared with Human Events News a document that indicates that all U.S. “Diplomatic and Consular posts” are being encouraged to display shows of support for Black Lives Matter on Tuesday, May 25, the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s death. The memo reads in part, “The Department supports the use of the term ‘Black Lives Matter’ in messaging content, speeches, and other diplomatic engagements with foreign audiences to advance racial equity and access to justice on May 25 and beyond (italics added) We encourage posts to focus on the need to eliminate systemic racism and its continued impact.”

    The memo, which is in part a woke statement on social justice, part an apology for U.S. actions, and part an endorsement of all BLM materials, expressly encourages the display of the BLM flag or banner at U.S. facilities (except on the actual flagpole that holds the American flag)…

  3. It’s hard to take such a thing seriously, but, then, there are actually people out there blaming the increase of black-on-Asian crime as being the result of White Supremacy.

    • If it’s satire, it’s incompetent satire. The argument is no different from what I see and hear argued every day, no more ridiculous, no more illogical, no more extreme. If it is “satire,” then I rate it a web hoax.

  4. Multnomah county (the county most of Portland is in) has been running mobile clinics. They setup in church or school parking lots. They are going through majority minority neighborhoods and knocking on doors, trying to get people to come to them. Transportation the short distance to the clinics is offered. Clinics are run on evenings and weekends so they can accommodate people’s schedule. The local and state government is bending over backwards to try and increase minority vaccination rates.

    Those of us with white privilege have to travel to a large facility, during the work day. We have the privilege of waiting in a long line. My second shot was over 2 hours.

  5. The government has the hammer to make this happen REALLY fast. Just make EBT benefits contingent on getting the vaccination. BAM – done. No more disparity in vaccination rates.

  6. Ben Shapiro did a recent video of him reacting to some of the moments that made him famous. One of the bits went back to 2017 for a radio segment. He had just been asked something about discrimination and disparate impacts (I’m working off memory), and he responded with “Because it has nothing to do with discrimination and everything to do with culture.” The audience, and the people he was debating laughed at him, and he went out smashing:

    “You know what, explain to me, you explain to me why black kids aren’t graduating high school. Explain that one to me. Explain to me why black kids are shooting each other at rates significantly higher than whites are shooting each other. Explain to me why 13% of the population is responsible for 50% of the murder. Explain to me why the number of black kids in prison, not for innocent reasons, not for walking down the street and getting pulled into a prison is so high. Explain to me, if it has nothing to do with culture, explain to me why the single motherhood rate increased in the black community, jumped from 20% to 70% in the same course of time that the civil rights movement has made such tremendous strides. Is America more racist now than it was in 1960? And if it is, please explain how that happened.”

    It was a good bit. It’s still mostly true today, some of the percentages may have shifted. In his 2021 reaction video, he said that these were the kind of questions that progressives didn’t have answers for. Particularly the single motherhood rate… One of the largest determinants of poverty is single parenthood, and I’m going to make one of those current year arguments my PM loves to make: It’s 2021, and we know where babies come from. People being racist don’t force women into having unsafe sex with men that don’t stick around, it doesn’t make black fathers evaporate at the sound of the cries of babies, there aren’t any systems that force these errors. Progressives might argue that banning abortions would disproportionately effect black women, because they disproportionately use abortion services, but that puts the cart before the horse…. Black expecting mothers aren’t seeking abortion services because they’re black, they’re seeking abortion services because they’re in the same cripplingly stupid position of being pregnant when they don’t want to be that most, if not all, mothers lining up for abortion services are.

    But Ben is wrong, now, at least. In 2021, progressives have come up with an answer to “If it’s discriminatory and not cultural, explain to me these cultural phenomenon.” And their answer is:

    “[P]oor people are much less likely to be vaccinated than higher-income persons…According to the long-set standards of Black Lives Matter and other critical-theory advocates, whether racial disparities like this are intended or not is irrelevant. These disparities are the results of racial discrimination and white privilege baked into the social-legal-medical networks for centuries.”

    It’s not a particularly *good* answer, but it is an answer. For those of you who didn’t catch it, their answer is a circular fallacy: Racial disproportionate outcomes are racist because the outcomes, regardless of actual racism, have racially disproportionate outcomes, and any racially disproportionate outcome is racist. And not to put too fine a point on it, but I’ve been comparing progressivism to religion for quite some time, and this is EXACTLY the way that religions describe morality: “This thing is wrong, because our book says this thing is sin, and sin is wrong.”

    • It’s also how the Cabinet in Idiocracy discussed Brawndo:

      Joe: For the last time, I’m pretty sure what’s killing the crops is this Brawndo stuff.

      Secretary of State: But Brawndo’s got what plants crave. It’s got electrolytes.

      Attorney General: So wait a minute. What you’re saying is that you want us to put water on the crops.

      Joe: Yes.

      Attorney General: Water. Like out the toilet?

      Joe: Well, I mean, it doesn’t have to be out of the toilet, but, yeah, that’s the idea.

      Secretary of State: But Brawndo’s got what plants crave.

      Attorney General: It’s got electrolytes.

      Joe: Okay, look. The plants aren’t growing, so I’m pretty sure that the Brawndo’s not working. Now, I’m no
      botanist, but I do know that if you put water on plants, they grow.

      Secretary of Energy: Well, I’ve never seen no plants grow out of no toilet.

      Secretary of State: Hey, that’s good. You sure you ain’t the smartest guy in the world?

      Joe: Okay, look. You wanna solve this problem. I wanna get my pardon. So why don’t we just try it, okay, and not worry about what plants crave?

      Attorney General: Brawndo’s got what plants crave.

      Secretary of Energy: Yeah, it’s got electrolytes.

      Joe: What are electrolytes? Do you even know?

      Secretary of State: It’s what they use to make Brawndo.

      Joe: Yeah, but why do they use them to make Brawndo?

      Secretary of Defense: ‘Cause Brawndo’s got electrolytes.

    • In 2021, progressives have come up with an answer to “If it’s discriminatory and not cultural, explain to me these cultural phenomenon.”

      Yes they did, and it’s complete nonsense. Would that Monty Python were still around and could do a send up of Critical Race Theory along the lines of “The Life of Brian.”

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