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Philosophy professor on whether Trump is racist

First, consider the following syllogism:

P1 White America is racist
P2 Trump is white America (personified, as it were)
C Trump is racist

This is a valid syllogism -- the premises follow from the conclusion -- but each of the premises is controversial, resting on how we define "white America" and "racist", and how precisely we could establish that Trump is white America personified.  (Alternatively, although less provocatively, we could simply replace P2 with P2': Trump is white and American.  All we need to do in order to make the argument unmistakably valid is to state somewhere in a second premise that Trump is an instance falling under the generalization about white America in the first premise.  Toning down the second premise to something like "Trump is a white American" makes that premise uncontroversial, leaving us with controversial premise P1 as the key point of contention for purposes of this argument.)

In any case, this would appear to be an argument supported wholeheartedly by philosophy professor George Yancy (Emory U.)

How did I discover and notice Yancy?  Well, first, as I stated in an addendum to a previous posting, "Try getting a philosopher concerned with his reputation to affirm that Trump is more than probably, or likely, or certainly a racist, given the existing evidence."  Then, as I was going through the "Analysis: Academics" subsection of the wikipedia article on Trump's racial views, Yancy is mentioned as follows:

George Yancy, a professor at Emory University known for his work on racial issues, concluded that Trump is racist, describing his outlook as "a case of unabashed white supremacist ideas."[1]

Now, in Yancy's case, coming to such a conclusion need not occur on the basis of an examination of the statements and actions of Trump over the years.  Why?  Because he endorses Premise 1 of the syllogism.  That is to say, Trump - being a white American - is racist because white America is racist.  In other words, he isn't exactly singling out Trump as a contrast case with most or all of the rest of white America.  Given his endorsed premise, it follows uninterestingly and uncontroversially that Trump is a racist.

That would make the inclusion of Yancy in the wikipedia article rather unhelpful.  I was, after all, looking for a philosopher willing to stake his reputation on the claim that Trump is surely or almost surely a racist given the evidence (namely, his statements, the things his enemies usually point to).  But in his case, such a "conclusion" (on the basis of a syllogism itself, where the evidence then really concerns the truth or untruth of premise 1) is uninteresting, uninformative, and predetermined.  What I was looking for was a philosopher who would characterize Trump's statements over the years as definitely racist, as the Democrats, "progressives" and leftists usually affirm.

In other words, if Trump says (just for instance) "Mexico is not sending its best, it's sending rapists, drug dealers and other criminals, and maybe even some fine people [who would thereby be among Mexico's best, right? -UP], etc.", I'd like to see a philosophy professor state (with explanation, of course) that this is definitely a racist and anti-immigrant statement.  If the Democrats could get one or more philosophy professors to endorse that, then that would add some prima facie credibility to their claims -- i.e., that someone well-trained in the art of parsing statements would draw the implication that the Democrats almost uniformly draw from a statement such as Trump's here.

The Democrats treat it as a given, uncontroversial, that the bolded statement above is racist and anti-immigrant.  But the case of Yancy wouldn't help them out here, if what's really in contention in his case is his endorsement of Premise 1 (and whatever evidence he would marshal for that) rather than this or that statement of Trump's.

What I think is going on here, among the Democrats, is a cheap and lazy way of arguing for a controversial position, or for disqualifying and de-legitimizing from the get-go a debatable opposition position.  From my (admittedly short-of-Democrat-standards) vantage point, Trump is making a (controversial) statement about illegal immigration that makes reference not to race but to a nation which borders the USA to the South.  The Democrats, in all their hubris, have decided that statements like the bolded one above are racist dog-whistles (and that the rest of us had better go along with their characterization lest we be complicit in the dog-whistling) and should be disqualified from serious consideration on that basis.

And what I'm saying is, if they're so convinced of such a thing, and especially if they're right about being so convinced, they should have little trouble finding philosophers who would endorse the "racist dog-whistle" take on Trump's Mexico statement.  Yancy isn't of help in this case as long as Trump's being a racist follows automatically from his endorsement of Premise 1.  They should be able to find some other philosopher(s), preferably one who isn't invested in or prepared to endorse Premise 1, who would construe his Mexico statement the way they do.

Since the community of philosophers isn't the same as the left-wing echo chamber, I have my doubts that the Democrats can find any such philosopher(s).  Perhaps this would be the time to offer a Caplan-style bet to Democrats on whether they can locate at least one philosopher willing to state that Trump's Mexico remarks are racist or racist dog-whistling.

My contention is that any such "philosopher" would short of expectations for philosophical-level reasoning skills, and that the Democrats are poor reasoners on this subject.  But it would be mighty interesting if not entertaining if such a "philosopher" went out on the Democrats' "Trump is dog-whistling" limb using the standard tools of philosophy.  We would definitely learn something from such a case, and that would be a good thing for all concerned.  That should be motivation enough for Democrats, who presumably care about their intellectual credibility, to locate any such supposed philosopher(s).

[Note: In that addendum to my earlier posting I already mentioned Trump's remarks about Judge Curiel as being objectively racist but that the better explanation is Trump's equal-opportunity jackassery.  (Trump was focusing on a "conflicted judge" angle and impugned his integrity much as he has, in his usual style, impugned the integrity of other judges in other instances.)  This was called out by fellow Republicans like then-Speaker Ryan as genuinely a racist comment in its implications.  This is uncontroversial enough to be something Democrats and Republicans can agree about.  But they're not in agreement on whether a whole host of other statements from Trump -- his Mexico statement kicking off his campaign, paraphrased and bolded above, being a headline instance -- are in fact racist, explicitly or by implication.  I'd just like to see if there is a reputable philosopher who will endorse the Democrats' purportedly intellectually superior interpretations of such statements.]

[Addendum 1/23/09: My attention has been brought to this draft by Jennifer Saul (philosophy, Sheffield) and I see that some further dialectical treatment of this is required in a future post, namely within the context of my note above about Trump's equal-opportunity jackassery....]

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