Politics & Thought Experiments: Were Trump’s Tweets Racist?

Tim

Stratton

(The FreeThinking Theist)

|

July 22, 2019

FreeThinking Ministries is an organization focused on thinking logically. From attaining a proper understanding of the meaning and purpose of life, to how we ought to live and treat one another, we are committed to understanding reality. More importantly, we are committed to communicating the truth about reality to all people.

Interestingly, although the individuals who comprise FreeThinking Ministries agree on most things, there are occasions in which we disagree — but still love and respect each other! Sadly, however, it seems that many people in our culture today have forgotten how to love and respect each other in the midst of disagreement. This cultural problem seems magnified today when it comes to politics.

As a philosophically inclined systematic theologian, my job is to think logically about everything. I try to fit every belief I have together like pieces of a puzzle. If I cannot find a place for a specific belief, I reevaluate that belief and consider scrapping it for a new “puzzle piece” that fits. A logically consistent worldview is my goal — this includes everything from my theological beliefs, to what I observe in the world, to how I treat others, and also to what political party I should or should not be affiliated. Indeed, I contend that one committed to logic and systematic theology cannot ignore politics.

This is especially true for Christians! If Christianity is true and a certain political view is also objectively good or right, then Christianity and politics must be “mixed” . . . independent of a Christian realizing this fact or not (See, “Don’t Mix Politics & Religion!”).

Although FreeThinking Ministries prefers to spend the majority of our time arguing for the existence of God, the truth of Christianity, and how we ought to think about God, the metaphysical and theological truths we are committed to often spill over into the political arena. So, reluctantly and on occasion, we find ourselves discussing politics and politicians.

With that in mind, the political stage for this article is set and we can now cut to the chase. Recently, President Donald Trump made some controversial statements (Tweets) on Twitter. This led many to accuse President Trump of “racism.” This is a serious charge and given the seriousness of such a condemnation, it seems that we ought to be careful before using such terms.

The purpose of this article is to evaluate Trump’s tweets logically to see if they warrant such an accusation.

To be clear, I am not a “Trump apologist” nor, as Michael Brown has said, am I “blind to the President’s shortcomings.” The President has often exhibited a life of low moral character. I also contend that this is especially true of nearly every Democrat politician. Make no mistake: I am NOT a Republican! I am a FreeThinking Independent who simply thinks the current Democrat Platform is pure evil, and that Trump is the significant “lesser of evils” (See Robert A.J. Gagnon’s, The Most Dangerous Bill of Our Time: The So-Called “Equality Act,” which does not even discuss the modern-day holocaust of abortion).

So, to begin evaluating if the charge of “racism” is warranted, it is vital to grasp the traditional definition of the word in which President Trump is being accused. CNN recently provided the definition for us:

Let me just share with you the definition of racism from Merriam Webster dictionary. “A belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities, and that racial differences produced an inherent superiority of a particular race.”

Next, with the definition of “racism” clarified, consider a thought experiment I shared on Facebook shortly after Trump’s Tweets.

Thought Experiment

“Suppose a German Nazi sympathizer immigrated to America in the 1930s. He became an American citizen and then ran for—and won—political office.

He advocated against the ideas in which America was founded and instead proclaimed that Americans should approximate to Nazism.

Would it be “racist” for an American of German heritage to say the following to the Nazi sympathizer?

“Hey, if you don’t like the IDEAS in which the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution are founded, then go back to Germany where you can be a Nazi!”

Similarly, although I think Trump’s remarks were stupid, and definitely “un-tactical,” I do not think they were “racist” or “xenophobic.” I believe he simply hates their ideas. But even if Trump actually is racist and/or xenophobic, I know that I am not. With that said, however, I believe the “ideas” and proposed policies of “the squad” — as well as the overwhelming majority of the Democrat Party — are horrible. I do hate their ideas (not to be confused with the person espousing the horrible ideas). I would have no problem telling someone of any race (including white people of Swedish and British descent as I am), “if you don’t like the philosophy and ideas America is based upon, then go somewhere else.”

That is not racist or xenophobic. It is simply an ideological statement and race is irrelevant.

Perhaps I’m missing something. I could be wrong. If I am making a mistake in my thinking, I’d love to entertain your thoughts.”

And people did share their thoughts! The next day my post had 119 “likes,” 31 “loves,” 2 “sad faces,” and 1 “surprise face.” My FB post was also shared 21 times at that point and there were nearly 250 comments contributed on that post.

Most people seemed to grasp the implied conclusion of this thought experiment: President Trump’s tweets were not necessarily “racist.” Indeed, I was surprised by the amount of “likes” and approving comments made by people of color.

Some, however (oddly mostly white people), continued to stomp their feet emotionally in protest. A few objectors, however, offered substantive and respectful critique pointing out some disanalogies with President Trump’s tweets and my thought experiment. Philosophers understand that if an analogy is offered to make a point, the way to “debunk” said point is to offer significant differences between the analogy and the scenario in question. If enough differences are exposed, then the analogy fails and so does the conclusion one was hoping to reach.

I must be clear that I admire the few opposing voices who attempted to think critically in this matter. These few individuals, although we do not see eye to eye, have my respect. If anyone is to change the minds of those on the other side of the political aisle, it is those who attempt to have logical and respectful conversations.

I  digress . . . to respect those who have thoughtfully attempted to offer a substantive critique (as opposed to insults, assertions, and memes) of my thought experiment by appealing to a failure of analogy, I must first point out that I was careful to use the word “similarly” in my thought experiment. It was not meant to be a perfect analogy. Indeed, a perfect analogy is almost as rare as a pink unicorn! The purpose of my thought experiment was to encourage people to think in the right direction (no pun intended). If one sees that the label “racism” need not follow from my thought experiment, then we can continue to build on the thought experiment to reach further conclusions. Here we go:

Continuing the Thought Experiment

Suppose that Franz, the German-born American politician in the late 30s and early 40s, who desires to see America become more “Nazi-ish,” teams up with three other elected officials who were all from European descent but each born in America. All four politicians are white American males. Only one of them was born in another country (Franz the Nazi). Together, the four elected officials became known as “The Quad.”

Interestingly, one of these politicians, Herbie, was born in Nebraska, but thinks America should reject capitalism and adopt a communist government. The next politician to join “The Quad” is a young man from Oklahoma who recently converted to Islam. He changed his name from Bill to Kareem and believes that Constitutional Law should be replaced with Sharia Law. No one knows too much about Ringo — the fourth member of “The Quad.” All we know is that Ringo is a white male who despises America’s founding documents, consistently states that “America stinks,” and wants to see it radically changed.

Question: Would it be “racist” for either President Hoover or President Roosevelt to tell “The Quad” to go live in another country where they already practice Nazism, Communism, Sharia Law, or hatred of America?

What if the President said the following:

“So interesting to see Congressmen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe (like Nazism, Communism, and those who have adopted Sharia Law), the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world, now loudly . . . and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how . . .  it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure the Speaker of the House would be very happy to work out free travel arrangements quickly.”

Now, should the President be accused of “racism” based upon this statement? Given the above definition, I fail to see how racism follows? It seems the President simply despises the ideas of those espousing Nazism, Communism, Sharia Law, and hatred of America. He seems to be telling these Congressmen that they are free to go to other countries where these governments are already in place – and to see if these men can fix the problems in these other nations. If these men are successful, they are invited back to America to implement their ideas here.

Obviously, the worst the President could be accused of is incorrectly thinking all four members of “The Quad” were actually from other countries. Or, a charitable reader might conclude that he probably had “Franz the Nazi” in mind when he hastily made his comments about “The Quad” as a whole. Clearly the President was mistaken about something, but “racism” (recall the definition) does not logically follow — it should not even come into play as “The Quad” and the President are all Caucasian. They simply have opposing ideas.

Question: if racism is not in play in this scenario involving “The Quad,” why would any critical thinker jump to that conclusion regarding President Trump and his “Tweets” in reference to “The Squad?” Trump’s tweets were no different than the ones offered above (only the people’s names, ideologies, sex, race, and place of origin were changed). It seems that the President was either mistaken about the places of origin of each of  “The Squads” place of birth, or he incorrectly attributed an attribute of one of the Congresswomen to all four in the group she represents.

I have made worse mistakes, but no one has ever accused me of “racism” for doing so.

Conclusion

Bottom Line: Trump can be offensive and insensitive, and he was clearly a womanizer before getting into politics. He also routinely says some incredibly stupid things on Twitter. But President Trump does not appear to be a racist.

But suppose I am wrong. Even if he personally and secretly has racist feelings, his policies are anything but racist (see Candace Owens’ BLEXIT movement)! Moreover, whatever problems Trump has, they pale in comparison to those of the current Democrat Party. To reference Gagnon once again:

Add up all of Trump’s bad tweets and they still wouldn’t be morally equivalent to a single act of dismemberment of a viable baby, a single firing of a person for being critical of the “LGBTQ” agenda, or a single mandatory obscene “Drag Queen Story Hour” corrupting the minds of little children — all sanctioned by the Democrat Party as state policy.

Until Democrats divorce themselves from each of these policies, any supposed moral outrage offered against Trump’s terrible Tweeting falls flat.

Stay reasonable (Isaiah 1:18)…

and be careful with slanderous labels (Colossians 3:8),

Tim Stratton

PS: Racism is stupid (See, If You Think Racism Is Wrong, You Should Be a Christian)!


Notes

Perhaps a thought experiment over food will offer further clarification:

Suppose The Burger King (the guy who invented the Whopper) started eating at McDonalds every day for every meal. With every bite the Burger King would complain and exclaim: “The Whopper beats the Big Mac… The Whopper Beats the Big Mac! McDonald’s needs to get rid of their Big Macs and replace them with Whoppers!!!”

In fact, The Burger King’s constant complaints, to the chagrin of Ronald McDonald, begin to sway the impressionable minds of Grimmace, The Hamburgler, and the blue “Fry Guy.” These three guys from McDonald’s join The Burger King and begin to constantly criticize Big Macs — demanding that the McDonald’s fast food chain replace them with Whoppers!

After a while, one of the McDonald’s employees goes up to The Burger King and says, “Hey man, if you don’t like the Big Mac, then go across the street to the restaurant where you’re from, and that you seem to love so much. In fact, you can take Grimmace, The Hamburgler, and the blue Fry Guy with you if they also want Whoppers. There are people here at McDonald’s who actually love Big Macs, and prefer them to Whoppers. So please, don’t wreck it for those who love McDonalds. You can ‘have it your way’ at Burger King.”

Now, if anyone accused the McDonald’s employee of “racism” in this instance, I would be the first to stand up for the employee (even though my 17-year-old son has been employed at Burger King)! The McDonald’s employee is not “racist,” he’s simply thinking logically.

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About the Author

Tim

Stratton

(The FreeThinking Theist)

Tim pursued his undergraduate studies at the University of Nebraska-Kearney (B.A. 1997) and after working in full-time ministry for several years went on to attain his graduate degree from Biola University (M.A. 2014). Tim is currently enrolled at North-West University pursuing his Ph.D. in systematic theology with a focus on metaphysics, history, and biblical data.

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