I just noticed that students at a Christian college protested a speaker who has held political office and is now a media personality. In justification of their protest, they associated this man with racism, sexual violence against women, police brutality and various other sins. So, I thought of this public individual and asked myself a few questions.
1. Does he argue for the supremacy of a particular race, for the inferiority of a particular race, or for giving different rights to different races?
2. Does he argue that women should suffer sexual violence at the hands of men or commit such violence himself?
3. Does he argue that police brutality is a good thing? Does he try to do away with investigative processes established to determine fault in the area of police brutality?
No. What you will really find is something more like the following:
1. He explicitly argues against racial supremacy and discrimination, but disagrees with various legal remedies proposed to address racial inequality (such as affirmative action). The way the game is played, this gentleman is now a racist.
2. He does not argue for sexual violence against women and is not known to commit such acts. However, he supported then-candidate Trump. If that choice establishes him as a supporter of sexual violence against women, then I suppose people who supported President Clinton were proponents of intern seduction. (See, the logic gets a little funny.)
3. He does not embrace police brutality. What is far more likely is that he has looked at an incident where police brutality was charged and came to a different conclusion regarding the guilt of the officer involved.
You will notice that the examples here are all instances of left-wing political sensibilities being used to make someone radioactive (a racist!) when in fact they simply disagree with proposed solutions for addressing a particular issue. However, I would be wrong not to admit that the same thing happens in the opposite direction. Here is an example:
Assertion: “Left-wing politician X is an anti-semite.”
Question: “Why is politician X an anti-semite?”
Response: “He believes the Palestinians should have more rights to territory occupied by Israel than I do.”
What can we conclude? Politician X may be an anti-semite (who knows but God who sees hearts), but not because of his position on this particular policy. His chosen policy simply indicates that he believes the Palestinians have a stronger claim than you do.
Having now examined this abusive rhetorical strategy from left and right, I very much hope we can agree to stop using it. It is unfair, dishonest, and intellectually lazy.