Identity politics: Informal logical fallacy

Writing blog topic

Understand why readers may be misled, confused, or deceived when you discredit or attack a source based on group affiliation or identity.

Logical fallacies are flawed, deceptive, or false arguments that can be proven wrong with reasoning. The vast majority of fallacies are informal, and they are fallacious because of the content of their reasoning and their form.

When you commit the informal logical fallacy of identity politics, you attempt to invalidate a point of view by discrediting the character, personal traits, or reputation of its source (i.e., character assassination). More specifically, you evaluate a source based on physical or social identity (i.e., social class, generation, nationality, religious or ethnic group, color, gender or sexual orientation, profession, or occupation) without considering opposing evidence. Identity politics is often expressed in the structural form: Person A makes argument X. Person B dismisses argument X because of person B’s physical or social identity.

Avoid attacking, blaming, or criticizing the personal character of the source because he or she lacks the proper background or ethos or does not self-identify as a member of the “in-group” (i.e., “is not like us," or "does not think like us“). Rather than promoting an exclusivist philosophy where arguments or objections are arbitrarily dismissed or condemned, consider disputing a source’s claims with counterarguments and evidence. See examples of identity politics and logical arguments below.

FALLACY   Everyone should be judged by the color of their skin, not the content of their character.

LOGIC       People are individuals. They should be judged by their character and actions, not the color of their skin.

FALLACY   It shows how people in a position of responsibility have brainwashed these young minds. These left-leaning lecturers and a curriculum instigated by common purpose are no better than child abusers in the long run.

LOGIC       Since the coronavirus outbreak and the debates over how to teach about race in schools, many teachers and teachers’ unions have promoted left-leaning policies in both schools and the public discourse.

FALLACY   It is hard to face this but all our phrasing—race relations, racial chasm, racial justice, racial profiling, white privilege, even white supremacy—serves to obscure that racism is a visceral experience, that it dislodges brains, blocks airways, rips muscle, extracts organs, cracks bones, breaks teeth.

LOGIC       According to a nationally representative survey conducted online Jan. 22-Feb. 5, 2019, using Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel, white Democrats (64%) are far more likely than white Republicans (15%) to say the country hasn’t gone far enough when it comes to giving black people equal rights with whites. About half of Republicans say it’s been about right, while a sizable minority (31%) says the country has gone too far in this regard.

FALLACY   If that is so, why was George W. Bush willing to spend trillions of dollars and be responsible for the death of perhaps millions of people? He shouldn’t be lecturing us about anything.

LOGIC      George W. Bush told ABC News' "World News Tonight" when leaving office in 2008 that the "biggest regret" of his presidency was what he called the "intelligence failure in Iraq."

Maha Golestaneh GILO-Identity politics:  Informal logical fallacy
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