Critical Thinking, Racism and the Government
I'm going to get all college student-esque on y'all. Recently, in one of my classes we covered the concept of critical thinking. In seven pages, they gave the total scope of critical thinking that some of my fellow students may ever receive. This scares the hell out of me. Worse yet, I'm sure people just like them, those who only know about seven pages worth about critical thinking, have made it into the government. I have no other explanation.
Learning the four steps of critical thinking is fairly easy. Here they are:
- Get an understanding of the problem.
- Gather information and interpret it.
- Develop a solution plan and carry it out.
- Evaluate the plan's effectiveness.
- Jumping to conclusions
- False causes
- Appeals to authority (using experts in an unrelated field)
- Circular reasoning
- ad hominem attacks
- Straw man arguments
- Slippery slopes
- Appeals to pity
- Questionable statistics
As I'm sure you'll notice, politics is full of this stuff. I'm confident y'all have your own examples, so I'm not going to burden you with too many of my own. However, I'm going to use one personal example I've recently experienced to exemplify critical thinking gone wrong.
Racism: It's a complex problem, which the government fails to address appropriately time and again. This is one of those issues which really fuels my anti-liberal fire. Not because I'm a racist, or because I don't think racism needs to be addressed, but because addressing racism with racism is so illogical, yet is the mainstay of the liberal movement.
Critical thinking step 1: Racism is the prejudice of one human being against another based on the false presumption that race is a significant factor in one's worth as a human being. The government exacerbates this problem by using racial factors to identify, classify and judge the worth of the citizens of the United States.
Critical thinking step 2: The government of the United States of America gathers racially related information all the time. Almost every time when you fill out a government form you are expected to identify your race (if you refuse you are determined to be white). For example, to enroll my children in the public school system, I am asked to identify my children's race. However, my children, like myself, are bi-racial. Yet, I am only allowed to choose a single race to categorize us. The government starts the entire process by showing its prejudice; those of us who choose to identify ourselves by more than one race due to our genetic lineage are irrelevant to their "gathering of information." However, the issue becomes even more complex (and wrong) when you see the "catch."
My family is poor and my children have special needs. Both of these pieces of information are considered to be a matter of concern that the government is legally obligated to turn into a statistic. Neither my children nor myself are "all white," yet we do not fit the obvious definition of Native Americans either (we do, however, fit the legal definition). We're stuck in a limbo where the government intentionally refuses to categorize us appropriately. If I deny my "white" lineage, then I add to the impression that "this" (being poor and having special needs) happens to "white" people less often. If I deny my Native American lineage, then I not only feel as if I'm turning my back on some very impressive ancestors, but I'm also skewing the statistics for those whose Native American heritage is much more apparent and used against them. So, either way, I'm screwed.
Thus, the government of the United States of American intentionally disenfranchises me on the basis of my racial heritage, in order to gather information as to the effects of racism on the quality of life of its citizenry.
Critical thinking step 3: The governments current plan of action, designed by the liberals of this great nation, is called Affirmative Action. Remember my definition of racism?
Racism is the prejudice of one human being against another based on the false presumption that race is a significant factor in one's worth as a human being.
Affirmative Action does exactly that:
Affirmative action began as a corrective measure for governmental and social injustices against demographic groups that have been subjected to prejudice. Such groups are characterized most commonly by race, gender, or ethnicity. Affirmative action seeks to increase the representation of these demographic groups in fields of study and work in which they have traditionally been underrepresented.
This "corrective measure" emphasizes race when evaluating a person. It determines their worth through their racial heritage. Because a racial minority is underrepresented in a particular field, those who are a part of that racial minority who do succeed in that field are more valuable than those who are not. And this is what I find outrageous. Not just because "whites" are then treated as being of less worth based on their race, but because it also presumes those "racial minorities" cannot succeed without special compensation...thus perpetuating the notion that they are somehow inferior. I mean, really! Leave it to the government of the United States of America to find a way to make everybody racially inferior! WTF!
We come to the final step of critical thinking. This is the part where I should be able to describe how the government evaluates the effectiveness of their plan.
Sorry, they must have skipped that part. Perhaps, reading seven pages was too much for them after all. *sigh*
Critical thinking is an important skill. When used appropriately, it can help solve major problems by breaking these problems into manageable steps. People all across the blogosphere use critical thinking everyday as they make posts in an attempt to address the many discrepancies we experience as citizens of this nation. Yet, critical thinking can also be very dangerous when used inappropriately, as described with the governments plan to address racism in this nation. A little "critical thinking" is dangerous, because it is used to justify illogic that would otherwise be inexcusable. It's also used to combat sound ideas, concepts and opinions by attacking them with "fallacy" catch-phrases, as you can see over on Reverse_Vampyr's blog (in the comments).
The government, of course, is not alone in using poor critical thinking skills. Partisan hackery is full of it. However, the government is responsible for its citizenry; and its citizenry (that'd be us) are responsible for our government. So, I'm asking y'all to look beyond the steps and the catch-phrases and look at the arguments themselves.
Is it logical to try to combat racism with racism? Is it logical to stop illegal immigrants by offering them amnesty? Is it logical to offer large tax-breaks to the rich to help the middle-class? Is it logical to fight terrorism abroad while leaving our borders wide-open so that terrorists can cross over into our country? Is it logical to base anyone's worth on the color of their skin or the origin of their ancestors? Can you really say "critical thinking" was involved in any of this stuff?
Believe it or not, I'm not trying to pick on liberals here. I know some up-standing liberals whom I often agree with on many things. However, this is why I cannot identify myself as a liberal despite those agreements. The illogic of those running the liberal movements are far too profound for me to follow their methods, whether or not I agree with some of their causes. However, this is also why I don't quite fit as a conservative either, as the conservative causes are often led by people who have their own illogical premises.
For once, I'd like a contemporary leader to just drop the rhetoric and think out loud. Tell us what they want, and how they reached their decision as to how they were going to try to accomplish that. For once, I'd like to see actual critical thinking in our contemporary leaders, whether they knew that's what they were doing or not. Is that really too much to ask?
Textbook referenced: The Practical Student: Career-oriented Success by Wahlstrom, Williams and Dansby pgs. 210 - 216