Cotton club

Lou Dobbs, famous for his demagoguery on immigration (among other subjects), turns to the subject of race.  In so doing he illustrates how the red herring fallacy works.  Here’s a (scrubbed) transcript of his remarks on CNN:

BLITZER: Let’s check in with Lou. He has a show coming up in an hour. I
want to pick his brain on some intriguing comments from Condoleezza
Rice involving race in our country.

You saw what she said.

LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": I saw what she said. That the
United States has a birth defect on the issue of race. I think it’s
really unfortunate that Secretary of State Rice believes as she does.

The fact is most Americans don’t have a problem talking about race.

What we have is a problem of talking about race without fearing
recrimination and distortion and someone using whatever comments are
made for their own purposes. Usually political purposes.

The reality is, this is the most socially, ethnically, religiously,
racially diverse society on the face of the earth. Wolf, we don’t make
enough of that in the nation media. We listen to some idiot say you
can’t talk about race or there ought to be these responses when you
talk about race or ethnicity and too often, in fact nearly always, we
fail to point out that there is no country on the face of the earth as
progressive, as racially and ethnically diverse as our own.

It’s something for us to be proud of and if any – and to hear a
politician whoever it may be talk about how difficult it is to talk
about race, well the heck with them. We’re living with the issue of
race. We’ve got to be able to talk about it and I can guarantee you
this, not a single one of these cotton, these just ridiculous politicians should be
the moderator on the issue of race. We have to have a far better
discussion than that.

BLITZER: Lou, we’ll see you back here in one hour. Thanks very much.

DOBBS: You got it. [edited for accuracy]

Let’s get this straight.  First, Condoleezza Rice claims there’s a "birth defect" on the issue of race:

Asked for her views, she told "The Washington Times": "The U.S. has a
hard time dealing with race because of a national birth defect." She
says black and white Americans founded the country together — but
"Europeans by choice and Africans in chains."

If I’m not mistaken that is a historical point about race in American history–and a pretty obvious one at that.  Dobbs responds (1) by griping about politically charged discussions of race [not the issue at all] and (2), by pointing out what a diverse country we live in [again, not the issue].   Both of them are red herrings.  That we live in a diverse society or that some people demagogue on the issue of race (1) no one can dispute and (2) has nothing to do with Rice’s point.

Finally, considering Rice’s other public pronouncements on the issue of race, it’s baffling to see Dobbs react the way he does.  If anything Rice would agree with him.

2 thoughts on “Cotton club”

  1. Exactly. Either Dobbs doesn’t realize that he is agreeing with Rice, in some perverted way, or he does and is just trying to stir up some backhanded controversy on the issue of race that promotes the opposite effect of what he is ostensibly advocating. In particular, Dobbs’ plea that we ought "to be proud of [our racial diversity]" implies that Rice (or her caricaturized position) is not in favor of racial diversity, which is clearly not what she is arguing. I agree that Dobbs’ reaction is utterly baffling. He is criticizing Rice for doing exactly what he is advocating — talking about race. The problem seems to be that the content of her discussion about race is critical rather than pandering.It’s interesting to note what point Dobbs is actually making here:     What we have is a problem of talking about race without fearing    recrimination and distortion and someone using whatever comments are    made for their own purposes. Usually political purposes.If I am not mistaken, this point would constitute a defense for any comments about race. Period. It would seem from this statement that Dobbs would support the comments made by the good Reverend Wright, or comments made by Rice. But he in fact does not, since he can just claim that any comments he does not agree with fall into the "political purposes" category. What other purpose can discussions about race (by politicians) serve? Anthropological? So confusing…and disingenuous.

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