Such prejudice usually comes coded in distortions about Obama and his background. To the willfully ignorant, he is a secret Muslim married to a black-power radical. Or—thank you, Geraldine Ferraro—he only got where he is because of the special treatment accorded those lucky enough to be born with African blood. Some Jews assume Obama is insufficiently supportive of Israel in the way they assume other black politicians to be. To some white voters (14 percent in the CBS/New York Times poll), Obama is someone who, as president, would favor blacks over whites. Or he is an "elitist" who cannot understand ordinary (read: white) people because he isn't one of them. Or he is charged with playing the race card, or of accusing his opponents of racism, when he has strenuously avoided doing anything of the sort. We're just not comfortable with, you know, a Hawaiian.The only reason? Does Weisberg claim he can read America's mind? How about foreign affairs? Or energy policy? Sometimes "elitist" isn't a code-word for race.
Best of the Web's James Taranto applies Aristotle:
Weisberg is committing the logical fallacy of denying the antecedent. This consists of an argument in the following form:I can't fault Taranto's syllogism, but governmental decisionmaking doesn't demand absolute certainty. I can't prove that unicorns don't exist--because, who knows, one could be around the corner!--but we don't base public policy on that remote possibility. Even Justice O'Connor set a 25 year sunset on upholding the unicorn. At some point--for mythical beasts or enduring bigotry--the lack of evidence is evidence.If P, then Q.In this case, P is "Obama wins the presidency," and Q is (in our simplified paraphrase) "America has overcome its legacy of racism."
Therefore, not Q.
Another way of formulating Weisberg's argument is this: Obama's victory is a sufficient condition for America to have overcome its legacy of racism. Therefore, Obama's victory is a necessary condition for America to have overcome its legacy of racism. This is true only if one accepts as a premise that Obama's victory is logically equivalent to America's having overcome its legacy of racism--a silly premise, given that Obama's even winning the nomination was contingent on so many factors. . .
So, has America overcome its legacy of racism? Those who say "no" seem to offer only faulty logic and imaginary data to support their position. Still, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. To conclude definitively that they are wrong would be the argumentum ad ignoratiam, another logical fallacy. If Obama loses, racism may be the reason.
Contrary to popular wisdom, the obsession about race seems to lie largely with the left.