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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Denying the Antecedent



Cornell West, a black man, has announced his intention to run for the office of the President of the United States (POTUS). According to one source, West “could deny Joe Biden a second term.”


In 2020, during his run for POTUS, Biden—a white man—stated to radio host Charlamagne, “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.” At the time, I discussed the matter with a close friend and described Biden’s rhetoric as racist.


Noteworthy, Biden clearly committed the logical fallacy of an appeal to purity. Proposing that all black people vote for Democrats, or else they “ain’t black,” is erroneous and the sentiment conforms to the notion that the black race maintains a political quality that distinguishes it from other races.


Racism may be defined as prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism by an individual, community, or institution against a person or people on the basis of their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.


Racism can further allude to the belief that different races possess distinct characteristics, abilities, or qualities, especially so as to distinguish them as inferior or superior to one another. Ergo, a racist is one who supports or practices racism.


It is an irrational belief to conclude that all black people are alike. Further, it is an unreasonable assumption to maintain that all blacks should, must, or ought to vote in a particular manner or along prescribed partisan lines.


Now that West will contend with Biden for a POTUS position, I wonder how Biden will explain his prejudicial belief and antagonistic behavior towards black people. Will West have his racial identity erased through his lack of support for Biden?


Or is it that Biden’s miraculous ability to expunge a black voter’s racial identification solely applies to a political race against Trump? It remains unclear.


All the same, I remain convinced that Biden’s 2020 claim was subject to the logical fallacy of denying the antecedent—aside from an appeal to purity. This occurs when an if/then premise uses an antecedent (information following “if”) that is rendered untrue, then the consequent (what follows “then”) is also untrue.


Per one source, “Arguments of this form are invalid. Informally, this means that arguments of this form do not give good reason to establish their conclusions, even if their premises are true.”


This sort of fallacy is represented by the following form:


If X is true, then Y is also true.


X is not true, so Y is not true either.


Using Biden’s 2020 claim, one can replace the variables with inferences from Biden’s discriminatory proposal:


If it’s true that as a black person you have a problem figuring out whether you’ll vote for Biden, then it is also true that you ain’t black.


Ben Carson, a black man, famously didn’t support Biden, so Carson is therefore not a black person.


If this notion sounds preposterous, that’s because it is. Biden doesn’t have the otherworldly ability to eliminate a person’s race by mere mention of racist rhetoric.


For clarity, the following represents a simpler version of denying the antecedent:


If you elect a racist person into the office of POTUS, he may continue the practice of racism.


If a racist person hasn’t the privilege of serving as POTUS, then he won’t continue practicing racism.


Though the premise of the assertion is true, this argument doesn’t provide adequate reason to establish the proposed conclusion. After all, a racist will likely continue the practice of racism whether in or out of political office.


Then again, what do I know? Similar to the scene in Avatar: The Last Airbender in which Aang wondrously obliterates Ozai’s powers, Biden may excise West’s race for the 2024 presidential race.



If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.


As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.


At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!



Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW


References:


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Carson, B. (2020, November 2). Dr. Ben Carson: I knew Donald Trump before politics. I urge America to reelect my friend. USA Today. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/voices/2020/11/02/ben-carson-donald-trump-vote-election-2020-column/6075169002/

Enriquez, A. (2021, October 25). Q. How does fair use work for book covers, album covers, and movie posters? Penn State. Retrieved from https://psu.libanswers.com/faq/336502

Hannity. (2023, July 17). Cornel West’s campaign to unseat Biden ‘as real as a heart attack.’ Fox News. Retrieved from https://www.foxnews.com/video/6331366284112

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Proofed. (2021, April 5). Fallacy watch: Denying the antecedent. Retrieved from https://proofed.com/writing-tips/fallacy-watch-denying-the-antecedent/

Sabur, R. (2023, July 18). The Left-wing celebrity philosopher who could deny Joe Biden a second term. The Telegraph. Retrieved from https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2023/07/18/cornel-west-green-party-us-president-election-2024-biden/

Washington Post. (2020, May 23). How Biden’s ‘you ain’t black’ comment unfolded [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/jhcgmwj3NAc

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Yashinsky, D. (2023, May 27). 15 denying the antecedent examples (logical fallacy) [Image]. The Helpful Professor. Retrieved from https://helpfulprofessor.com/denying-the-antecedent-fallacy-examples/

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