I came across another one of those “old white slaveowners” dismissal of the Constitution and originalism (the idea that the Constitution should be interpreted as it was written, not as justices of today feel) the other day. The usual rebuttal of such an “argument,” if we deign to give it even that much weight, is that the ideas and principles therein hold up, no matter who wrote them. Just as we don’t need to find hypocrisy in Karl Marx’s life to understand that his ideas are bankrupt, we don’t need to find unblemished virtue in James Madison and the other Founders to recognize the Constitution as an unparalleled achievement in the history of governance.

But, this being the Internet, appeals to rationality and logic oftentimes fail to sway, because muh feelz and other such folderol override the frontal lobes of many. Ditto for making the same point a different way, i.e. that it is a genetic fallacy. Some simply cannot abide the idea that a white slaveowner of yore may have actually accomplished something good, let alone magnificent, and therefore they cling to the fruit of the poisonous tree notion that has a place in our legal system, but not in logical thought.

There’s no need to further deconstruct the aforementioned argument from a logical perspective, but since it persists due to the embrace of logical fallacies, I’ll play in that pigpen just a bit today.

How many “old white slaveowners” types would boycott all things Disney because old man Walt was a reputed Nazi sympathizer and anti-Semite? A Google search pops up all sorts of refutations of that reputation, many of which reek of historical white-wash. That may be enough “doubt” for some, but I defy anyone who trots out the “old white slaveowners” argument to explain why we shouldn’t apply the same logic to Mickey Mouse and Fantasia because of Song of the South.

Yes, indeed, I am putting forth what, logically, is dismissable as a tu quoque fallacy attached to a genetic fallacy (and a hypocrisy gambit to boot), but in breaking down another’s crappy arguments, sometimes the most effective rebuttal is one that follows their ruleset. If it’s enough to crack the shell and get them to realize the actual fallacies in their argument, it’s a legitimate means to a logically sound end. Yes, it’s an Alinsky tactic (make the enemy live up to its own book of rules), but when the end is a logically legitimate conclusion, and the mud pit is where you find those you seek to rebut, I find little issue with some sauce for the goose reciprocity.

As for the premise of “genetic sin” that’s at the root of the “old white slaveowners” argument? It very much feels like the application of the Biblical concept of original sin to the secular world, by people who have embraced socialism and social justice as their religious dogma. Again, it bears no attachment to actual logic, and is instead rooted in a blend of the aforementioned muh feelz and, given that those who oppose originalism and the Constitution itself do so because it gets in the way of what they want to do or see done, an “ends justify the means” nihilism.

It’s also a premise that, in a different interpretation, has thoroughly infected today’s culture and social dialogue. We are judged not by our words and deeds, but by our gender, our skin color, our sexual orientation, and a number of other accidents of birth. Presuming, that is, if we accept that such demographic markers are genetic, something that progressives increasingly challenge. We have Rachel Dolezal self-identifying as black. We have one source identifying 63 genders – and there, we aren’t sure if we’re to assume they’re inherent or chosen. Gender and orientation have become entangled, with categorization by aspects (physical, preference, and personality) and by genitalia at birth. Indeed, one of the great disconnects in this modernization of gender is the question of innateness, a question whose answer seems to vary based on which way is “woke” for a given circumstance. Some are permitted to self-identify against genetics, but others are not, and that permission seems to be based on socio-political goals. And, as we see with the “old white slaveowners” argument, genetic sin is inescapable for some. Except when it isn’t, perhaps.

Consider this tidbit of nuttiness, given a measure of credibility by its publication in the Washington Post, wherein Victoria Bissell Brown, a retired history professor, lashes into her husband of 50 years and concludes that, merely by his being born a man, he has no chance of ever being a good enough person. While this may be a bridge too far for today’s woke crowd, recent history tells us that this year’s bat shit can easily become next year’s accepted wisdom. According to Ms. Brown, half the planet’s population is irredeemable (innateness), but simultaneously able to achieve redemption by choosing to reject every vestige of their genetic identity (not-innateness). Is it any wonder the rest of us have lost interest in the “woke” point of view?

Each of us, every day, relies on our intuition for countless snap judgments. That intuition is a combination of genetic coding and life experience, and it evolves over time. It’s not always right, and it’s not always logical, but it’s part of being human. Our first reactions tend to be the ones we hold onto, and it takes a bigger pile of evidence to overcome someone’s first reaction than to confirm it. This disparity becomes even greater when people are steeped in dissent-free echo chambers, and it is in such places that wacky ideas take seed and grow roots. I suspect that Ms. Brown developed her distorted world view under such circumstances, and those of us who have spent our lives in a more normal world intuitively reject it. It simply doesn’t make any sense. Just as the defenestration of the inconvenient parts of the Constitution because they were written by “old white slaveowners” makes no sense.

Original sin couples with redemption. Each of us, born equally flawed, can make good by overcoming those flaws and living a good life. But, genetic sin tells us that some are more flawed than others, that we are not individuals to be judged on the good works we produce, but rather that some of us are irredeemable, merely because we look a certain way. Except when we choose otherwise, in some cases, but not in others.

Got it yet? Me neither. Why? Because there’s no logic or consistency to it. This is what progressivism has devolved to, and this is why vast swathes of the country have rejected it.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.


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