Monday, April 11, 2016

If you're gonna bite, get it right

As a key Bernborg Brodude Thinkfluencer, I'm used to seeing my groundbreaking data journalism and blazing hot takes mysteriously reappear without mention in the monetized content machine. I'm mostly fine with this, though it's frustrating when I see the same thing happen to freelancers and staff writers who are toiling in obscurity and need to get paid. But if you're gonna bite me, get it right. Just now, on a site I'm not gonna link, I came across this:
Even so, some minorities in the Democratic Party find the Sanders dismissal of southern states troubling. While southern voters at large are white and conservative, southern Democratic voters are far more likely to be African-American. And yet Sanders and his surrogates insinuate that such voters are somehow less important. 
To be fair, it’s not like anyone has ever horrifically suggested that a southern black Democratic vote should only count as one-half of a northern white democratic vote (oh, right, it was three-fifths).
See what he did there? It's exactly what I did a month ago - and comparing the implicit fractional calculus of identitarian arguments about voter demographics to that of a long-defunct proviso in the US Constitution is not exactly a common rhetorical move. Funny how that happens.

The major difference, of course, is that this version of the argument is monstrously dumb. To make Sanders look racist, the author has to pretend that Sanders is specifically saying that "a southern black Democratic vote should only count as one half of a northern white" one. But Sanders doesn't specify race at all. At the very worst, his comment that "A lot of that came from the South" is regionalist, not racist.

So to shoehorn what Sanders said into the three-fifths analogy, the author has to blatantly misrepresent his comment as one about race rather than region, and then he has to admit that the analogy doesn't actually work since one-half =/= three-fifths. This is just a derivative, poorly crafted attempt to co-opt a critique that the Clinton comparison actually earned and turn it back around on Sanders.

Of course, this isn't the first time in recent history we've seen someone from that site advance an embarrassingly indefensible, mendacious misreading of a point about Sanders and his support among black voters in order to imply that his campaign is afflicted with racism. Really makes u think