By Guest Blogger T.J. Roberts
A few weeks ago, I decided to start fact-checking Facebook memes and posting the results on my own Facebook page. Recent events have interfered with that, but I’ve seen this particular meme a number of times now and thought it would be a good one to address:
This meme is a prime example of so many things that are wrong with internet memes. Let’s count the ways.
1- It’s tone deaf. The protests are about systemic racism, which manifests in numerous ways. It’s not simply about unarmed black people killed by white officers. The meme oddly pretends that that’s what the protests are about when they clearly aren’t. The tendency of some people to buy the false premise of the meme is further evidence that too many of us aren’t listening to what the protesters are actually saying. https://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx…
2- It’s factually/statistically incorrect. It conflates two different scenarios and then pretends the statistics apply to overall killings of unarmed people by police when they clearly don’t. The stat he uses is for JUST unarmed shootings (even then it’s outdated) but he mistakenly claims it’s the number of unarmed killings OVERALL. At best, it’s a total failure at even a minuscule effort by Matt Walsh of doing his homework (as well as by those who are spreading the meme); at worst, it’s an intentional lie. https://www.politifact.com/…/larry-elder-mislabels-statist…/
Trying to argue that instances of institutional racism don’t occur many times a day every day is difficult due to the overwhelming weight of evidence against that stance
3- It engages in the logical fallacy of the “straw man” argument. In other words, it essentially pretends that people are simply protesting against the murder of unarmed black people by white officers when that’s not actually what the protests are about. It then argues against the fake point (using false facts) that no one is actually making. https://owl.excelsior.edu/…/l…/logical-fallacies-straw-man/….
4- It also engages in the “red herring” fallacy. In other words, it’s a deliberate diversion from the actual issue at hand. People do this because they realize their case against the real issue is weak, so they try to distract from the actual argument by creating an irrelevant point against which they believe they have a better argument. In other words, trying to argue that instances of institutional racism don’t occur many times a day every day is difficult due to the overwhelming weight of evidence against that stance. So Walsh tries to create a different diversionary argument that no one is actually making (unarmed people killed by officers) which he feels he can better argue against. Even then, he has to use fake facts to make his fake case. https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/logicalfall…/Red-Herring
If you’ve studied logic and logical fallacies, you know how easy it is for someone with bad intentions to manipulate the portion of the populace sympathetic to his/her case by steering arguments and discussions into an irrelevant make-believe world of their own creation.
If you haven’t studied these things and this meme resonated with you, maybe take a moment to reflect on how easy it is for a talented propagandist to manipulate people’s views on any given topic. Then take a minute to ponder why it’s so important for people like Matt Walsh to manipulate people, using propaganda, lies, and logical fallacies, into believing that there is nothing to these protests.
Propaganda comes at us from all sides (left, right, and in-between) on a daily basis. The more you learn to recognize it, the less you’ll fall prey to it. John 8:32.