False Equivalence: a logical fallacy which describes where there is a logical and apparent equivalence, but when in fact there is none.
By now you've heard that the wing nuts on the Right are all up in arms over the comments George Takei made about Clarence Thomas. For the record, this was his complete statement.
"He's a clown in blackface sitting on the Supreme Court. He gets me that angry. He doesn't belong there. And for him to say slaves have dignity. I mean, doesn't he know slaves were in chains? That they were whipped on the back? My parents lost everything that they worked for in the middle of their lives, in their 30s. His business, my father's business, our home, our freedom and we're supposed to call that dignified? This man does not belong on the Supreme Court. He is an embarrassment. He is a disgrace to America."
Now of course, if all you read or heard was the blackface part, then you'd probably conclude that Takei was a racist. But taken in context, the point of Takei's rant was to draw attention to Thomas's dissent in the Obergefell decision, which was beyond belief, even for him. I'm guessing if Takei had the opportunity to go back in time, he would've chosen a different word than blackface to describe Thomas. For instance, a word that comes to mind which many blacks have used to describe Thomas is Uncle Tom. But then, had Takei used that word, he would've been criticized for using a word that, like the "N" word, can only be used by African Americans. I guess that's one of those unwritten rules.
The point I'm trying to make here is that while Takei's choice of words was inappropriate, I don't see any basis for him being called a racist. In fact, take the word blackface out altogether, and Takei's statement on Thomas is quite reasonable. For a jurist sitting on the Supreme Court to write an opinion like that IS a disgrace; one that should offend every thinking human being.
Now let's compare Takei's statement with what Donal Trump said recently about Mexicans. In case you missed that, this is what the Donald had to say about our neighbors to the south.
"When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending the best. They're not sending you, they're sending people that have lots of problems and they're bringing those problems. They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime. They're rapists and some, I assume, are good people, but I speak to border guards and they're telling us what we're getting."
Now two things immediately stand out when both statements are examined together. First, Takei was speaking specifically about Clarence Thomas and not about black people in general, whereas Trump was in fact making a generalized statement about Mexicans. One was narrow in its scope; the other considerably broader. Secondly, there is context within Takei's statement. Even if you don't agree with his assessment of Thomas, it's clear from Takei's words that he is very angry with him. There is zero context within Trump's rant. It is so clearly over the top, it's beyond vile.
But here's the biggest difference between both men. George Takei realized he was wrong for what he said and issued a public apology. He manned up and owned what he did. Donald Trump has not only failed to apologize, he has doubled down on his disgusting remarks, while the Right has attempted to spin them by insisting he was speaking about our broken immigration system. Yeah, right. If you believe that, there's a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you.
This is the same drivel we keep hearing from the Right. The old false equivalence argument that they keep running up the flag pole, hoping that someone other than themselves will salute it. George Takei makes an inappropriate comment, therefore he's no different than Donald Trump, or Ann Coulter, or Steve King, or Ted Nugent or any number of ignorant conservatives who have "distinguished" themselves by sinking to the lowest depths of depravity.
Except he is different and they know it. Want to know how? Just take a look at their reactions. One actually said Takei was worse than the Ku Klux Klan. I mean that's rich, even for the Right. You can go up and down the list and what you'll find is this: for every one inartful or inappropriate comment that comes out of the mouths of liberals - and let's just say for argument's sake that Takei is a liberal, though I don't know that for a fact - there's about a dozen or more that come out of the mouths of conservatives.
The truth is we have no Rush Limbaughs or Sarah Palins on our side of the aisle. And whenever someone on our side does step out of line, there are consequences. When Ed Schultz called Laura Ingraham a slut, he was suspended by MSNBC. When El-Rushbo called Sandra Fluke the same name, he didn't get so much as a timeout. How's that false equivalency thing working' for ya now?
To be honest, I almost feel sorry for the far Right. It must be hell living in a bubble like that, convinced that every molehill is Mount Everest and that everyone is out to get you. I wouldn't want to trade places with them for all the money in the world.