The art of the false dichotomy

Published 8:00 am Saturday, June 2, 2018

The editorial cartoon appearing in The Charlotte Observer on Sunday, May 27, is an example of the use of false dichotomy (the either-or fallacy).

If you question the actions of senior members of the Obama administration, you must be opposed to the rule of law; if you are offended by people showing disrespect to the flag and national anthem, you are opposed to free speech; if you note the absence of evidence of Russia collusion, you don’t respect our electoral process; if you are in favor of border security, you must be a racist.

By a happy coincidence, a column about the yanny/laurel meme appeared next to the cartoon dovetailing with the false dichotomy argument. When asked whether he heard yanny or laurel, President Trump humorously answered: “cofefe.” This brilliant answer at once is a jab at critics of his intelligence, a dissection of the either-or fallacy and a comment on the cognitive dissonance of those who misreport his utterances and actions.

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The president calls vicious gang members “animals” — ergo he is a racist; (plug in any issue here), therefore he is a racist, incompetent or insane.

While attacking the president constantly, his critics ignore the corruption — every day further exposed — of the Obama administration: the IRS scandal; Solyndra; “Fast and Furious”; the Benghazi attack and cover-up; spying on reporters (Sharyl Attkisson, James Rosen, etc.); Loretta Lynch/Bill Clinton on the tarmac; the conspiracy at the highest echelons of the Obama administration to sabotage Donald Trump’s campaign and, failing that, to destroy his presidency.

Despite all this, President Trump continues to succeed, confounding his opponents and leading the United States to a safer, more prosperous future.

Eugene Comiskey, Tryon