The Strawman Fallacy and Donald Trump

by Chuck Ewing on August 20, 2016

Does it bother anyone else when media commentators, political pundits, candidates or surrogates tell you what your eyes and ears really see and hear?  Now with several months before the elections and prior to any debates there is a drumbeat from the media and others that Mr. Trump’s candidacy is over, he is an amateur, a liar, racist, bigot, misogynist, homophobe or xenophobe.  You may vote for Mrs. Clinton or my preference Mr. Trump.  Either way, I will not hate you or label you anything other than having a different opinion than me.  However, if you persist in labeling Mr. Trump any of the above adjectives and basing your conclusion on those labels, I challenge you to carefully examine the facts behind the labels.  This election is critical to the future of our society.  In my opinion our choice should be based upon facts leading to a determination of judgment, intuition, executive experience, character and authenticity, not the opinions of pundits.

DONALD TRUMP ATTACKED A GOLD STAR FAMILY – FALLACY NUMBER 1

A common flawed form of argument is to set up a straw man which ignores a person’s actual position and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented version prior to refuting those positions.  One example occurred at the Democratic National Convention last month.  A Gold Star father gave an impassioned speech about the death of his son which was incredibly heroic.  As I watched I was near tears trying to contemplate the grief and shocking loss he and his wife must feel.  Sadness soon turned to shock.  According to Mr. Khan, Mr Trump would not have allowed Mr. Khan’s son into the country  and that he had consistently smeared the character of Muslims.  Mr. Trump called for a temporary ban on those entering the country from countries where terrorism was rampant.  That label and conclusion in my opinion is not supported by the facts.  Mr. Khan continues ” [he] ….disrespects other minorities; women; judges; even his own party leadership.”  Next he suggests Mr. Trump has not read the constitution.  “… have you even read the United States constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy”,  then he assumes Mr. Trump has never seen Arlington National Cemetery and must not be patriotic.  “Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States of America.  You will see all faiths, genders and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing and no one.”  

Mr. Khan based his conclusions on “facts” not readily apparent.  Their loss is inconceivable, however in my opinion, the loss does not give them a license to denigrate Mr. Trump.  Disagree with his position, but do not inject your version of his position.  The speech has been referred to by many as destroying Mr. Trump’s candidacy.  Many including members of his own party state that Mr. Trump’s “disrespect” of the Khans is “over the line”, whatever that means.  The only comment Mr. Trump made that I might not have is the speculation out loud over Mrs. Khan’s silence and the reason for it.  My personal experience with a Muslim custom regarding women was a threat by a young woman’s brothers and father to kill her for “disrespecting” the family.  Seemed like an irresponsible position to me.  In my opinion rather than denigrating the Khans, he quietly tolerated the unfounded attack by Mr. Khan, which Mrs. Khan appeared to support.  For this so called disrespecting to be a major factor in deciding to vote for Mrs. Clinton or the clamor of the media over the Khans, one must disregard the complaints of Patricia Smith mother of Sean Smith a member of United States Foreign Services who died in the Benghazi attack, when she spoke at the Republican National Convention regarding Mrs. Clinton’s role in the death of her son.  She claimed that Mrs. Clinton lied to her when the bodies were being returned when she stated that the entire loss was due to a video.  There is substantial evidence that Mrs.Clinton and the Obama administration knowingly misrepresented that narrative as fact for weeks after the attack.  Pundits and commentators have either ignored or demeaned these folks over their loss.  Mrs. Clinton using language that qualifies as double speak stated someone was lying and it was not her.  She condescendingly opined that she understood how Mrs. Smith could be confused.

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