When truths convey falsehoods

The general idea should be pretty familiar to philosophers of language. But its political ramifications remain under-appreciated. This article does a great job. Those who have jumped on the generics bandwagon will have lots to say about the role of generics in conveying these falsehoods. I’m less convinced that the generics are doing crucial work, but the examples are all excellent.  A small sample:

There is an infinite number of facts about any one ethnic group; so the issue isn’t whether certain facts are correct or not; but which facts are chosen.

If the only time Romanians are spoken of is when they pick pockets, or when they’re seen as unwanted migrants, then the public will end up with a totally skewed view of them. We’ll learn nothing about their history or why they came to Britain, or even get a decent idea of what they do here.

When we hear about white criminality, such as football hooliganism, lager louts or paedophile rings, we already have enough other information about white people to be able to contextualise this, so we don’t leap to conclusions, and we don’t have high-level discussions about a “crisis within whiteness”. But in the absence of counterbalancing stories, it’s all too easy to begin to build stereotypes about minority communities.

(Thanks, R!)


3 thoughts on “When truths convey falsehoods

  1. I think it is necessary to not use “we” assuming we are not all of the same group talking about “them.”

  2. That’s an extremely good point, and I’m embarrassed not to have caught it. Yes, that should have been made explicit.

  3. […] This is why there are things we don’t say about race (even when they are true) | Joseph Harker | Comment is free | The Guardian Really excellent take-down of some very common racist arguments, such as the risible claim that the Rotherham rapes were allowed to take place because police are afraid of enforcing laws on minorities. (Via). […]

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