CNN’s Abby Phillip promotes racist sophistry with Nikki Haley

"The national media, once an important force in presidential voting, is collapsing. TV News ratings are in decline, and once mega-newspapers … are finished.  Most Americans don't trust the press; many despise it."  --Bill O’Reilly, Feb. 2, 2024

CNN’s Abby Phillip is determined to push the narrative that the United States is a racist country.   

In a video segment grandly titled "Abby Phillip breaks down the facts undercutting Haley's racism answer" (viewable here), she replied to the governor of South Carolina and Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley's statements that “I refuse to believe that the premise when they formed our county is that it was a racist country to start with,” asking: “Is the United States a racist country?

Note first that Abby and Nikki are talking about two different things, something to which Abby seems clueless.   Whereas Nikki’s statement refers to the United States when it was founded (1776), Abby asks whether the United States “is [present tense]” a racist country”?  Since they refer to different times, the two statements are logically independent of each other.  Nothing but confusion can result from a discussion so logically confused.  When the Left cannot find racism now, they claim finding it more than 100 years ago is sufficient.

Abby then reels off a list of accusations she takes to support her claim that the United States is (present tense) racist.   She begins with the most divisive of these, claiming that “The U.S. Constitution held that black people were only three-fifths of a person.”  

In fact, the U.S. Constitution says no such thing.  One must, however, be able to read at the high school, not the Harvard, level, to see this.  Phillip is referring to the “three fifths” clause approved at the 1787 Constitutional Convention that stated that “any person who was not free would be counted as three-fifths of a free individual for the purposes of determining congressional representation.”  

First, the “three fifths” compromise does not refer explicitly to slaves or to black people but to “non-free persons,” and, in fact, there were many thousands of “non-free” white persons in early America.  Second, the “three fifths” compromise does not say that “non-free” persons or black people are to count as three-fifths of a person.  As the black Vanderbilt political science professor Carol Swain explains, it says that for very specific purposes, taxation and proportional representation in Congress, non-free persons would count as three-fifths of a person:  Black people are not stated to be three-fifths of a person, as Abby claims, in an unqualified sense.

In order to understand what the “three fifths compromise” was really about, one must understand the relevant historical context.  This debate occurred soon after the founding of the country when the various contending parties were trying to reach compromises to hold the Union together.  Since the number of House members that a state would be allotted was determined by the population in that state, e.g., a state with four million residents would normally receive double the number of House members as a state with two million residents, the slave-holding states wanted to count their slaves for purposes of increasing their congressional representation.  The non-slave states rejected this demand.  The “three fifths” compromise was worked out in order to prevent the “slave states” from obtaining the full benefit of their slaves in order to increase their political power in Congress.  It was, in that sense, anti-slavery.     It is true that the three-fifths compromise allowed the slave states to get some benefit from their slave population but not as much as they wanted.  As the black Vanderbilt political science professor Carol Swain puts it, no three-fifths compromise, no United States.  And Northwestern Professor of Constitutional Law John McGinnis explains that “the three-fifths compromise … likely [helped] end slavery faster than the alternatives.”  

There is actually a name for the specific fallacy Abby commits.  It is the fallacy of accent (a fallacious inference based on a misleading emphasis on part of a sentence at the expense of the whole meaning).  Abby commits this fallacy when she accents that part of the sentence in the compromise that describes slaves as three-fifths of a person while ignoring the part of the sentence that limits that qualification specifically to taxation and congressional representation.  Abby’s aim is to inflame emotions by falsely implying that black people are described in the Constitution as lesser in dignity than white persons.  She is going to need some better reason to feel sorry for herself and prop up her confused,  faltering Democrats.

Abby then, apparently having forgotten that her question was about present racism, brings up “segregation” and “Jim Crow” from the past.  For, segregation officially ended with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (59 years ago), although demagogues refuse to let it go so that they can exploit it for present political purposes.  Her complaint is especially ironic that it is currently the Democrats and “liberals,” not Republicans, that now embrace racial segregation.  Further, whereas the Republican Party was founded to combat slavery, and its first president, Abraham Lincoln, was assassinated for having done so, the “Jim Crow” laws that made black people second-class citizens were passed after the Civil War by Democrats.  

One common reply to this last point is that the Republican Party of old is not the Republican Party of today:  CNN claims that “Back then, Republicans were, generally, a party of Northerners and Democrats were, generally, the party of the South. Today, it’s pretty much the opposite.”  Unfortunately, the issue of South and North is a completely irrelevant abstraction.  One must look at the actual policies of the two parties (the standard leftist flight to abstraction to distract from looking at relevant details).  Abby and CNN will also need to explain why the Democrats are “haemorrhaging” black voters after the illusory joys of the Obama and Biden years.

Finally, Abby brings up certain facts that she thinks support her case, that the median wealth of white families is about $285,000 while that of median black families is only about $44,900 and that roughly 40% of black people invest in the stock market whereas 59% of white people do. Unfortunately, establishing causality is always difficult in the social realm, and there are many reasons other than racism that cause these outcomes, particularly, the dreadful schools and dangerous environment that black students must endure in completely Democrat-controlled cities like Baltimore, Chicago, Philadelphia, Newark, etc. 

The real tragedy with Abby’s dishonest demagoguery is that creating inflammatory phantoms stands in the way of actually solving the problems in the black community.   We must look at today, 2024, and try to get black children out from under the tyranny of the teachers’ unions that condemn them to a second-class start in life.  One could start by trying to get someone at one of 13 Baltimore schools to pass a math exam. 

Finally, if these virtue-signaling specialists really cared about the evils of slavery, they might want to look at the shocking modern slavery and sex trafficking of women and children created by Biden’s open Southern border.   The Democrat “news”-media colluders do not, however, care about this because they believe that the illegals that survive Biden’s policies will eventually vote for Democrats.  It seems that the Democrat party never changes

Image: Screen shot from The Kennedy Center video, via YouTube

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