Friday, March 4, 2016

Straw Man Geankoplis: a Rebuttal of Racists; the Real Heroes

By Luis Rivera III on March 4th, 2016
This is a rebuttal* to George Geankoplis’s Racists; The Real Heroes which is intended to be a critique against long time libertarian Walter Block (pictured). Racists; The Real Heroes can be read in its entirety here: https://georgeg.liberty.me/racists-the-real-heroes/. The purpose of this paper is to show that Geankoplis misconstrues libertarianism and his opponent’s stance. The arguments presented by George Geankoplis are fallacious, consisting mostly of straw man, hence my title. After carefully reading my opponent’s paper (Racists; The Real Heroes) I formatted my rebuttal paper with quotes from the essay. These quotes were then addressed. Here is what ensued.
George Geankoplis:
“Fresh from having read Walter Block for the first time, filled with the fire of your righteous indignation, you were an angel of justice. The object of your concern? Obviously, it goes without saying, someone expressing unease over bigotry.”
Walter Block is representing libertarianism exempt from any personal preferences he might have on the issue of race. One can be a libertarian if they express uneasiness over bigotry or if they are racist. They can be either of these or they can be entirely apathetic to racism. Any one of these three sentiments can be held while maintaining the status of libertarian. What Block conveys is once initiation of physical aggression is used to satisfy the personal preferences of racism or uneasiness of racism, it is no longer libertarian. This following quote from Geankoplis’ essay has a relation with the previous excerpt. Geankoplis writes of Block:
“You understand that the right to discriminate on the basis of race, or creed, or gender, or orientation freely, without negative repercussions, is not just a necessary corollary to liberty…”
“Negative repercussions” is similar to “expressing uneasiness” in Geankoplis first attack. There are many forms of negative repercussions as there are many forms of expressing uneasiness. In this instance a negative repercussion might be that people refuse to associate with you due to your racist views, but a negative repercussion can also be an edict passed down by our rulers that punish “racist” individuals. Geankoplis leaves a lot of wiggle room. However, just showing that Block is not against all expressions of uneasiness such as disassociating from individuals without using coercion brings to light Geankoplis’ misrepresentation of Block.
Geankoplis writes that this is his first time reading Walter Block and it shows. Going back to the nebulous and tricky writing style of Geankoplis one can read the term “negative repercussion.” As stated earlier this term can mean a variety of things. Block would be against some as a libertarian and be indifferent to others. Any such punitive measures the state takes upon citizens who violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964 can and are correctly seen as a negative repercussion. If, the author would have written that Block is against this he would be correct, however, like his “expressing unease over bigotry” indictment earlier he once again left himself open and created yet another straw man fallacy against Block. Perhaps it was because this was the first time he read Block’s work but Block actually has a long paper trail of not being against negative repercussions of other sorts when it comes to practicing racism or sexism. This is where economics comes into play. Geankoplis shows he is oblivious to the markets punishment against those who rank race or sex over marginal revenue productivity. Here, Block’s position is the following: If you are a social justice warrior and you want to punish racism within the workforce you can rest assured that the market has intrinsic punishments for racist employers. In many instances Block offers the following hypothetical situation: A “racist” who hires a white person who is inferior in terms of productivity to his black counterpart will lose the opportunity for profit and will eventually go bankrupt as a result of making these racist and misogynist business decisions.
Geankopolis’s last critique about Block’s views are again not attacks on Block whatsoever because it does not represent Block’s view. His attack is another straw man. He writes ”…you have every right to demand that every other person recognizes what a great guy you are for being bigoted.” Even if there was an objective way of doing this it would still be a positive right. The problem with this of course is that Block only believes in negative rights not positive rights. George Geankoplis’ paper is filled with many swings and just as many misses.
I chose to address these three accusations made by Geankoplis. He makes others but I thought these were most worthy. To see his entire article see link: https://georgeg.liberty.me/racists-the-real-heroes/.
*editor’s note: this piece was composed many months ago, shortly after George Geankoplis’ original article, and was not published anywhere until now

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