The Washington Post’s Christine Emba claims conservative opposition to critical race theory has less to do with intellectual concerns and more to do with emotivism and fear. She accuses conservatives of “disguising” their “discomfort with racial reconsideration as an intellectual critique,” asserting conservative skepticism of critical race theory reflects a “psychological defense, not a rational one.” The irony, however, is that Emba’s argument relies on a textbook logical fallacy.
That fallacy is the ad hominem, and more specifically “bulverism,” a term coined by C.S. Lewis. “The modern method is to assume without discussion that he is wrong and then distract his attention from this (the only real issue) by busily explaining how he became so silly,” explains Lewis. To put it another way, it’s a speculative examination of the psychological condition of one’s intellectual sparring partner, rather than a rational consideration of his or her actual position.