Double Standards and Fallacious Thinking

Pictures are surfacing of white men, hunters and fishers, wearing the clothes of the card-carrying-NRA right-wing conservative, deploying their aluminum boats to rescue flood victims. They’re rescuing people of all ages, ethnicities, and races. They are Christians. Trump-supporters.
 
There is an opportunity here for the media to promote white Christian nationalism as a compassionate and charitable force in the world, to say that, while there are admittedly some (only a few) white nationalists who are violent, there are others who work tirelessly to help the victims of natural disasters. And in a very direct and personal way. They aren’t donating money. They are risking their safety to help in the most immediate and intimate way. They aren’t using it for public relations to promote their ideology. At least they seem pretty humble. 
 
Yet, by not dwelling on these acts of charity, the news media has avoided promoting white Christian nationalism. Perhaps because of the violence associated with it? Except that the media have, despite the waves of terrorists attacks across Europe and the United States, despite widespread misogyny and homophobia in its ranks, chosen to promote Islam as a compassionate and charitable force in the world by writing stories about Muslim charity surrounding the Texas flood. Muslims, we are told, are good Samaritans.
 
There is a double standard at work here. But more importantly, it is misguided to believe that charitable work gives anybody a reason to feel good about an ideology and its adherents. White nationalists and Muslims helping flood victims by risking their safety or by donating money tells us nothing about whether white nationalism or Islam are good or bad things. The KKK cleans up trash by the roadside. It’s a big deal for them, in fact. They adopt highways in order to repair them. Does that make the Klan and its ideas desirable and their members good?

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Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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