The false dichotomy is a menace. According to Google, a false dichotomy is a [binary division] that is not jointly exhaustive (there are other alternatives), or that is not mutually exclusive (the alternatives overlap), or that is possibly neither. In other words, one form of the false dichotomy presents only two options when in reality there are more.
Many of us were bludgeoned with the false dichotomy during the last election cycle: “Failing to vote for X is a vote for Y.” Because I swim in conservative waters, I was assaulted with “If you don’t vote for Trump, it’s a vote for Hillary.” That’s a false dichotomy. I had other options. I didn’t have to choose between a corrupt candidate and a debased candidate, despite what my Facebook friends kept trying to tell me. I proved the dichotomy false in the voting booth when I cast my vote for a third party, and neither of the supposedly binary options got my vote.
Now the false dichotomy is rearing its ugly head again. I’m being told that if I condemn Antifa, then I’m supporting neo Nazis. I have to remain silent about the lawlessness and violence to which Antifa is committed, or I’m branded a white supremacist. Well, I didn’t fall for that fallacy in the election, and I’m not falling for it now. There’s a third option – I can condemn both groups as evil and dangerous. I don’t have to choose between the vile, hateful racists and the violent, lawless criminals. I can (and do) say “A pox on both your houses.” I don’t have to take sides in the raging uncivil war between armed camps of extremists.
Here’s why I hate this particular false dichotomy: If people are pushed to believe that they must choose sides here, some people will. Some borderline racists, who might otherwise keep their mouths shut, will be pushed into the waiting arms of the white supremacists. And some gullible students steeped for four years of college in the propaganda of the extreme left will decide to join Antifa. After all, who wants to support neo Nazis? And if you don’t support Antifa, then you’re supporting the white supremacists, or so some would have us believe.
This is a dangerous game our elites, especially in the media, are playing. In trying to stamp out the false idea of white supremacy, they’re refusing to condemn lawlessness and violence on the extreme left. Worse, they’re trying to bully the rest of us into taking sides and supporting the criminal enterprise that is Antifa. Well, I’m not buying it. Say what you like, but I’m not taking sides between these two tiny camps of despicable extremists. I reject them both, and I won’t be cowed into remaining silent. Even though I did not vote for President Trump, I’m glad that he has condemned in explicit terms both the hateful white supremacists and the violent criminals on the extreme left who clashed in Charlottesville and temporarily turned that quiet college town into a killing field. Both sides deserve condemnation, and both will have it from me.