Raising the question and begging a question are different. It always mattered to me, but it was, I’ll confess, one of those English-teacher things.
It’s not any more. Raising a question is exactly what it sounds like—bringing up something that needs discussion, as in, The election of Donald Trump raises the question: are Americans informed enough to vote for president or even order at the drive-thru?
Begging the question is a logical fallacy in which a statement or claim is assumed to be true without evidence other than the statement or claim itself, as in of course Trump didn’t grope any women: he’s not the kind of person who would grope women. The proof is not a proof, merely a restatement.
Donald Trump is thriving on our inability to recognize the difference. For instance, today he accepted the Mexican president’s cancellation of the upcoming visit by saying, “If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall…” and presto, for his non-thinking followers, we NEED the wall.
But we don’t. Almost every study undertaken by objective researchers has stated that the wall will not reduce illegal passages and will never pay back the initial investment which may be $15 billion, not including maintenance and upkeep. All his overused phrases: crooked Hillary, catastrophis Obamacare premiums, Muslim extremist, voter fraud—they’re all examples of assertions made without any proof other than the assertion itself.
What do we do? We stop letting him get away with it. Conway and Spicer have expressed disgust at our picking apart everything Trump does. They need to be more disgusted. Keep calling him on it, and make sure our representatives do the same. Publicly contest every unproven generality, whether he wants to call them alternative truths…or what they really are: lies.