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The Fallacies of Sass in “Mixed Schools and Mixed Blood”

Updated January 14, 2022
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The Fallacies of Sass in “Mixed Schools and Mixed Blood” essay

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Herbert Ravenel Sass, a historian and nationalists living from 1884 to 1958 used large and, at times, misleading conjunctions and vocabulary skewing and contradicting his meaning during his essay arguing why the Supreme Court decision forbidding compulsory racial separation in public schools was wrong due to southern “preference” and that continued prejudice was called for.

His argument had many fallacies and was ultimately misleading and incorrect. His fallacies occur in his understanding of the American melting pot, describing the American population (without a consensus citation) as “[an] overwhelmingly-pure white nation” and in his description of prejudice in southern United States with his apparent misunderstanding of the 1868 14th amendment, “all men are created equal”, as he states, “it is nonsense to say that racial discrimination, the necessary consequence of race preference, is ‘un-American’.”

Sass says that these “facts” are all well-known even though he doesn’t site sources backing his statements. He views the racial situation as a preference in the southern American culture to keep white and Negro separate. When he references other countries such as Canada, Argentina, and Uruguay as countries that haven’t kept there races pure while the U.S “[has, as important fact]”. His claim that is the right of southern Americans to choose there relationships and preferences is correct in context; however, it is contradictory to his definition of “race preference”.

His belief that segregation indicted as law in public schools as not prejudice but preference over-steps their legal right to incorporate such beliefs in public schools and disregards white southerner’s right and ability to hold to their belief of preference while schools are mixed. In the end of this paragraph, he imparts with “It is the deep conviction of…white Southerners…that the mingling [of]…Negro children in the South’s primary schools would open the gates to miscegenation and…racial amalgamation.”

If his idea of race preference were true, and white southerners were so unabashedly convicted to not intermingle, then it would not be a problem desegregating schools because no intermingling would happen. His belief directs towards the oppression of Negroes schools. This is a slippery slope fallacy, under the benign premise that white Southerners can’t keep their “preference” in desegregation.

His second fallacy is a Tu Quoque, because he talks about the “grievous wrongs [on Native Americans] few reformers and even fewer politicians ever bother their heads about.” He is saying that that current administration and Supreme Court wronged the Native Americans while “the south has not done that to the Negro.” He claims that the south was moving steadily toward “amity” and “understanding” when the separation in their public schools lead them away from that progression and goal.

Again, he claims that the “human friendliness” of the south “[was] far exceeding…anything of the kind…found in the North”, then again, he references the Indian on his reservations and Negro in the urban Harlem’s of the North. Though he claims that the south was so much better than the north, in the same paragraph, he immediately calls for the “separation” of the white and Negro races, as opposed to the proper word: segregation.

After reading about Sass thought and voiced in “Mixed Schools and Mixed Blood” I’ve concluded that his thoughts and argument were contradictory describing the state of the White Southern culture and had two main fallacies. The first fallacy was a Slippery Slope fallacy arguing that, sympathizing with the deep conviction of white southerners, by allowing desegregation in schools it would lead to the miscegenation and amalgamation of the two races.

Ultimately, this under-cut his beliefs that the south held Negros in amity and was working towards a relaxed, desegregated culture. His Tu Quoque fallacy, talking about the grievous wrongs the Supreme Court imposed on the Native Americans, argued that the south, comparatively, hadn’t committed any grievance of the sort on the Negro and were, therefore, on their way to peaceful compatibility. These fallacies were both significant logical inconsistencies in his overall argument against the Supreme Court ruling on desegregation of schools in the south and support of continued southern prejudice, and they suggest that his conclusion to keep the southern tradition of “race preference” prominent in southern society was skewed and wrong.

Works Cited

  1. Sass, Herbert Ravenel, and L. Mendel Rivers. Mixed Schools and Mixed Blood: Extension of
  2. Remarks of Hon. L. Mendel Rivers of South Carolina in the House of Representatives. 1956, November.
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