COVID-19, Black Lives Matter and human trafficking are three of 2020’s most talked about social issues. You can care about more than one social issue at a time, Autumn Nuzman says. Graphic by Autumn Nuzman.
Using one issue to distract from another under the premise that you can’t focus on both is a logical fallacy.
I’ve been seeing posts stating things like “Human trafficking should scare you more than COVID,” and “Human trafficking is more important than Black Lives Matter. Change my mind.”
These are two examples of a false dichotomy. A false dichotomy is when it’s implied that you should choose one of two options even though they aren’t mutually exclusive.
According to an Upworthy article by Annie Reneau, the reason people are pitting COVID-19 and human trafficking against each other is because of the idea that masks can make it easier to traffic children and because they believe “‘Hollywood elites’ have actually been arrested, and the pandemic is all a distraction to cover up the crackdown on these celebrities.”
Yeah, I’m sure my sister, who missed several weeks of work as a CNA when she had the virus, was just covering for Tom Hanks because she likes “Toy Story.”
Megan Cutter, acting director of the National Human Trafficking Hotline, said, “Based on what we’ve seen in the trafficking hotline so far, there is no reason to believe that wearing a mask in public is a risk factor in human trafficking,” according to a USA TODAY article by Matthew Brown.
In regard to the dichotomy between human trafficking and Black Lives Matter, it seems like people are just implying that you can’t focus on two issues at a time, and they consider child trafficking the more pressing issue since children are involved. Or because child trafficking is a great way to deflect from potential racism.
While, according to a Psychology Today article on multitasking by Nancy Napier, it’s impossible to process two things in the same microsecond, no one is asking you to split those microseconds. You can get tested for COVID-19 in the morning, attend a trafficking awareness event in the afternoon and still have time for a Black Lives Matter vigil in the evening, all while wearing a mask and remaining 6 feet apart.
You could also just donate to each cause on your own time and spread awareness however you can while experts in each field do what they can in their more focused environments. Whatever works. It’s not a test, and if it were, you don’t have to ride or die on A or B; you can select all that apply.
The fact that you can condemn one issue as a way of boosting the other proves you can be concerned about both because you already are.
COVID-19 is a real pandemic, not a mass conspiracy; Black Lives Matter, and that phrase is focused, not exclusionary; and human trafficking deserves to be addressed all the time, not just when it’s convenient for ignoring other issues.
Check your facts. Remember that you can and should care about more than one issue. Do both if you haven’t already.
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